Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces


Posted by Randolph Carter on March 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Fickle Corebear

Chapter 1: Introduction

What is your name (your online persona/alter-ego, what have you)?

My moniker that most people know is Makkaio. It means Matthew in Hawaiian, but there is an extra K thrown in there. My real name is…of course..Matt.

What is your connection to the gaming/blogging/podcasting community (your chance to plug yourself here)?

Game design hobbiest. MMO connoisseur currently back in LOTRO after jumps from WAR and CoX. Currently hanging with a great group of gamers/blogers/casters over at Casualties of War.

Please take a minute and describe what your blog/podcast is about.

My blog,, is pretty general with frequent gaming content mixed in. I like game bloggers who write about more than gaming. I like to learn a little about the person behind the game speak. So, I try to do that, too.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Buffalo, New York. I was close with my cousins and the rest of my family. They were big board game enthusiasts. They had all the board games back then. We played Clue and Monopoly the most. I learned the strategy of games at a very early age. I started to take an interest in making my own board games and my family would flatter me and play them.

My family moved to the boonies when I was 10 to live in my grandparents’ house when my grandfather died. Two things helped spark my imagination for future gaming. My cousin’s Commodore 64 and Dungeons&Dragons. I picked up the manual and learned BASIC coding and toyed with converting the D&D rules to a computer game. I was hooked and have been on the line ever since.

Where do you live now?

I live in Jamestown, New York. Home of Lucille Ball and the 10k Maniacs.

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 10-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90


What do you do for a living?

Public relations for the Mayor’s Office in Jamestown.

If you could re-roll your career, what would you be?

I love what I do right now. But in a perfect world I would definitely be a game designer, which I still may take a shot at someday. But when I was growing up I didn’t really know you could be such a thing.

List five random things most people don’t know about you.

Man…my life is such an open book.

  • I love taking weekend trips to places just to stay in hotels to get away from it all.
  • I’m more interested in the mechanics of games than actually playing them.
  • I don’t like sweet stuff or confections. So…no pie OR cake for me. But I will have another burger or slice of pizza.
  • I have ulnar nerve damage in both of my arms due in huge part to playing MMOs for two decades. Now that is commitment!
  • I’m working on a browser-based MMO for fun and hope put it out there in about six months.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I have been married to my wife, Julia, for almost 5 years. She is very understanding of my gaming habits. What more can I ask for? We have two awesome black labs.

Chapter 2: Origins

What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?

My older brothers and cousins were a huge influence here. They loved to play board games. They seemed to have anything and everything. Mostly I liked to play Life and Monopoly. My favorite was clue. As a matter of fact, Clue was a great gaming system that I loosely relied on for some systems I coded in a few hobby MUDs and MOOs back in the day. But my family spent a lot of time with me playing those games.

It also kind of started my interest in making games. I would round up all sorts of resources in the house. Cardboard for a game board. Index cards for play cards. Making my own game pieces. My family encouraged me and played the games I made. It was pretty cool. I missed my calling. LOL.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

All of my male cousins and my younger brother were around the same age. We live in Buffalo, so of course hockey was a huge deal. We played a lot of street and ice hockey. We played street football or would walk a bit to a decent park field to play tackle football. It was funny to read Blackguard’s answers because we had this neighborhood backyard wrestling thing going on, too. My younger brother and I were tag team champs! Go High Flyers!

I picked up the trombone in fourth grade and liked playing. Later, my music teachers liked that I understood music and pushed me in the direction of playing several bass instruments. I played the tuba through high school. Yep. I’m a total nerd.

My biggest loves outside of gaming came later on. I raced BMX bikes regionally, mainly as a way to support my younger brother. He went on to do very well nationally, ending in the top 3 in his age group until he was injured in his late teens. He could have gone pro. After that I started skateboarding, got good at it, and had a lot of fun for several years hanging with a group of friends and skaters.

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

Ah yes. D&D saved my life when I moved from Buffalo to the boonies. I’m still best friends with the guys I used to game with back then. We stayed active the best we could, but D&D helped get us through the boredom. We also played a wrestling card game called Champions of the Galaxy. We tried our hand at Top Secret SI, Twilight 2000, Marvel Superheros, and later the White Wolf games. We weren’t huge SciFi (Syfy) fans so we didn’t play a lot of stuff like Battle Tech, Paranoia or things like that.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

Other than making games, my next big interest was writing. I kind of looked at both of them the same. Making games was like making interactive stories. So I did read a lot of stuff and analyze it for my own writing. My mom was a big Stephen King fan, so I was reading King when I was like 12 or maybe younger. I liked Edgar Allen Poe. I read a lot of D&D books, Forgotten Realms, stuff like that. Of course, Choose Your Own Adventure books.

I was a Marvel Universe nerd thanks to my friend Kevin. We were into X-men and my favorite character was Wolverine, so I’m jazzed a movie based on him is coming out. I tend to gravitate to loner characters mainly because I used to see myself that way. He was raised by animals in the woods…I was raised in the boonies away from the city at the time. I didn’t fit in at school. So I could identify a little with that type of character.

Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.

Definitely. From an early age I had a mind for gaming. In everything I read or played, I would always think of how I could apply it to a game. Like the Clue board game. I would use the board to create dungeons before miniatures were even a thought. I used the clue mystery card system to make adventures. I just love the process of creating games and can appreciate what developers do to put out games, whether they be board games or consul games or MMOs.

How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

I have to admit. I’m old. It was Pong. The game was officially born the same year I was…1972. Five years later, I was rummaging through a closet and found my older brother had one stored away. I asked what it was. He set it up and played a few games with me.

First thing…at the age of five…how friggin’ cool was it to make the TV do stuff!? It was amazing. I could actually do stuff on the TV instead of watching Sesame Street or something.

Secondly, the computer would play against you!? You’d have an opponent any time you wanted? That was killer! From there I was hooked.

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

Oh heck yeah. My cousins lived just down the road from a deli. We’d walk up there to order get subs all the time. They had Donkey Kong and a game where you used two joysticks to climb a building. I forget what that was called. But it was at that point…when I was 9 or 10…that I learned the competitive nature between man and game. You had to get good at the games quickly or you were out a lot of money. I think it was around that time I was becoming interested in how video games worked instead of just playing them.

Later I spent a lot of time at the arcade at a nearby mall when one of my older friends started to drive. Played a lot of Area 51, Street Fighter and was later amazed by Mortal Kombat and Tekken.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

Well…it was text-based actually. It was Dracula on my cousins’ Commodore 64. I was around 11 or 12. It blew my mind that there was a computer-like, choose-your-own-adventure sort of game. I thought that was way cool. That set me up for falling right into MUDs later, and ultimately playing and working in a few text-based MMOs. I picked up the BASIC manual and started to code my own interactive stories. I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to get a computer to do what I wanted. Twenty some years later I still get that feeling.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past? Pong, Colleco Vision (do those count?), Atari 2600, Nintendo NES, PS1, PS2. And that’s pretty much it. My current concentrations are computer games and MMOs. Probably will get a PS3 when I have the time.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

One of the best times I had was organizing neighborhood Pac Man tournaments on the Atari 2600. I never won, but had a blast. LOL. But I thought it was great that a game could bring that many people together and just have fun. Everyone was into it and tried hard to win. It was like a little Pac Man league. Ah, fun times.

One Response to “Makkaio”

  1. […] Makkaio […]

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