In our latest Antstream Arcade Twitch Superstar feature, we chat to another of the wonderful people spreading the retro gaming glory of Antstream Arcade via streaming platforms. This week, we proudly present NAG_Graham, AKA Norwich Amiga Group’s Graham Humphrey, answering questions on his gaming history, favourite games, Antstream Arcade and more. You can catch Graham on Twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/nag_graham and on Twitter as @NorwichAmigaGrp.
On with the retro inquisition!
Antstream Arcade: Hello Graham! What are your earliest memories of gaming?
Graham: Hello! I have some very dim memories of playing – or attempting to play – games on the ZX Spectrum, but it’s more the Amiga that made a bigger impression on me. I’m sure a lot of people who got an Amiga remember the A500+ bundle with Lemmings and The Simpsons game with that brilliant intro. That’s where it all started for me and I don’t think I’ve been without an Amiga since!
AA: Was that the first videogame that really captured your imagination?
Graham: It’s difficult to pinpoint one, but Lemmings must have been the game I spent the most amount of time with and it’s surely one of the most influential and famous games to come out of that era. I also have always had a real fondness for Dizzy and games like that – that kind of simple platform/adventure hybrid can be really atmospheric and epic in feel if done right.
AA: We hazard a guess that your favourite time for gaming is the 16-bit era…
Graham: It would be very easy and predictable for me to say the 16-bit era – but I always feel that at its best, it carries over that inventive and quirky spirit that made the ZX Spectrum so great. But I also think consoles like the PlayStation have a pretty stunning and diverse range of games and laid the foundation for a lot of what we see today – for better or worse! At the risk of completely copping out, I’d be tempted to say now is the best time, simply because we’ve got easy access to the vast majority of gaming’s history as well as an incredible amount of games that are still being developed for these machines alongside the newer platforms. That might be cheating a tad though…
AA: Don’t worry, it may be a cop-out, but it’s a perfectly well-reasoned one, so it’s OK by us! But surely your favourite game of all time is a 16-bit title?
Graham: As an Amiga owner, the obvious answer is Sensible World Of Soccer – still one of the finest games ever made, and not just in footballing terms. It’s absolutely timeless and contains so many teams and leagues that you can keep playing forever. The fact that there’s still a dedicated community creating updates for it speaks volumes.
AA: When and why did you begin streaming?
Graham: It was initially an attempt to keep interacting with my community through a different channel – I run the Norwich Amiga Group and the pandemic was not exactly conducive to holding our usual meet ups and social gatherings. So in January I launched a Twitch channel with the primary aim of streaming mainly Amiga stuff and keeping in touch with group members. I’d toyed with the idea for a few months, but had to deal with hardware that was so underpowered for what I wanted to do that I couldn’t even use a webcam as it caused the whole thing to fall over. Despite being a low-budget stream to start with, I ended up going ahead with it anyway as a kind of lockdown project and it’s really taken off since.
AA: How do you choose which games to stream?
Graham: I often go for a specific theme, so I might decide to try out games of a particular genre, or plough my way through some PD compilation disks, or go for an entire stream dedicated to new Amiga games. I often wing it a bit to be honest; some streams need more preparation than others, but I try to plan some way in advance what it is I would like to do.
AA: What do you think of Antstream Arcade and in particular the tournaments?
Graham: I think it’s a brilliant service that tangibly makes exploring retro gaming a lot more accessible. The fact there’s a huge social element too with the leader boards is a huge bonus and the challenges really add an extra dimension to so many games. I really enjoy seeing so many arcade classics and also the volume of Amiga and Spectrum games. It opens up entirely different libraries to people who may not have encountered these systems before. I love the tournaments, too. The fact they’re sponsored and only run for a short time does increase their profile and the urgency to do well. Because they’re also similar to the challenges and modify the gameplay slightly, it makes it fun to stream and watch as well – just seeing your leader board position change in real time adds a certain pressure to proceedings.
AA: What’s it like streaming Antstream Arcade? Do you get a good response?
Graham: A lot of people seem to like it. A good chunk of my community haven’t previously been too familiar with Antstream so that’s prompted them to download it and join in. It’s all very ‘pick up and play’ and extremely visual, which is ideally how services such as Antstream should be. I employ the tried and trusted method of letting my viewers pick the games which, with so many games across numerous formats, does give me an insight into many releases that I’ve never seen before, so it can be an education.
AA: As a valued member of the Antstream Arcade streaming community, do you have any recommendations on how we can improve?
Graham: If I’m being greedy – hey, you did ask! – I’d love to see configurable controls if possible. They’re mostly sensibly laid out to be honest, but I’d love the option to tweak things now and again. As for games, I do love the fact there are so many lesser-known games there, and I’d encourage the appearance of more modern games for the likes of the Amiga and Spectrum. There are some hugely impressive games coming out for these formats that deserve more exposure beyond just the hardcore users.
AA: We’ll get on it! Finally, Graham aka NAG_Graham on Antstream Arcade, on a scale of 1 to 10, how geeky are you?
Graham: Well it’s an unashamed 10 – but I bet everyone says that, don’t they?
Surprisingly not! Our thanks to Graham for his time – stay tuned for another Antstream Arcade streaming superstar profile soon!