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Game Faces: Dustin Horning, Bel Air

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"Game Faces" is an ongoing series where we will look at the people behind the well-worn game controllers of Baltimore. They might be your neighbor, your elected official or your bartender. Whoever they are, they love games, just like you. Want to show us your "Game Face"? Drop us a line at gamecacheb@gmail.com or on Twitter, @dave_gilmore. Think of it as an 800-word version of #FollowFriday.

Dustin Horning (@Dustbuster420) has a life that would make a pretty good driving game. Before going back to school to study engineering and mathematics, Horning worked as an auto mechanic and manager in the field. But with the addition of his new son last month, the high-octane aspect of his life reached a  new level.

"I am so busy with school, the baby, it feels like I am always racing around! 'Burnout' style baby," he told us. The 32 year-old new dad is a connoisseur of RPGs, shooters, action and racing games, and a proud product of the "Nintendo generation." And yes, if they made a racing game about his life, he assured us that his son would be available as a downloadable add-on.

What’s in the disc tray of your system right now?
Being true to my Nintendo generation, I have “Final Fantasy 13-2” in my Xbox disk tray, and “Uncharted 3” in my PS3. “Final Fantasy” is an obligation. I made a deal with myself years ago that I will support SquareSoft 'til the bitter end. Well, now the company is Square-Enix, and although all the games over the past five years have not all been home runs, the series is strong. You can tell they listen to their users. It makes me get a warm and fuzzy feeling to see the video game maker take such drastic steps to keep the fans happy. I think, so far, that this game is the best one since "Final Fantasy VIII."

As for "Uncharted 3," ever since the release of “Uncharted 2” I have been hooked. It's like playing a movie! The characters are believable. It's like I know them. The gameplay, graphics and storyline are unparalleled. 10 out of 10, easy. I think most popular gaming magazines have agreed. This is a “must play” for any gamer.

How and when did you get started playing video games?
It all got started for me when my friend Joe got his Nintendo Entertainment System back in the mid-80s. He was the first on the block. So, we all flocked to his house to crush some goombas. I would definitely consider myself from the “Nintendo generation.” We all grew up with video games. Nintendo dominated the console wars, and little else could touch them until the making of Playstation. I feel truly privileged to be around from the start. We grew up with gaming. When gaming was 10 years old, we were 16 years old — just old enough to be able to play everything from the beginning, which is probably why we have an affinity to it. Most of your leaderboards are topped by 30-35 year olds. We were lucky enough to start with simple games, and move up, instead of just starting off with Xbox 360.

What are some of your all-time favorites?
“Super Mario World,” “Ninja Gaiden,” “Halo 2,” “Skyrim,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Uncharted,” “Final Fantasy II,” “Mass Effect” and “Burnout.”

How do you generally go about buying your games, and where?
The day they come out! I go to midnight releases whenever possible. I pay full price for that, unfortunately. For me, it’s GameStop. Always Gamestop. I know all the guys; they know me. I have built that relationship up over the years. If I only have a certain amount of money, and am in need of a game, I can go in there and ask "Hey, what's cool for 60 bucks?" and they have turned me on to several games that I still enjoy today.

What’s the biggest thing you look for in buying a game? Is it killer graphics, deep story, replay value, sound design or challenge, etc.?
To me, I purchase different games for different reasons. It's all relative. When I have a certain "need" I need met, I pop in the respective game. When I wanna just feel like a badass, I load up “Assassin's Creed.” When I wanna go on for hours and strategize, it's an RPG like “Final Fantasy” or “Skyrim.”

Overall, I have be able to "get into" the game. I think it takes a certain combination of gameplay, story, replay value, challenge and ability to use my 7.1 Dolby "Z" surround sound to make a game playable. I am one of the harshest critics on gaming that I know. Usually, I don't settle for anything less than a 9 [out of 10]. There are so many publishers out there, that we can and must be picky. Good graphics are a must, but not the most important. Look at “Halo.” Sure, it looks nice, but have you seen the faces of the characters? They are terrible! No wonder Master Chief wears a helmet. Otherwise he would be one ugly mofo.

Where can we find you online?
I am on Google+, and Twitter as @Dustbuster420 which is my gamertag as well.

And how about around town?
I am married with a new child so my favorite place to be is anywhere, as long as I have my little gang with me. I really like downtown Bel Air. I love this city. I grew up here, and I plan on raising my children here. I love to walk around Main Street, maybe sit on the porch of MaGerks and have lunch, or even go shopping. Being a dog lover, I also enjoy taking my pooch Molly)for walks down the Ma and Pa trail.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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