Editorial – On Interviews

Chris Evans January 24, 2013 1
Editorial – On Interviews

This is very much a moment for me to through some things floating around my head onto the site and to give a little bit of an insight into how I at least do interviews for The Reticule and why I do them like I do. This very much is a result of reading Alec Meer’s tremendous conversation with Ken Levine, the man behind BioShock: Infinite on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Here is Part One and Part Two. Read them, then come back to this.

Both parts read? Good. The vast majority of interviews I have done here on The Reticule have been simple e-mail Q&As, with the only face-to-face ones I have done taking place at the Eurogamer Expo in 2011, from that I quite enjoyed my interview with Chet Faliszek from Valve. I didn’t really enjoy it at the time, largely because I feared walking into the awkward back-and-forth that Alec found himself experiencing in the first half of his interview with Ken Levine.

My confidence levels can vary wildly at different times, especially when speaking it public, and a lot of it comes down to how I perceive myself to talk. I have a Cardiff accent, which is slightly different to the broader accent of people from the Welsh Valleys, and I also tend to speak quite fast. As such, I often have to make a concious effort to speak more slowly and clearly if I am talking to people that don’t know me too well. Even when talking to people I work with every day, they often struggle to catch what I say properly as I tend to talk at my normal pace. People having to repeatedly ask me to repeat myself and others gently ribbing me for how I speak certainly causes a drop in confidence.

When it came to talking to Chet I was conscious that he might not understand me through my accent, the speed I talk at and the fact that we were speaking on the Expo show floor with lots of background noise. During the interview my fears came true as Chet had to ask me to repeat myself several times, and a few times gave an answer which didn’t quite match up to the question I was trying to ask. When I was transcribing the interview I was a bit embarrassed I must admit, but things generally worked out well.

However, I haven’t done any face-to-face interviews since, any interviews you see from me now come from e-mail Q&As. I find them easier as I know what I want to ask and there isn’t in turn any awkward moments when my question isn’t understood. The only downside is that it can be difficult to establish a conversational tone when doing interviews like this as it requires numerous messages back and forth to try and establish some banter.

Due to a lack of confidence in carrying out an interview (strangely I quite enjoy giving presentations) I just use e-mail based interviews, most of which I publish as they are in a simple question and answer format. This isn’t necessarily the most interesting way to read things, but it helps get the main points across Sometimes though I have worked an interview into a proper article, as I did with a few pieces on (the sadly now closed) Resolution Magazine, with this piece where I talked to Kyle Gabler (World of Goo) and Andy Schatz (Monaco) about the IGF.

I hope this gives you all a little bit of an insight into how I for one do my interviews here, who knows though, maybe one day I will get the courage once more to do something face-to-face or at least over the phone.

One Comment »

  1. Kevin McLennan January 24, 2013 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I totally know what you mean. The couple interviews I’ve done for The Ret have been e-mailed and I feel like if I was to have a face-to-face I would have to know someone pretty well (or else acquire some Dutch courage). Not so much for my accent (although it probably doesn’t help) but fear of not having a question, blanking or something along those lines. Emailed questions are easily set up, have more structure, not off the cuff. Like you say, you do miss out on that conversational banter and the option to ask further questions if they mention something interesting.

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