Unless you've had your head buried under a protein shake for the last couple of decades, you'll know Terry Crews. You might know the Hollywood actor as Latrelle from the 2004 Wayans Brothers movie White Chicks, Julius from TV series Everybody Hates Chris, or Sergeant Jeffords from the hit comedy show Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If NFL football is your thing, you may remember him as a '90s linebacker for the LA Rams, San Diego Chargers or the Philadelphia Eagles—or perhaps you've enjoyed his humorous run of Old Spice commercials.
But if you like PC gaming, you're probably most aware of Crews' recent interest in our platform of choice, having built a high-end desktop from scratch with his son Isaiah last year. Despite speculation, Terry didn't take on the mantle of Doomfist in Overwatch, but his likeness will feature in Microsoft's incoming open world action adventure game Crackdown 3 later this year.
"Terry loves yogurt," is a line Crews' Brooklyn Nine-Nine character is often heard reciting. My question to him, though, is: why does Terry love PC gaming?
Terry Crews is a former professional NFL linebacker who found Hollywood stardom in the early '00s. He's since starred in White Chicks, Everybody Hates Chris, The Expendables, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine among many other films and TV shows. A year ago he build his own high-end computer and has since thrown himself into PC gaming.
PC Gamer: Does Terry love PC gaming more than yogurt?
Terry Crews: [Laughs] Yeah, I do, I do. I have to say, I have to go with PC gaming over yogurt at the moment.
Joking aside, I understand it was the prospect of bonding with your son Isaiah that first encouraged you to get into PC gaming.
You have to understand I grew up on videogames, back in the day of Pac-Man and Galaga and Defender and Asteroids and I used to spend hours and hours at 12, 13 years-old putting quarters in the machines at the arcade—that’s what we did. When you talk about a love of gaming, that’s where it was. I had the first Atari when it came out and you had Pong, and all of that. I remember then going to the Atari 5200, and I had ColecoVision, and we had a pile of handheld games that were played LED. We’re talking all the way back to the Commodore 64. Then you have to go to work, you have to live a life, you have kids and you kind of forget.
But then when my son came up, he had such a love for gaming and I realised that things have changed so dramatically but in great ways. When I saw the worlds that’re being created, and the whole thing, I was like: wow. I had an Xbox, PlayStation, and all the other things but when you see the world of the PC, and you see how immersive, how beautiful and how really satisfying it was, I just had to get into it. When I decided to build my own setup, it was just after I’d did Battlefield 1 with EA Sports, we had a big thing at the last E3, and I fell in love with the detail. I was like: this is so amazing! I had such a good time.
I suggested to my son this was something we could do together, we decided it was our new thing. It’s been that way for a little more than a year now and we’re just having a ball. To see how the community has gotten around it and embraced me—the community helped me, every step of the way. I built this thing on Facebook Live and basically asked everyone: where does this cord go, where does this card go. It was like building Legos, it was great.
You’ve referred to building PCs in the past as the modern version of HAM radio. I think that’s a great analogy and the pleasure that comes from building PCs is something that arguably can’t be replicated with consoles.
It can’t, it’s not the same. I remember the feeling of having the PC, once we’d finished building it, having it turn on and work. It’s at that point you realise you can do it. Looking at it as a whole, it looks almost impossible. But as you start to break it down—I mean, thank god for tutorials—then you begin to understand how it works. And then it’s like: Oh my god! It’s difficult but it starts to get simpler, more imaginative, and I saw how you could customise from there.
Let me tell you: I’m into everything. I’m a furniture designer, I’m an artist, and I see no difference in this world than any other kind of design or art.
To that end, while it exists less so nowadays, there still stands a common and misconstrued stereotype that portrays gamers as isolated people who live in their parents’ basements with no friends or lives outside their hobby. This obviously isn’t the case, there’s obviously more to it than that.
Oh of course, there’s so much more to it than that. And you’re right there are some negative stereotypes, people with no friends, that kind of thing, but let me tell you: I know athletes that are alone. There are lot of people who are alone, but then again there a lot of people like me, a lot of people who businesses, have jobs, and enjoy this as a wonderful hobby.
Again, there’s nothing more satisfying than throwing yourself into the world of PC gaming and seeing how it goes. You are a creator, that’s the whole point. And then once you’ve created the computer, to be able to get into a game and enjoy a double creative sensation where you get to create worlds and you get to see different things that you’ve never seen before. Now, I’m all about my frame rates and my settings, and I’m never satisfied. If it doesn’t operate the right way, I’m done. I’m ruined!
Going back to that first video you posted on Facebook Live around this time last year. You were showcasing all the top-end hardware you’d bought and were going to build into a PC. Within, what, one week you were already talking about going SLI, picking up a new monitor—you were invested. How does your setup look today?
I haven’t added anything because I was top of the line right from the start, so there’s not really been any need to upgrade. I did however get a PC that was made for me by JayzTwoCents, which is the Old Spice PC. That is unreal. Again, I was happy with my PC, I thought it was awesome, but then when he came and took it to a whole other level. The water cooling, the whole thing, now I have two. I keep Jay’s in my office and the one at home is the one that the family uses. It’s just so much fun, man. I even have an Alienware for travel, I just got a Dell gaming laptop so if we wanna make it portable, we can do that. Right now I am all in!
One year on since you picked up gaming as a hobby, what would you say is your favourite game—both individually and that you play with your family?
It was Overwatch at first, we loved Overwatch, still love it. But then we got into PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. PUBG? Holy cow, we can’t get enough. You know what? It’s a safe way to do paintball. You are literally in this world and then they start closing the battlefield around you, and people are trying to kill you—my son and I have been having so much fun on PUBG that right now that’s my go to game.
You mentioned Overwatch there. Not to dwell on it, but I have to ask about Doomfist. You’d already created a mock interview, and the Overwatch community was seemingly crying out for you. Were you expecting a call from Blizzard?
It’s funny because when I went down to Blizzard and we were talking about possibilities I realised that I don’t wanna be the guy that hijacks a game, you know? The creators have a vision and I didn’t want to mess that up. I was not interested in trying to hijack the game, I let them know that whatever fitted in their programme I would love to do. When I saw that Doomfist was created, that they’d went with another guy, the whole thing, it’s actually quite perfect, it’s absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that they made a move that’s better for the game, which is what they’re about. I know people were upset but I’m not.
If I ever do do anything with Blizzard, you watch: it’ll be perfect. With those guys, we’re all friends, we’re all good. I think there will be something coming down the line—but the good thing for me, through all of this, is that I ended up doing Microsoft’s Crackdown which is huge. I’m a playable character in Crackdown 3 which is more than I could ever have dreamed of. I couldn’t have been a playable character in Overwatch, they’d have simply put my voice in, but I went to the studio and I put on the sensors, and I’m in the game. Believe me, it tempers any kind of disappointment with Overwatch because I know now Crackdown 3 is my game. We announced it at E3 and I’m actually going back to appear at the panel at Comic Con. It’s a dream come true for me.
And how does that feel for your son? You’re a celebrity as is—a film star, a TV star, an ex-sports star and now a videogame character. Given your son’s passion for games, how does that feel for him?
He is just having a ball. If he ever sees the picture of the helmet his eyes just light up, his face—to first see me in a game? He just watched the trailer over and over and over and was like: dad, I can’t believe it’s you! Let me tell you this: there’s nothing better for a dad to be looked up to by his kid. That’s all you want, you just want your kids to know you and like you, you know what I mean? Sometimes it goes the other way but I am just thankful to be given this opportunity to be someone that my son can look up to. I told him: it’s not enough to just watch and play. I want you to be involved, I want you to create.
I heard a quote the other day, it goes: “life is not understood, it’s meant to be lived.” And it’s like, you could spend so time trying to figure things out, but you’re not living it. I want to inspire my kids and be like: you can love games, but you can create them too. You can be in them! That’s the real thing that I think separates the PC gamer from the console games, that you’re not passive, you are an active participant in gaming. This is a verve. It’s awesome.
You mentioned Battlefield 1 earlier and I recall you talking about playing with Snoop Dogg and Jamie Foxx in one of your past videos. Who is the better player out of Terry Crews, Snoop Dogg and Jamie Foxx?
I have to give that one to Snoop, he’s been at this for a long time. Snoop is amazing. Snoop is amazing, I gotta give him his props—he knows all about the gaming world. I’m a newbie compared to Snoop.
Perhaps Snoop is the answer to the next question, then: who is the biggest celebrity gamer that you’ve ever met?
Oh, wow. I gotta think. It’s funny, I got to meet Zedd, the DJ. He’s really into gaming and he’s a huge celebrity. He’s big all over the world and he’s knows his stuff, so I gotta give it up to him. I’m a huge fan of his too— that’s my product placement. Maybe I’ll get into his next concert or something like that [laughs].
Going back to your own videos, you posted one last year wherein you and your son test out Job Simulator on the HTC Vive. For most people the jury is still out on the hardware—it’s expensive and there aren’t an inordinate amount of games available at the moment. What did you think the future holds for the medium?
It’s totally the future but you gotta work on making the stories as interesting as possible. My family and I just got the Oculus. I’m enjoying how easy it is to get into games with that. The Oculus is actually easier than the HTC Vive. We have both and when we play the Oculus it’s a lot smoother. I do think that once that they can bring some more themed games like, say, Star Wars and stories that we are much more familiar with, I think VR is gonna take off. It’ll be non-stop from there.
You have to get into the programme of more recognisable brands and I think once that happens we’ll be on the right path. I would love if we could do a whole episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in VR where it puts you in the precinct. Once we do that I think it’ll go to the next level.
Nowadays you’ve got not one but two high-end PCs. What does the future hold for Terry Crews and PC gaming?
I have to take my own skills to the next level. One of my dreams is to actually create my own PCs for charity. A Terry Crews-built PC, we’d give it to kids, we’d give it to centers and people who’re not familiar with computing and we can open up that world for them. That’s something I plan on doing pretty soon—once I get much, much better. It won’t be so long next time!
Lastly, is anyone else on the set of Brooklyn Nine-Nine interested in videogames?
Actually no. It’s funny because they all look at me as if to say: you’re into this, Terry. And I’m like: Oh yeah! They’re a little like, wow, but you need to understand, everything I do is a little bit like ‘wow’ to them. I’m a unicorn. I say this to people all the time. I am a total unicorn—you wouldn’t know I existed unless you saw me, that’s really the deal.
And with that Terry, thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you so much. I’m a big fan of PC Gamer, you guys are rocking.