Asim Chaudhry is a busy man. The People Just Do Nothing co-creator is set to star in The Sandman on Netflix, he’s just released a new Kurupt FM music video with Craig David, and he’s also appearing in a series of adverts for Xbox at the moment.
To lift the lid on the gaming side of his life, RadioTimes.com caught up with Chaudhry over the phone recently, with the comedian, actor, writer and Twitch streamer dialling in from his local café. He deadpans, “You might hear some police sirens and screaming in the background, but that's just normal for Hackney.”
Casting his mind back to his earliest gaming memories, Chaudhry tells us: “My first ever game console was actually a Sega Master System. And I remember, I had a game pre-installed on it. It was Alex Kidd – remember that little guy, on his bike? Yeah, that was probably my earliest memory. And then obviously, after that, you evolve. I remember I had a Sega Mega Drive. And I remember, the Mega Drive was 16 bit, which I thought was incredible, because the Master System was 8 bit. And then they were [able to do] 16 bit and it was like, wow.”
Gaming can do more than just wow us, though. As Chaudhry puts it, “It's quite a good, very grounding lesson from an early age, you know, when the game didn't work. You didn't give up - you took the cartridge out, you blew on the cartridge, you banged the console a little bit. You know, it's almost like a metaphor for life. No, don't give up, you know?
“So that was a good kind of grounding, initial lesson for me. And then it was the Sega Dreamcast, and then I had a Nintendo GameCube, that was quite a good little console. And then obviously, the big boys started coming in, you know, the Xbox, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, from an early age, I always quite enjoyed gaming. It's always been a big part of my life.”
Chaudhry’s Xbox adverts see him playing on the Xbox Series S, one of the powerful new consoles that Microsoft launched last year. Although it’s cheaper than the 4K-capable Xbox Series X, the Series S can run all the same games as its pricier big brother. It doesn’t have a disc drive, though, which helped Microsoft to drive the price point down and cram a next-gen console into a smaller form factor.
“It's one of the most powerful little machines,” a clearly impressed Chaudhry tells us. “When you hold it, you're like, 'How can it be this powerful?' It's tiny, right? And, you know, compared to some other machines, which I won't mention - I'm not allowed to say the ‘P’ word - but you know, they are f**king massive, right? And they take up a lot of room, you know?
More like this
“And this little machine [the Xbox Series S] is just so incredible. And I would say that if I was working with them or not, like, you just have to experience it. It's really, really surprising. And also, it proves the point - it's not all about size. Yeah, sometimes it's about girth. And that thing is a little girthy little thing, and it packs a big punch.”
Read more Gaming interviews:
- RuneScape producer on 20 year anniversary: "The scary part for me is what happens next"
- Fall Guys designer answers existential questions: "Do they sleep? How are they born?"
- Destiny's Crow actor on embracing villainy and killing Cayde-6
- Avengers game Hawkeye actor talks "difficult" Hulk fight
As well as the girth, a number of Xbox Series S features have impressed Chaudhry. He waxes lyrical about the “mind-boggling graphics” on games like Forza, the Quick Resume feature which lets you hop between games “literally instantly”, and the speedy processing that has significantly cut down on load times. He enthuses, “I actually did a side-by-side comparison of the old gen and the new gen Xbox, and I would say the new one is three times faster, which for me is insane.”
If you’re the type of person that normally puts the kettle on during a loading screen, Chaudhry has a warning for you: “You haven’t even got time for a cup of tea, mate, that’s what I’m saying. It’s like, ridiculously fast.”
The Xbox adverts see Chaudhry’s home being upgraded with a built-in pub called the Quick Game Inn, where he logs on using the Xbox Series S for swift gaming experiences with his mates.
The pub wasn’t actually built into his house (“My living room's not as nice as that”, Chaudhry jokes), but there was some realism in the fact that Chaudhry has done a lot of online gaming with friends during the lockdowns and uncertainties of the past year.
“I think mainly it was FIFA, I'm not gonna lie,” says Chaudhry of his own pandemic-era gaming habits. He adds: “It really did get me through lockdown, FIFA and then obviously playing with my mates - it's a great way of interacting with them when you can't physically be with them. Being online with them, and playing FIFA Ultimate Team, and having little group chats and having little in jokes - it's a big part of us keeping in touch and keeping that kind of banter alive.
“Because when you're not there in person, it's never as good. You know that the real thing is always the best thing, when someone's in the room, you can see all their expressions, you can hear every stutter - you know, nothing beats it. But in terms of like 2020, I guess we just had to adapt, didn't we? So, yeah, I did a lot of online gaming with my mates, and it actually kept us really close. And it kind of felt that we were there, you know, so it was really essential.”
On a roll, Chaudhry continues: “I actually think gaming is amazing for your mental health. I think, for me, you know, I don't really do yoga. I haven't really got the body type for it. But for me, gaming is like yoga. Like, it can be very zen for me, because even though if I'm stressed, if I'm losing, I'm focusing on one game, one thing. I've got an objective. I've got a task. And I do feel like all my stress and all my worries, everything's kind of forgotten when I'm gaming, you know? And it's a great way to escape. And just immerse yourself in another world, you know, so, I'm a big advocate for gaming.”
Asked to pick his favourite game ever, Chaudhry is quick to mention Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series: “I remember playing Grand Theft Auto when it was in 2D, you know, just little figures, and even then I thought it was incredible.
“I was like, 'What? I can do anything I want?' Just that kind of idea of freedom, I think, was so new back then - like, normally with games they had limits. No, you can't go past this bit. You can't go through there. You can't do this. You can't do that. In Grand Theft Auto it was like, literally, I can take any car I want. I can drive anywhere. You know, just that freedom, and that escapism, I think is probably why it would be my all-time favourite game.”
Chaudhry went onto recall a family gaming session that went wrong: “I actually sometimes play Grand Theft Auto with my little sister, right? And I thought, OK, it's not appropriate for her. But what we're gonna do is, we're gonna play Grand Theft Auto in a lawful way. So we were like, sticking to the speed limit. We were stopping at red lights, and all that kind of stuff. And then she had a go, right. And obviously, I had a bit of weaponry on me, as we always do. And she was driving the car, and then she pressed the wrong button. And she threw a grenade out of the car. And it literally was a complete f**king horror show. And I was like, 'Okay, that's enough GTA, you’re never playing that again.’”
GTA is also the gaming franchise that Chaudhry would most like to appear in, should the opportunity arise. He says, “I feel like [his People Just Do Nothing character] Chabuddy G would be a great character in Grand Theft Auto, you know - a really dodgy side mission, like you have to go to Hounslow.
“You need to go to like this fried chicken shop and he'll be waiting outside in his red van. And you've got to get some weird Peanut Dust boxes from him. I feel like it would be a great fit. He's quite an animated character anyway, so I could see him in a game like Grand Theft Auto.”
Or what about getting some Kurupt FM tunes on the GTA franchise’s famous in-car stereos? Chaudhry is keen on our idea, saying, “Oh my god, yeah. Kurupt FM as a station. That’s a great idea. It’s gotta happen now.” You heard it here first, folks!
Follow Radio Times Gaming on Twitter for all the latest insights, or check out some of the best subscription deals in gaming below:
- Get unlimited gaming with Utomik 3 month subscription for £13.49
- Buy Nintendo Switch Online 12 months membership for £14.99
- Get a 14-day trial of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for £2.99
- Get PS Plus 12 months at CDKeys for £43.99
Looking for something to watch? See our TV Guide.