Interview with SgtPezzer in Iraq

Jason Lopez, known as SgtPezzer to us in the gaming community, was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.

2o2p Magazine questions SgtPezzer about why he went back to the Marines, what its like being away from home, and what made him become a gamer. This was an exclusive interview in issue #1, now brought out to the home page for all to read.

So as I understand it, you re-joined the US Marines and left for Iraq, why did you return to the armed forces?

Well, there are actually a few reasons. Probably first and foremost would be that I missed the life, missed the camaraderie. Another big reason is that for 6 years, I served as a Marine. I don’t know who first coined the phrase, but I had a Gunny who used to say that “We train for war, but pray that day never comes. Marines that I knew from years ago were working on their second deployment to Iraq and here I was sitting at home on my ass. I figured it was time for me to get into the fight. To me, it doesn’t matter if you agree why we came here in the first place; we are here now helping the Iraqi people to live in freedom and help make the world safer. I view being over here as my sacrifice to ensure my family’s safety for the future.

I noticed you have a myspace profile ( ) and you’re from Allentown Pennsylvania, a 28 year old guy, but do you have a real name or is “SgtPezzer” what your mom called ya?

My name is Jason Lopez. I’ve been using that nickname for years. It came about from combining two things. The Sgt part obviously from the military, my rank is sergeant. The Pezzer part is actually a lot older. When I was about 16, I worked in the kitchen of a restaurant/bar. Some of the bartenders used to call me Pezzer because of my last night. It kind of stuck. I didn’t use it for a while, but came back to it a few years ago. The only question now is, will I keep it or change it when I get promoted to staff sergeant?

What is your favorite band or artist?

That’s an easy one. The Tartan Terrors. They are a comedy/music/dance group from Canada. I first heard them at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Considering I am trying to learn how to play bagpipes and the bodhran, I consider them a major influence.

When you just want to chill out and relax, what type of music would you turn on?

As funny as this may sound, bagpipe music is what I’m usually listening to. A lot of the Marines that I’m here with can’t stand it, but it just seems to help me relax. Kind of as an oxymoron, I also listen to the pipes when I’m working out.

I noticed from your myspace profile that you have two sons, a two and a half year old, and a six month old. My kids are similar in age, how is “dual wielding” two kids coming along? Do you find it’s much harder to handle?

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been away from my baby for more than I’ve seen him. My wife has actually been the one taking care of them. She’s doing a pretty good job at it, too. She has some help from her family and friends, but she is proving to be rather tough, herself.

So its obvious that you have some form of Internet access from your station in Iraq, is that common for many of the military units or only those stationed at larger facilities?

From what I’ve seen, most places out here, except maybe the smaller outposts have internet. It’s actually a pretty vital communications source. It’s the easiest way to disseminate the vast amounts of information that need to be passed around. A lot of pains-taking steps are utilized to ensure that it stays secure.

Do you find that the Internet gives you more connection to your family and friends then standard phone lines? Or do you still find yourself aching to phone home a lot?

Having regular access to the net allows me better contact back home. My wife and I email each other regularly, at least a few times a day. I do follow it up with a phone call every few days so we can talk to each other and hear each other’s voices, but email is our primary form of communication.

When not in the military, what is your occupation?

I was actually unemployed when I rejoined. Well, I was a stay-at-home dad. My wife and I owned a business. We traveled around to colleges and corporations selling fair trade gift items from third world countries. It was a noble business, but in this world of cheap labor from countries, it’s difficult to make a living by it. We sold it to her parents when we decided I should come back into the Marines.

How did you come to be a 2old2play member?

I was tired of getting my ass kicked by kids who would sit and gloat about it. Playing Halo2 was becoming to be a chore. I didn’t get a chance to play much and then I would have some little 12 yr old berate me about it. Finally, I saw an article in OXM (Official Xbox Magazine) that mentioned a few gaming communities online. I saw 2old2play and thought that might be a good fit. Playing with people like me, who had to carry on real lives and then tried to play on the side, was appealing. After checking out the website I was hooked. It took me only a couple to days to get into a clan, The Wheezin’ Geezers (shameless plug) and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, 2old2play’s gamer groups have ponied up to get you guys some gaming equipment, how does that make you feel?

The amount of support I have received is over-whelming. In particular, MikeJames for orchestrating everything. I don’t know if there is any way for me to repay the favor. When my Xbox got fried, I posted on the site merely to complain. I never expected anything like this. I was only hoping for some sympathy.

What types/genre’s of games do you like?

My taste runs most of the spectrum. From sports games to RPG’s and just about everything in between. Simulators, FPS’s, strategy games, I do it all.

How many hours a week in Iraq do you get to actually play games or blow off steam?

My schedule runs 12 hours on and 24 hours off. That certainly isn’t indicative of most of the service members out here, but as the Operations Chief for my unit, that’s what I drew. However, I tend to be a workaholic and wind up spending a lot of extra time in my office dealing with what needs to be done. I would have to say on average, I try to spend a couple hours a day playing games. Honestly, sometimes that time is spent while I’m on duty. I have periods of slow time and I try to get some gaming in if I have nothing else to do.

What do you find yourself doing to pass time besides thinking about electronic gaming? Texas Hold’em?

When not gaming, or working. We’ve been known to get some sports in. We usually play basketball or volleyball. We have a full court set up right in front of our bunker and we also have portable poles to set up for volleyball. As soon as we find space for it, we’re going to get horseshoes going, too. There is also a lot of card playing that goes on around here. Spades and rummy seem to be the favorites, but we have had a game or two of Hold ‘Em.

When did you first become a gamer?

That’s a tough one. I don’t exactly remember, but I guess it all started back when I was 6 or 7 and my parents bought an Atari 2600. That was the good stuff back in the day. Intellivision, ColecoVision…I remember them all too well.

What was the first game that got you “hooked” on gaming?

I guess the games that got it started for me were Frogger and Pitfall. They were my favorites back then. There was also a game that I can’t remember the name, but it was similar to Frogger, except you were a chicken trying to cross the road in traffic. It was just a funny game to play. I think the name was Freeway.

What do you think is the most revolutionary console system that “changed the face of gaming” up till now?

I would have to say the Xbox. The PS2 came out first and was a step in the right direction, but the Xbox was the one that went leaps and bounds in the realm of online gaming. I even traded up my PS2 for an Xbox and haven’t looked back since. Sony fired the first salvo, but Microsoft hit back more effectively.

What coin-op arcade game did you spend the most coin in?

I spent a lot time playing Super Off Road back when I was in school. I would have to say that, or the original Star Wars game. It’s funny to look back now and see that those were top of the line games back then and to see how far we have come.

Do you also play games on a personal computer or are you strictly a console gamer?

I like to play PC games too. Games such as Civilization, Empire Earth, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. There are others, but those are the main ones. I also have a Nintendo emulator with a couple hundred games. I have spent a lot of time playing with them recently. In fact, they are the easiest to play while I’m on shift. I have my personal laptop out here, so I just whip it out and play.

Do the people you’re protecting our country with also share an interest in gaming?

Absolutely. There are a couple Marines who have their PS2’s out here, and they are awaiting the game gear that has been donated. There are already plans in the works for sports leagues and tournaments. They are pretty pumped up about it.

I know it’s hard to get Xbox 360’s around the US, any easier in the desert?

The funny thing is I actually saw a couple when I had my stop off in Kuwait. I wasn’t tempted to buy it though. I try to shy away from first runs because there are usually a few bugs yet to be worked out. I haven’t seen any since I got to Iraq, but hopefully when I get back home the supply situation will be worked out for me to get on board.

When you return to the States do you plan on ‘upgrading’ to an Xbox 360?

Yes, without a doubt in my mind, as long as I can find one, I’ll be buying it.

Given your military background do you favor military type games? Strategy, FPS, or otherwise?

I have a soft spot for military FPS’s. The Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six series I have always enjoyed. There is no game that I have played that truly captures the feeling and tactics of the battlefield, but they’re close. Well, paintball actually has it down pretty good.

Does the reflexes you’ve gained from playing video games help you on the field or in training? Or is it like a whole different feeling?

Physically, I haven’t noticed any advantage. But I think my mental reflexes are faster from playing games. Games today are fast paced and you have to be able to react quickly. Especially playing on XBL. You need to be able to assess the battlefield and react to your opponents and allies on the fly. I think that has definitely helped me.

SgtPezzer continues his time in Iraq serving the duties of his country. I think all the readers and 2old2play forum posters would agree that what he is doing is brave and a job not everyone would be up to performing.

While your sitting back in your chairs at work, in the vehicle, at home, or otherwise please remember that these guys and gals are fighting for our country! I am sure everyone is wishing you and all your comrades the best of luck and a cheerful safe return to the States when your time to leave arrives!

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