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Minus World

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Giant Bomb’s Dan Ryckert Claims Jeff Bakalar’s Offspring is a Lost Cause

Dan Ryckert is the creative director of Giant Bomb, and co-founder of the Fire Escape Cast which he co-hosts alongside friends Merry Kish and Mike Mahardy. Previously he has worked at WWE, Game Informer, and was married at a Taco Bell in Las Vegas. He is also the author of several books including the Air Force Gator duology, Anxiety as an Ally:  How I Turned a Worried Mind into My Best Friend, and The Dumbest Kid in Gifted Class. You can find him at and on Twitch.

Minus World: This is going to be the hardest question you have to answer this entire conversation. You can pick one Rocky movie, one Kojima game, one mainline Mario game, and one wrestling Pay-Per-View.

Dan Ryckert: All right. Thank you for saying mainline, I appreciate that. Showing respect to the true series. Now is this like a desert island situation? Like, it’s the only one I get to watch for the rest of my life.

MW: Yes.

Ryckert: Okay. IV, IV is the most rewatchable. I’m not gonna say it’s the best film, as a film major like myself. But it’s the most rewatchable. I mean, I remember there was a winter break in college where it was just like airing on repeat on TCM or something, and it ended one time and I just immediately started watching it again. It goes by so fast. It’s got to be Rocky IV.

MW: I mean, he carries a bunch of wood up the side of a mountain.

Ryckert: Yeah, all the music, there’s like 19 montages. It’s the stupidest one, which I appreciate. Yeah. Goddammit, you’re making me just want to watch Rocky IV. Kojima game? Okay, now, if we’re talking desert island situation, I have to put some weight into the replayability. That’s kind of fucked up because like, if it’s a desert island situation, I think the answer is Phantom Pain because that’s that’s the biggest sandbox, that’s the best one to play. But I mean, that is definitely not the one I would say if you’re asking me my favorite Kojima game.

MW: That is not the question.

Ryckert: Okay, you know what I’ll say? Phantom Pain. If it’s the last game I get to play the rest of my life. Phantom Pain. The next one was?

MW: Mainline Mario game.

Ryckert: I’m torn. The first ones that come to mind are Mario World and Mario 64. You know what? I’m going to go with Mario World. Because I’m always very happy when I start Mario 64, and I’m always having a great time, you know, wahooing across the castle and stuff, and then like you get like six or seven worlds in and it’s like, I don’t want to do Hazy Maze Cave, whereas Mario World I don’t have any of that.

MW: What about wrestling PPV? Is there one that you could just watch over and over again?

Ryckert: I mean, I do that with most of them. I do it when I listen to rewatch podcasts and stuff. I watch old favorites all the time. And I mean, I think this is the obvious answer. I think I’m giving obvious boring answers, but I think it might be WrestleMania X-Seven. That one kind of had it all: the stupid-ass gimmick Battle Royale, it had the big time main event, Austin versus Rock. You got the car crash match with the TLC II. It’s the obvious one, I think. But then I think back, I’ve been to the last ten Wrestlemanias in person and I’m trying to think if any of those I mean, they’ve been pretty good the last ten years. And this one I’m going to next week is going to be one of the best.

MW: I have never been more tempted to get back into wrestling than I have been recently because I have some friends that are way into it and they just will not shut up about RAW.

Ryckert: I tell you, a good way to get in is, I don’t know if you have access to Peacock or a friend who does, but if you just watch WrestleMania. You get all of the pre-match recaps and the sizzle reels and everything will kind of get you up to speed on everything. And this whole Bloodline saga has been going on for years, so you could watch Raw and see a good episode of Raw. But I think watching WrestleMania with all the spectacle and these big matches and all the sizzle reels that are getting you up to speed on why all these people are fighting, I think that’ll be the best way to dip your toe in, is WrestleMania next week.

MW: You worked at WWE, and I was wondering, was it a form of wish fulfillment to work for WWE? Or was it more of an opportunity that came along?

Ryckert: It was one that had been brewing for a few years. It kind of all started with me becoming friends with Xavier Woods in about 2011 or so. And that was at a time when you weren’t used to seeing wrestlers that were talking about video games all the time. So I went to some SummerSlam THQ event back in the day, and I just walked up to him after a match. He was doing NXT Axxess matches or whatever at SummerSlam. No one knew who he was. And I walked up to him and I was like, “Hey, I hear you’re into video games. I love video games. I work at Game Informer.” And as soon as I said Game Informer he stopped in his tracks. He’s like, “You got to come out tonight. We’re going to hang out.” And it was Paige’s 21st birthday. And so I went from not knowing any wrestlers to suddenly finding myself bar hopping with Xavier Woods and Corey Graves and Paige and Emma and a bunch of the roster. And it was just one of those nights that was like, “This is incredible.”

MW: Just an ordinary evening that turned into the best night of your life.

Ryckert: It was kind of the power of having similar interests, but I mean obviously he loves wrestling, he loves video games. We became friends, we talk frequently. I start bringing him onto Giant Bomb stuff. He starts doing UpUpDownDown. He branched into video games. He started to do stuff with Greg Miller, you know, and we’re starting to see each other at E3. He’s coming on the Giant Bomb couch, things like that. Long story short, through that and all the UpUpDownDown appearances and stuff, I get to know some office people, and they knew that I was a podcast veteran and everything, and when the company decided they wanted to get into podcasts, and they reached out to me.

So it had been brewing for a little bit. They’re asking questions like, “Hey, when we’re ready, would you be willing to hop over?” And, you know, I don’t think I was ever tired of what I was doing at Giant Bomb. I was at Giant Bomb East at the time and having a blast with everyone there. It was just that I saw this opportunity in front of me that, like, if I have two passions in my life in terms of what has entertained me my entire life, it’s video games and wrestling. I got to do all this bucket list stuff and video games. I got to, you know, meet the makers of all my favorite games. I got to travel the world, you know, checking out studios. I got to review games for a living and make silly videos and, you know how many people are lucky enough to have that one experience with something they love? And then I saw this and I was like, fuck. I mean, I can’t say no to like, you know, this is the other thing that I love. I have to see. And I knew that it was going to be rough. I talked to plenty of people that I’d met that had gone through there, everyone from wrestlers to office people, people who worked on things like the YouTube channel and stuff. And it was pretty unanimous. It was like “this place is going to chew you up and you’re going to hate it at times, but when you leave, you’re going to be able to do anything. You’re going to learn so much, but it’s going to be extremely stressful.” And I said, “You know what? I gotta at least see, I can always leave. I can always do something else. I have faith in myself to find the next thing.” So I was like, Let’s do it. So I moved up to Stamford and boy, I’m giving the whole life story here. What was the initial question?

MW: How did it feel the first day being there and then your last day at WWE?

Ryckert: First day, incredibly nervous. You know, I’m going up to Stamford. I have my orientation in this building that I’ve seen in a million WWE things over the years. It was used for the Super Bowl commercial in the nineties and like, I’ve just always seen this building as like, wow, this is this is the place, you know? And then suddenly I work there. I’m filling out paperwork. And it was just incredibly, incredibly surreal. And then the first actual day of going into the production building where I worked I had heard a lot about how everyone wears blazers, and you got to kind of dress up a little bit. I had to buy a bunch of suits and shit because like, I’m a videogame guy. I wore t-shirts and jeans my entire life and suddenly I’m just wearing a suit. And somebody came up to me and was like, “Hey, lose the suit.” I said, “Okay, I thought I was supposed to wear a suit,” and like, so it was clearly a different vibe. It wasn’t really wrestling people a lot of the time. There were definitely some people that I worked with that were major wrestling people. A lot of people on my team knew their stuff and I became friends with. They were bringing in people from ESPN, random people from Comedy Central. My first boss was a woman who worked in standards and practices at Comedy Central. So she was the one that Trey and Matt would submit South Park episodes to, and she would be like “This can air, this can’t air”, and that was my first boss. She was great. But it was just a lot of people that weren’t ready for the circus in a way that were just like, “What the fuck is this place?”

I sat through like a three or four hour meeting where they’re like, “Here’s the stuff we can never show.” And it was a laundry list of things: Here’s the D-Generation X blow job barbecue. Here’s the part where Triple H dresses up like Kane and has sex with a corpse. Here’s this wrestler who did terrible things, and we can’t ever talk about them. And watching my boss, who was not a wrestling person, just be like, “what”. And at a certain point I had been explaining so much that the person that worked at WWE that was doing the presentation was turning to me like, “Yeah, can you explain to the group what this was?”

“Yeah OK, This was a Raw in 1998…” and it’s one of my first days and I’m explaining all this to everyone.

MW: You have these people that have maybe never watched wrestling before in their life.

Ryckert: Tons.

MW: And they’re going into what sounds like a pretty standard corporate environment, but they’re the corporate environment for the carnival that is wrestling.

Ryckert: Yeah. And then you take a bunch of non carny people, and you put them in the carnival, they’re going to ask what the fuck’s up. So that was day one, and the early days. And then the last day was, you know, I had an opportunity to go back to Giant Bomb. Most of my time at WWE had been during the pandemic. So I did have this thing lingering over my head for a lot of it that like, man, I kind of wanted to be in the mix more. You know, I got to experience a couple of months of traveling and being backstage. LIke being backstage in Boston working with John Cena, and working with all these big stars in person. And then like, two months in, it shuts down and I’m in a closet in Stamford making podcasts. So,the time I knew I was ready to actually leave was when I was backstage at WrestleMania a couple of years ago in Dallas, and it was Stone Cold Steve Austin, his first match back in like 19 years. And Stone Cold was always my favorite and I’m backstage, I’m right by the entrance. And Austin’s match is coming up next, and I see him in the Austin 3:16 shirt, the Jorts, all that stuff and he is pacing back and forth and getting himself hyped up. He’s becoming Stone Cold, and I’m seeing him get himself ready for the match and for the glass to shatter and everything. And I’m standing right next to Steve Austin right before he goes out at WrestleMania and thinking, “You know, I think I’m good. I think I’m at peace now.” Maybe I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to here, and they certainly didn’t listen to my ideas or let me be creative in any way. But here I am backstage at WrestleMania watching Stone Cold get hyped up for his first match back in two decades. And it’s like, I’m good, you know, this is the stuff you can’t buy. This is the stuff you can’t buy in any VIP package or meet and greet. I was good and, and then two months or three months later, I was back at Giant Bomb

MW: Conversely, last day at Giant Bomb, first day back at Giant Bomb. How did that feel?

Ryckert: Last day was bittersweet. I remember we did a Mario Party and it was fun. It was great. And that was my last Replay episode of Game Informer too. I kind of like bookending things that way. Like the first episode of Replay, this long-running show I did at Game Informer was Twisted Metal, and one of my first videos at Giant Bomb was an Encyclopedia Bombastica of Twisted Metal. And then I ended with Mario Party 2, so I kind of liked that. But yeah, it was a mixture of bittersweet, and saying goodbye to this thing that I loved and at the time I really did think that, I’m leaving games, I’m stepping into the shadows. I’m still going to love games. I’m still going to play games. And most of my social circle is all from the gaming industry. But I was like, I’m good. I’m done being the on camera guy. Let’s move on to phase two of my life I guess, and career. I was never disgruntled. I never got tired.

MW: Oh yeah. I just meant, it’s not that common of an occurrence for someone to leave and then come back a couple of years later.

Ryckert: Sure, sure. And that first day coming back, it was really kind of like the first day of a new job because it was a different situation entirely from the staff makeup, to the fact that a pandemic had happened. And now we’re all remote and there’s people like Jeff Grubb, who, you know, I’d followed for years on social media and had a couple of back and forths with, but didn’t know him by any means, and it was such an interesting thing. I’m like, all right, here we go again. Let’s figure out what the rapport is, because that’s always the hardest thing when you’re starting with a new thing, and a new group of people, is “what is this rapport going to be like? Who am I going to play off of?” It wasn’t like immediately when I went into Giant Bomb West that I was like, Drew Scanlon, that’s the Metal Gear guy. You get to kind of know people and it’s like, oh I could see how this could be fun. And then you kind of learn like, okay, that’s the person I can kind of fuck with. You can tell the people that had friends growing up that fucked with each other, and I’ve always gravitated towards those types because it’s like, look at the way me, Jeff Grubb, and Minotti talk like we are great friends. They are incredible people and we give each other so much shit. And that was me with all of my friends. And that wasn’t just me being an asshole to everyone that met me and like-minded friends.

MW: That’s the foundation of many of my friendships. Just being as cruel as possible to each other.

Ryckert: Yeah. Talking shit and all that stuff. That’s like my relationship with my father too. So it’s kind of what I know.

MW: Money’s no object. You’re given control of a network game show. Have you ever given this any consideration? What would the Dan Ryckert game show be?

Ryckert: I have not given this any thought, but the first thing that comes to mind is a mix of Nick Arcade and Double Dare, and I think there would be a lot of video game challenges. I mean, you’ve seen I’ve done a bunch of game show video game stuff at Giant Bomb, and just did one at PAX East. And then just dumbass physical, sloppy shit, so yeah, I got to find out where that Double Dare nose is. I would bring that nose back. I would be better at creating the fucking challenges on Nick Arcade because it was always like, get this many points in Sonic the Hedgehog. No one plays Sonic like that. I would have more fun challenges than that. But people can also opt to do the physical challenge or do a trivia thing. It’d be a mix of trivia, gameplay challenges, and bullshit real world stuff. And somewhere there’s boxing gloves on springs. I would have to figure out how we work those in, but that’s the funniest thing in the world to me.

MW: Like Arms?

Ryckert: It’s like the Wipeout game or like the cartoon boxing glove on a spring. You ever see What Would You Do? You’d put a coin into just a random door and it could be a free Universal Studios water bottle. Or it could be a gorilla hand pieing me in the face.

MW: Like in Jackass they put that note in the wall and the boxing glove behind it.

Ryckert: Oh my God, that’s the most genius- Jackass spoke to me because I was the right age to love Jackass. But it was also aggressively fucking stupid. But there would be that layer of thought put into it where it’s like, we’re going to put this note on the wall. And the writing is going to get progressively smaller. So you put your face closer like, That’s fucking smart. That is smart stupidity.

MW: Whenever me or the wife are having a bad day we put on Jackass or Norm and that usually cheers us right up.

Ryckert: You’re speaking my language, yes.

MW: Does Paul Ryckert still not understand how cable works? This was years ago that I remember you saying this.

Ryckert: (deep sigh) Yeah. Because I mean, that’s the way his brain works. If he doesn’t understand something, he just says, “Well, That doesn’t happen. That’s not real.” I think you probably heard the anecdote on the podcast of when I had Hulu on my TV and he is like, “how is that on there?” And I say “ my computer’s plugged into the TV.” He’s like, “You can’t do that.” And that’s how his brain works. It’s not “I don’t understand that.” It’s that it’s not happening. “My brain rejects this.” So the answer, I guess, is no, he still doesn’t know. Because any time I plug in an HDMI cable for anything at his house, he worries about his cable bill.

MW: It might as well be magic as far as he’s concerned.

Ryckert: It really is the thing of, like, having to show the world, like, do you see this? Does this explain anything to you? Do you see this man? Do you hear the words? Do you hear him honestly thinking that Broadway performers are not actors? The thing is that he’s fucking hilarious and I love him. And, you know, I have such a close relationship with them, but it’s half us driving each other completely insane and half us just doubled over in laughter at the dumbest shit. So it’s an interesting relationship, to say the least.

MW: What was your favorite power in Tears of the Kingdom?

Ryckert: Ultrahand is so versatile, and that’s the one that I think allows you to do so many silly things in that game. I think Ascend is a really fun gimmick and is very, very useful at times, but there’s not as many use cases versus Ultrahand. Which is why I’m just constantly looking around. “I’ll grab that, I’ll stick this to that,” you know?

MW: So where do you see Zelda going from there? How do they top that? Because those are two of the best games I have ever played. Is there anything that you would like to see?

Ryckert: I think it needs to be a new location. It can still be a big open world map and things like that, but I think you do need to mix it up a little bit. Because they added the stuff in the sky and all that amazing stuff underneath the ground. But it was still like the landmarks were kind of the same in the dungeons or in the same general areas for the most part. I think they did an amazing job with it. I thought that was going to bother me more than it did, because like, it did feel like a whole new game. And I think I would like to see a Zelda with some more horsepower, no pun intended, where it’s, you know, you have it run at 60, you have it at 4K. You know, we saw how much fun they had with physics in the last two games. Let’s lean into that stuff. Let’s lean into this sandbox play place that they made in the last two and, you know, make it look better, have more physics interactions. And give us a new area.

MW: So you were married at a Taco Bell. I think that’s pretty common knowledge, at least with the Giant Bomb people that will be reading this interview. But I need to know what your current Taco Bell order is with the menu that we have available to us right now.

Ryckert: So the standby, my entire life, was the chicken quesadilla. That was amazing. I still get that with every order. Maybe one out of ten times I get steak. But the hot new thing that I’ve been very into lately is they added that new cravings menu. And that stacker is basically just a quesadilla that’s cheesier and it’s like folded over on to each other, and it’s cheaper somehow, but it seems to have all the heft of a quesadilla. It’s just folded instead of flat and has ground beef. But that is absolutely fantastic. I love the stacker. And then it’s a mix of like, maybe I’ll get a cheesy gordita crunch. I’m in Minnesota now and they have the chili cheese burrito here, which in a lot of markets they got rid of. Growing up in Kansas, we had them down there and then I started moving around. It’s like “they don’t have a chili cheese burrito? What the fuck?” That was one of my favorites, but I still have it here. Still great and also the cheesy roll up. I’ve always gotten that. Everyone thinks I’m stupid for it because “but I can make that at home.” Yeah, but you don’t have that Taco Bell magic. It’s not the Taco Bell tortilla. It’s not Taco Bell cheese. Yeah, my mom introduced me to it when she managed a Taco Bell when I was a kid for like, six months. And so she would bring home Taco Bell a lot and she’s like, “You like cheese. Here.” And she’d bring home a bunch of Cheesy Roll-Ups.

MW: You and I had very similar experiences with Death Stranding when it came out. I hated it. I was like, this is the most pretentious, godawful thing I’ve ever played. And then that director’s cut came out and I was like, “Well, maybe I was too hasty.” So I was curious, have you had a chance to revisit Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PC versus your original experience on console? And is that something that you thought about doing? Because I remember you had similar thoughts about Red Dead 2.

Ryckert: Yeah, and I have thought about it and I was actually thinking about today cause last night I had some dream where it was a what’s that song? “And that’s the way it is. That’s the way it goes.” That was in a dream I had last night. So I woke up today thinking about it. Like, if I had time, maybe I should go back to that. So I downloaded it. The short answer is yes I have thought about it, and I kind of take pride in if I dismiss something or don’t get something or don’t like something, I try to remain open to like, okay, well, let’s go back. You know, maybe time or a different perspective or a different life situation or something will cause it to hit differently for me and I think it was, you know, with both Death Stranding and Red Dead. I got both of them, you know, before they came out, which is traditionally the case, especially with these big games. Sometimes they’ll give you a couple of weeks to play through it. You can get a review ready or get your podcast discussion ready or whatever. And still, even if you have a couple of weeks, these are big fucking games.

MW: It’s a game that wants you to take your time.

Ryckert: Exactly! Both of those games are, you know, Death Stranding is very much about taking your time and just the experience. And Red Dead is not a quickly paced game by any means. It’s not GTA. GTA is much faster paced in this. And the original Red Dead was much faster paced. So I think I was expecting more of a traditional Rockstar game. And then I played it and it just kept going, and it kept going, and it kept going, and I felt like it wasn’t giving me enough freedom with the open world stuff. But then I do think that there is a huge factor of me playing it quickly for review, trying to just run from mission to mission so I can talk about it in totality on the podcast. You know, which is maybe that old game reviewer mindset because that’s how I broke into the industry. By writing a billion video game reviews, and I always beat them before I reviewed them. So it’s like, “Well, I have to beat it before the embargo lifts and we can talk about it.”

MW: “Otherwise I can’t review it.”

Ryckert: Yeah. Which by the way, that’s an insane way to do it. That does not seem to be the way anybody does it anymore, including me, where I’m much more prone now to play like a few hours of a game, and be like, “I get it. Here’s my thoughts. Didn’t beat it. Okay, next thing.” The short answer is yes, I could see it at some point. But with the pace of releases these days, the concept of having like 60, 80 hours, I don’t remember how fucking long the game is, and it not being super conducive to being a Steam Deck type game.

MW: How do you feel about Konami remaking MGS 3 sans Kojima? How does it make you feel to know that they’re doing this without any input from the man that created the franchise?

Ryckert: I’m expecting it to not be great, and I’m not going to be heartbroken. I’m not sitting here, you know, crossing my days off on the calendar, waiting for it or anything like that. I’m very curious about how it’s going to turn out. But I think the best thing they could do is just try to make it straightforward, like, hey, this is that game. It just looks a lot better. If they try to get cutesy and they try to do their own Kojima twists and stuff like that. Don’t do that. Don’t don’t do your version of what a Master did because it’s always going to pale in comparison. And like, you know, you even look at the trailers and stuff that have come out so far, and I remember obsessively just devouring every trailer and every tease of Snake Eater back in 03-04. And it all had that Kojima style to it. I mean, that motherfucker can edit a trailer. He has such a vision for what the vibes he wants his games to have, and compare it to, you know, the stuff we’ve seen so far with Delta and there’s just kind of a straightforward shot of a vulture. Yep. I guess that looks better and yep, that snake looks good. It doesn’t have any of that style.

MW: How’s the war against the woodpeckers going? I understand that they breached the perimeter this morning.

Ryckert: That? Yeah. And I found out that wasn’t even a woodpecker. I was running that through my bird app, and it was telling me that it was a starling. And I was like, No, that’s got to be the woodpecker. No, it’s a starling. I’ve also seen the woodpeckers who are making the holes. Those are downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers. And then I think the starlings are just the ultimate opportunist. They’re running in here. They’re getting inside my walls and impregnating my house with other birds. So now there’s just birds up and down the walls.

MW: Who do you call to deal with?

Ryckert: I think what we have to do is we have to get it sounds like we have to get a bunch of fucking siding put up .Stucco siding or something that’ll just layer over the existing stuff and woodpeckers won’t give a shit, but it turns out with the house, there’s a bunch of like, I’m going to have chainsaws and shit going on for six weeks here because I’ve got to put a retaining wall up. So it’s yeah, it’s all just, you know, money pit stuff, house problems.

MW: What drives you whenever you are trying to come up with new ideas for Giant Bomb or new shows and things like that. It’s one of the things that I’ve long admired about you. You take these very limited resources that you may have available to you and you turn into something fun. So I was just curious, What’s going on in your noggin’ whenever you are trying to come up with an idea for a show?

Ryckert: You said the word fun. I mean, that’s it. That’s 100%. It’s not a checklist. It’s not a system. It’s not anything like that. I have a lot of ideas and I love to throw them out there. And sometimes I’ll throw those out and then others will add on to it. And then suddenly we got this fun thing. I love that kind of collaborative work environment, but it is fun. And maybe that makes me a bad business person. I don’t know, because when I’m making something, I honestly don’t put a lot of thought into numbers or analytics or anything like that. That’s not what drives me. I’m here to have fun and like, it’s always been my goal to make a living having fun and doing things that I love.

MW: I think that comes across in everything I’ve seen you do, you know, to drive and whatnot. That’s one of the things that I like most about the Dan Ryckert produced things is it seems like, well, the idea is that we’re all here to have fun.

Ryckert: I’ve never strived to have 10 million followers. I’m not looking to turn a site into the next like, you know, IGN or whatever, you know, nothing against IGN, great people working there. But to me, I want to do things my way. And I’ve been fortunate enough to work at places that have let me do things my way. And I’ve definitely learned over those years that there are enough people out there that have similar sensibilities as me and will find that stuff funny. And so really I’m just trying to pop myself and do stuff with my friends that makes me and my friends laugh. And more often than not, that tends to be stuff that makes a certain audience laugh, you know?

MW: I have two questions from the Giant Bomb Discord here. First, what is your reaction to Bakalar teaching young Dib to wreck younger smaller children on the ice? Did you see that video?

Ryckert: I did. He showed that on the Beastcast panel we did at PAX. And look, I don’t have kids, but I used to be a kid and I’ve seen those kids, I’ve met those kids that even at a young age, you can tell they’re kind of a lost cause. And I mean, you know, there’s just a lot working against DIB. He’s not a bright kid. He’s not interesting. He has bad opinions, and he’s unpleasant to be around.

MW: So are you talking about DIB or his dad Jeff Bakalar?

Ryckert: Oh, it runs in the family. I should just put a disclaimer here that I’ve read Jeff Bakalr’s interview. And he said some very kind things about me. Jeff Bakalar is one of my best friends. I love talking with him, and he’s fantastic to work with.

MW: He said that you’d be happy living in a dumpster. You want to react to that? You want to respond?

Ryckert: I do! Because I never thought of that until I read that. And I think he’s onto something because like I do, maybe to a fault I have a, “This is great. I’ll make the best of this,” attitude. I remember when I was fresh out of college, you know, despite majoring in film I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to go into games writing, and I graduated and then I didn’t have a job in games. I applied to a million IGN and GameSpot jobs, and stuff like that. I didn’t get it. Greg Miller got IGN one. So I moved back home. I moved back to Shawnee, Kansas. I’m living in this place I’m renting from my dad, and I’m working for damn near nothing at a sports TV station. And I had too much anxiety there and I left. I went to a Garmin GPS call center. So like, I’m at a point in my life where it’s like, look, it’s not like a dark period, but I was kind of like, “What the fuck? I was in college, I did all the stuff.”

MW: I did everything I was supposed to do.

Ryckert: Yeah, I did six hundred reviews for free. I flew myself out to fucking E3 every year. I hustle like crazy and like, I wasn’t going to stop. I was still going for it. But like, it was a period where things were not at their best. And I do remember moving into that place and being kind of bummed like, “God, I’m moving back home. Did I fuck up?” And I remember looking around the area, which is this area in Shawnee, Kansas. That is not an exciting area, but I get there and I’m driving around the neighborhood getting to know the new area, and I saw there was a Fazoli’s and I was like, man, I live really close to a Fazoli’s. That’s awesome.They got fettuccine alfredo, this is great. I’m so excited I get to live here. I had never been to a Fazoli’s at this point. I had no opinions on Fazoli’s, but like, even at this point in my life where I felt like things kind of weren’t going the way I wanted them to, it’s like that’ll be awesome. I live near A Fazoli’s. I mean, the grocery store is just a couple of blocks past that. I’m good, I’m great. So it’s like, yeah, Fazoli’s was enough to make me be like, okay, yeah. It’s not all bad. This is good. This is good.

MW: It could be worse.

Ryckert: And that’s why a lot of times throughout my life I’ve been helped by people, whether it’s coworkers or family members or my wife or anything, that I will go into a situation and I always go into any situation just expecting the best possible outcome. Just like things going to go great, this is going to be better than we could have possibly expected. And then every once in a while I’m sure it’s not a fun job. Someone close to me will have to be like, “Well, Dan you got to think about this. You got to think about this.” Yeah, you’re right. Like, I will listen to those people, but it’s like my instinct is to just always expect the best case scenario.

MW: Yeah. All right, last question here. Another one front from the guy from Dischord. What was the bait that you’re most excited to get people on that nobody ended up for? Is there anything that comes to mind?

Ryckert: I thought of one. I was at a period where it’s like I was early Game Informer years where every time I went back home I was kind of fucking with my dad. And you may have seen some of these videos where it’s like I went back after his appendectomy and pretended to be a nurse, and that went incredibly well. There was one where I hired this Christmas singer from a bar to wake him up in his house, you know, just fucking with my dad in increasingly elaborate ways. And one of the early ones I tried super did not work. My idea was I was out of the bar with him and I texted my sisters who were 15 or 16 at the time. I said, “Hey, can you guys make like ten gallons of spaghetti and bring it here to the bar or bring it to my dad’s place after the bar closes, I got an idea.” And my plan was, we were going to dig a big ass hole in his backyard, and we were going to put this ten gallon bucket of cooked spaghetti in the ground in his backyard. And we’re going throw all this gross shit in there; salsa and it’s all this goopy weird- It’s going back to the Double Dare thing, and you got to dig through this goopy bullshit thing because the idea was my dad was going to come down in the morning and look for his car keys. And where his car keys were it was going to say, “Look in the backyard” on a Post-it note. And then he would go look in the backyard and he would see a freshly dug patch in his backyard with a shovel sticking in it. The idea being he’s going to go to “God he buried my fucking keys.” And so he’s got to dig up this thing and “Oh God, there’s this bucket. I got to put my hands through all this gross stuff.” And then at the bottom was another note that said, “Look in the microwave dum dum.” And then he’s going to open the microwave. And the keys were in there the entire time. That was my brilliant fucking idea.

So I did it. My sisters and my mom spent all this time making all this fucking spaghetti, driving it all over to his place. And I’ve got pictures of us in the backyard. Actually, my teenage sisters were the ones with the shovels digging the hole. I was just taking pictures like a jackass. And also my dad, as pointed out ever since then we easily could have struck something underground. We did no research, obviously, like this was a terrible fucking idea. And so we did the whole thing. And then I set up cameras and I hid on the stairs going out of the basement , and I heard him get up and I could tell he got the note and he’s like, “No, I’m not doing this, you idiot! I’m not doing this. Come out. I know you’re here. I know you’re here.” And I’m sitting there on the stairs, like hehehe he’s going to dig up the backyard. And then he didn’t. And he just grabbed my duffel bag because I was home for winter break from Game Informer, and a lot of Xbox 360 games were in my bag and he’s like, “All right, I’m taking your games out, throwing them on the roof, come out, you idiot”. And I said, “God, he’s bluffing. He’s bluffing. He wouldn’t do that would he? Those were like $60 each.” And then I just started hearing(a noise on the roof) and it was a slanted roof and they would fall down and I was hearing game cases break. And so I sprinted out and said, “No, no, no! They’re in the microwave. They’re in the microwave!” So that was one where I had this grand idea, and it’s the one time he got me and I didn’t get him.

MW: That’s amazing. Do you have any closing thoughts, or parting words for the Hard Drive audience? Anything to plug?

Ryckert: You know, if you’re reading this, probably you’re aware of Giant Bomb and possibly my side podcast Fire Escape Cast. That’s something I do with Mike Mahardy and Mary Kish, two friends from the industry. So yeah, between Giant Bomb and Fire Escape, I got two groups that I absolutely love talking to on a very regular basis on top of stuff like, you know, Nextlander does their kind of Beastcast reunion thing., I may be remote, but I’m also around a ton of friends. That’s why I came back. It is a lot of my old Game Informer friends, and friends of friends are all back here. So, as far as my work, I’m not in an office anymore. I’m not, you know, sitting on the couch or in a podcast room. But everyday I’m playing video games and my friends are making me laugh and I’m making them laugh. And it’s like I kind of feel like it’s the best possible scenario. So I’m just trying to really, really enjoy it right now.

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