‘We were determined to create a whole other world.’ – Interview with Zoltán Branyiczky

‘We were determined to create a whole other world.

Once we got that, everything else just clicked into place.’

zoly_aloneG.D. I think I should start by saying what an honor it is to have this chance to talk to You in person, but that wouldn’t be true by any stretch of the imagination. We meet a lot and talk a lot, with or without an interview to conduct. As an editor of OtherWorld Online, I know what made you start the magazine, which today is Hungary’s No.1 choice, when it comes to gaming. However, I think a short recap would be nice, just for the sake of getting everyone up to speed. What is OtherWorld?

Z.B. Five years ago, when we have been scanning the market for independent game- and film magazines, we noticed a certain pattern. Namely, the tendency that no matter where you looked, you got the same scores in every single magazine; with the same pro-contra section being repeated over and over again. You could have known exactly what the reviews were going to say about blockbusters. TripleA titles (games being developed from tens of millions of dollars) would never be criticized, in spite of their questionable quality. Both the corporations and the media knows that in order to successfully monetize a big title, you need to reach a lot of people, and get them to consume the product. Otherworld was born in the trinity of creating a passionate community, protecting the audiences and making our voice heard. It is the exact opposite of what the so-called ‘professional press’ does, and what the audience expected, back in the day.

This attitude has yielded more than a hundred thousand Youtube subscribers and eleven thousand Facebook followers, as of yet. What makes OtherWorld different?

That attitude you mentioned, is what defines us in many ways. For example, we do not give a ballpark number as a score in a review. A score like that does not have an expiration date. If you say a game is worth ‘8 out of 10’ today, it shall be ‘8 out of 10’ five years from now. Games are not timeless, and if you compare a recent title to one that came out five years ago, it just doesn’t measure up; and I need to explain myself to everyone who thinks it should have been a 5 and not an 8. It’s weird, and, I really don’t want to sound pompous; but I expect more from the audience.

zoly and shirin

Zoltán laughing himselft to tears, next to his colleague, Attila Veress (Shirin)

When watching our reviews, we want to give the viewer the feeling that ‘It is like having a beer and talking about films, books and video games.’. Scores doesn’t factor into this, neither does being a professional. In Hungary, we do not have professional criticism. Even though the official press likes to apostrophize itself in such a way, they do it for make-believe purposes. There is no educational training for gaming journalists in this country, so every single ‘professional critic’ is a guy just like me, and is judged upon achievements and background knowledge.

It’s not just a bunch of reviews then, but a community. Is there a life beyond the computer screen?

zoly

After hiting 40000 subscribers, recognition came not just in the form of comments

Yes, it is important to Us to keep in touch. If you take a look at our programs, We try to move them outdoors. The latest example of that happening was an Airsoft challenge three or four weeks ago, but the biggest is held in the middle of summer at Szigetszentmárton. This is our Summer Camp (Élménytábor), something I am very proud of. The third one, held this year (2013), was the most collaborative experience I’ve ever had in my life. We managed to bring more than a hundred and ten people together; not just gamers, but other individuals, who aren’t necessarily interested in gaming. Thematically speaking, it is more about sport and community. Games and movies are what bring Us together, but not what keeps Us together.

Élménymagazin, Élménytábor, Élményvíkend… ‘Élmény’ is everywhere. It is a combination of fun and fond memories; am I right?

ow

The publicists of OtherWorld (from left to right): SaS, Archon, Theron, Zoly, Deacis, Kinson, Shirin

Yes, precisely. The size of a brand is irrelevant for Us, what matters is the impact a game, movie or book has on the individual. It leaves its mark, be it a nice or a bad one, and I need to make sure it is communicated to the masses in a proper way. Not necessarily in a politically correct way, but I need someone I can trust with a given title, since I won’t get the chance to see most of the products that go through the editorship. Shirin (Attila Veress) has a great sense of humor and is more brash than the others, in a good way; SaS (Mihály Snajder) is much more casual, but also quite calm at the same time. Deacis (László Snajder) has a knack for multiplayer titles and the far east cultures; Theron (Patrik Porkoláb) can work wonders with the camera and is a freaking beast when it comes to community life. In contrast, You are a lexicon on two legs. What you say in a review is always based on analysis and careful consideration. All these people, and my beloved fiancée, Ashlar (Adrienn Stamm), who manages everything that goes through the magazine, is what constitutes OtherWorld.

You can find dozens of professionals, but individuals, who are passionate about what they’re doing, are hard to find. Good people are hard to find.

One more question before I completely change the subject on You with something that is not interview related. What are your plans for the future? Where is the magazine going?

pitt and zoly

Zoltán with his guinea pig, Brad Pitt

We have a vision of what We want to do with the magazine. Not just a vision, it is a plan that stretches two years into the future. We certainly want to have our fourth Camp next year (2014), in its bigger, longer and more sport oriented version. Then, although, we just started working out the details; We’d like to do something even much bigger on an international scale. We have the support and resources to make that happen, so We’re definitely not backing out. We are going to expand the horizon by bringing concert, book and horror reviews to the table, and have our own set of blogs, where We can blow off some steam. We just partnered up with Hungarian distributor, ProGamer, so sweepstakes will become more frequent, from now on. The list is practically endless, and with the next generation of consoles just around the corner, all I can say is that for Us, the future has already begun.

Sorry to ruin this remarkable outro for You, but I have to ask: what is this fascination with guinea pigs?

Unless you live with one, you won’t understand. It is an experience unlike any other. Something elemental to say the least. /laughs/ I can tell You more about it. You want a beer?

Thank You, but for me it’s fruit juice all the way. /laughs/

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