Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg Get All Nostalgic About Video Games

What's to come?
May 14 2014 8:49 AM

What Was Up With Sonic and Tails?

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg discuss Sega, Skynet, and using video games to learn how to navigate Los Angeles.

Actor Seth Rogen and Director Evan Goldberg.
Nintendo loyalist Evan Goldberg and Sega fanboy Seth Rogen.

Photo-illustration by Slate. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

This essay is adapted from the foreword to Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation, by Blake J. Harris, published by It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Seth: Hi! Welcome to the foreword for Console Wars by legendary author Blake J. Harris!

Evan: Video games are great, but books about video games are even better!

Seth: We grew up as video games were on the rise, and they played a major role in our upbringing.

Evan: And that’s why we couldn’t say no when Blake asked us to write a foreword for this awesome book you will love reading!

Seth: OK, what next?

Evan thinks intensely and an idea comes to him.

Evan: Let’s talk about what systems we preferred.

Seth: Solid idea, partner-ino!

Evan: I preferred Nintendo.

Seth: I preferred Sega. I’ll never forget the first time I ripped someone’s spine out playing Mortal Kombat.

Evan: Yeah, Sega always seemed to go to a place that Nintendo didn’t, and that opened the doors for video games that weren’t just targeted at kids but teenagers and even … adults. I don’t think games like Grand Theft Auto would even exist without Sega making games that went places Nintendo never would have gone.

Seth: I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But Mortal Kombat definitely felt like a wonderful step in a new direction at the time. I was awesome at it too. Sub-Zero was my man.

Evan: Me too. Hey, here’s a Sega question: What was up with Sonic and Tails?

Seth: What? It was just your classic platonic speedster hedgehog and two-tail fox relationship.

Evan: I felt some tension there. Sexual.

Seth: Oh, it was sexual.

Seth and Evan exchange awkward looks in what is clearly a sexually charged moment of their own.

Seth: I used to own a Power Glove. I got it right when it came out.

Evan: Sweet petunia bush! Please elaborate using as many words as possible!

Seth: It didn’t work that well at all. I remember the bad-ass dude in The Wizard (arguably the most important video game movie of all time), and mine didn’t work worth crap.

Evan: I was always confused by TurboGrafx-16. As far as I recall, there were only two games for it. Keith Courage and Bonk’s Adventure. I only ever played Keith Courage.

140513_FUT_RogenGoldberg-cover

Seth: I played Bonk’s Adventure. A friend of mine had it, and it truly blew my mind. I also remember renting Sega CD in high school. It had that raunchy horror game with real controversy surrounding it.

Evan: Yup, that was Night Trap. You had to stop drill-wielding serial killers from impaling sorority girls. That was the first time I remember thinking to myself, “Well they have just gone too far this time.” And I was 12 or something …

Seth: Then came Sega Saturn, and kind of shat the bed.

Evan: And then there was Goldeneye.

Seth: I would confidently say the reason I never really had a girlfriend in high school was because of Goldeneye. I specifically remember leaving parties to go play it.

Evan: Our favorite level was the Facility. We would sit with our buddy Fogell for hours and hours on end and play it.

Seth: I memorized every level. The game was as much about watching your friend’s screen as your own.

Evan: When I went off to college, I met a group of guys from out east that were way better at Goldeneye than we ever were, and it crushed me. They were operating at a whole other level.

Seth: Then you got super into Super Smash Brothers.

Evan: Yeah. It was on Nintendo 64. My buddies and I would have tournaments that would go for hours: entire evenings. I was the nimble-footed puffball of power, Kirby.

Seth: That game makes no sense. The whole thing is based on a percentage of the likelihood that you’re going to fall off a magical island, and it goes up to like 600 percent and that’s bad and you’re actually trying to keep your score low, which I find confusing and counterintuitive.

Evan: Well, games are getting continuously confusing. I don’t even know what my grandparents would think if they played Grand Theft Auto.

Seth: Remember when Martin Starr and I taught you to drive around L.A. when you first moved here by playing the game True Crime: Streets of L.A., because it had a realistic map of Los Angeles?

Evan: That was sincerely helpful. It’s crazy how they started doing stuff like that.

Seth: I bet soon games will start calling our cellphones and emailing us and stuff.

Evan: Maybe that’s how Skynet finally happens and we all end up in a Terminator/Matrix nightmare version of the future where mankind is nearly wiped out and machines rule the world.

Seth: Well, I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room—porno. We all know we’re going to be getting dirty with our video games, and if not us, our children, or our children’s children.

Evan: The future can wait. We have to live in the now!

Seth: You’re right. These days I mostly like to play games where you shoot people. Call of Duty, GTA 5, and such.

Evan: I’m an iPad tower defense addict. There’s something wrong with me. I just love games where things are sent in waves and I get to destroy them with strategy.

Seth: That’s a dark want.

Evan: It’s who I am.

Seth: A crazy thing I think about sometimes is that there are teenagers operating video games connected to deadly drones that fly around the world blowing stuff up. That ’80s movie War Games is real now. And what to us is a nonthreatening drone will eventually probably turn into, yes, Skynet. All roads lead to Skynet.

Evan: I think at this point most people would agree that a robot takeover is how things end. I’m personally at peace with that inevitability.

Seth: I still can’t get over the whole Nintendo Wii revolution, with these games you have to move around to. When we were growing up, playing video games made you fat and lazy, not nimble and coordinated.

Evan: I really got into Wii Fit for a while. It was pretty addictive at first, but then it made fun of me too much and mucked up my self-esteem.

Seth: Now kids are getting their self-esteem messed with through video games way more than when we were kids, thanks to this whole online gaming thing.

Evan: I try to get into online gaming every now and then, and I constantly find there’s young kids out there who are so much better than me I can’t even participate.

Seth: Yeah. It’s weird to think we are 31 and already we can’t keep up.

Evan: Eventually we won’t even understand the images on the screen.

Seth: Like how my grandmother would view death metal.

Evan: I’m not a huge fan of death metal myself.

Seth: Death Metal’s a great name for a video game.

Evan: I read once that the band Journey had a video game where you could put your face onto the main character. I want that. It’s silly that I can’t be the character in the game yet.

Seth: Yeah. And it’d be cool if it used your contact list for names and incorporated your real life a lot.

Evan: But then, once again, robots would take over the world.

Seth: So what we’re realizing here is video games may not ever get better than they are now, because if they did, robots would take over the world.

Evan: I think so.

Seth: Let’s take this full-circle and connect it to the book our honorable reader is about to read: Nintendo was king of home video game entertainment systems, then Sega came in and was a contender for the crown. Sega almost toppled Nintendo with their subversive and more adult-oriented games, and these games have led us to a world where GTA and Call of Duty are the top games, and the next step is to have the games incorporate stuff about us and our personal lives, and then sentient technology will inevitably disassociate from mankind and some robot like Skynet will rise up and destroy us all. Hence: the “Console Wars” between Nintendo and Sega is what began a series of events that will lead to the end of humanity as we know it.

Evan: Bam! That’s what video games mean to us.

Seth: Damn. I think we nailed this foreword stuff. Our style may have been unconventional, but we ultimately tied it to the downfall of mankind, which is cool.

Evan: I couldn’t agree more. Our next movie should be called Foreword and be about this process.

Seth: Or Foreskin and be about a circumcision that changed humanity forever.

Evan: Both good ideas.

Seth: Okay. We should probably get home to our wives now.

Evan: Yes. We love our wives. Let that be noted.

Seth: See you at work!

Evan: Ditto!

From the book CONSOLE WARS: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris. Copyright © 2014 by Blake J. Harris. It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are childhood friends and the writers/director/producers of This Is the End and The Interview. Together, the duo has also written Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express.

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