Not so long ago, some of us winced (not me, though) at the way season one of King of the Nerds ended. By popular vote of the losing contestants, professional gamer Celeste Anderson was crowned King of the Nerds over novelist Genevieve Pearson.
Alas, this is not the space to debate the merits of the final challenge. Let’s enjoy the thoughts of the final two contestants. I conducted separate interviews some time ago, and here are their responses.
Red-Headed Mule: How does it feel being the most famous geek from Ontario since Bryan Lee O’Malley?
Celeste Anderson: I still feel like I live a normal life. I guess you can say things haven’t really hit me yet. The only big difference is that I feel extremely overwhelmed with the incoming messages, comments and tweets that I have been receiving lately. A lot of them have been very inspirational and heartwarming.
RHM: What were Curtis and Robert like?
CA: The contestants didn’t get to interact with Bobby and Curtis too much during the entire filming process. The only times I can remember speaking with them were a few moments in the middle of a Nerd Off while some of us were on the sidelines. They were great hosts, I loved their commentary during the challenges.
Bobby and Curtis were a lot of fun to be around with. After filming was complete, I did get a chance to speak with Bobby and his wife. They are such wonderful people!
RHM: How good are you in multi-dimensional Rubik’s Cubes?
CA: Other than the 3×3, I can do 2×2, 4×4, Pyraminx, and Rubik’s Magic.
RHM: What would you want to do on Conan now as the season one winner of King of the Nerds?
CA: I’m not sure! I think I would ask him if he would like to enter into a gaming battle with me – it would give me a chance to use that controller he gave me from last time!
RHM: Rank the Halo games.
My favorite on a competitive level is Halo 2.
RHM: Speaking of Halo, do you miss Bungie as the Halo developer?
CA: I do miss Bungie as the Halo developer but I did put a lot of faith in 343 Studios. I’ve enjoyed playing Halo 4 but of course, it just doesn’t feel the same.
RHM: Where and which job would you want to work in the video game industry?
CA: After being a part of the competitive Halo scene for a while, I realized two things. First, that gaming is always going to be a part of my life and that even in my old years, I’ll still have a controller in my hand.
Secondly, that competitive gaming is eventually going to come to an end for me. Being in such a competitive environment can be stressful and it requires a lot of dedication/determination to keep competing.
When I picture myself 5-10 years down the road, I see myself working with a video game company. I want to be working behind scenes and help program and develop games. I’m currently studying Computer Science.
RHM: What’s your favorite Computer Science topic?
CA: I’m in my first year in CS. My favorite topic so far are binary search trees.
RHM: What do you think video games will be like in 10 years?
CA: Game physics, artwork, and realism have come so far from 10 years ago that I would not be surprised if in another 10 years, video games will exceed our expectations. With most recent development of motion gaming (Kinect, Move, Wii), I think that motion tracking is going to experience a lot of success.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we started to really venture off into virtual reality. For me, I also really hope that some things stay the same. A lot of people hold their classics close to their heart and I can’t ever imagine stripping a controller away from my hands.
As much as graphics and detailing in game can be breathtaking, I don’t ever want to lose the enjoyment of the simplicity of a game and its story.
A video to “play out” this portion of the article. I like Celeste’s playing of “Mad World:”
RHM: What were Curtis and Robert like?
Genevieve Pearson: Curtis and Robert are both really great people. Robert is a little quieter than Curtis, but they are both genuine and friendly.
RHM: Describe the techniques you employed before your third Nerd-Off?
GP: We were told we could use whatever was in the rec room to practice. By the time I got in there, there wasn’t really anything available to stack with except some books and a small dish of dice and a few decks of playing cards.
So I took the playing cards looked up techniques on building houses of cards as well as cup stacking. The websites about building houses of cards were most helpful because they refreshed some basic engineering 101 ideas.
That’s when I discovered it was best to square-off the hard back books rather than have them at an angle the way Moo did. I do credit my studying to helping me win the Nerd Off, because if I hadn¹t squared the books off I wouldn’t have had such a steady and secure base.
While part of my tower did fall, it was only the top half and so it was much easier for me to rebuild. For the final piece, I had to use a SEGA Genesis, of course, as that is my spirit console.
RHM: When you write fiction, how do you structure your stories? (e.g. Do you think of an ending first?)
GP: When I write fiction, I usually start with a key moment in the story. I have bizarre, third-person dreams and these are usually the source of most of my ideas. So I’ll have one scene, and that leads me to think of the characters in that scene and what it took to get there, which leads to the formation of the story.
My process is usually – key scene -> opener -> finale. Once I have those three scenes in my head, I sit down with a form I call a beat sheet and fill in the skeleton of the rest of the story, which then works as the basis for my outline. I outline around a standard three-act structure.
RHM: What are your thoughts on Batman: Death of the Family and the death of Damian Wayne?
GP: I liked Death of the Family overall but it was a little horrific for me.
Generally I don’t love crossover events as they become necessarily convoluted to ensure they include every single character. I liked [writer Scott] Snyder’s installments the best.
The problem with Joker stories are that I want them to either be completely chaotic, because chaos is his MO, or I want the underlying conspiracy beneath them to be convoluted but still well thought out. This one seemed to be in-between and so it wasn’t a perfect Joker story for me.
As for the death of Damian Wayne…meh. I wasn’t attached to him really one way or another, but I thought his concept was interesting. I feel like Robins are created willy-nilly and killed off or brought back at will. It¹s a bit frustrating to me. There have been so many Robins at this point I wish they would have just stuck with him.
Then again, I’m sure there will be another reboot at which point he is likely to be brought back (can you tell that I¹m frustrated with the regular re-boot process? I guess its necessary but, oy.)
RHM: What’s the most difficult part of promoting your books?
GP: All of it! Mostly, finding what works and reaching the right audience. Paid ads don¹t work because people don¹t notice them. Social media doesn’t work if you don’t reach the people who’d naturally be interested in your book.
I’m not a salesperson. I’m a creator. I’m a writer. Sales is by far the hardest part of my job, and I have a lot of respect for people in marketing who are able to see right away what will and won’t work.
RHM: Imagine you’re in charge of an anti-illiteracy school program. How would you design such a program?
GP: As early as grade school kids begin to identify themselves as readers or non-readers. This self-labeling affects not only their ability to read, but also how they see themselves as students going into middle and high school.
The problem is that even at a young age, the books in the curriculum, the “classics,” are outdated and outright depressing.
Where The Red Fern Grows, The Yearling. Do we really want young children to link the experience of reading with the emotion of sadness? Most award-winning books are also painfully melancholy.
Have you ever actually gone through and read the Newbery Award winners? And books that are considered literary aren¹t necessarily easy to read. If the only books kids are exposed to aren’t relatable or enjoyable, kids aren’t going to want to read. And if they don’t want to read, they aren’t going to practice enough that they are able to read easily and fluidly.
I would begin by bringing in all kinds of reading materials. There are amazing authors of lower and middle grade books that are fun, contemporary and engaging. Then I’d create a comfortable environment where kids could sit and read whatever they wanted, and simply set aside time each day for them to take a book that they themselves chose.
My plan wouldn’t be complex at all: it would basically be daily library time, like recess, but with books, introduced as a break from the regular school day. I really think that too much emphasis is placed on what kids read when really we need to focus making reading as easy and comfortable as possible.
It’s important to get them to identify themselves as “readers” from a young age so that they don’t resist reading as part of their education.
RHM: What songs would you want in “Genevieve Sings the Hits” album?
GP: Ooh, this is a tough one. I¹m just going to pick some of my favorite songs.
[Whew, what a list! Video links selected by me. – Ed.]
RHM: Any parting thoughts?
GP: I had so much fun being on the show. Thank you to everyone for watching!
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