V-Day: Fthisga.me Interview
By Mike V.
Originally Published on April 20, 2011


When Mike V. writes, it's lightning in a bottle: unpredictable, dangerous and a gross mischaracterization of how electricity works. For this week's V-Day, we asked him to just write a simple interview. Instead, he gave us this.

In this mad world full of FPS games that all look the same and starchy-ARGs making you buy games just to buy another game, Fthisga.me offers gamers the chance to take a step to the side and revisit some old fan favorites/dick-jammers with both money and honor on the line. The concept is simple: play a Nintendo game, beat it with a certain set of conditions, document it, win cash and glory. Holes in the fence: the challenges are really hard, most people don't know what Nintendo is, and I'm legally not allowed to own a video camera any longer (for reasons unrelated to my ex-girlfriend).

Most gamers will never make it past level three, the infamous "Transsexual Motorcycle Race" level

Wanting to find out more about the madness that Fthisga.me is all about, I sat down for a drink with two of the three people in charge, Rob Hovden, and Paul Cueva.

I walked into the bar with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It wasn't well-lit, and reeked of old bourbon mixed with half-digested peanuts. I didn't know these guys too well, and them asking me to meet in a bar on the other side of town wasn't exactly winning any favors. I sat at the corner, and the barkeep gave me a nod. "Whiskey, straight-up." He chuckled and shook his head as he grabbed for a glass and the bottle. My left hand closed around the glass. My right stayed resting over my piece. I better not need it tonight.

Daylight entered the room as the door creaked open. I turned my head a little, just to get a glimpse. Two guys wearing black coats. They're strapped. I could hear them bumping into chairs just a little bit, hesitant in this dungeon. These were my guys.

"Mike...?" These were definitely my guys. Anyone looking for me would've pulled the trigger by now. And they wouldn't have been so damn clumsy. I took a sip from my glass and adjusted myself to turn around, when my phone buzzed in my pocket.

"Hold on a second, fellas, the ol' lady probably wants me to get some milk from the store." I wasn't looking at them, but I could somehow feel them look at each other and draw their guns in agreement. I looked at the message on my phone. It was Alice. "They're connected. Get out of there."

I smiled a little as I plopped my phone back into my coat pocket. I picked up my glass in my left hand and turned around. "So boys, how can I hel—" I hurled the whiskey at the left one's face and threw the glass at the right one's balls. I drew my gun and popped each of them in the leg once. The bartender cowered under the bar, probably calling the cops. I had two minutes.

"Who sent you, gentlemen?" I kicked away their guns and let mine stay loose in my grip, twirling it around a little. People hate it when you aren't careful with a piece. I knew neither of them were gonna talk, so I went through the bigger one's pockets and grabbed his wallet. I sorted through his cards until I happened upon one that read "Fthisga.me International."My eyes widened.

"Fthisga.me?! Where is he, where's Walsh?!" I was inches from this guy's face but he just gave me a smile. I'd just shot Paul and Rob, two-thirds of the notorious Fthisga.me mob family. I'd have loved to wipe out all of them, but I had the sinking suspicion that Dustin Walsh, the craziest of the trio, was sitting somewhere nearby with my head in his crosshairs. I stood up straight and headed for the door. The cops would be here soon, and I didn't need the boys in blue and Walsh firing lead at me. Daylight hit my face while I was still a few feet away from the door, and there was Walsh, armed to the teeth. This was going to be harder than beating Mega-Man without dying.

Scientists estimate that Mega-Man is neither easy nor fun in any way.

I slammed the door in his face and ran full sprint for the bar. I leapt over it and landed less than gracefully against some bottles of booze. Walsh screamed some sort of gibberish as he fired his shotgun off wildly at the bar. He wasn't trying to hit me, he was trying to scare me. It's working. I heard someone yell "freeze," and another voice say "Drop the weapons!" The boys in blue.

They arrested all four of us. At least I made it out alive.

I was placed in a holding cell of some sort. I had one of my connections drop a key in my meal tray. I didn't waste time thinking how to use it. I grabbed the guards arm and threw him to the ground, grabbing his gun as he hit the floor.

"If you yell, I'll kill you."

I ran full sprint down the hallway, past the interrogation room. I stopped, and stepped back to the door. Paul and Rob were there, handcuffed to the railings in the room. This was it.

I walked into the room and used a chair to wedge it shut. Paul and Rob were in disbelief, my gun was in my hand.

"Hello gentlemen. I hope you'll answer a few of my questions."

They started yelling and screaming for help. I steadied my gun to Rob's forehead. They both went mute. "That's better. Now, why would you make a gaming challenges for retro games?"

"…because, there's something classic about these games…a-and about trying to actually complete a difficult challenge! There's, there's a sense of fulfillment when you achieve something few others have!" Rob was visibly shaking.

"And, and we don't believe in the achievements of modern consoles! They're just making gamers feel a false sense of accomplishment." Paul wasn't much calmer than Rob, despite my gun not being pointed between his eyes.

I paced back and forth. "But, your design is lacking, your challenges are sparse, and no one has contributed to the site yet! Explain that!" I laid one hand on the table and pressed my gun into the side of Rob's face, despite his desperate attempts to lean away.

Shit just got real.

"We-we got a hold of one guy…he's a Mega Man player, b-best in the world! He's going to tackle our challenge! And we're talking with other retro gamers! I swear! And we're working on a site overhaul!" I looked into Rob's eyes, and I sensed he was telling the truth.

Paul chimed in. "And we're looking into new games too! Indie developers make games that are on par with style and difficulty of retro games. We'd like to create a bond with them that allows us to presents challenges for their games as soon as they are released! Imagine, Super Meat Boy having a cash prize for the first person to beat it! It'd be a whole new way of gaming! Achievements that mean something!"

I staggered a bit, and put the gun on the table. My eyes glazed over in thought. "Achievements that mean something…." These guys, these ruthless, blood-hungry maniacs… they were on my side. I had no idea. I shouldn't have been fighting against them…I should have been fighting with them, chainsawing the faces of developers who push the same old tired Madden game with a new cover and updated rosters, or drawing and quartering the bastards who squeeze out more money by offering DLC a week after a game is released.

These maniacs at Fthisga.me were on the right page, and I was on board. I looked at Rob, then over at Paul.

"Gentlemen, let's burn this place to the ground."