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November 7, 2014

Wikinews interviews Mario J. Lucero and Isabel Ruiz of Heaven Sent Gaming

Wikinews interviews Mario J. Lucero and Isabel Ruiz of Heaven Sent Gaming

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Friday, November 7, 2014 Albuquerque, New Mexico — Online entertainment is a booming market, and plenty of players are making their play; back in March of this year The Walt Disney Company bought the multi-channel network Maker Studios. What is web entertainment, and the arts therein? And, who are the people venturing into this field? Wikinews interviewed Mario Lucero and Isabel Ruiz, the founders of Heaven Sent Gaming, a small entertainment team. This group has been responsible for several publications, within several different media formats; one successful example was aywv, a gaming news website, which was #1 in Gaming on YouTube in 2009, from September to November; Heaven Sent Gaming was also the subject of a referential book, released in 2014, entitled Internet Legends – Heaven Sent Gaming.

Heaven Sent Gaming logo

Mario J. Lucero and Isabel Ruiz

General questions

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is Heaven Sent Gaming?

Mario J. Lucero: Heaven Sent Gaming is basically me and Isabel, I’m Mario J. Lucero.
Isabel Ruiz: And, I’m Isabel Ruiz.
Mario: And, together we formed this thing, it’s sort of like an entertainment team. We stated it basically, because I wanted to — I wanted to work with Isabel on a lot of projects that we had going on together. We were coming with comics, like, left and right, we were coming up with things like Karis, in high school she came up with that one, I came up with an individual story called Thad’s World Destruction and, she wanted to illustrate it, and so, that’s the way we ended up doing it.
Isabel: Yep, we like to just make our own original content, and, yep, that’s what we wanted to do.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How did you two meet?

Isabel: We met back in high school. In this private, tiny-tiny private school of 50 students. But, before hand in middle school, I kept on hearing about this guy named Mario, and he kept on hearing about me, this girl named Isabel. And, everyone, all of our friends and all of our acquaintances would say, “Hey, you’d get along with him really well.” So before hand I kinda knew about him, but I never met him. And one of our friends, our common friends, he introduced us during study hall, and we just kind of hit it off from there.
Mario: It’s true.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Who else is involved in this project?

Isabel: Currently, we’re in talks with people. There’s Jeff [Drake], who is behind the camera.
Mario: Right now, yeah, he’s helping us right now. We’re talking about doing some individual web series, video series. Josh Kindig, he’s coming on board, he has some ideas for that too, he wants to take over “aywv” and do more gaming news.
Isabel: There’s of course Jason, who is our editor and he’s the one who writes dD.
Mario: Digital Domain

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your purpose behind this venture?

Mario: Well, back in college, back in Collins College, Isabel and I, we had met like she said at Sandia View Academy, and we went off to college together in Arizona; and… (how do I best explain this?) Basically, she came up with a few class projects, and I came up with a few class projects; we started working with a few of our friends, and colleagues and whatnot. Those included Drew Cass, Devin Thurlow, people like that. She had several ideas, and she used to draw a lot in the sketchbook, she used to have this thick sketchbook that she used to carry around with her everywhere, where she’d draw these different characters and whatnot; and she was always really shy to show that off to people, and I wanted to help her show that stuff, and I wanted to bring it out to the world. I was a writer, and she always liked my writings, so I was like, let’s just get both of our things together, and let’s get this done.
Isabel: And for me, what I want the purpose to be, is to inspire people. To bring a little more light to the world is what I want, out of all of this.
Mario: And what was the verse that we have? First Corinthians [garbled; ed. note: cf. 1Cor.4:5]?
Isabel: Yes.
Mario: Yeah, exactly. We just want to be able to bring, like she said, bring light into the entertainment and into the media industry, specifically is what we do.
Isabel: Yeah.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How do professionals gauge your market?

Mario: That’s a really crazy question. Depends on which market you’re talking about. Because Heaven Sent Gaming kind of fits into two categories; it’s a new media thing, which I don’t like the term “new media”, and it’s a Christian venture, and in both respects with “new media”, in particular, whenever a new format comes into being it’s hard to gauge what celebrities, and what people, and and what companies are doing things to really shake up things, and really bring new things to the table. And, when you have something like, Rooster Teeth for example; Rooster Teeth is a really great example of a really successful company in new media. They’ve be able to shape a relatively small series, like “Red vs. Blue“, into an entire multimedia enterprise. They’ve been able to make things like Strangerhood, and things even bigger like RWBY. And They’re even getting that translated into Japanese now, so they’ve spun that into an entire multimedia conglomerate. And, that has to do with other aspects of media […] like The Young Turks and Cenk Uygur and all them. They formatted and created a way for this to become monetized, for you to be able to release things on your own and make it into something special and unique. And then, let’s see, other people that are up there. Like, Alex Jones is a good example of the two, Alex Jones is a person who shaped something up like that, in the same way that The Young Turks did, where it’s about news and media but he did his own thing, and with the help of the internet, which is was “new media” usually refers to nowadays, internet media has been booming because of people like him; they built a whole system around it, and that’s fascinating. But on the other side, if you’re talking about Christian media, I don’t know which your referring to, with Christian media it’s a little bit more difficult to gauge the Christian media market, because it’s a niche market, and you have things that are extremely successful like Big Idea Productions which became huge off of VeggieTales, and it’s now owned by Dreamworks. I know Phil Vischer isn’t even a part of Big Idea very anymore, he just does the voice for Bob […] and Pa Grape.
Isabel: He’s doing his own thing, right now, to explain more about the Biblical stories and Biblical aspects of it.
Mario: What’s in the Bible? And then also he does that podcast.
Isabel: With new media, there are so many things that you can do. And that’s what makes it very difficult to gauge. I feel like it kind of depends on each person, as to what they want to do with it.
Mario: Right, and the greatest thing with the internet, it’s kind of like the way radio was back in the day, where you have a lot of different voice comin’ up, you can hear a lot of different opinions, a lot of different sides to things that you wouldn’t normally [have] heard. It’s kind of like an unfiltered version of the world, in a sense, and you can get different opinions and things like that. And, that’s really good, and I think that’s going to be really good for media. And, I think it’s going to be really bad for older media, which is where you do get the “new media”, which is why I don’t like it, ’cause I think media is just evolving, just like any other form of art, or entertainment, or anything like that; media just slowly evolves, and I think this is just the next evolutionary step in it.
Isabel: I think it’s just changing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How much money does this generate?

Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: None, right, none.
Mario: Zero, cero, none.
Isabel: None right now. We all have our own jobs, to make money and make sure that we can have some equipment.
Mario: Making ends meet.
Isabel: Making ends meet. But right now, it’s none, and right now that’s not something that really concerns us. We are looking more into making this a proper business, and making this have money so that we can do this full time. It’s very frustrating to me that I do have to go to work, and often in the middle of work I have this awesome idea, and I just want to sit down and draw, but that’s not possible. But right now, that’s fine.
Mario: This goes back to the prior topic, […] they were talking about new media. Because, with new media, usually […] when you’re a start-up, you do this purely for the art, for the entertainment, you do it for the joy of it. And you do it to express yourself. And you hope that this can generate money for you, but it’s not the main priority of it. The main priority of it is to create something unique, to express yourself in some way, and that’s the most important aspect of it. Money is a driving force, obviously, of everything in our daily lives, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. And new media entrepreneurs usually tend to show that.
Isabel: Like me personally, I always feel like money is just a tool, and it’s just something to be able to get what you need or want to get.
Mario: What I was gonna say though, is that, you have people like — Toby Turner, at first he didn’t make any money off of it. But he did a lot of really cool things, and people eventually hooked onto him, and then it became a media empire for him. Which is good.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What major hurdles have you overcome related to Heaven Sent Gaming, or life in general?

Isabel: With life hurdles, in particular with Heaven Sent Gaming. As a lot of people know, when we started up a lot of Heaven Sent Gaming, like the first few years, we were taking care of his (Mario’s) grandparents, they were suffering through dementia at the time. And it got progressively worse and worse, and that’s one of the reasons why updates and things like that have been pretty sporadic. And then this year and last year was really hard on us, we were kind of homeless for a while.
Mario: That was the end of last year. Don’t say “homeless”, say “destitute”.
Isabel: “Destitute”. That’s the word I was looking for, we were destitute for a while, and it was pretty hard. And this year it’s been more like picking up everything, picking up the pieces, where we have left off.
Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Really.
Mario and Isabel: Yeah.
Isabel: And then also, of course, finding creative people who want to help out with this.
Mario: Which is how were going to turn this into a business, which is how were going to turn this into a money making venture. For example, Jeff who is handling the camera during this interview, we have a lot of good ideas for some video series. And they’re going to be really entertaining, and we really want to bring it out to our fans and to the people that follow us, and we hope you’ll stick around for that. That’d be good.
Isabel: And, I cannot express my thanks to our fans enough, they are absolutely great and amazing people. So yep!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Is there freedom in […] publishing your own work, or do you find it more difficult?

Isabel: This is kind of a give and take, it’s a mixture of both. There is definitely a lot more freedom in publishing our own work, because, in the end of the day, we get to say what we want to actually go out there, […] to say, what we want to say, the message that we want to put forth. But, in that, at the beginning, you have no platform, you have no way to actually put that forth in a sense. So you have to build the stage […] you’re going to perform on. And, that’s definitely hard, that’s definitely a big hurdle.
Mario: You have to build your own platform. That’s exactly it. But at the same time, like you said there’s those ups and downs, with self-publishing — it’s just different. They’re both very different. For example, I’ve worked with bigger clients, I’ve working with people, and I’ve had deadlines, I’ve had to do all those things, right. It just feels different. Even though you have more freedom, like she said, you have to build your own platform. If you work with a big client, you have the ability to have their equipment, their resources, all that. When your a start-up — you are a newb!
Isabel: Just getting everything right. You have to be creative to figure out what to do.
Mario: Newb.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: Me personally, I prefer to have the freedom of being able to say, because eventually you will have all the resources, and I think that’s the big difference.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What does your family do?

Isabel: So, both of my parents are teachers. My mom is an elementary school teacher, and my dad is a high school teacher.
Mario: And, my grandfather — [laughs] yeah, mine’s a long answer. My grandfather, Joe M. Lucero, Jose Mariano Lucero, he was a trucker for 30 years with Consolidated Freightways. My grandmother was a homemaker, my Nana, her name was Antonia Lucero. My mother [Cathleen Lucero] is a, she’s worked a lot of different jobs, she’s a working class woman. And my father is Horacio Pargas, and […]
Isabel: He was a cowboy.
Mario: He was a cowboy. And, yeah. I was always really proud of that, that’s awesome. He drove pick-up trucks, cowboy hats, all that, whole nine yards, y todo.
Isabel: And now he’s a factory worker, right?
Mario: He is a factory worker, that’s correct. You missed out on one factoid about your mother.
Isabel: What’s that?
Mario: She has a masters degree!
Isabel: Yeah! Oh yeah, she has a masters degree, I’m very proud of her. Before that she was a working class woman as well, she mainly did a lot of maid jobs, so I got to see a whole bunch of fancy people’s fancy houses. […] And before my father became a teacher, he was a small business owner, he did windshields for cars and would replace them, and go to wherever you were at and did that. They both decided “let’s go to college”, my mom got her master’s degree, and my dad got his bachelor’s, and now they’re teachers.
Mario: With Albuquerque Public Schools systems, fancy.
Isabel: With APS.
Mario: [in a western accent] That’s what our families done did.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Which creative individuals do you admire?

Isabel: Disney, for sure, of course, Miyazaki of course. I watched a lot of Anime, that needs its own little section there. […] Charles Schultz, of course.
Mario: Which Anime artist do you enjoy? Which Manga artist do you enjoy?
Isabel: Ken Akamatsu, for one.
Mario: What about your love for Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings.
Isabel: There’s J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, John Green, so many, there’s probably too many.
Mario: Tony Hawk.
Isabel: No, that’s you. [laughs]
Mario: Whoops, for me it’s probably the people she said, and, who else, I said Tony Hawk, he’s like a sportsman though.
Isabel: Yeah, that’s not really creative…
Mario: Emmit Smith.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: Just start naming sportspeople.
Mario: Johnny Cash, obviously, all black everything, she had to match her attire to me.
Isabel: No… well.
Mario: It’s slightly there, it’s silver buttons and black blackness.
Isabel: I got silver sparkles, yay.
Mario: Beautiful.
Isabel: Elvis Presley for you.
Mario: Mm-hmm.
Isabel: Michael Jackson.
Mario: I was gonna do that, but my voice will pop.
Isabel: Stan Lee.
Mario: Stan Lee, yes.
Isabel: Steve Jobs.
Mario: Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur.
Isabel: But, he was creative too.
Mario: That’s the next question.
Isabel: He was, like, both.
Mario: We skipped ahead, let’s go to the next question.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Which entrepreneurs do you admire?

Mario: Steve Jobs, as was previously stated. Magic Johnson.
Isabel: Magic Johnson’s a big one for me. Would CLAMP be consider to be entrepreneurs? They’re like a mixture too.
Mario: They’re mangaka.
Isabel: Yes, but, they’re like the reason why women being mangaka is accepted, and a popular thing now too.
Mario: Popular.
Isabel: Very important to me, at least.
Mario: Fancy.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Why should individuals spend time ingesting your content?

Mario: Because they’re hungry.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: Because, our content, a lot of it is just things that we want to see, and what we want to do. How do I explain? It’s just things we like.
Mario: I write books I want to read. I make comics I would like to see. I, like, make movies that I want to watch. I make music that I would listen to. And, I make shoes that I would wear — I don’t make shoes — not yet, give it time.
Isabel: Our fans now that, it’s good, it’s not, like, trashy and all that stuff. Things that out there now these days, we want to make good entertainment.
Mario: Wholesome entertainment.
Isabel: Wholesome entertainment. [laughs]


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png As demonstrated in your logo, you publicly adhere to Christianity, are you afraid of alienating your audience?

Mario: Not really.
Isabel: No, we’re not, because, in a sense, if they feel alienated by that, we’re glad we didn’t waste their time with it.
Mario: Exactly, that’s what I’ve always said. If that turns them off right away, and they see that, and they don’t want to deal with that kind of thing, then I’m glad I turned them away when I did. So that way they don’t have to waste their time on me. Which is good. And plus, it’s not like it’s a form of religion, I’m using it more for my own identity, and it’s a part of me, and I’m using Heaven Sent Gaming as an artistic medium, so regardless, it’s going to enter into it, because it’s a part of me. And I’m going to be putting a lot of what I am into it. And I’m not doing it to cram religion down people’s throats. Like, Jason, our editor, he’s an atheist and I have no problem with that, he agrees with out stance in bringing light into media, and that’s all that matters.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How important is being a Christian to your projects, and how does it affect your team?

Isabel: Being a Christian is really big to both of us, being in a religion, Christian mainly, has always been a big part of my life, it’s been a big part of Mario’s life. In the fact that we want to bring light into media, we always keep that into mind, as to whatever projects that we make up, how we take them, and just the message of love and goodness that still exists in the world, is very important to us.
Mario: It is important, and you were raised Adventist, Seventh Day Adventist. And I was raised Catholic, my grandparents were Catholic, my mother’s a Catholic.
Isabel: I believe they ask that later, the theological background.
Mario: My theological background? No, the theological background is different. I’m not theologically a Catholic, I’m not theologically a Buddhist either. But, I am a theological scholar of Buddhism, weirdly enough. That’s weird.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Mario: Point is, religion and spirituality are very important to us.
Isabel: We feel like acting like a Christian, following the steps of Christ, is much more important that following a doctrine. Which is the reason why we’re okay with Jason being an atheist, and if anyone else who comes to be a Muslim or anything like that, it’s perfectly fine.
Mario: Especially if their goals […] they want to bring light into the world; which is the important thing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Why is it important for Christianity to be prominent in your work?

Mario: It all goes hand-in-hand, which is why we’ve given a lot of thought to religion and spiritual questions, before, because we know that it can alienate people. We know that it can cause people to not want to look at something, because it’s religious.
Isabel: And, I personally understand that because, a lot of my childhood I got bullied by a lot of people who would go around saying that, “Oh, I’m Chirstian”. When you have these kind of people, who are saying, “Yes, I am Christian, I am supposed to love my fellow neighbor”, but then they turn around and they do something that’s horrible to another person. To everyone else they see, “Well, what is up with this, who are these people really? Obviously, they’re awful people, they’re hypocrites at that too.” And that’s really sad, but —
Mario: It’s the truth.
Isabel: — it’s the truth.
Mario: And, with religion and spirituality being prominent in our work, […] it’s good to get it in there because it’s a representation of ourselves, we’re putting ourselves into this work. And it shows. And that’s an important factor in, I think, the arts in general.

Media-related questions


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What caused you to start creating web comics?

Isabel: This starts out with Reverie. […] We sent them out to get published, by an actual publisher.
Mario: Syndicate. United Feature.
Isabel: Yes, United Feature! Thank you. United Feature Syndicate, they responded to us, and they said, “well, this is really good, but honestly we feel like it would be better if you just did this yourself.” So, we did.
Mario: It was good advice actually, I felt good about that.
Isabel: At the time we were like, “oh, rejection”, but then, “maybe we should just do that.” And we did that.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What inspired each of your individual series?

Isabel: That’s a long question.
Mario: That’s a big question.
Mario and Isabel: Reverie.
Isabel: My parents live in a two-story house. And, on the top-story, in one of the bedrooms, they have wooden paneling. And, Mario saw this face in the wood paneling, and he decided to crudely sketch it, draw it. At the time, I was going through a few things, so it was kinda designed for me to easily make a comic. That’s where Reverie comes from.
Isabel: Karis, is an old, old high school comic that I started way back in the day, but, it’s very different, back then she was in high school, and now she’s in college. I’d show it to Mario and our little group of friends, Byron and Kevin, and, they like it, so.
Mario: Byron Alvarez, and Kevin Garner.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: BladeChick and Mouton, they were both kind of thought up at the same time, and we just wanted like a superhero, kind of more funny and more ridiculous comic than TWD, Karis, or Reverie. Because there’s Reverie which is comedy Sunday happy-go-lucky, and then TWD and Karis that get really heavy and serious, so we wanted something a little bit more funny.
Mario: Did you go over TWD? Can I go over TWD? TWD is a slightly autobiographical comic, it’s a manga-style comic and it details the life of Byron, Kevin, Mario, and Isabel and Art. They’re all based on real people, but it’s a heavily fictionalized universe, like Byron is based on that kid Byron Alvarez who’s not a kid no more, he’s a man. Mario is based on this kid named Mario Lucero, which is me sometimes, most the time, all the times. And there’s Kevin who is based on Kevin Garner, and Isabel who is based on — Catalina Fernando?
Isabel: Yeah, that’s it.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Mario: Isabel Ruiz. And, yeah, but it’s a slightly autobiographical take on our lives, but it’s told in the anime, manga, style because a lot of the events that happened in our high school were very manga-esque. And we read a lot of manga in high school.
Isabel: I read it.
Mario: It was your fault.
Isabel: It’s just a crazier, zanier version of our lives. And then, Koki’o Shade and Monkey? You do that one.
Mario: I love that. Barack Obama and George W. Bush as samurai and a ninja.
Isabel: He did this whole thing, he always says this, with, “What if this would happen? What if this would happen? What if this…” So he would always ask, like, “What do you think the President is doing? What if the President was…” And it just kind of came from that.
Mario: I always do that, ever since 2006, when Bush was in office, and now Obama’s in office. I always ask, like, “Do you think President Obama eats Chicken McNuggets?” And, I do that randomly. “Do you think George W. Bush ever sits down and thinks, ‘Man, I want a root beer’?”
Isabel: I’m sure he does.
Mario: Does he? But, I ask it, like, philosophically.
Isabel: That’s where that came from.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you have a set plan for where these comics are going?

Mario: We have them all laid out.
Isabel: We do.
Mario: We have an entire story-line written out, we have about thirty different branches they can take so, like, if the story ever, like, leaks, which if it leaks, it leaks, whatever; we have like thirty different options afterwards, so we’re just like, well, okay.
Isabel: The only one that doesn’t follow that format is Reverie. There will be smaller arcs.
Mario: Itty-bitty arcs. Baby arcs. Wait, we forgot to mention one. Jinn.
Isabel: Jinn has really been a thing, but back tracking, where Jinn comes from, I was reading One Thousand and One Nights, and watching a lot of Pokemon, playing a lot of Pokemon, and it just came kind of like that, whole.
Mario: Togetherness. We don’t have a lot of it written, but we do have a set plan for it. It’s gonna be like a monster hunter, thing. It’s gonna be really cool. X-Arielle, a famous deviant-artist. [Mario then proceeded to purposefully mispronounce things]
Isabel: Are you going to stop?
Mario: No.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: She helped us with the cover page, and the first comic. She’s awesome. She’s a great artist.
Mario: She’s talented.
Isabel: Very talented. But, everything, yes, is on a set path, except for Reverie.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What has your experience been in the game industry?

Mario: I like video games, [garbled].
Isabel: That’s not the answer.
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Mario: “Balance” [purposefully mispronounced twice]
Mario and Isabel: [laughter]
Isabel: Back in college, we developed a video game that, we hope, will eventually come into fruition when we find that “good programmer”. It was basically like a rock-paper-scissors, but with…
Mario: …elements. But it was cooler, and we had a big game-doc written. We did do a prototype of it.
Isabel: I did a prototype of it, because somehow it managed to pop up in my class before theirs. Where we had to do this whole game prototype, and it was crazy.
Mario: She did it, it was called Balance, and I’ve always wanted to be a game designer, it’s been my life dream.
Isabel: I’ve just always played video games, ever since I was small.
Mario: My first video game was Super Mario Bros. for the N.E.S.
Isabel: I don’t remember what my first video game was. I think it might have been Yoshi’s Island, where my brothers let me play it, kind of by myself. But beforehand, they would never let me play. Yeah, I’m blaming you brothers. But they’d let me play with the controller whilst it was on pause.
Mario: I did the same thing to my sister, until she was three, and then I let her play the game.
Isabel: [laughs] Yeah, that’s more-or-less the same story.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Why did you include “Gaming” in your name?

Isabel: Originally Heaven Sent Gaming started when we were in college, it was part of a bigger team called Our Own Little Coup, and that was with Drew Cass, Devin Thurlow, Jason Waggoner, Clifton Strang, and James West, and that’s about it, right?
Mario: Si.
Isabel: Heaven Sent Gaming was me-and-him, on what we did. Devin Thurlow, and Jason Waggoner, and Drew Cass, and all them; we’d be working with each other on what ever projects college demanded from us. So, it just kinda came from that.
Mario: And then the fact that Gaming is a big part of our identity. Yet again, like with the logo — with the cross being in the logo — and “Heaven” being in the name. It’s supposed to be, like, “Hey, this is us.”
Isabel: We were just originally going to be a game development thing, but then our professors did say, “Hey, you should probably do this on your own.”
Mario: “Do a business.” […] This should be a thing.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your favorite aspect of music production?

Mario: Mixing and mastering. I love mixing and mastering. I am very interested in country music, but I’m mostly a person that likes to mix and master audio. I love it. I love the process of doing it. I released one single, “Intro, Yo”; I think I released another one, “Meerkat”, right?
Isabel: Yeah, who knows where that is.
Mario: That’s lost to the annals of time.
Isabel: I like, more, being in the studio, and watching all the bits and pieces come together.
Mario: You like to be a gawk-er.
Isabel: I like to be the gawk-er, I’m the one who usually manages, and sees how that comes together.
Mario: Yeah, I actually go to her, like, “How’s this sound? How’s this sound? What’s this sound like?” It’s the same guitar riff, just a slightly different treble.
Isabel: And, I’m just like, it sounds kinda the same…
Mario: How about now, on bass now.
Isabel: Okay, yeah I hear that…
Mario: It’s crazy different.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your musical background?

Mario: When I was young, I really started to like country music because this mix-tape that my Uncle Dennis got me, it was a “Brooks and Dunn” mix-tape. It was like the best thing ever, because I listened to it over-and-over, and I started singing, and I apparently sound like that.
Isabel: I know that your family, at every single party, they listened to a lot of country, and ranchero.
Mario: Ranchera, it’s female.
Isabel: New Mexican music. And then, for me, I’ve always been in choir, when I was little. Because in church, it’s kind of a big thing if you’re able to sing, or what not. I was always in choir, just basically from first grade to tenth.
Mario: When I was in choir, cause I was in the same choir class that she was. Mrs. Hargrove, our teacher, she wanted me to sing in the front, because she said that I sound just like Johnny Cash, so I was like, whoa, I don’t think I do, ’cause I was a teenager, and I was nervous about everything, I was like “No, no.”


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you have formal training in writing?

Mario: I have had some formal training in writing.
Isabel: No, not me. Minus, of course, basic high school education; but other than that.
Mario: That was good though, you were in private school.
Isabel: I was in private, so I know it was a bit better, than a lot of other people.
Mario: Yes, I took writing courses in college, and I’ve gone through the MLA Handbook, I’ve gone through all those things. Yep, I have formal training. Very formal; I had a suit on and everything. And shoes.
Isabel: Do you have shoes on now?
Mario: Nope, barefoot.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you publish directly, or is there an editing process involved?

Mario: There is an editing process involved with Jason Waggoner.
Isabel: Beforehand, before Jason, there actually wasn’t. We would just publish directly,
Mario: It was terrible.
Isabel: and then, I would look it over, kind of. Well he would be like, “Read it out loud, and look it over”, and that’s was I would do. That was pretty much as far as the editing process goes, back then.
Mario: It was pro. There were commas everywhere.
Isabel: Everywhere!
Mario: Commas where commas didn’t belong, it was a beautiful comma wasteland.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Who’s involved in the video process?

Isabel: Right now, Jeff who’s behind the camera. Beforehand it was just Mario shooting his vlogs, and we would do all of our let’s plays.
Mario: Let’s plays! “Hello, I’m Mario.”
Isabel: “And I’m Isabel.” [laughter] Yep, that was more-or-less it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png It’s publicly known that you had your Google AdSense account on YouTube shut down, how did that affect your video aspirations?

Isabel: With the Google AdSense thing, that came at a very bad time in our lives. Because, it was at this turning point, with his grandparents. They had dementia. There’s a certain point where they’re getting lost, but then it seems to happen overnight where it just gets really really bad, they’re constantly confused and scared, it’s really awful. We were around that turning point, and we were doing all of this, his vlogs, our let’s plays.
Mario: It was starting to make money for us, then Google shut it down, and then I just decided that I needed to focus on my grandparents. I dropped everything. My grandparents raised me when I was going through middle school and high school. They mean a lot to me, they always will. [pause] I can I best put this, I want to consistently and openly say that I am in full support of neuroscience research, and these kinds of things. Because, it’s a very bad thing, to have to see someone go through something like that. I forget which celebrity it was, recently, went in front of a congressional panel, was it Seth Rogen?
Isabel: Yes.
Mario: And, he discussed dementia, and it felt so good to see someone who understood, because it’s a scary thing. Most people think it’s just where you get lost, and you don’t know what you’re doing.
Isabel: Or, just sitting and staring at a wall.
Mario: It’s where you see someone who is, like with me, I saw someone who was the most powerful, strong person, my grandfather.
Isabel: And, your Nana.
Mario: That’s what I was going to go into next. But with my grandpa, he was a strong masculine influence in my life, and he was scared and didn’t know where he was going. In fact one time, he told me, “Mijito, I don’t know where I am. Please, help me.” And that was, what, four years ago? Three, two years? I forgot how long ago it was. It was scary. It’s a scary thing to see. And my Nana, she was such a compassionate person, and here she was scared.
Isabel: Compassionate, and strong….
Mario: Stoic.
Isabel: Stoic. But she was very scared, she would cry a lot. It was very hard, when they did that to us, it was…
Mario: Well, when Google shut down the AdSense account. It was right at that turning point. So we just gave up on all those things, because we knew we needed to take care of them.
Mario and Isabel remarked further on lessons from the AdSense incident in their post-interview notes, linked below. They also noted Seth Rogen spoke at a Senate committee rather than a congressional panel; Rogen’s opening statements are available at C-SPAN.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Is the creative process for web video creation impacted by external influences outside the company?

Mario: Oh. Josh Kindig, one of the people we’re starting to work with, he pointed out what this one meant, to me. I didn’t actually know what this question meant. I was like “What do you mean? If I see a bird, do I film it?” [laughter] I was like, “Yes. Of course, I film everything.” But no. I think it’s in reference to the recent scandal that happened over at Kotaku. [purposefully mispronounces several different ways]
Isabel: Whether or not we have other places saying, “Hey we want you…”
Mario: To do this. if you do this.”
Mario and Isabel: No.
Mario: We’re a Christian organization. That would be immoral, and we would not do that. Even if someone was like, “Hey, here’s a thousand dollars to review our product.” I’ll still say if it’s a shit product. Sorry.
Isabel: Yeah, it’s like, okay, well, just so you know, this is going to be an honest opinion.
Mario: Though, I am still gonna say, and I will also disclose upfront, “Hey, they gave me money for this.”
Isabel: “So please be wary[?] on what we’re saying.”
Mario: If that ever happens. I don’t know, full disclosure, man. There’s nothing immoral about being paid to do a review. It’s just that, you should disclose if that’s occurring.
The “scandal that happened over at Kotaku”, referred to in this question and answer, is more broadly known as the Gamergate controversy.


Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png The two projects listed as “web” on your website, are a gaming news site and a Bible translation, are two broadly different creative endeavors. Why are they grouped in the same media format on your site? And, isn’t your site, itself, a “web” project?

Mario: Everything is a web project. No.
Isabel: No, the web thing, you want to have more like…
Mario: multimedia things.
Isabel: …multimedia and more of a community involvement with it.
Mario: Well, it’s just broader, it’s broader in scope. Like the Bible translation, it’s going to eventually evolve into a Bible reading, and then a Bible study, and then it’s going to have individual notes on each Bible verse, and things like that. aywv’s gonna spin off into podcasts, and all kinds of things underneath it. It’s gonna be a multi-layered thing. So “web projects” is kind of like a broader term for various things. And, yes, the website is also a web project, I think of it like a magazine, where you find all the things we’re making. So yeah, that’s actually very astute.
Isabel: I feel like there’s more of a community involvement with it as well. Because, with Heaven Sent Gaming, it’s us making the content, and then you see it, and you ingest it, and that’s great. And then there’s going to be aywv, which will hopefully have forums, and more people being involved, as to what they think and do.
Mario and Isabel: What they feel.

Closing questions

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on the book that was written about you? And, how accurate is it?

Isabel: We did read it, and, yeah, it’s pretty accurate.
Mario: It’s just fact, just basic facts, I was expecting to have something where they were just wrong. But it’s like, they’re not wrong, they just don’t understand the subject fully. Which is fair, since we don’t talk often. This is like the longest interview we’ve ever done. It was accurate because it was just factoids.
Isabel: They say from the book, they got it all from public records.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png According to the Bitcoin wiki, you are considered a proponent of Bitcoin. If that’s true, how important is decentralization to you?

Mario: Decentralization is important to us, which is part of why we’re here in Albuquerque, and not in California. I want to be able to exemplify how good new media is, “new media”.
Isabel: Decentralization is important to us, because of our location as well. And I also feel like in a capitalistic society, checks and balances happen when there is competition. And with the recent recession and all that stuff, I feel like a lot of the reason why it happened, is because there isn’t multiple ways for people to have things, have money, have whatever that they want. So we’ve always been a big…
Mario: Bitcoin proponent. Ever since 2009 I think, I put it on the site.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Being headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, isn’t exactly conducive to your field. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to be located in Los Angeles, California, or even the relatively nearby Austin, Texas?

Isabel: First of all, this is, mine and Mario’s home.
Mario: I love Albuquerque.
Isabel: That’s very important to us, I was born and raised here, he was born and raised here.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Thank you for answering the questions, and I wish you luck on your future endeavors.

Mario and Isabel: Thank you.
Mario: I would like to add one more thing. I want to talk about dementia again, and that neuroscience is very important to me because, my grandfather used to go out for walks every morning, used to eat organic, he used to be one of those crazy people that thought the fluoride in the water would kill you, and I’m one of those people as well because of him. I really look up to him, he was a strong person, and we didn’t have a genetic background for this. Dementia is a scary thing, and it’s something that we need to take care of.
Isabel: The most defined feature of a human being is their brain the fact that we know so little about it, and the fact that we don’t take care of it, is very concerning.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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February 28, 2014

Researcher discovers 39 new cockroach species, increasing genus Arenivaga fivefold

Researcher discovers 39 new cockroach species, increasing genus Arenivaga fivefold

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Friday, February 28, 2014

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Sexual dimorphism in Arenivaga.
Image: Heidi Hopkins.

Arenivaga distribution before and after the study.
Image: Heidi Hopkins.

Heidi Hopkins, a taxonomic researcher and PhD candidate at the Museum of Southwestern Biology of the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, conducted a four-year study revising the Arenivaga genus of cockroaches, discovering 39 new species in the genus previously thought to contain 9 species. ZooKeys journal published her findings Wednesday.

The study involved examining over 5200 specimens from universities and collections throughout the United States. The researcher had to dissect the specimens’ genitalia to accurately distinguish the species as their external features were often not enough for identification. Hopkins was advised by Dr Kelly Miller during the investigation.

The species are also sexually dimorphic, making morphological association of females with males a challenge. The researcher published a key for adult males in the genus.

The study revealed a vaster distribution area than was previously thought, including additional regions in Southern US and over a half of Mexico.

Hopkins remarked about potential of further studies of the genus and Corydiidae, its parent family, “The extent of the radiation of this genus is quite surprising. These animals have remarkable adaptations that allow them to succeed in some of the harshest places on earth. I suspect that the thorough application of modern collection methods would reveal many more species of Arenivaga across Mexico, and many more species of Corydiidae in the deserts and dry places of the rest of the world.”

The study was a first revisit of the genus since 1920 with only one new species discovered since then. The study was supported by grants from American Museum of Natural History, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, National Museum of Natural History, and University of New Mexico.


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September 22, 2008

Julie Ditty wins ColemanVision Tennis Championship

Julie Ditty wins ColemanVision Tennis Championship

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Julie Ditty

Rossana de los Rios

Julie Ditty won the singles title of the ColemanVision Tennis Championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico, defeating No. 1 seeded Paraguayan native Rossana de los Rios 6-4, 7-6 (3). It was the first singles title of the year for Ditty, the No. 2 seed from Ashland, Kentucky.

In the first set, Ditty started strong, leading 4-0 and later 5-2. However, de los Rios rallied, closing to 5-4. Ditty then broke de los Rios’s serve to close out the set. Throughout the match, de los Rios had the more powerful groundstrokes, but Ditty adopted a strategy featuring numerous lobs and moonballs that drove de los Rios back nearly to the fence surrounding the court and neutralized her power.

Ditty took a 5-2 lead in the second set, then failed to convert on six match points before de los Rios fought back to tie the match at 6-6, sending the second set to a tiebreak. Ditty lead throughout the tiebreak and eventually won it 7-3, on a double fault by de los Rios.

Later in the day, Ditty and American teammate Carly Gullickson, the tournament’s No. 2 doubles seed, defeated the No. 4 seeded team of Jorgelina Cravero and Betina Jozami, both from Argentina, by a score of 6-3, 6-4.

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August 29, 2007

Officer dies after accident in President Bush\’s motorcade

Officer dies after accident in President Bush’s motorcade

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A presidential motorcade (file photo)

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Statement on the Death of Germaine Casey

A police officer was killed after a motorcycle accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The officer, forty-year-old Germaine Casey, was driving his motorcycle in a motorcade as President Bush was leaving the city heading to the Albuquerque Airport following a fund raiser for Senator Pete Domenici.

The vehicle was traveling at a high speed when it hit a curb, then crashed into a tree. Casey was taken to Albuquerque Hospital where he was pronounced dead. President Bush passed the accident scene on his way out of Albuquerque. Bush issued a statement thanking the officer for his service.

Trish Hoffman, of the Albuquerque Police Department, said the single vehicle crash was under investigation and that it was still too soon to pinpoint a cause.



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February 8, 2006

Albuquerque Academy Chargers Win Final Game to Finish 13-1

Albuquerque Academy Chargers Win Final Game to Finish 13-1

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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

The Albuquerque Academy eighth grade basketball team used tough defense to close out the 2005-2006 season with a win, 46-30 over Los Lunas.

The Chargers spread things evenly in the first quarter; five players scored for the team in the period. Both forward Jon Cabarrus and guard Dylan Gordon followed their own shots and scored on putbacks. Forwards Xavier Moya and Chris Thompson provided tough inside defense on one possession. While Los Lunas managed several rebounds, they were unable to get any baskets over the outstretched arms of Moya and Thompson.

Cabarrus scored on another putback for his fourth points of the game late in the quarter, helping Academy to a twelve to eight lead at the end of the first.

The second period was a low scoring one for both teams. The Chargers scored just nine points, but also held Los Lunas to only three. Both offenses were struggling when guard Andrew Matthew stole the ball and made a pass to Gordan, who threw another pass to fellow guard Jordan Fleisher, who took the ball and scored on a layup.

With a minute in the half, reserve Matt Brown took a pass and drove the length of the court for a layup. Academy ended the second half with a twenty-one to eleven lead.

Academy again spread the ball around in the second half, with eight Charger players scoring. Leading the way in the second half was Patrick Zacharias, who scored seven points in the half.

Gordon connected with Thompson on a play that gave Thompson a layup. Gordon stole the ball away from Los Lunas and made a pass to Thompson while sandwiched between two Los Lunas defenders. Thompson received the pass under the basket and scored on a layup.

Los Lunas came back with a three pointer by #24 and some layups by other players. The quarter ended with Academy still holding the lead, 33-22.

AA was again playing tough defense midway through the fourth quarter until #32 hit a three pointer, sparking a small Los Lunas rally, but it was not enough to overcome the offense and defense of the Chargers.

Zacharias scored on a tip in of a Gordon shot that hung on the rim and fell out. Zacharias was also fouled on the shot and made the free throw to complete the three point play. Team manager Lincoln Stanfield also saw action in the game, and even scored his first points of the season at the end of the fourth quarter. With less than fifteen seconds left, Stanfield received a pass underneath the basket. His shot didn’t fall, but he was fouled with seven seconds left. Stanfield’s first free throw bounced up after hitting the rim but didn’t fall through. His second shot bounced high in the air two times before falling through the hoop. Stanfield threw his arms up in celebration over his made shot, putting an end to Academy’s 14-1 season.

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