The Angry Video Game Nerd Is Back

"Never heard that one before." That's what you'll say after watching any of the Angry Video Game Nerd's videos. Next thing you know, some of the Nerd's vocabulary has weaseled itself into your own. Read on as Sheila and the Nerd take a trip back to the past.

DVD CoverJames Rolfe is known around the world as The Angry Video Game Nerd, a character who rants about retro games that suck ass. The outlandish profanities, old school movie footage, and special guest appearances made his videos stand out as comedy gold the moment they hit YouTube. You can now find his stuff in high definition at or on DVD.

Over the past year I've found myself cursing just as much as my coworkers. It's now normal to hear me yelling "that's bullshit," "fuck balls" and the proverbial "ASS" while at my desk or on the phone. Every day. Amazingly, I haven't been fired. I owe this phenomenon to the Nerd, who actually set some time aside for a chat with FLAREgamer.

Sheila: Despite games and peripherals being barely playable, during the the '80s we forced ourselves to believe that everything new was fun in order to seem cool. Do you think you would have gotten away with saying that a game sucked ass when you were a kid?

James: To tell you the truth, I don't know. I feel that by doing these videos, it really puts you into perspective. Let's take a game like Back to the Future on NES. You look at it today and all its flaws are obvious. But did you feel the same way when you were a child? I remember renting it back then, and never playing it again, but there wasn't any outburst or AVGN-style rant. It's only now that we can let it all loose. That's what it's about.

"I wish I could go back in time to prevent this game from being made."
-AVGN on Back to the Future

Kid IcarusSheila: Now that's what I'm talkin' about, we didn't let it out. For some of us, we said the games were awesome because our parents tanked a ton of money. We better enjoy it... or else they'll stop buying them. Also, I hated games like Kid Icarus - where at the start most of our time is spent as him being a frilly little bitch and the theme music was repeated like hell - but I played it because the cooler kids did. Damn, I can't believe I still remember the password (8uuuuu) we used to get to the last stage.

James: Yeah. My parents only seemed to buy the good games, with the exception of Ghostbusters and some others. But it was clear that Mario, Zelda, and most of the games you hear about often, were good. So usually when you tried another game, it was a blind gamble. And most of the time they sucked.

Sheila: Last year or so I saw a video of the Nerd "as a kid" getting pretty pissed off. That real? Part of me wants to say yes for the luls but the singular shots of the kids staring at the game seem too convenient...

The Anger BeginsJames: Absolutely, that's me alright. haha The closeups of all the kids' faces were real, too. Of all the footage, I edited out all the bad camera movements and stuff, so that may be why it seems so perfect. But there's a lot more where that came from.

Sheila: Before you even had videos to get the message across, did you ever enjoy tearing off peoples' rose-coloured lenses of the early days of gaming?

James: It's crazy, and I never remembered this til recently, but I actually made videos of many of the games, like TMNT, Double Dragon, Metroid, Castlevania 2, and others when they were current. I could record the game footage on my VCR, but the only problem was, I didn't know how to dub my voice over it, so I just pointed the camera at the TV screen and talked over it. No, they weren't AVGN style, but its ironic to think how innocent it all started. I had no idea that 20 years later, I'd be famous on the internet for doing that sort of thing.

-AVGN on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Sheila: Long ago, my little brother and I did the same thing. There was a TV show called Game Nation where a bald guy's head was in front of video game footage. So we did our own commentary videos with my little brother (wearing a yellow cap) in front of the TV. I taped it to look like he was a bald guy inside the TV but nobody was playing the games, so we just let the games run their demos. Who is playing the games during your reviews? Sometimes I see some skilled footage that just can't be natural.

James: No, it's me playing the games.

Sheila: Have you ever used hax like the Game Genie to get to the next levels of ridiculous games like Dragon's Lair?

James: No, honestly, I haven't.

Shoelaces are bullshitSheila: So that explains why we don't see any footage of what's beyond that second screen. Was any of the AVGN profanity pre-meditated? I quite liked "fucktuple" from the You know what's Bullshit? rant on shoelaces.

James: Pre-mediated as in scripted, yes, as most of what I do is written out before. But how I come up with it, is beyond my comprehension. I just let it flow.

Sheila: So do any phrases end up on the cutting room floor because they're too much or made less sense.. than usual?

James: There's always a lot I edit out. I keep what I find funny.

"Now you're playing with fuckin' shit!"
-AVGN on The Power Glove

Sheila: Do you think the Nerd will start hating on stuff happening in newer games?

James: Hmm. No. But one time, yes. You'll see what I mean soon.

Sheila: Kick ass. I'd like to see what you think of crap like popstars or actors forcing their way into videogame appearances. They pretend they play video games and are "just like the fans" in order to keep their careers afloat.. instead of doing what they're supposed to - you know, like making music or acting.

James: Absolutely. I don't know much of current games but I'll always remember such absurd titles such as Shaq Fu.

Shaq FuSheila: Oh man, we rented that one, too. There were so many fighting games made because of Street Fighter II's popularity. I even remember us renting Clay Fighter a few times because it "wasn't that bad". By the way, have you heard of the new Ghostbusters game that has the full cast involved? If something like that came out when I was a kid it would blow my damn mind.

James: Yeah, it's interesting, because the movie wouldn't be far off. If done right, a third Ghostbusters film could be fantastic. But "done right" is the issue.

"Even if the whole movie was just the Ghostbusters sitting around taking a shit, I'd go see it."
-AVGN on Ghostbusters 3

Sheila: Do you think you'll do more game-related movie commentaries like the Transformers classic one? I am sure you get a few thousand mails asking for The Wizard.

James: Yes. The Wizard and Super Mario Bros: The Movie are requested every day. Both of those movies were big parts of my childhood and they're such crap. Just wait, I'll get to it eventually.

Sheila: Do you feel slightly happier when someone appreciates your video-editing? I know what it's like to slave away in a dark room for days. We sometimes never see the fruits of our editbay labor until years later, when a random person happens to mention it. The comedic timing of your clips often goes unnoticed.

James: Thanks. Yes, you summed it up. It's a lot of work. And nobody knows that I do color correction or play with the audio til it sounds right. Balancing my Voice Over and the sounds from the game, cross fading music, special effects ... every little thing is work, and the final product often takes up to 40 hours to complete, and I'm a fast editor because it's ALL I do. But your average YouTuber thinks you just press "Record", talk over the game, and then hit "Stop" and you're done. It's not like that at all.

"Easier to take a shit while doing a handstand."
-AVGN on using the Power Glove to play Metroid

Sheila: Despite overwhelming positive feedback, the internet is all too willing to send negativity and insanity your way when the hits start to roll in. Have you gotten any insane or disturbing email recently?

Gently with a chainsaw, Heather.James: Not really, but yes, once you're famous, you become a lightning rod for insanity. People want to talk with me on IM, people want to talk with me on the phone, people want to meet me and hang out with me. I don't even have time to read, let alone, answer all my emails. So wanting to hang out, is probably the most unrealistic thing I ever heard. Just go to my MySpace page and see how many comments I have. It's ridiculous.

Sheila: Yeah, after one quick glance at your MySpace I see stuff that's very... very. Before you leave, I have to ask this.. ever watched Dave and Steve's Video Game Explosion? AVGN reminds me of it a lot.

James: I'll have to check it out. Thanks. And thanks for the interview.

Sheila: You're welcome, and thanks taking the time to chat so soon after your break. It's good to see the Nerd baking shiz all fresh again. For many of us, the wait was a long and painful one.

More Information:
Angry Video Game Nerd
AVGN on Youtube

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