This week's Media Consumption talks to Gregg Tavares, programmer at Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, about his favorite movies, music, games and books.
Tavares is a 22-year industry veteran with a list of credits as long as your arm, beginning with Centipede
for the Commodore 64, a straight port of its Atari 800 cousin. From there he worked with the late Silas Warner on an educational game called Leaps and Bounds
, which was wrapped just in time for developer M.U.S.E. to lay off approximately half of their staff and eventually shut down for good.
Tavares also had a brief stint at Microprose, and did grunt work on Lords of the Rising Sun
for Cinemaware. Highlights after this time include a lead programmer role for the grossly underrated M.C. Kids
for the NES, and work on Gex
for the 3DO and CTR: Crash Team Racing
for the Sony PlayStation, before settling at Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and working mostly under a shroud of secrecy for their upcoming PlayStation 3 console. But we skirted that NDA-laden issue to ask him about his favorite media.
: ”I subscribed to Rhapsody about two years ago,” said Tavares, “and I listen to it all day long at the office.” Rhapsody is an online digital music service offered by Seattle-based Real Media. “If you've never tried a subscription music service, I suggest instead of whining about the DRM you give them a try. They are truly liberating, because you can listen to so much music and not have to think about cost.” Typically, Tavares has Rhapsody set on its Rave Channel. Highlights of the moment include Kraftwerk’s "Tour De France Soundtracks,” LCD Soundsystem’s "Daft Punk is Playing at my House,” Utada’s "Devil Inside," Jungle Brothers’s "Doin' Our Own Dang," and Carl Craig’s "Superbad," with classics such as Siouxsie and the Banshees in-between.
: Like many, Tavares recently enjoyed both Batman Begins
and War of the Worlds
, which he said was “a cool experience, even if the changes to the story were poorly thought out.” Tavares’ favorite show of the last four years is an anime called “One Piece.” “One Piece may look silly at first, but it's a super tear-jerker, and it's still going strong here in Japan at episode 230+ and on its 7th year,” he said. “That series is one of the most creative anime series ever, with each Island they visit and each new set of characters they meet having the most imaginative and creative ideas. Unfortunately, I'm sure the American version has all the interesting stuff removed.”
”Other than a few tech books, I'm reading lots of self help kind of books like First Things First
by Stephen R. Covey, trying to figure out what my future in this industry should be like,” said Tavares. “I really think that whole ‘quality of life’ issue needs more consideration. I would love to work for and/or create a company that could do great work and avoid the quality-of-life-killing, constant crunch state.”
Tavares is currently playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
. “I bought it when it came out, but I didn't get a chance to play until recently,” he said. “Rockstar is so far the only company making a city sim type of environment that actually makes you feel like you are in a city,” he continued. “Just existing in that city is fun even without the game missions.” Tavares also recently played through Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
. “Game-wise, it's only slightly different than Metroid Prime
,” he said, “but it is extremely beautiful, and for that reason alone I'd recommend playing at least until you get to the Sanctuary Fortress area, which is the last area in the 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.]