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Media Consumption: Wideload's Matt Soell

Media Consumption: Wideload's Matt Soell

October 6, 2005 | By Frank Cifaldi

October 6, 2005 | By Frank Cifaldi
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Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic food groups of audio, video, printed word and games, speaks to Wideload Lead Writer and former Bungie "Community Guy" Matt Soell.

Soell was the long-time voice of Bungie, providing the weekly 'Halo Updates' to news outlets prior to the game's release, answering newsgroup queries as early as 1996, as well as contributing writing to Bungie's game manuals, ad copy, and even in-game dialogue. Currently Soell is working alongside many of his former Bungie co-workers at at Wideload, where their first title, Stubbs the Zombie, is shipping on October 19.

Sounds: "I've been listening to this band from Japan called Acid Mothers Temple," said Soell via a phone interview. "They were supposed to play a show here in Chicago, but they had to cancel because they couldn't get a visa. If The Grateful Dead were comprised of Japanese heavy metal fans, they would be these guys. They play these weird, psychadelic jam freakout songs. They're great." Among the giant stack of CDs sitting next to his computer, Soell's favorites lately have been the recently-reissued albums by Iggy Pop-fronted The Stooges, Primal Scream, and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. "I also have a handful of songs on iTunes from people like The Jam, Blake Babies. Stuff like that."

Moving Pictures: "I haven’t been to the movies a lot lately," Soell confessed. "I did see A History of Violence, the new Cronenberg movie, and I liked that a lot." Soell also enjoyed Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, starring Bill Murray. "Jarmusch is an acquired taste. I think this one is a little less stuck up its ass than his other films, and I say that as a fan. I even like the ones that other people don't, like Dead Man. Dead Man was cool." Soell also picked up the reissued version of The Blues Brothers. "As a Chicago native, it's kind of essential," he said. "If I didn't own this, I'd probably be killed." As far as television, Soell's not a fan, though he does keep in close contact with the Griffin and Simpson families, via Family Guy and The Simpsons, respectively.

Words: "I’ve been reading this book called Wild Highway, which is by these two guys Bill Drummond and Mark Manning. There was sort of a dance pop band from the late '80s/early '90s called the KLF. They were more of a hit overseas than here. But Bill Drummond was one of the KLF guys, and he’s been a hero of mine for a while just because he’s completely insane. The KLF ended their career more or less when they were invited to the Brit Awards to play their happy dancy techno song of the summer, whatever it was. They showed up with a metal band to play it, then Bill came on stage with a machine gun loaded with blanks and unloaded it in the audience. I love him. He’s written a bunch of books since then, one of the things he does " he’s got what I guess is supposed to be a trilogy, and they’re basically travel narratives. This new one is about how they had to travel to the Congo to buy their souls back from Satan. It’s vaguely unsettling in parts, but it’s a fascinating book." Soell also recently read the new Robert B. Parker novel, School Days. "I picked up this bad habit of reading the Spencer books. His books have sort of come downhill, but I keep reading them."

Games: "There are not a lot of games that I play all the way through. I do have a little box of games at home that I’m going to get to one of these days, because people recommended them or whatever. I did pick up We Love Katamari and brought that in to the office. One of the guys here has been sort of obsessively playing that. So when he leaves I go into the back room and play it myself. It’s a really, really fun game. Entirely apart from the game mechanics, which is genius; someone figured out how to take popping bubble wrap and turn it into a game. There’s just this compulsion to keep going. And I love the localization, the King of the Cosmos’ complete contempt for his son. You can tell the translators went to great lengths to get the right feeling into the game, it shows." Soell says the last game he played through to the end was Peter Molyneux's action-RPG, Fable. "I liked that a lot more than I expected to. I had fun with it! It’s very well designed in that way. There are people who complain that you can’t do these things that he said you could do but, I wasn’t really paying attention to that stuff anyway. Being on the inside of the industry, I know how things can change."

[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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