With the first tournament of the pro gaming season approaching in April, we sat down with Red Bull pro Ian "Enable" Wyatt to see what he's up to and to throw him a few questions about the gaming world.
If you have preconceived notions about gamers, then get ready to change your mind because Wyatt, one of the best professional HALO players in the world, is friendly, outgoing, intelligent and grounded; all the more impressive when you discover that he’s only 17 years old.
Having started gaming to keep up with his older brother when he was 13, he found he was a natural and soon needed to find fresh challenges elsewhere, beginning to take part and then impress at Major League Gaming tournaments. Since then, he’s approached gaming with a determination and passion that most people don’t find until they’re much older.
Tell us about yourself...
Well, I’m 17. I was born in Philly but moved to Delaware right after I was born, so I’ve been living there my whole life. I have an older brother, so you know I wanted to do everything that he was doing. And he’d always play HALO 1 with his friends, so of course, I wanted to tag along. And then it got to the point where I was beating him. So I wanted to find better competition [laughs]… and that’s how I found out about MLG [Major League Gaming].
I’m not really into the real-time strategies or games that you have to think moreso than actually execute.
How did you get involved in MLG? How do you even get started in professional gaming?
Well, I found out about MLG just on XBox Live through someone. I went to their site and saw that they had an event – this was in '06, I think – at the Meadowlands, which is close to where I’m at. So I begged my mom, “CanIgocanIgocanIgo?” And she finally agreed. I went, and I didn’t do so well, but that’s how I started going to events, and that’s how you start to become pro - by going to events constantly and placing in them.
What is it specifically about video games that draws you, as opposed to stuff like comics or movies?
I think it’s the competitive nature. There’s always someone better than you, so you wanna strive to be the best at what you do. With a movie, or comic books, that’s kinda like…you’re not improving your skill at reading – well, you kinda are – but you’re not in competition with anyone. So, with gaming, it’s not only fun, but there’s always somebody who thinks they’re better than you, so it makes you want to get better at the same time.
What is it specifically about HALO that you love?
Well, first thing is that it’s a first-person shooter. I’m really into the shooters. I’m not really into the real-time strategies or other games that you have to think moreso than actually execute. So, that’s one of the reasons, and also, it’s just a fun game to play. It’s hard to explain. It’s almost addicting, just because everyone around you likes HALO. They like to play it. And it’s not like Call of Duty where it’s realistic, it’s different. It just keeps you constantly wanting more.
Do you think that you enjoy HALO because it’s that the kind of people who are drawn to HALO are there more for the fun and less for the hardcore realism of it?
I say it is more about fun, but I mean, it’s still really competitive, honestly. It’s MLG’s main spot at events, so a lot of people go to play it. Actually the first event coming up in April is the first-ever event that Reach will be played at.
What are your top three favorite games to play?
[Other than HALO Reach], Madden and NBA. I really love sports games. When I’m getting frustrated with HALO, I can go to them and just relax and have fun playing. So those are definitely the top two behind Reach.
What would be a good game for someone who’s new to gaming to start on?
I would say Reach is one of the best, if not the best, to start on for playing a first-person shooter. Because not only is it new, so you won’t be starting way behind… like, if you played Counterstrike or anything like that, there’s people way ahead of you in the game already, so it’s a lot harder to make improvements. But with Reach, everyone’s kinda on the same level, like a clean slate. And it’s also…I don’t even know how to explain it… it’s difficult, but it’s easier for beginners to be able to feel how to play. You’d be able to get the game down really easily.
Would you ever want to design a game, or come up with a story for a game?
Maybe. That actually sounds like a pretty cool idea! I mean, I haven’t given it much thought…but I love playing games, so…it could happen. If I ever found the opportunity, I’m sure I could sit down and think of a theme for a game or a first-person shooter. I don’t know how good it’d be, but…
Lastly, why is 'Enable' your gamer handle?
I didn’t make the gamer tag up. I was 13 and me and one of my friends were thinking of new gamer tags, and we were looking in the dictionary and he just said it, and he was gonna use it for his name, but I kinda stole it. [laughs] It’s not the best story, but that’s how I got it.
Well, I heard earlier that your style when you play is flanking, coming around on the sides to let your teammates go up the middle. So, I thought that you chose your name because you “enable” your team to do what they need to do!
[laughs] That sounds a lot better, actually. I might just tell people that!
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