Monday, May 19, 2014

I Think a Videogame Turned Me into a Horror Author by Jason Sizemore

I am thrilled to host author and editor extraordinaire Jason Sizemore on the blog today. I first met Jason back in 2012 just before the first Lexington Comic and Toy Convention where I did a spotlight on Apex Publications as part of my pre-con series. Jason and the folks at Apex have been great friends to Kentucky Geek Girl and I am so thrilled to help promote any of their endeavors. This is also a special occasion because it brings together Jason with my other great friends at Seventh Star Press, publishers of Jason's new collection, Irredeemable.

Jason Sizemore is a writer and editor who lives in Lexington, KY. He owns Apex Publications, an SF, fantasy, and horror small press, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award three times for his editing work on Apex Magazine. Stay current with his latest news and ramblings via his website and his Twitter feed handle @apexjason

I have a terrible confession to make. I think videogames made me into a horror author. I know, I know, this is tragic and sad. How did this transformation happen? I blame a certain 8-bit videogame: Ghosts ‘N Goblins.

Some veteran gamers might recognize Ghost ‘N Goblins. It was notoriously difficult. I’ve seen it called the most difficult game of all time. This being the late 1980s, the Internet wasn’t around to warn me about this beast.

Ghosts ‘N Goblins is an old-fashioned side-scroller platform game that was developed by Capcom (and Micronic did the port to the NES, the system I used) and released in the mid-80s. You’re the hero, a knight, who must save the princess from endless armies of demons, zombies, and big evil guy himself, Satan. Our hero knight is brave, but has the constitution of a dying gnat. He wears a suit of armor that flies off after taking one hit, leaving you in your underwear. The second hit relieves you of your life. You can find replacement armor here and there, but nowhere near often enough.

When you lose your life, you’re taking back to the beginning of the level or at a point halfway through the level depending on how far you’ve gotten. The player is also under a clock to finish a level. Once time has expired, you die.

I’ve never been an expert gamer. I have quick reflexes, but they’re inexact. I can dodge bullets, fireballs, and demon fire all day, but intricate jumping you can forget about it. However, I was determined to best Ghost ‘N Goblins. I spent many, many nights playing into the early hour mornings working my way with my little half nude hero fighting demons.

Then one glorious night, I reached the final level. I had the cross weapon and was ready to take on Satan. In a miracle akin to turning water to wine, I defeated the lord of darkness. I had defeated Ghosts ‘N Goblins.

Or I thought I had.

No, the battle with Satan was not the end. My hero was dropped back to the beginning, the first level, and instructed to make his way back to Satan. Except now, the difficulty level was amped up.

I turned off my Nintendo and never played Ghosts ‘N Goblins again.

I believe soon thereafter I had a swearing session that would have done a Victorian era pirate proud.

And to this day, I’m still pissed off about the game.

As someone much wiser than I, Master Yoda, says—“Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Horror is the genre of suffering. My frustration with videogames led me to take up other hobbies (at least,
temporarily). Writing was one of those hobbies. What did I write?

Yep, we’re coming full circle here.

I wrote horror. Because I had suffered.

When my new collection, Irredeemable, came out, a lot of people have asked me why the book is filled with dark SF and horror. I could say “Ghosts ‘N Goblins” and be telling a partial truth.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a little bit facetious. A lot of other stuff led me to being a fan of dark SF and horror (namely, watching stuff like The Exorcist and Alien as an adolescent). But I suspect that the roots of such darkness can be found in a videogame. And that videogame is Ghosts ‘N Goblins.

Buy links if you wish to include them. I’ve also included an author bio, author head shot, and Irredeemable cover art should you need them.

Amazon —USUKCA

Kindle — USUKCA

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