Back in November 2009, I was getting ready to attend the Montreal International Games Summit, and I panicked—it was my first major event as a member of the press, and I had no way of recording the interview. This was a problem because I was about to speak with Yoichi Wada, then-president of Square Enix, along with several other notable industry people. So I went to Radio Shack and picked up the cheapest voice recorder I could find, a little gray rectangle made by RCA that encased in a glass display case. I don’t know which model it is, but it has followed me throughout my professional career so far—now, almost 13 years later, it’s finally being retired.
I hung up on that gadget for one main reason: I trusted it. The RCA recorder didn’t have any particularly noteworthy features; Sound quality was fine, and it was really annoying to have a bunch of AAA batteries on deck. But I’ve always been paranoid about missing an interview and wasting my time — and worse — that of someone who agreed to talk to me for a story. So, as long as the recorder worked, I had no real reason to replace it. And it always worked. Even when the “erase” button fell off, I still stuck to it. But earlier this month, while attending Summer Game Fest, I came to a sad conclusion: The rewind button wasn’t working, which pushed the recorder beyond the point of usability.
But it lived a good life. In fact, it’s been with me for my entire career ledge As of now, that is before 2012. All the personal interviews I’ve done in that period were recorded on that machine. I took it with me when I went to New York to hear Shigeru Miyamoto’s grand plan Super Mario for the iPhone and when I was in Montreal to learn how the team at Ubisoft recreates a whole city like Paris. I had it with me when, just a day after I filed my review, I sat down for a nice, long conversation with the directors of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in San Francisco.
I took it with me to several iterations of E3 in Los Angeles to report on the state of the Japanese game industry, explore Nintendo’s plans for the future, and try to understand Phil Spencer’s vision for the Xbox. It was in my hands in 2019 as I tried to keep a straight face asking Nintendo veterans what a gooey version of Luigi would be like. It recorded Yoko Taro speaking Without Your Iconic Mask, I was fortunate enough to have spoken to the key minds behind almost all of my favorite games in childhood, whether it was Super Mario, Metroid, God of war, Devil May Cry, monster Hunter, Dragon Questeither last dream, Whenever I travel to an event or studio or even just go out for coffee with someone from the entertainment industry, I feel safe knowing that I have an RCA recorder in my pocket to go to ready for
And in a time when Zoom dominated most of my business communications, I also used it to record a lot of phone calls. It was awkward—I’d turn on the phone’s speaker and put the recorder right next to it—but, again, it always worked. That’s how I managed to track down the artists behind classic Atari box art and hear Sean Bean explain what it’s like to be killed in a video game. I locked myself in the bathroom to talk with David X Cohen about the end of 2013 futurama So that I don’t wake my first child from a nap.
With the proliferation of video calls and the lack of personal events over the years, the recorder hasn’t gotten much work. It’s been hanging around in a desk drawer for about 36 months. But earlier this month, I had the chance to use it again when Summer Game Fest held its first in-person event in Los Angeles. And it was as reliable as ever; I used it to record interviews with the directors of Callisto Protocol And street fighter 6 and to capture my first practical experience peridot, But, without the rewind button, actually transcribing those conversations was too time-consuming.
It’s unclear when I’ll go back to another individual event, so I have time to decide what happens next. It is not easy to replace a stable partner of more than a decade. I know I will not use my phone to record the interview; Again, I’m paranoid, and I’d prefer something simple and straightforward so that a dead battery or software update doesn’t mess up an interview. But I also like the idea of a single-purpose tool. The RCA recorder is something that I absolutely associate with the act of conducting an interview, which is a vital part of my job, and as it turns out, that means it becomes a memory-infused object. has gone. If I’m lucky, I’ll find something that will help me capture even more.