Interview: This is not a test.
This is Evan McCaffrey, freelance video game writer, interviewing Daryl Shelton, A.K.A. Big D from the PS3 exclusive reality show "The Tester." So Daryl, how's it going?
You know. Just hanging out; chillin'.
Gaming Target: What games are you playing right now?
Well, the games I'm playing right now, actually,I'm playing Mortal Kombat II for the PlayStation 3.
Gaming Target: That game's pretty sweet.
Let me tell you something. Mortal Kombat II, PSN, online battles and you, know, you only have like 12 characters. It's a whole new sense of competition, now that it's online. And it's old school Mortal Kombat. Not like the old crap. I had also been playing Shooter for a little while, PixelJunk Shooter.
Gaming Target: OK. So you're like a PlayStation Network dude. You like to download a lot of the PSN games.
Yeah, I'm really into supporting the PlayStation Network games.
Gaming Target: Are you solely a PlayStation guy? Or do you play Xbox 360, Wii? What kind of things do you have?
Honestly, originally I purchased a 360, and I hated it. Out of all the game systems, the 360 and the Wii, the PlayStation is the most rounded of the three.
Gaming Target: So how did you become a tester on this show?
The process for becoming a contestant on the show was kind of nerve racking. Like first you had to put in a submission video, and you think that would be enough, but there were a couple of different casting interviews. There were like a three interviews, and the third was like, the interview where it was determined if you got flown out. If that wasn't enough, which people don't know about, there were only 11 contestants on the show.
But there were more contestants flown out, in case they didn't like one of us. People that were there that couldn't get on the show got sent home because they wouldn't have been liked, or they felt they couldn't work with them, or they thought they were too intense. There was a day's time when there was a bunch of us, and three or four people got sent home, like immediately.
Gaming Target: Wow. That's crazy.
Gaming Target: Well, you work, well you worked ? I don't know if you are still working- in reality television before you became a contestant on this show.
Gaming Target: What do you think about the transition? Going from working in the production crew, to doing a complete 180 and being the talent?
The thing about that, I still work in production. The switch was easy for me. I think most people wouldn't see it as a switch. They kind of think you have this advantage because you know how things work. It doesn't really change the outcome of the competition at all. So it is actually a switch. My only job is not to get sent home. It has nothing to do with getting fired. So it's a completely different mindset.
The only thing that made it easier is being treated as a cast member, I knew certain things to expect. I knew what I could ask for and what to expect. Most of the advantages were off camera.
Gaming Target: Did the contestants think you might have an advantage by your background in reality television?
Honestly, when I was there I didn't mention I worked in production until after I got kicked off; to keep it from helping or hurting me, I just never mentioned it. I just said I did a lot of different stuff and I was very vague about it.
Gaming Target: So when you first won a spot on the show, and you first entered the house? What was it like? Who did you see as your biggest threat?
We spent a lot of time in the house. We didn't play video games as much as we needed to . We actually hung around and talked a lot. It was until kind of later on that we started to assess who were the biggest threats personally. For me, Barmy was easily the most threatening person. Barmy was definitely a threat. He made it pretty clear he knew a lot of stuff about gaming. And as much of a clown he might look, Doc is really, really well versed. He is knows like everything about video games. Those two were definitely the biggest threats.
Star, I love her to death, but her strongest suit was playing video games, and that obviously doesn't carry. She had been a tester already. She made it clear she had been a tester already. Nobody considered her a threat because she did it already; that kind of looks bad if you say, ?I did this already but I got fired.? It doesn't really help the situation. She was a really good video game player,.
Gaming Target: Well your talking about the other players and your mentioning nicknames. You have Big D. Were these nicknames given to you guys or did you come up with them yourselves.
That was actually part of the submission, the criteria for the submission. To name both gamertags and nicknames. Well I picked a couple of different names, they picked Big D because it had a story behind it. My neighbor used to play a lot of video games and he used to call me Big D. That's not my gamertag though.
Gaming Target: What were some of the other nicknames you came up with?
Diesel. I kind of like that. Real strong, real tough. That sounds like a really good video game name.
Gaming Target: (Laughs) OK. So, the Tester is a new show. This is kind of new way to present a reality show. So do you think that, pending on the current success or failure of this show, more of these kind of programs will pop up in the future?
Yes. It actually an interesting concept. Before we started the show, we had a production meeting, talking about how this was the first time something like this was going to be happening. In terms of this, as a way to deliver entertainment to people, it's definitely smart (sighs.) It's smart but what bothers me about it, is its safe. It's very safe to do something like a competition game show.
But a show like The Tester, its cool, I like to be on it. But at the same time it's kind of campy, it's kind of gimmicky. You're playing up the video game aspect of the system, but if you're trying to reach out to multiple people, you need to also express that it does more than just play video games. Use the show to exercise, ?Yeah we can make a show on the network and download it,? but when the show is about video games you stub yourself in the toe. I mean, I don't know dude. It's a good idea, I just wish they wouldn't be so safe about and to be more bold and say, ?We're going to put on a drama.? The fact that's it's a reality show is that it's a safe step. It makes me feel they kind of slowed the potential. It's Sony. It has a motion picture company. They can afford to make something.
Gaming Target: More original content through Sony, through the PSN, rather than a low budget reality show? You wanted them to go all out and make something that people would really be blown away by.
I feel like Sony should not have made a reality show. They should have made something more attainable to everybody. They're slogan ?it does everything.? If it does reality, it doesn't really do everything. Reality is just reality, everyone does that! It just doesn't flex the system.
Gaming Target: I hear you man. That's interesting. Ok. So let's get back to the show. The show is obviously called The Tester. The prize for winning is a position as a video game tester and $5000. Some would consider this prize as winning just an entry level position, an has kind of been ridiculed. What are your thoughts on this.
(Laughs) The initial backlash was incredible to me. When people started to go off, and say things like ? well if the prize was to be a fry cook, would you want that?? Well it's not the same prize. Some of, well most of us, weren't living in an area that had that opportunity. Everyone on the show was pretty excited. They knew what they wanted and why they were there. For example Doc. Doc was in the Gulf War. He's a paramedic, he's a fireman. He makes a salary, he makes a ton of money a year. But this is his passion. People need to consider more about the sacrifice that a person is willing to make, to dedicate their time to get basically what is a bitch position.
Gaming Target: So what you're saying, when the backlash came out, its like ?Screw you guys, we may not be winning Survivor money, but we're getting into a position where we are able to fulfill a dream that we have.?
Gaming Target: Have you found that since you have been on the show, or I should say that since you got kicked off, it has given you more opportunities to get into this field?
Easily...easily. I didn't win, I can't say who won. But we all know each other, and now we are all contacts for one another. We still talk to each other. But anybody that is there is potentially someone who can help me out. As silly as the tasks were, the judges and ourselves know how serious we are.
Gaming Target: I just mentioned, you were voted out in last week's episode in the Buzz trivia video game challenge. Do you think the challenges that you guys had to go through would accurately qualify you or accurately disqualify you from a position as a tester?
I kind of felt like the sort of challenges we had to go through were no different from a big company's team-building exercise. Like a company retreat. They have these teamwork exercises, and that's a lot of what it is. It's just the essence of communication. A lot of people thought like, what did this even have to do with anything, it doesn't have to do with game testing. It doesn't have to do with game testing. You're not interviewing to see if you can play a video game solid for three days straight. If that was the case, everybody would have won . It's about being on a team. People can ridicule the stupidness of the challenges, but they need to pay attention to the actual moral. We are looking for a team that needs to able to work for a team. And they're looking for how you react to things other than your actual physical performance.
Gaming Target: Are you still working in production, are you going to take more steps into the video game industry.
I'm still in production, I will be probably until the end of the summer. Definitely thinking about going into sound design for video games.
Gaming Target: All right, cool man. Thank you Daryl for your time.
Yeah. No problem.
Episode 6 of "The Tester" will be available to download from the PlayStation Store starting today.