Tech Lives: Warwick Davis
In an almost-new, semi-regular series, T3 interviews the stars about their lives, their tech and whatever it is they happen to be plugging and are hence available for interview...
This time out, it’s Warwick Davis, the inches-lacking star of Willow, Life’s Too Short with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and now his own app, which is free to buy, though you may find yourself making in-app purchases compulsively to the point where you have to sell all of your possessions except your iOS or Android device and go and live in a skip: it’s THAT good. Find out more about it here: pocketwarwick.com
T3: So, what are you plugging?
WARWICK DAVIS: Pocket Warwick. It’s not a game that I’ve sort of been wheeled into, it’s actually something that I came up with about a year ago. As an actor I love acting and I also love gadgets and I was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to be in a phone or in a gadget?’ Hence the idea of putting a character in a phone, who is actually in the device and he lives in there and that’s his environment and you take him with you everywhere. That was sort of the genesis of the idea.
T3: Like a sort of adult Tamagotchi?
WD: In a sense that’s kinda what it… that lifestyle part of it… there’s also a more Sims-like element to it as well that runs through. I’ve done over 80 photographs for it, hours and hours of recording of just little comments, noises and all sorts of things that randomly pop up at appropriate times during the game.
T3: Have you played things like Sims?
WD: I wouldn’t say I’m a hardened gamer, I’m a casual gamer more. But I have played Sims and I had a Tamagotchi – mine died straight away. So I knew about that but I also knew a lot about acting and the career of an actor which is what I wanted to feed into this game as well. You start as a Z-list celebrity and you want to become an A-list celeb and the process of doing that, as well at the same time maintaining a healthy and reasonable lifestyle while trying to earn money.
T3: Is it like Pokemon? Do you have to fight other actors in an arena?
WD: No you don’t, you’re not going up against anybody in particular. Often when you go to an audition you don’t know who you are auditioning against, you go in and you do your thing, but you know with Pocket Warwick you get a job offer through from your agent, you then prepare for the job in the way that he asks you to. He might say “You’ve got to wear your smart suit, you’ve got to read a book about thrillers and you’ve got to be in a reasonable kind of cleanliness and intelligence at that point.” So you’ll go in to fulfil those tasks in the time period and you’ll go back for the audition and fingers crossed you’ll get it and then earn the money that’s associated with it.
T3: What’s the gameplay mechanic for that?
WD: Basically you see your phone, you’ll go off to your “Warwick’s stuff” area; the stuff you already own or a shop built into the game. With the coins that you have at the beginning or with the coins you earn from jobs – the virtual money – you can buy the items you need for that job. You might’ve wasted your money on trivial things like a bigger TV set or a better sofa or other clothing when you should have bought gymnasium equipment, but you can play this game all the way through without spending any real money.
T3: Oh that was going to be my next question. But it does have in-app purchasing?
WD: You can buy coins you can buy the currency of the game if you want to, to bolster up your funds, but if you’re sensible and you don’t waste your money…
T3: If you budget carefully…
WD: You can go through… exactly… It’s hard to resist wearing the Groucho Marx mask with the nose and glasses etc. You need gym equipment. Like you start with a skipping rope and that can keep you reasonably fit, but it takes a bit longer But a running machine… It’s cool to have and you get fitter on that.
T3: But could you get a role where you don’t have to be fit and muscular?
WD: Oh yeah, if it’s like a drama you’re not going to need to be fit but if its an action film you need to get your fitness up, but it’s about maintaining those levels reasonably all the time, so when’s these jobs come in you’re not scrambling to the gym to get ready for it.
T3: What sort of virtual roles do you get offered?
WD: Well stuff that I’ve made up basically. So there’s 150 films that I’ve made up that don’t exist that
T3: Are they modelled on existing ones?
WD: Some of them are… But there’s stuff like ‘Skeletal Mass’ that doesn’t exist and I made up a synopsis about what that film could be about. I can’t remember what it is about now.
T3: What would be the synopsis?
WD: I can’t remember what Skeletal Mass was about now…
T3: That’s actually a pretty decent title, except people wouldn’t know how to pronounce it.
WD: *Different pronunciations of skeletal*
T3: It’s going to cause problems for cinema ticket sellers
WD: Some of these films, they should be movies… I’m like, “Why hasn’t that been made? That’s a brilliant name for a film!”
T3: “Why hasn’t my one-line synopsis for a game been made into a Hollywood film worth billions of dollars?” Have you played it all the way through?
WD: I’ve played it a lot because we’re just going into beta testing now, but no I’ve not played it all the way through. Me, being Warwick, I should be really good at it…
T3: Yeah, logically. Do you find that you are?
WD: It’s really a challenge, it really is a challenge.
T3: They do always say playing yourself is the hardest…
WD: I love playing myself though, but it is difficult. Yeah on my journey I was so intent on playing the game that I forgot to tell the driver to turn off the motorway, we ended up ten miles too far down. We had to go back because I was so involved in just enjoying it. What I love about it is that if you don’t want to go all in-depth, you can go and discover little things, you can just go and dip in. “Oh, I wonder what it does if I do that…” And you just discover these things.