Introducing: Ryan Brown Interview
Recently, we sat down with Ryan Brown, whose storied career has brought him from games media to community management to his current role in games PR, working for Super Rare Games. We talked to Ryan about his history and why this industry is so important to him. Check out the unabridged interview here!
Can you first talk a bit about your journey through the industry? From writing for outlets such as VG24/7 and Fandom to doing PR from Super Rare Games, you’ve tried a bit of everything!
Yeah, it’s honestly been a bit of a whirlwind! I started off writing for a small site called Final Boss Fight before starting up my own outlet called Coin Arcade while I was working at the UK game retailer GAME. While writing there, I managed to get review copies of games like Rayman Legends and I remember it just feeling completely surreal.
I worked full-time at The Mirror after that, initially as a community manager but I moved more and more over towards gaming journalism there. I have a very specific memory of arriving in the US to interview my teenage hero Tetsuya Nomura and just bawling my eyes out in the hotel, it was and still is a completely crazy experience.
After that, I moved full time to PR at Numskull Designs and Numskull Games, working on stuff like Quarter Arcades, TUBBZ, and games like Deadly Premonition: Origins and SuperEpic. I’ll never let go of my journalism roots, so I still freelanced for places like VG247, FANDOM, Switch Player, etc. And now my passion for physical games and preservation take the forefront now that I’m at Super Rare Games!
What motivates you to work in the games industry? What appeal does it hold for you that is above and beyond other fields?
Gaming has always been the absolute centrepoint of my life. I’m not joking when I say I’d be more than happy to dedicate my entire life to games. I grew up playing games at a very young age, initially with DOS PC games (I finished DOOM when I was 6). Growing up really poor, I didn’t have very much else, to be honest! I formed most of my friendships around games, I care deeply about not just playing and collecting them, but the industry, culture, and history of games… yeah, it just means an awful lot to me.
What is one moment from your career that stands out as being particularly impactful, important, or otherwise? If you want to share more than one, feel free!
Yeah, the Tetsuya Nomura interview I mentioned before is probably the moment I realised how crazy this all was and how extremely lucky I am to be working in games. Getting my first credit in a video game with SuperEpic, or taking part in the BAFTA Games panel this year are probably up there too!
How did your podcast, Toad on Games come about? What inspired that?
Haha, honestly I just wanted to start a podcast as an excuse to talk about games with cool people. The Toad on Games podcast has become a weekly show now, with a different guest from the games industry each episode, so it’s really interesting to hear about their personal stories and expertise. My dream goal is to basically have it become like this encyclopedia of hundreds of different perspectives on games.
Now, onto Super Rare Games, where I’d wager a lot of people have recently encountered you and your work. What about the boutique publishing of primarily-digital games compels you? Is it the sense of preservation? Seeing the completed package? A sense of nostalgia maybe?
Yeah, so Super Rare Games’ titles were something I was actually already collecting before I started working here in May! I’ve always been interested in collecting rare print games, and physical games in general. For me, a big part of that is preservation; I want to know that in 10, 20 years time, I can just pick up a game from my shelf and play it. We’ve seen countless times how fickle digital game ownership is, with the closure of the WiiWare store, delisting of games when their licenses end, etc. Games aren’t a disposable experience for me, they’re a permanent one and something I want to easily be able to go back to.
Of course, there’s also the collectability factor – there’s nothing quite like holding a physical game in your hands. The sorts of games we publish at Super Rare Games generally wouldn’t have ever received a physical release at retail, so it’s really great to be able to do what we do.
Is there one particular Super Rare Games release that you’re extra proud of?
For me so far, it’s Tricky Towers as that was my first game release here, but my personal favourites are Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Snake Pass.
What has your experience with Super Rare Games taught you about the industry and the medium that you didn’t realize before?
I’m obviously learning a bit more about the publishing side of things, but mostly it’s just how interconnected the collecting community is. As I say, I’ve been a serious collector myself pretty much forever, but I hadn’t really dived into the community properly yet. It’s a really huge, passionate community of people and it’s been really interesting seeing their collections and gathering feedback on what sort of things they’re looking for.
Super Rare Games helps to fill a very particular niche in the industry and services a very hungry section of the community. Why do you think these physical releases are so popular, and what about the community’s consciousness do you think Super Rare Games has tapped into so directly?
It’s definitely about the collectability and preservation factors that I mentioned before, but for Super Rare Games specifically, I think it helps that we’re really focused and consistent. Our release schedule is a new release roughly every 3 weeks, with our announcements and preorders always taking place at the same time and date. We’re focused solely on Nintendo Switch games, we have numbers on our spines, neat little packages with a full-colour manual, trading cards, and a sticker in each game, and we have our stock in-hand so it’s never long before folk have their orders.
Finally, here’s a very open-ended question: what does the gaming community mean to you?
It means the absolute world – when I’m an old man, I’ll be able to look back on a life dedicated to video games and be totally at peace with that.
Thank you to Ryan Brown for his time.