The Ninjabot

Wise Words from the Geek Next Door: Review and Interview with LatinoGamer.com

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm by CJ

Geek Legacy provides a digital space for us geeks to view and review the games, movies, books, and technological tools of awesomeness. There thousands of other sites out there like ours, though, and LatinoGamer.com is one such site with an interesting story to tell. Rafael Alejandro Sanchez, the founder of LatinoGamer.com, was kind enough to provide an interview for us, telling his tale of gaming that transcended the limits of his college dorm and echoes in the halls of cyberspace.

Your typical Computer Science major with a diet of pizzas and soda, weekends of Dungeons and Dragons, and a giant Mexican Flag in his dorm room, Rafael (or Rafa as he likes to be called) is fully qualified to represent the Latino gaming community. The name is just for ease of remembering, though—Rafa told us that he considers a love of video games as universal and not confined to any specific group. He shared the history of LatinoGamer.com with us, and how his website may contribute to his goal to be a video game designer.

When did you start liking games?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like games. My whole life I guess. I started playing video games with the Nintendo Entertainment System, specifically with the classic Super Mario Bros. This must’ve been in the 90’s. To this day I still have a preference for the classic, not to say that I don’t like new games. It’s almost a trick question because there are a lot more classics than current games. Ultimately, a lot of my favorites are PS1 & PS2 era games, like Spyro the Dragon.

Do you think people ever get too old for video games?

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop playing games. Video game developer James Portnow said that he’s hopeful for the day that video games are not seen as something that people are expected to outgrow.

When did you decide you wanted to be a game designer?

I always knew I wanted to do something related to games. It is something that grew in me having grown up in a family that didn’t have much money. I had to invent my own games. I got pieces of paper and made my own version of board games. The Yunalesca Boss Battle in Final Fantasy X was probably the moment that I had the epiphany wherein I realized that video games was what I wanted to work on. During my high school years, that specific boss battle left such an impression in me because of its “coolness” that I really wanted to delve into the world of video game making.

How did you start LatinoGamer.com?  

After I graduated from Occidental College, I got bored and decided to make a website. I had worked on other websites for school clubs and such, no professional things. I knew HTML and CSS, so starting LatinoGamer.com was not so hard. It evolved from me just making YouTube videos. I was really into bloggers like the Angry Video Game Nerd. I looked up to him and wanted to do something similar. From the videos, it evolved into what it is today.

At first, it was just a place to put my videos. Later on, I decided to do more writing because I couldn’t do many videos anymore. I don’t have much privacy since I live in the dorms. I had to adjust to my new environment, and I wanted to use my passion for writing on games, so I added written blogs.

How does your website appeal to the Latino community?

I focus on the Los Angeles gaming community. It helps that I live in that city, so the events that I go to happen here. My goal is to eventually have the website be completely bilingual. Sometimes companies like EA will send me press releases in Spanish. They have sent me press releases for Need for Speed to appeal to the Latino audience, in addition to the English speaking community. Those companies know that Latinos like sports games. Most recently, they sent me a press release for FIFA 14.

Latino Gamer

How did other people get involved into your website?

There are three main contributors, in addition to myself, who run Latino Gamer. There is Daisy, Tim, and Jehosafat. Daisy’s the one who loaned me Final Fantasy X to begin with. It was a good idea to get a girl involved in case I needed commentary from the viewpoint of the opposite gender, and I figured she would be one of the best people to help me. We go to many gaming events together.

My friend Tim from Oxy, occasionally he writes on it. He focuses on studying the effects of video games and healing. He’s recently got a Master’s in Theology and became an adjunct professor in a community college, so he doesn’t have much time to write for the website. His penname for the website is “Professor Gamer.” One of his articles was even reposted for latinalista.com.

Jehosafat is usually on the Facebook page for Latino Gamer. He’s the media person. He’s a big fan of Rockstar, the guys who make Grand Theft Auto. If he sees something interesting he will post it on the page. His main contribution is to contribute media content for the Facebook page.

Where do you want Latino Gamer to go?  What do you envision for the future?

I guess I don’t know for sure. When I started it, I didn’t imagine it being what is now. If you had asked me then, I would have told you I would still just be posting YouTube videos. The turning point was when I was actually invited to a media event, the preview for Dead Rising 2. A woman named Roxana Lissa, who works for RL Public relations, told me her husband had been Googling video game sites related to Latinos, and she invited me to that event. That turned out to be a networking opportunity in which I met guys from other websites. At one of the Need for Speed events I met Carlos Lopez from AngryBananas.com. He introduced me to the StreetPass Los Angeles Group, which is a gamer group that holds an event every month wherein everyone brings their 3DS to use the Streetpass features.

But even if I don’t go to an event, I advertise it. Latino Gamer has become a bulletin post for the LA gaming community to see when events happen. Given that Latino Gamer has changed in these ways that I didn’t see coming, I want to be open to whatever the website itself wants to transform into. Like the saying goes, don’t write your story, create your characters and let the characters go where they want to go. Latino Gamer is a character that I’ve created in my life’s story, but it itself can, in a strange and mystical way, change to whatever shape or form it wishes.

You wanted to be a game designer. Will this include an evolution of your website into a forum for your work?

Possibly, since I have Latino Gamer, if I’m ever able to work on some real projects then the website will be an outlet for it.

You can read more from CJ at hanabuk.com, or follow him on Twitter at @carlosjalpense as well as follow his YouTube channel, lubicuslatinae.

You can read more from Rafael at LatinoGamer.com, Facebook and Twitter.

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