About Me, Zack Daniels

While I’ve always been good at writing, I’ve always been bad, really bad in fact, at writing about myself. There’s probably some deep meaningful thing I could start this article with, but we’ll go with the basics.

My name, in case it was missed in the title, is Zack Daniels. Yes, very close to the alcoholic beverage. No, I definitely haven’t heard that one before. 

I’m one half of this new thing that me and my buddy Kyle are calling SeriouslyAverageGamers. While I’m almost certainly not the brains, this all started because of one suggestion I made to Kyle months and months ago. In fact if you want to hear about Kyle’s side, he’ll have his own article here.

I wanted to start my own gaming journalism website. I didn’t have the means, or the knowledge in order to do so, but it’s one of the few things in my life that I’ve been certain of. I wanted to provide an outlet that didn’t have a wall between creators & viewers. 

Fact is, I’m a regular guy, I work an 8-4 job as a CAD Draughtsman, a career I worked fairly hard to break into, I went to University, I get up early, probably go to bed far too late, I snack too much, I have an unnatural affinity for energy drinks, and I love video games. Some might say a little too much, and I’d absolutely agree. Hell I even spent 2 years trying to get a Youtube channel off the ground in my early twenties.

I think that the main problem with a lot of companies dedicated to delivering news related to video games, is that you lose the sense of the people behind the corporation. Many of these websites are a huge part of my life, whether it be podcasts, news, reviews, think pieces, I consume all of it regularly. But it’s important to know and understand the people behind the great content that’s provided, outside of a microphone persona. I thought, and still do think, that the perspective of a couple of ordinary guys, who love videogames, but understand the restrictions of not being able to focus your whole life around them, would be something valued.

So that was the basic idea behind this website, but what about me? Why did I decide I wanted to enter the famously, or infamously depending on who you ask, competitive and unforgiving sector that is video game journalism? 

The answer itself is simple, but then not so much. Passion. To understand my background, we have to start pretty early on, so settle in.

Video games have been a huge part of my life for years now, clear over a decade. But seeing as I’m 27 as of writing this, that actually sounds like I started late. Which I suppose I did. When I  was in primary school, I was diagnosed with ADD. That’s not that strange, a lot of kids were, but I think it’s safe to say that mine was an accurate diagnosis. The reason I’m mentioning this, is because I have a really spotty video game background. I simply didn’t have the attention span to finish games. Weirdly for many years, it was books that curbed this issue, but definitely, early on, finishing a single player game was almost a nonexistent idea to me. 

I played the standard games that kids of my age did. Pokemon, Halo, Half-life, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Ridge Racer, Croc, Rollercoaster Tycoon, the list goes on. But the only video games that I remember completing, start to finish, before the release of Halo CE in 2001, was Pokemon.

Pokemon was the great equalizer of my life. Not only did it help focus my attention tremendously, it gave me an outlet to lose myself into. I was a kid, the idea of hobbies hadn’t occurred to me yet, I played with toys, read books, and watched cartoons, but Pokemon, the card game, the TV show, and most importantly, the Game Boy games, captured my young mind, for a reason that I can’t quite put my finger on. I must’ve played and finished Pokemon Silver a dozen times before finally getting my mitts on Ruby, Sapphire, and eventually Emerald.

With Pokemon across multiple generations helping me to focus my attention a bit better, committing real time to videogames and more importantly finishing them, became easier. Certain genres were still crazy to me for years. Long form RPGs such as the Final Fantasy series still remain a blank spot for me even to this day, I don’t think I’ve even seen the loading screen for a single FF game strangely. Zelda is another one that took just too much for my brain to not get bored, along with Metal Gear, and a few other staple titles that people would be shocked that I don’t have an attachment to.

As I got older this got easier, and videogames became more and more central to my life, to the point where I, and many others I’m sure, are now comfortable calling it a hobby. After Pokemon, another franchise quickly took the spotlight in fact. Halo.

I didn’t own Halo, or even an Xbox at the time of release, I was still playing on my old beat up PS1, and my Gameboy Advance. I had a family friend, who I believe won the Xbox through a magazine competition. With the box, came Halo: Combat Evolved.

As kids do, every time we went round to see them, we’d play Halo, a vast amount. Eventually the guy in question would fall off games in general, but me? No, Halo became a part of my brain, and eventually a huge part of my fascination with video games.

I’d seen my Dad play Doom on our PC, I’d seen people play Quake at my after school care. Halo: CE was the first FPS I’d seen that had a story I cared about. I hadn’t heard of Half Life at that point, so forgive me! It had all the things I loved about Doom and Quake, the fast paced action, the moment to moment gameplay, the visuals were fantastic, but it provided characters and a narrative that I was actually invested in!

This mild obsession with Halo has continued, I played Halo: CE and Halo 2 a tremendous amount, completed both on Legendary, solo, something that I probably wouldn’t subject myself to again, ever. Of course I eventually got Xbox Live, and started to take Halo 2 seriously, joining clans, organising mildly competitive tournaments with strangers online, spending hours and hours mastering every skill and broken ability available, watching grenade trickshots and superbounce techniques, etc. etc. 

The choice between PS3 and Xbox 360 was an easy one for a 12 year old version of me, I absolutely had to play Halo 3, and I did. A lot. In fact, aside from the 2006 & 2007 release dates of Gears Of War and COD4, it was the only Multiplayer shooter I played to any dedication on the 360. I dabbled in Battlefield (and loved it), dabbled in games such as Crysis, and even TF2 via the Orange Box, but Halo 3 ruled them all.

Halo 3 was in fact, the first videogame that I broke 1000 hours on. It wouldn’t be the last that’s for sure. I’ve now read most of the Halo novels, completed nearly all of the games multiple times, and even quite recently went back and burned through the Master Chief Collection. I even sat through the movie and TV show. 

Once Halo became a central part of my gaming life, all bets were off. The attention issues I’d had in the past with more narrative games and RPGs all but disappeared, and games such as Mass Effect, Borderlands, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fable, Diablo all started to enter my priorly limited experiences.

Then we hit today. It’s 08/04/2020 when I’m writing this. I’m furloughed from work and self isolating, due to the Corona pandemic. I’m typing up what is gonna be SeriouslyAverageGamers first proper article by myself, and I’m already looking forward to spending the rest of my day playing Destiny 2, restarting Mass Effect Andromeda, and probably smashing out some Overwatch. 

These days, my gaming is pretty varied. I rarely commit to an RPG, but that’s mostly due to time investment, over my aforementioned attention issues. I spend an awful lot of time playing Overwatch, and if I was forced, I’d probably say it’s my favorite FPS this decade. I also play FIFA, dabble in racing games occasionally, I adore Indie Games, and just recently completed both Ori & The Blind Forest and Ori & The Will Of The Wisps. The fact that I can trace back this general interest in video games, all the way back to my first days playing Pokemon Silver, is something that astounds me, every time I think about it. 

Despite the fact that I had a fairly Xbox focused childhood, as you may have noticed by my rambling, my gaming lifestyle today is pretty varied thankfully. I own a decently powerful gaming PC, a Nintendo Switch, a PS4, and an Xbox One X. I’ve completed nearly all of the Sony exclusives, and a couple on the Switch, but for whatever reason, my heart still sits with the Xbox. Maybe I’m hoping Halo comes back with a bang. In fact, I’m definitely hoping that. 

Hell at least Gears 5 was a blast?

Interestingly when it comes to game genres that we regularly play, me and Kyle are almost polar opposites. I have a huge competitive bone in my body when it comes to video games (much to the disdain of friends who would rather just relax), which is currently being fulfilled by Overwatch, but in general I always have a least one PvP centric game on the go, sometimes 2 or 3, I regularly play single player games, but most of the time they clock in at sub 30 hours, as that’s the sweet spot for me. Kyle on the other hand, as we’ll find out, is big into RPGs of all kinds, long and short, almost to the exclusion of all multiplayer titles. This has helped our creative process quite well!

Now we’ve covered the basics of my gaming history, there’s a few things that people ask when they find out you’re properly into video games, and they’re predictable:

  1. What are your favourite games ever? 

This is a really hard question, one that I’d struggle to answer even at my most confident. Halo: Combat Evolved is absolutely there, as is Pokemon Silver. After that I’d probably have to say Mass Effect 2, it broke open the world of RPGs to me when I least expected it to, a truly fantastic game that I still love to play even today. As mentioned above, Overwatch is probably my favorite PvP game ever at this point. God Of War is a single player title that astounded me when I played it, along with Last Of Us.

Some other more unique answers would be games such as Firewatch, Celeste, What Remains Of Edith Finch, and Hellblade, but then we’re really getting stuck in the weeds. I’m mulling over an article talking about my personal top 10, so I guess we’ll see where that list finishes!

  1. Your Favorite Franchises?

This one is a lot easier, and most of the answers are probably consistent with a lot of people my age. Halo, Pokemon, Mass Effect, Borderlands & Assassins Creed make the cut. Given a little more time, I could conjure up some more answers, but those are the ones that immediately pop into my brain.

  1. Favorite console?

Now this is dangerous territory. Honestly, as I am now, I don’t have exactly a favourite. It’s a cop out I know, but honestly each platform has their merits. I will say, my preferred place to play third-party titles is my Xbox One X. That’s mostly down to graphical fidelity, but also, I’ve got an account legacy, the account I play most on is the one I started with the Xbox One release! I love the Switch’s design, and it’s exclusives, and I honestly adore most of the Sony PS4 exclusives… in fact both the Switch and PS4 exclusives are undeniably superior to the Xbox’s offering, as much as it pains me to say it, which brings their value to me through the roof.

But yet, the UI, the controller, the services, the design… if I had to pick one console to serve me forever, it’d be whatever Xbox is offering.

Now, I know this has been a mighty long read, 2300 words in fact, shudder. But I really wanted anyone visiting SeriouslyAverageGamers to have an understanding of who I am, and why you should care about what I say. I spend way too much of my own time and money on this little hobby, and I can’t wait to start actually sharing my opinions and thoughts.

Thank you so much for reading, you have no idea how much it’s appreciated. I sincerely hope the content found on SeriouslyAverageGamers is up to snuff.

Final Note:

It’s probably worth mentioning, that the website you see in front of you, is but a template for what me and Kyle envisage for SeriouslyAverageGamers. Our own limited funds, and our dedication toward designing a bespoke website, means that we’re restricted in what we can work with right this minute.

But also, we are both very excited to start uploading articles as soon as possible, in order to hopefully make a name for ourselves, and more importantly, share our over eager opinions with as many people as possible!

We will be making a page available (see About Us), that outlines our goals for the future more clearly, but just know, we had a very clear goal in mind when we set out to launch SeriouslyAverageGamers, and what you’re seeing, while an achievement in itself, isn’t quite it.

Thanks again for reading!

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