The first bible of video games will make its way to the bookstores around Christmas 2017. Written by former NBC news editor and National Video Games writer at Examiner, Patrick Hickey Jr., and published by McFarland and Company. The book will contain interviews with over 60 video game developers on 36 of their most iconic and unique game projects. The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers will give the developers a rare opportunity to discuss their games and readers an even rarer look behind the curtain of their favorite titles.
“I kind of took it upon myself to interview as many developers as possible and tell their stories,” Hickey Jr., who has worked at Kingsborough since 2006 said.”That’s basically the premise of the book.”
Hickey Jr. is no ordinary guy, and definitely not the 9-5 monotone, vanilla type of professor. The Assistant Director of the Journalism Program and Faculty Advisor of the Society for Collegiate Journalists at Kingsborough Community College has spent time as an editor at NBC, but his love for video games is one of the most important things in his life. According to Hickey, his book is different than anything that has been published thus far. It’s not just for the video game nerd, or the Nintendo NES nostalgist, but for anybody who enjoys good journalism, or wants to know more about the phenomena and the hype video games cause.
“I think the book connects to people that are hardcore gamers, but then it also connects to people who only have a passing fancy [in games],” Hickey Jr. said. “If you like a good story, you’d like the book, if you like video games, you’d like the book. If you like a good story and like video games, you’d love the book.”
The book is not a “Best Of” book or designed to look pretty and collect dust on the coffee table. Hickey says it’s legit journalism, something that’ll attract anyone who enjoys a good read, video game nerd, or not. He believes it reflects his passion for good journalism, combined with his love for video games.
“These [stories] are like 3,000-word features on the games, with each developer discussing the game’s origin, development and impact on pop culture. It’s a not a cute coffee table book, it’s not a tips and tricks thing,” Hickey Jr. said. “It’s legit journalism. It’s all the stuff I teach my students to write. It’s that, but just about video games.”
The Brooklyn native was obsessed with video games from an early age. The refusal to go to school as a four-year-old and play Nintendo gave him enough time to conquer many games. Hickey jokes that those early days played an influential role in his development as a gamer and eventually a reader.
“I love video games,” Hickey Jr. said. “I always have. My mom knew I wasn’t sick as a kid and let me go home and play Contra and RBI Baseball. 29 years later and I wouldn’t be there without her spend the day with her rather than be scared around kids I didn’t know.”
Hickey Jr. believes video games are art and like all art, deserves to be appreciated. Sadly, he said there is little appreciation that goes into the creation of a game often times get neglected. To produce a game, hours of no sleep and pure dedication are needed, something casual gamers just don’t “get.” Hickey even said developers sometimes suffer through emotional distress or controversial backlash.
“I think there’s a huge problem in the video game industry for people who play and don’t know anything about the people that made the games and the backstory,” Hickey Jr. said.”When you play something, you never think about someone putting their heart and soul into a video game, but they absolutely do.”
One of the reasons for the book, aside for the fact that nothing like it is on the market and it had to be written, was also the fact that Hickey Jr. wanted to challenge himself. To be a professor for 10 years and to teach the same classes over and over again can get monotonous. Although he was busy with his pregnant wife, writing articles for his entertainment site, ReviewFix.com and conducting interviews and writing for TheHockeyWriters.com, as well as teaching five classes, Hickey Jr. decided to try something else to stay sharp and motivated. Simply, his passion for journalism is undeniable.
“It needed to be written. My wife was five months pregnant at the time, and I was bored. I wanted to keep myself busy and keep myself sharp- do something different,” Hickey Jr. said. ”I love Kingsborough. I want to work at Kingsborough until the day that I die. And I probably will work here until the day I die. [But] I had to do something to spice things up.”
With his entertainment website, various articles and interviews, the things on Hickey Jr. list of life goals and accomplishments are checked off regularly. However, one of his main goals, besides marriage and being a father, was to publish a book.
“I’ve written over 10,000 articles and I still get a huge rush when I get published in a new place or when I get a really big interview,” Hickey Jr. said. ”But I never wrote a book. I had so many things checked off. When you have a kid, things change and I wanted to get this book done so I could focus on being a father.”
With his book now being edited by McFarland, you’d expect him to slow down a bit. But Hickey Jr. is just getting started, He is already planning ahead with a book about indie video games to follow. Hickey’s future projects are lined up and just added to his list to be eventually checked off. One day he’d even like to write a screenplay and create a video game.
“The Minds Behind the Games,” will be available in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, as well as on online platforms like Amazon.com as early as October, or the beginning of 2018. As stated earlier, he’s chock full of goals.
“I’m in talks with a theater company about an article I wrote a long time ago, to turn it into a one-man show,” Hickey Jr. said. “It will be about professional wrestling.”
Hickey Jr. is an inspiration for the youth he teaches, but also people far older. He lives every day like it’s his last and makes sure everything is done for the day before he relaxes if he ever does. If anybody ever had the pleasure to work with Hickey Jr. or had the opportunity to be taught by him, will notice quickly, Hickey Jr. does not preach something he doesn’t believe in.
“One of the reasons that I work so hard is because I don’t think I’ll live very long. I joke with people all the time if I die now, am I happy? And yes,” Hickey Jr. said. “I don’t have many friends. Because a lot of people can’t handle that type of intensity. I’m always willing to help others though and I want to be around people with dreams that do something. I do what I say, and I say what I mean. At the end of the day, what I really have is my wife, my child and the things that I’ve done that I’m proud of.”
Hickey Jr’s success didn’t happen overnight and didn’t come from not doing anything. The 33-year old has accomplished a lot in his years of teaching at Kingsborough, from working at NBC and various other news outlets. The key factor of never stopping and working hard has always been paramount.
“I don’t go to bed until I make sure I’ve done everything I have to do for the day. And a lot of people don’t do that. Success is not like a switch,” Hickey Jr. said. “Everywhere I’ve ever worked, everyone I’ve ever met has told me that I’m not gonna be good, I’m not their first choice, that I’m not gonna be good enough, that I don’t fit the bill. I’ve heard that since I was a kid. But I just keep my head down and climb the steps. Every day. That’s been the key to my success. Or the little I have had.”
Like his video game adventure with words, Hickey Jr. is an open book who doesn’t just teach and preach, but also mentors young individuals to not just sit back and relax but to be eager and hungry for more in life.
“You know when you have that one big thing you want to accomplish, it’s never just one thing,” Hickey Jr. said. “It’s like 50 other little things you have to do. Do them. Then you’ll be in that situation to have your dreams come true. It’s worked for me so far.”