Story and Photos by Adrienne Villanueva, CSUB Public Affairs InternThe third annual CSUB Gamer Education Day was held on Friday, April 4th. Open to CSUB students and the community, the event serves as a way for Campus Gamers to share insight into the world of video games by having industry insiders as guest speakers. This year they welcomed actor Charles Martinet, voice of some of the most beloved video game characters of all time, including Super Mario, Luigi, and Wario. Also speaking at the event was award-winning composer Jason Hayes, who has contributed to such titles as World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo for video game developing giant Blizzard Entertainment.
With a filmography that includes films starring Michael Douglas and Hugh Grant, television shows, and video game voice-overs, finally getting to host Martinet as one of this year’s guest speakers was huge accomplishment for Campus Gamers and CSUB. Club founder Ed Webb met him at a convention some years ago, and was someone he’d been eager to have as a guest speaker since the first CSUB Gamer Education Day. Super Mario has millions of fans, and Martinet, who’s been the voice of the character since 1991, is one of them. In fact, when asked which of the many characters he’s voiced is his favorite, he immediately responded, “Of course, it’s Mario.” Like many of Super Mario’s fans, Martinet sees the character as someone one should aspire to be. “I want to be that person who’s optimistic and loyal and fun-loving and faces challenges like, ‘Here we go!’ as opposed to, ‘Oh no. Ah!’”
When he took the Doré Theatre stage, Martinet was just as animated as the famous characters he lends his voice to. Having achieved such notoriety as an actor, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t always aspire to be one. Martinet told the audience, “I was going to be a lawyer and a diplomat.” After following a fellow UC Berkley student’s advice that he should take an acting class, he was hooked. In 1990, Martinet received a call from a friend urging him to crash an audition for the role of an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. Drawing inspiration from a role he previously played, Gremio in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Martinet improvised the now famous voice of Super Mario. He was given the part, and twenty-three years later is still playing that Italian plumber from Brooklyn. Martinet hoped his audience would take away from the evening what he considered to be his greatest piece of his advice: “Find out what you love to do in life, and pursue it.”
Hayes’ original experience with composing was way outside the video game industry. He got involved writing jingles for radio ads for local companies. But as an avid fan of action video games himself, he aimed to get a job creating music in the industry. Addressing the audience, Hayes shared a story of true inspiration to any aspiring composer about how he came to work with Blizzard Entertainment. In the 90’s, he attended a Computer Game Developers Conference equipped with a Walkman, a CD of his music, and headphones. He went up to the Blizzard booth, met producer Matt Householder, and played him his music. Not long after, Hayes was hired on as a composer in the Blizzard sound department. He described scoring the gig as “the Super Lotto.” A highlight of his presentation was when Hayes played a video of his cover band, Critical Hit, performing the theme song from game Angry Birds. The video can be seen here: http://youtu.be/NIqYigedtfc In addition to Hayes’ musical presentation, the audience was treated to the Bakersfield Video Game Choir and Orchestra’s performance of the Halo and Tetris themes. Attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite video game characters and compete in the event’s “Cosplay” (costume playing) contest. A whole cast of film and video game characters showed up to compete, including a little Captain America and an Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Student AJ Medina dressed up as Dead Bill, a character from the Xbox video game Left 4 Dead. When asked why he chose Dead Bill, Medina said, “He’s a cool character who ends up sacrificing himself for his friends, despite being an old man.” Also in attendance, teens Bobby Guyton, fourteen, and Benjamin Rodgers, thirteen, dressed as Link from the Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. Both were asked why they chose to dress as Link. Guyton said, “Link is my favorite Nintendo character and I have nostalgic memories of him.” Rodgers said, “Link was like a brother to me. He’s my all-time favorite.” Founded in 2011, CSUB’s Campus Gamers organization is one that brings gamers together for community service and charitable efforts. Those charitable efforts include their annual Extra Life Marathon. The event consists of gamers being sponsored by monetary donations to play everything from board games to video games for twelve hours straight. Last November, marathon gamers were able to raise over $10,000 dollars. At this year’s CSUB Gamer Education Day, they presented the Extra Life Marathon money and more the Children’s Miracle Network.
The event was a true success. For more information about future Gamer Education Days, Campus Gamer’s Extra Life Marathon, and other functions hosted by the organization, visit Campus Gamers’ Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/qev66gp