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Media Consumption: Sony's David Jaffe

Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column asking our favorite personalities in the games industry what they’ve been digging in the worlds of audio, video, print and game...
Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column asking our favorite personalities in the games industry what they’ve been digging in the worlds of audio, video, print and games, speaks to David Jaffe of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios (formerly Sony Computer Entertainment America). Jaffe is perhaps most notable as the director of Sony’s recent PlayStation action-adventure hit, God of War. Past design accomplishments include a majority of the Twisted Metal series (including the original PlayStation 1 version, and the semi-recent Twisted Metal Black) and an oft-forgotten but nonetheless impressive Disney platformer from the 16-bit days, Mickey Mania. Jaffe is currently heading design on a secret, unannounced project for the PSP, and is being fueled by the following: Sounds: “I'm really getting into new country as I get older, which is essentially pop and country music mixed together,” said Jaffe. “At this point in my life, I can really relate to country music more than any other genre. Country music is all about family, work, not losing touch with old friends...you know, it's stuff that resonates with a 34-year-old adult who has two kids and a mortgage.” Favorite examples from Jaffe’s collection include Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban. “I know lots of people my age and older who are into club music and electronica and stuff like that,” he continued, “and I just don't get it. Maybe I'm old for my age but I just can't relate to that stuff anymore.” When he’s not reminiscing about his former life down South, Jaffe’s been grooving to videogame soundtracks via GamingFM, which streams videogame music from the past and present. “They stream music from the old 8 and 16bit games,” he said, “I listen to it whenever I am doing level design. It inspires me.” Words: Jaffe is in the middle of re-reading When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön’s view on the teachings of Shambhala, “which is a secular take on Buddhism,” he said. “I'm an agnostic, and this little book speaks to the cynical – but still spiritual – person that I am.” Jaffe says he doesn’t read books very often. “I love the idea of reading books,” he said, “but I just never seem to make the time to read a whole novel. I get bored and move on.” He does, however, read his fair share of magazines, including the standard gaming magazines and what he calls “lots of fluff,” citing Time, Us Weekly, Star, Premiere, Starlog, and People. “I totally despise the world of celebrity,” he explained, “but for some reason, I can't stop reading about it. It's like watching a car wreck!” Jaffe also makes a quasi-weekly run to the comic book store to pick up “the mainstream Marvel and D.C. stuff, like Spider-Man, Superman and Wonder Woman.” Moving Pictures: “My wife and I just had a baby and when my wife gets up to nurse, I wake up too,” he said. “Moral support, and all that, so I end up watching little snippets of movies on my PSP.” Jaffe just finished watching Hellboy. “While it wasn’t perfect, it was darn good and just looked amazing! The ending sucked, though.” He has since moved on to The Grudge. “So far, so good on that one,” he said. “I saw Wes Craven’s Red Eye last week, and loved that. The ending was a bit odd, but the movie itself was lean and fast and fun.” As for the future, Jaffe is anticipating Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and is curious to see Final Fantasy: Advent Children. “Final Fantasy VII was the last Final Fantasy I cared about,” he said. “I just hope [Advent Children] is better than Spirits Within.” Games: “Now that God of War is done, I'm going back and catching up on a lot of the games I missed when we were so swamped with production. I just started Half-Life 2,” he said, “and am pretty 'meh' at the 3 hour mark, but everyone tells me it gets amazing later on, so I'm gonna stick with it.” Jaffe is also discovering Halo 2, whose single player campaign he’s “enjoying much more than the first Halo. I think I’m in the minority on that.” Jaffe has also been attempting to play Battlefield 2, with literally zero success. “I’ve lost the registration key,” he said. Other games recently spun include Advent Rising (“flawed, but filled with neat stuff”), Haunted Ground (“creepy and fun”), and a number of games on his PSP, including Midnight Club, Namco Battle Museum, and Frantix, which he describes as a “surprisingly fun little puzzle game.” [Frank Cifaldi is a Las Vegas-based freelance author whose credits include work for Nintendo Official Magazine UK, Wired, and his own Lost Levels website.]

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