A Glorious Noise interview with the creator of the Emo Game.
By Derek Phillips
Sure, they got a rep for nerd glasses, perfectly messed hair and being sensitive and in touch with their feelings, but Emo kids have a darker side. Graphic designer, Jason Oda, created the Emo Game for those twisted bastards to live out their more violent tendencies and save their Emo heroes. Why? Because he hates Steven Tyler, of course. Glorious Noise caught up with Oda to discuss the Emo Game, crying, and selling out.
GLONO: What’s your background? Where do you live, what do you do, etc. Just generally, we’re not cops or stalkers—or lawyers!
Oda: I currently live in Boston. I came here because I thought it was the place to be if you’re twenty something and living in New England, especially after going to school in Providence, Rhode Island. But I am finding out now that Boston is just a really expensive place that you go to in hopes of meeting new exciting people that you never do and so instead you sit inside in front of your computer and make stupid video games about Emo and remember how cool college was when you know it really was only kinda cool and you were pretty sick of it all anyway. But then you remember how you have to take a job you don’t really like now instead of farting around and drinking beer all day. You pay the bills and then so you’re driving to work and you see Steven Tyler with a fucking milk mustache on a 90 ft. tall billboard overlooking every other street corner and you just say, “someone fucking kill me.”
GLONO: How’d you come up with the game?
Oda: Oh yeah, well I was driving in my car to work. And since I don’t care about my job that much and it’s really easy (oh yeah, I’m a graphic designer and I sort of work for the government but that’s all I can say about that), I always stay up real late and drink and work on projects and just have fun. So, I’m really tired when I get up in the morning and I have to drive down Harvard Avenue, which is like the shittiest place in Boston to be if you want to go to work in the morning and it takes forever and they had two of those god damn got milk ads with Steven Tyler on them and this bus pulls up next to me and the got milk is on one of those side of the bus ads and it was just really hot and sweaty that morning and I was just like, that does it, I’m devoting the next three months of my life to finding someway to get thousands of people to hate Steven Tyler and eventually skull fuck him.
GLONO: Have you always hated Steven Tyler?
Oda: Well, actually I hated Steven Tyler for a long time before that, but that was pretty much the moment that I vividly remember wanting to start the game up.
GLONO: So your hatred of Steven Tyler inspired you to create a game where Emo heroes take to the streets?
Oda: It went something like that though I don’t remember the moment that clearly at all because I was really tired from staying up too late, and all those summer days really just blur into a haze, you know how it is, that’s why summer is so magical. Actually that isn’t the first time I thought of the game at all, it might have actually been the first time I heard the song by Aerosmith called “Pink” on the radio…but that’s a whole ‘nother story for some other time and I don’t really listen to the radio anyways except for Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, but they don’t play Aerosmith. Anyways…
GLONO: Are you an Emo kid?
Oda: Well yes and no. I listen to Emo, and cry very often, but I don’t have pins on my bag and it’s more like a backpack than a shoulder bag.
GLONO: A shoulder bag?
Oda: But I dropped it in the river when I was waiting for the bus one day, and when I went to get it in the river I saw this shiny thing right next to it, and when I picked it up I totally freaked out because it was an Elliott CD! But then I realized it was my Elliott CD that fell out my bag, but it was still pretty cool because I couldn’t find that thing for a while and now I knew where it was. So, I guess that means I am an Emo kid, ya know?
GLONO: How’s the response been from Emo kids? Any contact you? Any funny email or calls?
Oda: A couple girls want to marry me but I think they’re probably only 14 and 15 and that’s why they like me. If you’re old and kinda ugly you can still totally get a really hot girl if she’s younger than you.
GLONO: Tell me about it.
Oda: My last girlfriend was 20 and I’m like 23, and she was hella blazin!
GLONO: Awww yeah!
Oda: We’re still like best friends. She didn’t like the game at all though, but I can still make her jealous by pretending I’m going out on dates with the 14 and 15 year olds.
GLONO: Dude, why pretend?
Oda: Actually she just thinks that’s really creepy and gross, she doesn’t get jealous. And then she believes me and I have to spend the next hour convincing her I’m not a child molester. Whatever. Oh yeah, but I get like at least 20 emails a day about the game. Most of them just say, “you rock out with our cock out” or something. I don’t usually write back because I don’t like to ramble on for long periods of time about nothing. It’s totally just a waste of energy, ya know? I’ve got really important things to do.
GLONO: Obviously… What kind of hits are you getting? How much bandwidth you going through?
Oda: I get tons of hits, well tons measures weight, more like um…well, just lots of hits. But I don’t pay attention to hits because hits are bullshit. Like, I always see these guys and they’re like, “My site rules! I get, like, a billion hits per month, man. I’m so cool and awesome…” and I’m like, “Look stupid dude, hits don’t mean shit, its all about the visits, hits are a fraud, man, and so are you!” So I get like 2,000,000 hits per month, seriously. My site rules. So my bandwidth is naturally like super fucking overloaded, especially since the game is like 3.2 megs, but I streamed the 3.2 so you hardly even notice the wait, even on a 56k. I’m all smart like that, I’m all about streaming my stuff.
GLONO: Damn, that is smart.
Oda: No, but seriously, I get about 5,000 visits a day, which so far is probably like 170,000 visits, but not unique visits. A lot of people play the game or go to the site more than once, ya know. Some people play it like a ton of times.
GLONO: You’ve had to switch servers. How many have you been on and are you surprised by the interest?
Oda: Yeah, I had to switch servers once because I was off this piece of shit hosting company and it’s only like 8 bucks a month but they’re total asses and you can’t call them if you have a question and if you email them it takes them like four days. So one time I sent the same email to like 50 different people so I could get the fastest response. And like, a week later I got all the emails back, each from a different person, and basically if I asked them what color is the sky about 9 would say yellow, four would say green, 26 would say orange, 4 would say blue, 6 would say “Well, today it’s white because it’s cloudy but tomorrow it could be blue or gray or even purple if the sun’s setting but only in cities not towns because cities have pollution which makes the sky purple instead of orange when the sun’s setting so your answer is call the domain name registrar because we don’t know” and then like three more people would just be like “can you hold on I’m masturbating in my shit and I can’t type now.” So that makes fifty. So they suck and as we speak my new hosting company has booted the site for bandwidth violations without warning me at all even after 3 operators promised there was no way it could get booted. I made them promise over the phone and they broke it, they’re promise breakers.
GLONO: How’d word get out? Just word of mouth or have you posted some ads or dropped some lines on particularly busy bulletin boards?
Oda: Um, I just put the thing up and for the first week I got about 11 visits cuz no one knew about it and thought to type into Google “emo video game” but then I wrote about 11 record labels and like 2 zines and put up one thing on the Saddle Creek message board and the next day I got about 3,000 visits and about 200 emails. Hotmail was pissed because that’s what I use because I know at any given moment some cock-faced hosting company is going to boot my site and erase all my emails. It’s been all word of mouth and traffic has been increasing.
GLONO: Any other games in the future? How about an alt.country game or a grudge match fighting game pitting feuding stars? Maybe Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams?
Oda: Jeff Tweedy? Yo, I don’t know about him but I knew this guy named Jeff in high school and he was a little fuck! He all sat at the popular kids’ table but he never spoke a word. But one time in French class he threw up on me because some girl made some nasty-ass rotten-egged crepes and I told him what I thought of him. He didn’t say anything back. Oh yeah, the sequel…right, well there will be one, it’s going to be called “Emo is a dirty word”…seriously.
GLONO: Did you see the game was mentioned in this month’s Rolling Stone interview with Bright Eyes?
Oda: Yeah man, I never thought anyone anywhere would like my game. I thought I’d get maybe a couple hundred visits a month and a lot of hate mail telling me how close-minded and gay I was. So when I heard that the people in the game actually had played it I was totally embarrassed because like Tim and Conor do such fucking great stuff and it’s serious and real and even though I’ve been painting and doing fine art and being really fucking serious about it, they had to find out about me through my stupid video game about them.
GLONO: I can totally relate.
Oda: I’m not funny at all in real life. I’m really insecure and when people ask me questions I fuck up and don’t know what to say, especially now because people I meet through the Emo Game here and there expect funny shit to come out of my mouth and I’m totally not funny. Maybe I’m funny sometimes when I’m in the mood like now or when I’m drunk and all but really I’m usually grumpy or depressed.
GLONO: Have you heard from any of the real people who inspired the game’s characters?
Oda: Well, I heard from a few random people, like Atom [from Atom and his Package]; Casey [Scott] from Desaparecidos and Bright Eyes; Chad [Gilbert] from a New Found Glory; [MTV VJ] Gideon Yago, who is not in the game; Further Seems Forever, who I’m doing a website for now; and someone who claims to be Dr. Mindbender, but I don’t believe him unless he’s crazy or something and thinks he really is Dr. Mindbender. Come to think of it, that could have been his last name and he could have been a doctor, but nowadays you can get your doctorate for anything, like I could get my doctorate in washing machine repair and be like “Yeah, I’m a doctor.” I mostly just hear second hand what people in the game have said about it.
GLONO: Any negative feedback from any of them?
Oda: FSF said Chris probably wouldn’t like the game. Casey from Desaparecidos said Chris Simpson played it and had no comment, which totally bummed me out because he is the fucking greatest ever and I gave the new Gloria Record album a pretty bad review so he saw it and hates me, and Tim liked it though he didn’t appreciate his song playing during the whole rape scene, but he said “we do like drinking!”
At The Drive In is the only band I have heard zero from or about. They’re really not all that Emo so I don’t blame them. I heard that Jason [Black], the drummer from Hot Water Music, loved it and emailed it to everyone he knew. Buddyhead sent me back a blank email with the subject: “I like it.” Um, no word from Steven Tyler. Oh well…
GLONO: Can you make any money off this damned thing? Any interest in that?
Oda: Yeah, I’m gonna be hella rich when I do the second one because I’m putting banners all over the place for music companies. I’m also going to try to sell a lot of cool or funny shirts. Sell out! No really, selling out sucks. Seriously, how could I be Emo if I sold out, right?…right?
You can play the Emo Game here…at least, until their hosting company shuts them down again.