Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams, is starring in the new film, Noobz. After watching the recent Noobz trailer, you already know that pro gaming is going to get its first Hollywood movie this year. The actress who was named after the Nintendo video game heads up an all-female pro gaming clan called the Pixies, and takes on actors Moses Aria, Matt Shively, Blake Freeman, and Jason Mewes in Gears of War 3.
Williams, who’s an avid gamer, talks about eSports, her love of Xbox Live and her own gaming background in this interview.
Did you base the Pixies off any of the female pro gaming groups like PMS?
We had a bunch of professional gamers come to set and there are quite a few teams that are in the movie. They were really fun to be around. There was one group of female pro gamers that came to set very briefly one day, but the rest of the teams were male and were really interesting and we had a lot of fun. For the first two days of filming all we did was play videogames all day.
What are your thoughts about the whole eSports culture?
I think it’s an interesting culture. I don’t really know that much about it even though I am a gamer myself and I played online a lot. Pro gaming speaks to our generation going away from the standard idea of a contest in terms of what they would win money for. Previously, they have those kinds of contests where a new game would come out and if you were the first person to pitch a no hitter in MLB 2K game you would get a $1 million.
What do you think about the competitive aspect of people play games professionally?
The contests themselves are a little more interesting because even though you’re playing online versus people that you’re not actually physically playing against in terms of hitting each other or anything, you are playing against people. And you are fighting with someone who is in the same room as you, and so there’s shit talking and there’s all of this really fun stuff that we put in Noobz, as well. There’s a lot of trash talking in Noobz. It’s hilarious and it’s been really great to be around like Jason and Moses and Blake because that’s all they do. They just riff on each other all the time.
One of the biggest game competitions out there is Major League Gaming, where they have 20,000 people will show up live to watch these guys play videogames.
Which is bizarre. But mind you, there are some people who like watching other people play video games and some people who don’t. If it’s a fun game, I can sit and watch friends play a video game for hours. I used to do it all the time, and especially if you’re switching off, but as a spectator sport it’s a hilarious new development for sure. It’s not boxing. It’s not football. It’s not baseball. It’s just you’re sitting there watching people watching screens.
What did you learn from working with pro gamers that came to set?
We learned a lot of fun tricks and especially with a game (Gears of War 3) that I’m not really familiar with because the game that we play in the movie is not one that I usually play. I was more of a Halo girl growing up. Halo was actually the only first-person shooter I ever got into. They would teach us a lot of tricks and there were a lot of things about certain weapons not being as good and you don’t know which ones are overpowered unless you’ve looked up the stats. So it was interesting. It was great to have this bizarre behind-the-scenes look into how serious these games are taken by a lot of people.
When it comes to Halo have you played all the way through Reach?
I’ve played all the way through the Reach. It was so funny. There were so many people that were opposed to the whole Overshield because it was so annoying that there was so many kids who were just killing it. But I mainly play with invisibility. I constantly use that and it’s very fun because with the weapons I enjoy...I’m usually a sniper or a shotgunner…invisibility works quite well. I really enjoy ambushing people. The fun thing is that many of the people that use the Overshield don’t know how to use it properly. They just hang out in it as opposed to using it in small bursts. So you can just hang out behind them and stick a grenade to them when they come out of it. It’s really entertaining. It’s a little bit more like whack-a-mole.
Can you talk about your gaming background?
I was kind of a shy kid. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up, and so videogames and comic books and books were basically all I wanted to be doing. But I wasn’t allowed to really play violent games because I was such an imaginative kid, I used to have nightmares. So my mom and dad would always get me Mario and Tetris and games that would keep me interested, but weren’t going to scare me when I was growing up. It’s bizarre too because it actually shaped the movies I like. The movies that I like have one plot, they’re not jumping all around. I never liked Grand Theft Auto. I never played those kinds of games because they didn’t keep my interest because there wasn’t really a beginning, middle, and end.
What’s your typical videogame schedule like when you’re not working on a movie where you literally are playing videogames like Noobz?
Even when I’m working on regular movies I will still play videogames. Depending on how big budget the movie is and how much I’m working, it will be in my trailer so I can wind down, or I’ll play when I get home. But it depends because sometimes you’re just so wiped out from working that you don’t really feel like doing anything that makes you anxious, especially playing first-person shooters. I find that they make me more stressed. So I have to play games that calm me down.
When I’m not working, which is very rare now, I like to find a day to play. I used to be really bad. I would play every day and I’d play Halo for like four hours. I’d just sit and only play Live games, order in pizza, put on the headset and enjoy myself. But you do have to be careful is because videogames are so addicting. There’s a reason why it’s such a huge industry. You want to play all the time. So I have to make sure that I only play one day and not use all of my time for something that wouldn’t help me in the end.