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AaronThomas Blog

The Lineup Reunion

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First off, Brian Ekberg isn't dead. That's not why we're holding a picture of him on the iPad. He lives outside of Seattle now (message me and I'll give you his address and tell you where he hides his extra front door key), so it wasn't really practical for him to join Shanker, Homer, and me for game 4 of the NBA Finals a few weeks ago.

Ask any of the four of us, and we'll all tell you that doing The Lineup was the most fun we had at GameSpot. It was a unique challenge to present sports games in a way that both sports-game fans and non-fans alike would enjoy, and I think that by the end of the first season, we had really found our way. Unfortunately, Homer and Ekberg were jealous of the money, women, and accolades that Shanker and I were enjoying, and they hatched an insidious plot to have Shanker and I killed. Lucky for us, GameSpot laid Shanker and me off the day we were supposed to be killed. Not only did we live, but Homer and Ekberg couldn't get their deposit back from the hitman because they tried to cancel the hit within 24 hours. There's a chance this isn't exactly how it all went down, but I'm the only one that's not too lazy to write a blog post, so I get to tell the story however I'd like.

If you haven’t watched this amazing, thought-provoking show, you can find it right here. Watch a little and come back – I’ll wait!

What are we up to now? Let's see...


Shank-Diggity (he calls himself this) has been working as a contractor for Wells Fargo for several years now. He does something boring with app development and testing. But that doesn't mean his life has been boring.

A few notable Shanker facts:

  • Bet so much money on a Mayweather fight that his wager actually moved the line. He won the bet and did nothing interesting with the money.
  • Firmly believes that an insect fighting league on YouTube would be a huge hit. One reason: "Dude, let's say you've got this undefeated Beetle, and he dies one night. You just go get another giant Beetle and replace him. Nobody knows. You don't have to pay the talent!"
  • Still thinks he could possibly beat a bear in an octagon, and tried to convince me that he can run 20mph, but then backed out when I offered to pace him in a car because he "didn't have the right shoes."
  • Forces Aaron to play the role of Tom Brady in press conferences so he can grill him with Deflategate questions. This happens via text and the phone.


Brian works for Turn 10 Studios, where his primary role is telling the Forza community to "go fast" and whatnot. I did a little research though, and it turns out he's doing his best work on his personal Twitter page. Here are just some of the gems you'll get if you follow @Mechberg:

  • I can't remember the last time I stapled something
  • OK, that's pretty good
  • Just successfully opened a box of Nerds #2015
  • What are the Jerky Boys doing now without phone books


Homer still laughs loud. So very, very loud. He's also working for PlayStation these days, so if you felt like the E3 trailers were just a bit more magical this year, you're not crazy, that's Homer's magical fairy dust in action.

But things haven't been all rainbows and unicorns in Homer's world. It pains me to type this, but he came dangerously close to becoming Canadian. The wound is too fresh to share all the details, but there are rumors that at least one of his children has been heard saying "aboot" and adding the letter "u" to words for no good reason. Our thoughts and prayers are with Homer in this difficult time.

You can follow Homer and mock his faux-gangsta profile pic @homerrabara2. There doesn’t seem to be a @homerrabara or @homerrabara1, so I don’t know how he came up with this gem of a username. You should ask him.


I’ve been working as a Content Specialist for PlayStation for 4 years now, so if you’ve been to our support site in that time, you’ve probably read some of my work… and you’ve probably left feedback telling me how terrible the article was. Thanks so much for that!

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But mostly since leaving GameSpot I’ve focused on becoming really, really boring, and I think I’ve made a lot of progress. I got married, started investing, bought a drone but quickly returned it because we bought a house. Now I’m spending my weekends sanding cabinets. God, I’m so dull I almost fell asleep just writing that paragraph.

Oh, I did get to do a "Cop For A Day" experience a few years ago, and it was rad. I got to dust for prints, investigate an abandoned mattress, fire a gun and have lunch with the chief of police! I even convinced the officer I was with to handcuff me and put me in the back seat on the way to the gun range. They have little indentions in the plastic seats so your hands have somewhere to go, so it's really not that uncomfortable. It's reassuring to have that knowledge for the inevitable day when i get arrested for real.

You may have noticed that Shanker and I aren’t on Twitter. I actually made an account for Shanker a few years ago, but he was too lazy to do anything with it. I used to have an account, but I decided that I didn’t want to be one of those guys who gets fired because they say something stupid. I say a lot of stupid things, so I just went ahead and deleted it to be safe.

One thing all of us have in common is our fondness for the “good old days,” so who knows, maybe you’ll hear from us again sometime. Hopefully it’s not because we got caught robbing a bank or killed because we were trying to catch a bear for Shanker to fight.

Full Circle

Sony gets very angry with me and GameSpot over the Ratchet & Clank review.

Then Kane & Lynch happens, and Jeff takes the fall.

Jeff is back.

I now work for SCEA (my interview was in the Ratchet conference room).

Funny how things have a way of working out.

Harmonix's Alex Navarro: How to Get Your Dysfunctional Family Rocking This Chris

Some things are bound to happen at every family Christmas gathering: Grandma will complain that you don't call her enough; one of your uncles will have too much to drink and tell embarrassing stories about you to the person your dating; somebody's going to break outRock Band. That's when thingsreallyget interesting.

Old people and Rock Band are an odd mix. They're always curious about what the heck is happening, but because they're old, one of two things always seems to happen: They refuse to play because technology scares the hell out of them, or they decide to give the game a shot and you spend the next hour yelling at people to stop hitting buttons so you can navigate the menus.

I wanted to find out if there was any way to make the inevitable old people/Rock Band scenario less of a debacle, so I turned to the foremost expert on the subject: Alex Navarro.Alex is a publicist for Harmonix, and one of the primary duties of his job involves going to media events, bars, and even concerts to show off Rock Band to the -- gasp --general public. The man is a wizard; he could go to the Vatican and get them rocking in a matter of minutes.

Hit up for Alex's expert advice on how to get your non-gaming, musically-challenged family members rocking:

Mobcast 34: Kasavin, Shoemaker, Ocampo, and Thomas

It's a reunion of former GameSpot editors on this week's Mobcast. Bitmob's Aaron Thomas is joined by 2k Games' Greg Kasavin,Giant Bomb'sBrad Shoemaker, and Jason Ocampo, who may or may-not reveal his new gig during the show.

The foursome discuss holiday memories, the decade's top-gaming moments, 2009's biggest trends, deadline writing, and the place of social games in the hierarchy of gaming.

Shanker and Aaron: Voice-Acting Stars

Have you ever heard wooden voice acting in a game and thought you could do better? Me too. That's why when 2K Sports offered me the chance to record crowd chatter for next year'sMLB 2K10, I jumped on the opportunity like C.C. Sabathia pouncing on the last hot dog at Yankee Stadium. I decided to invite Shanker Srinivasan, along for the trip because...well, I needed a ride from the ferry terminal to 2K's offices inNovato,California.

Read about, watch, and listen to the whole adventure here:

Nobody Should Care That I Dislike Uncharted 2

*Edit - I tagged this as an editorial because that's what it is. Unfortunately, that also put it in the community soapbox, which wasn't my intention. It doesn't belong there, and as soon as the matter was brought to my attention, I changed the topic. I apologize.

If you've been followingmy tweetsas I play throughUncharted 2, you already know that I don't particularly like the game. Not only do I not like it, but I can't fathom how it currently has a 97 score at

Not one of the 75 people who have reviewed the game has given it less than a 9.0. Nobody in the entire industry seems to think that the game is anything less than stellar. It makes me furious that not one person has registered a dissenting opinion on the game -- I'm legitimately upset by this.

I'm an idiot -- a complete moron.

Please read the rest of this article at I hope you find that it's worth your time.

Go Ahead, Ruin My Day: Rugrats Edition

Every once in a while I get a really bad idea. Mybrilliant planto take four of my crappy games and let you vote on which one I had to play was one such bad idea. The winner of the "contest" was actuallySuperman 64, but so many people commented that the game had been covered-to-death that I made the executive decision to go with the runner-up,Rugrats: Search For Reptarfor the original PlayStation.

My plan wasn't to beat the game, so I decided that come hell or high water, I'd commit to this torture for an hour. No more and no less. You might think I'm a wimp for only playing for an hour, but believe me, it felt much, much, much longer.

I own the game (please don't ask why) and a PlayStation; however, I wanted to share screenshots with you, so I played the game on an emulator (again, with the original disc). It made the graphics a little less jaggy, but I promise you that it didn't make the game any more enjoyable.

Hit to read all about how Rugrats: Search For Reptar ruined my day.

Guitar Hero 5's Music Boss on Difficult Rock Stars, The Beatles, and More

I got the chance to speak with Tim Riley, Vice President of Music Affairs at Activision, at a recent event forGuitar Hero 5. We talked about the challenges that go along with working with rock stars, why people should still care aboutGuitar Hero, what it's like to listen to master tracks, and even Tim's thoughts onBeatles: Rock Band.

Bitmob: What is your involvement with the Guitar Hero series?

Tim Riley:I run the music department at Activision. I work with nine other people on anything music related at Activision, but 90 percent of my job is Guitar Hero. I work with the developers to select the music and negotiate the deals. I also do all of the character deals, get the artists' skins, and get them in the game. I even book bands to play events.

Bitmob: Musicians have the reputation of being difficult to work with. What are some of the most bizarre hurdles you've had to overcome to get an artist or band into the game?

TR:Trust me, there have been many, and it's hard to pick just one. There have been bad ones, but I'll share a good experience with you. I tried to put a Sex Pistols song inGuitar Hero 3so I reached out to the band's management and record label. The band was interested, but at this time not everyone knew that we needed the actual studio recordings to put a song in the game. The story, or legend, with the Sex Pistols is that they've lost their studio recordings.Never Mind the Bollocks-- the whole record is missing...

Read the rest at

Ghost-Busted: How a Few Poor Design Choices (and my subsequent anger) Ruined Gho

I just wanted to have fun with Ghostbusters.

Instead, Ghostbusters nearly gave me a stroke.

I was having a great time ridding New York City of ghouls. It wasgood fun running through the museum, indiscriminately blowing up priceless artifacts with my proton pack. Wrangling ghosts wasn't terribly challenging, but the mechanic for doing so was simple and immensely satisfying.There really was a lot to like about the Ghostbusters.

Sure, the story should have been much better. Yes, the cutscenes were sometimes awkward and in desperate need of a director's touch. I won't argue that the game as a whole could have used the ambiguous, review-friendly-crutch known as "polish."

I didn't really care about any of the game's issues because bustin' made me feel good.

And then I got to the end.

F**k the end.

Read the rest at