Q&A with Accomplished Journalist & Author Patrick Hickey Jr
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the upcoming book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company.
He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.
THE MIND BEHIND THE INTERVIEW
Q&A With Patrick Hickey Jr
Universal Direction: What sets you apart from other journalists?
Patrick Hickey Jr: I would say my speed and comfort in writing about various subjects. My next book is on Pro Wrestling (Thanks to the guys at Battle Club Pro for giving me great access to their workers, it’s helped a ton.) and eventually I ‘d love to write a Hockey book and do a sequel to The Minds Behind the Games and even an Indie Games version. I banged this book out in about six months and was able to really concentrate on it, all the while being a new father, being there for my family and working a full-time job as the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve never missed a deadline in this business in my life. It’s because this stuff is in my blood. I recently turned 34 and I can happily say I’ve never had a drink or smoked once in my life. This, simply put, is my drug.
Universal Direction: What makes The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers special?
Patrick Hickey Jr: So many game books focus on one genre, or time period. This book is essentially a love letter to the entire industry spanning multiple genres from the early 80s to today. Simply put, if you’re a 30 or 40-something gamer or a young geek who wants to hear some great stories about some awesome games, this book will educate and entertain you.
Universal Direction: What are some of your personal favorite games that the developers from the book have created?
Patrick Hickey Jr: NHLPA 93, Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Spider-Man 2 immediately come to mind. Those three have stolen thousands of hours of my life, in the best way possible.
Universal Direction: How long have you been conducting interviews for?
Patrick Hickey Jr: For about 12 years, from my time in College, where I served as Sports Editor and Editor-in-Chief of two college papers to today, where I am the Editor-iN-Chief and Founder of ReviewFix.com.
Universal Direction: What would you say are the top 3 interviews that you’ve conducted in your career?
Patrick Hickey Jr: That’s so tough to answer. One would have to be MLB All-Star David Wright. I got that interview in 2005 when he was just beginning to become a star and I was just made the Editor-In-Chief of my College Newspaper, The Scepter. The paper had a bad track record and I just took it over and started from scratch. I wrote the Mets PR people and annoyed the living hell out of them until I got the interview. That ended up as the front page story of my first issue as EIC. It set the tone for the rest of my career- never making excuses and always trying to push myself as hard as I could. Looking back, if I didn’t get that interview, a lot of things could be different.
The other two would probably be Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Channing Tatum. Two very cool guys. Hoffman was so laid back and chill. So focused though and passionate. Tatum is a bastard though. He’s like perfect in every way. Smart, funny, women love him. It’s not fair, he sets the bar too high for the rest of us.
Universal Direction: What’s it like to work with McFarland & Company?
Patrick Hickey Jr: It’s been a blast, they’ve totally demanded the best from me from day one and the book has ended up much larger and rich in content because of it. My editor Layla Milholen is a gem and I can’t wait for the book to hit shelves and the web.
Universal Direction: Would you consider The Minds Behind the Games your greatest project to date?
Patrick Hickey Jr: Absolutely. Before this, my largest piece was my Masters Thesis, which was a 5,500-word piece on the emotional and physical struggles and triumphs of being a pro wrestler. That piece is still a special one for me. This book is about 100,00-words, so I love it about 20 times more. This book allowed me to connect with some of my heroes and people who I think are some of the greatest artists in the history of the industry.
Universal Direction: When preparing for an interview, what’s your research process like?
Patrick Hickey Jr: I usually have an idea in mind for the story beforehand, but I try to find interesting factoids about the person and ask them about those as well. In 2006, I interviewed former Mets pitcher Sid Fernandez and I asked him how he felt about his career considering he averaged more strikeouts and less hits given up per nine innings than legend and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. The other reporters looked shocked and El Sid then just said, “You sure that’s true?” Everyone started looking it up and I was indeed right. Fernandez was kind of in a trance after that. I think I made him think differently about himself. There’s an article online by the Society for Baseball Reasearch that sites the article. Was kind of one of the first highlights of my career. I’ve never strayed from doing my due dilligence that way.
For the book, Fighting Force developer Sarah Jane Avory told me at one point she didn’t think she belonged in the book. I had to remind her that Fighting Force sold over a million copies and was an amazing game. She’s now designing a Commodore 64 game based on her Briley Witch book series. I think in my own way, I gave her some inspiration.
Universal Direction: You mentioned your next project is in wrestling. How connected are you to the material? Will it be similar to this book?
Patrick Hickey Jr: Next to my wife, child and video games, pro wrestling is one of my favorite things in the world. I grew up on ’80s WWE, but ’90s WCW stole my heart. nWo for life. The early TNA stuff is awesome too. Huge CM Punk guy. I’m straight edge and a bit of a piss and vinegar guy, so his character really resonates with me. Bottom line, The men and women that do this are so talented. They’re like stunt people, Broadway actors, stand-up comedians, bar fighters and brand ambassadors all rolled up into one. The indie people today have to do so much more to get noticed and it’s never easy for any of them, There are so many stories behind the scenes mainstream fans never get to see or hear. That’s the entire purpose of my next book. To show people how much, love and passion and heartache is involved in that business.
Universal Direction: What do you think makes ReviewFix.com stand out from the crowd?
Patrick Hickey Jr: We have really passionate people writing about cool stuff. It’s not like when I was at NBC or a newspaper and had to write whatever I was assigned. I allow my team to write to their strengths and as a result, I think we drum up cool content daily.
Universal Direction: What was your most embarrassing blooper when conducting an interview?
Patrick Hickey Jr: None for the book, I was on my A-game, but a few years ago, I interviewed Art Alexakis, he’s the frontman of Everclear. I grew up on the band, love them. But I was dead sick at the time and every time I tried to say his name I coughed. I was trying to be polite so when he picked up the phone, I’m all like, can I please speak to Mr. Ale-COUGH. After the third time, he said, “it’s Alexakis” and we got started. Overall the interview went well and I’m glad I did it. Weirdly enough after the coughing spell in the beginning, I didn’t cough at all during the interview.
Universal Direction: You’re an all around impressive guy Patrick. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the upcoming book?
Patrick Hickey Jr: Although I’m a college professor, it’s not written in this “I’m smarter than you” way. My intention was to write something that could be enjoyed by a big audience and having read through the book a dozen times in editing, I’m sure that teenagers will love it just as much as the people that lived through the times I’m writing about.
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