This week’s Media Consumption, a weekly column which seeks to find out what our favorite game developers have been listening to, watching, reading, and playing, speaks to Chris Charla, Executive Producer at Backbone Entertainment.
Charla’s main body of work thus far has been as Production Manager at Digital Eclipse, the independent development studio that merged with ImaginEngine Corp. in 2003 to become Backbone Entertainment. He oversaw games such as Phantasy Star Collection
, Muppet Pinball Mayhem
, and the Spyro
series for Game Boy Advance, as well as a number of classic game compilations, such as Midway Arcade Treasures 2
, Atari Anniversary Edition
, and Atari: 80 Classic Games in One
. Prior to this, Charla acted as Editor-In-Chief at Future Networks’ Next Generation magazine. Most recently, Charla oversaw development of Death, Jr.
for the PSP, an original IP he helped to create.
“I think like a lot of people in their mid-30s, as I’ve gotten older it seems like I have less enthusiasm to go to shows and wade through tons of music trying to find gems,” said Charla, “so mostly I just listen to the hot punk rock hits of the ‘90s.” Recent favorites include Screeching Weasel, The Get Up Kids, and The Distillers. “Online, I’ve been listening to the stream at South of Gilman St.
, which features a lot of music from the East Bay punk scene that grew up around the 924 Gilman project, bands like Crimpshrine, Operation Ivy and, yes, Green Day.”
”I have a kid, so movies in the theatre are tough,” said Charla. “I recently watched my third bird documentary in a row with March of the Penguins
(after The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
and Winged Migration
). All awesome movies, but going to see Howl’s Moving Castle
was a big relief after that, to get back to my nerd roots. I also snuck away to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin
. Steve Carell is awesome.”
”Lately I just seem to be addicted to stupid popularizations of obscure science subjects,” he said, “with titles like Tine: How the Fork Got That Way
. For some reason, I've been drifting away from fiction in the past couple of years. I still read lots of “airport fiction” -- pretty much anytime I'm on a plane I'm reading about a lone CIA agent or FFA member saving the earth one way or another, but I think the last legitimate fiction book I finished was System of the World
by Neal Stephenson. Since Death, Jr.
shipped I’ve been on a non-fiction tear. I just read The Secret Life of Lobsters
, a couple different cold war histories, and a book about the battle in the Teutoburg Forest, where three Roman legions were annihilated in about two hours, which basically ended the expansion of the Empire. It’s actually kind of a depressing read. I used to work in magazines, and I still probably read like 10 magazines a week. I’ll buy a magazine about anything, but Make, Racer, and (kind of embarrassingly) ReadyMade are my favorites.”
”This summer has been kind of a dry spell for games,” he said, echoing the sentiments of many. “I’m playing Flatout
right now. I really like games made by smaller teams. Although they can be rough around the edges, sometimes they have more spirit to me than slicker games.” Charla has also been playing a number of classics on the recently-released standalone Atari Flashback 2.0 console. “Beyond that,” he said, “I’m finally cracking the shrink-wrap on a lot of adventures I never had time for earlier, like Haunting Ground
(very similar to the underrated Clock Tower 3
), and Fatal Frame 2
. I found Ribbit King
while I was cleaning up recently, so it was fun to play that again. Finally, Forza
and Halo 2
remain staples of my game diet.”