There are some days that just turn out wrong. I thought this was one of those days. My Internet, phone, and TV were all dead for no apparent reason. After having checked the line up and down fruitlessly, I had given up all hope. Finally, 20 minutes after the time we were supposed to have done the interview, the blinking lights on the modem finally shifted nonchalantly back to green. You can't imagine my elation when I logged on to Twitter only to find out that Bananas had also been delayed, effectively making us both right on time.
I've never done an interview before, and I'm pretty sure that my anxious tone and nervous delivery made Bananas think I've never spoken to another person, let alone a female before. Despite that, the day managed to turn out perfectly fine, and I think I may have made a new friend along the way. We sat down over Skype and had a pretty good chat about games, speedrunning, and a little bit of everything else.
TechRaptor: Alright, what's the story behind the name "Bananas"?
Bananas: Oh, gosh. I get this question so much. Okay, well, it's not really a story but I was making an account on Twitch, and all of my usual usernames, which were, like, generic versions of my name with numbers in them were all taken, and I got really frustrated. Why are all of these taken? Why would anyone want these names? Anyway, I got really frustrated and it was the first thing I thought of because I think there was something about bananas on the Twitch homepage at the time. So I came up with "itsokaytohatebananas," which was what my username was before I got a name change. That haunted me because that's a terrible name.
TechRaptor: That's okay. It's part the Internet for our generation. A lot of us are going to have some real major problems if we decide to go into politics.
Bananas: Yeah, for sure.
TechRaptor: Alrighty, what was your first exposure to video games as a kid?
Bananas: Well, when I was little, uh, I think the Nintendo 64 came out the year I was born, but my brother got one for his 13th birthday. He had Ocarina of Time and I used to love to play it. I used to ride Epona and I called it The Horsey Game.
[At this point I let out a nervous, but nonetheless genuine chuckle]
Bananas: And when he went to college he gave me his N64, which he didn't have that many games for. I think he had Ocarina of Time, Kirby 64, and a WWE game.
TechRaptor: Nice, nice. A lot of people think that gaming is a "boy's club." You ever feel shunned or left out or have any weird experiences within the hobby?
Bananas: I never have felt shunned or left out. You really have to kind of put yourself out there and realize that the people who matter aren't going to think gender matters. I mean, there's definitely been some weird experiences, but that's just how it's gonna' be when you're a female in a non-female community. If you worked in IT or something I'm sure you'd have similar experiences if you're a woman. It's been pretty okay for me. I know other girls have had weird things happen to them.
TechRaptor: Well, I think that's something we'll be able to change, but it's also important to change it in the right direction.
Bananas: Yeah, true.
TechRaptor: When was the first time you heard about speedrunning? Did it really seem all that appealing to you at first?
Bananas: I have a pretty generic speedrunning origin story. My ex-boyfriend actually was super obsessed with Siglemic and showed me his speedruns and I thought it was really cool. Mostly because his chat was insane. Messages just flying by all the time. And from Siglemic I found Cosmo, and from Cosmo I found Testrunner, who speedruns Skyward Sword. That's how I got into the community. I would stay up all night until five or six in the morning watching Testrunner do these six hour speedruns and I just got super into it. It was awesome.
TechRaptor: So how long's it been now since you started speedrunning, would you say?
Bananas: Uh, shoot. It's July, so I would have started almost 3 years ago.
TechRaptor: What was the first game you ran?
Bananas: Skyward Sword.
TechRaptor: Nice. Do you have a favorite game you've done a speedrun of?
Bananas: Um. I really like Sonic Adventure DX. Amy's story because it's super short and fun. It's not really a full game but I still like it.
TechRaptor: Alright. And what about when you're not speedrunning? What's your favorite game. Right now, anyway.
Bananas: Right now my favorite game is Shin Megami Tensei 4. I love that game.
TechRaptor: I've never been too big into JRPGs but I've heard good things about SMT.
Bananas: I love them!
TechRaptor: Well, I mean, to each their own. If we had to say of all time, what was your favorite game?
Bananas: Gosh, that's so hard. Honestly, I guess I'd say Twilight Princess would be my all-time favorite game.
TechRaptor: A bold choice.
TechRaptor: You were at the Nintendo World Championships recently. What was that like? Do you have any stories or?
Bananas: It was amazingly awesome. Like, I think about it every day. All the competitors were super nice and friendly, and we felt like a big family. It didn't really feel like a competition, which I think is what Nintendo was going for. I told this story on my ask.fm, but I know the speedrunners were supposed to be the "stars" or whatever, but we were standing outside waiting to go into the Microsoft Theater at nine in the morning and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in. These girls were freaking out. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, it's Arin!" I thought they were going to pee their pants or something. They ran straight up to him and were saying "Arin, can we take a selfie with you?!?" and handed the phone to Cosmo or someone, and it was just weird. Then as they walked away they were saying "C'mon, let's look around! Maybe we'll find more Internet-famous people!" Since it was me, Cosmo, Trihex, and Essentia all huddled around it really made us feel humbled. Like, oh, yeah, we're not that famous.
TechRaptor: I guess that's something, huh? You get all the way out there and you're saying "Wow, look at us, we're going to be doing this huge thing," and then here come these people who make your parents' salary by making YouTube videos.
Bananas: Seriously though, it's insane what some people can make off of video games.
TechRaptor: I can't knock it. If I could, I would. I might dislike PewDiePie or whoever's videos, but that's the life.
Bananas: If I could I would, too.
TechRaptor: So, what's currently on your plate with speedrunning? I think I saw you playing Kirby 64. Actually yeah, that's where I first spoke with you.
Bananas: Yeah, I've been into Kirby 64 100% lately. I work a full-time job, so as much as I'd like to get into Skyward Sword again, the shortest it can be for me is five hours. I can't just sit down every day and have a five hour run, especially when half the time I'm going to need to do resets. That's kind of a frustrating point for me. I've dipped into a lot of other games. I've tried Link's Awakening, I've tried Oracle of Ages, and I just haven't gotten into anything like I got into Skyward Sword and Oracle of Seasons. Kirby 64 has been a good game for me that I can sit down with after work and do a couple of resets with and still do a run, so I'm enjoying that.
TechRaptor: That's logical. It's a good game on top of that, so you don't have to sit and suffer running straight through. Are there any games coming out that you're looking forward to? Not just from a speedrunning perspective, but in general.
Bananas: Well, the new Zelda, but we all know that isn't coming for a while. I'm not sure if there's anything in particular I'm looking forward to. Oh, Yoshi's Woolly World I'm excited about. Mostly just the amiibos. Those cute little yarn Yoshis. That's really about it. There's nothing really on the late 2015-early 2016 game plate that I want that bad. Which is good for my wallet, I guess.
TechRaptor: Well, what advice do you think you'd give to someone who's looking to get into speedrunning?
Bananas: I would say that you shouldn't just watch the world record, because when you're first getting into speedrunning you aren't going to be able to do a lot of the stuff that the world record holder can do, depending on the game. You should look into worse runs and realize that speedrunning takes time. No matter who you are, it's going to take time and practice. Because of that, the more time you take, the better you'll get. And if you've just gotten into streaming, you can't give up. Even if nobody watches your stream eventually there'll be one person, and they'll know someone else who knows someone else and eventually people will come. You've just got to keep trying.
TechRaptor: Wise words.
TechRaptor: Do you think you'll be at any more AGDQ or SDGQ events in the future?
Bananas: I'd love to go. It all just depends on money at the time. It'll probably be a split-second decision. I'm hoping I'll be able to make it to this coming AGDQ, but I don't really know where I'll be at with my job and I'm also thinking of going back to school. Still, I'd love to go again. They're amazing events.
TechRaptor: School is for nerds.
Bananas: Agreed. You've just got to do it.
TechRaptor: Yeah. You're a cake decorator. What kind of unusual or memorable cakes have you had to work on?
Bananas: Last week actually, I had a cake and all the order form said was "Draw color guard flags on it." And I went to high school football games, I mean, I saw the color guard but I just didn't understand why they'd want flags on this cake? They just wanted flags of all different colors. And when I gave it to the lady, she says "Oh, her favorite color is actually burgundy. Can you change all these flags' color to burgundy?" and I had to redo the whole cake. That was pretty frustrating but hopefully she liked it in the end.
TechRaptor: That's exactly the kind of request you'd hear out of someone whose favorite color is burgundy.
Bananas: I know! Whose favorite color is burgundy!?
TechRaptor: So, you're pretty into anime
Bananas: Yes. [the most ashamed "Yes" I've ever heard.]
TechRaptor: What series have you watched lately that you'd recommend or are fond of?
Bananas: Recently? Fate/Stay Nights Unlimited Blade Works. I recommend not watching the epilogue. It kind of ruined the series for me, but some people liked it. Overall, I'd recommend Code Geass. I'll recommend that any time anyone asks me. Ever. Greatest anime ever in my opinion. And if we're going on the opposite side of things, I definitely think everyone should watch Love Live! School Idol Project.
TechRaptor: I'm noticing a big lack of older Gundam series in those recommendations ...
Bananas: Hey! I just turned 20. That's a little older than my time.
TechRaptor: Not to shock you, but I'm 21.
Bananas: I had limited TV time!
TechRaptor: I won't judge you for it.
Bananas: Nah, I just wasn't into mechs as a child.
TechRaptor: Different strokes for different folks.
TechRaptor: So, you've been streaming on Twitch for a while now. Three years or so coming up. How do you feel about Twitch competitors like Hitbox, or YouTube's forays into the territory?
Bananas: Well, Hitbox kind of died for me. I don't think that YouTube streaming will ever get big, honestly. Every thing they've tried has just flopped. I would love for someone to give Twitch some competition. They'd be able to improve the sites and how things work for streamers.
TechRaptor: Hitbox is still in the game. I really like that the delay is so short.
Bananas: I just don't like Hitbox for a really stupid reason. The chat just doesn't appeal to my eyes. I know it's a stupid reason.
TechRaptor: It's whatever.
Bananas: I do really like their chat emotes though.
TechRaptor: Oh no, not the emotes.
Bananas: They're really cute! Just not the Rage Face ones.
TechRaptor: That's what I'm talking about. They're all just stale image macros.
Bananas: Okay, the little smileys though. They smileys are good. That's what I'm talking about.
TechRaptor: Fine, I'll have to look into that. Would you rather fight a great white shark or a giant squid? This is assuming you're in the water in their territory, it's their life or yours. Shark or squid?
Bananas: Giant squid. I learned how to beat him in Super Mario Sunshine.
TechRaptor: Have you SEEN those beaks though?
Bananas: Haha, I'm not afraid! I'll just pull on it!
Bananas: Honestly, like, a squid has one beak. A shark has something like 500 teeth.
TechRaptor: They've got all those tentacles though.
Bananas: I don't know. I think I'd still take the squid over the shark.
TechRaptor: Think about how many people get attacked by sharks every year. They don't die. They just lose a limb or two.
Bananas: How many people get attacked by giant squids, then?
TechRaptor: They never come back to tell!
Bananas: Okay, you've convinced me. Maybe I just need to get an arm bitten off.
TechRaptor: Yeah! They made a movie about that one girl.
Bananas: Who got her arm bitten off and then surfed? Is that the one?
[The conversation devolved further and further into off topic before we wound up saying goodbye and heading off to do other stuff. Thankfully I got most of the actual questions out of the way.]
We'd like to thank Bananas for taking the time to speak with us.
Bananas is definitely a charismatic young lady. She's not been speedrunning for too long, so a lot of people might only know her as "that girl who ran Oracle of Seasons at AGDQ" or "The redhead from the Nintendo World Championships," but she's entertaining to watch, and if her work schedule permits, you better believe that she's going to become one of the bigger names in speedrunning within a few years. If you want to watch her speedruns, check out her Twitch channel here. And if you like what you see, give her a shout on Twitter.