Community Spotlight - Alex

In today's spotlight, we catch up with Rare fan and professional dancer Alex.

It’s been a few months since we released our Sea of Thieves Gameplay Trailer to the world, showing off the reactions of some of our most dedicated fans as they experienced the game for the very first time. We’ve spent those months introducing you to those fans, getting to know what Sea of Thieves, Rare and videogames in general mean to them. There’s more where that came from and in today’s Community Spotlight we’re talking to Alex, one of our Play It First contest winners, about gaming, dancing, Jack Sparrow quotes and more.

It's clear that Alex experienced a range of emotions during his visit to Rare.

[Q]: Tell us a little bit about what got you into gaming.
[A]: First let me say I am honored to have met the Rare family and had the chance to make memories with you all that will last me a lifetime. Who says dreams don’t come true? But I digress, let’s talk video games! One of my first memories as a child was my mother playing Yoshi’s Story on the Nintendo 64. I would play a little from time to time but mostly just enjoyed watching. That was until Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64. Being immersed in those games made me realize even as a kid that these were not just games, these were interactive pieces of art. The worlds, characters, challenges and music are things we still remember as adults.

[Q]: What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
[A]: Rare Replay would be an easy answer. To narrow it down as much as possible, it would be a tie between Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Donkey Kong 64. For nostalgia’s sake, DK64 wins me over for being the first Rare game I ever played. I will still to this day boot it up on my old Nintendo 64 and just mill about the island exploring.

[Q]: What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
[A]: On the odd weekend when I can manage to squeeze in a few hours of games it will either be Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to get my pirate fix, or Metal Gear Solid V. Speaking earlier of evidence of games as art, look no further than Hideo Kojima’s work.

Originally released in 2001, Conker's Bad Fur Day remains a Rare fan favourite to this day.

[Q]: Your Play It First contest entry was great! How much work went into setting up and rehearsing it?
[A]: My concept for the video was devised within the first week of the contest announcement, organizing took about three weeks, and decorating the set, teaching choreography and filming was altogether done in about half a day. The people who showed up to help are champions, they learned the dance quickly and then had a great deal of patience and endurance to deal with doing take after take. I really can’t stress enough how thankful I am for everyone who showed up! It was so much fun working with everyone and I never would have been able to visit you all in England without their help.

[Q]: Judging from the video, dancing isn’t new to you. Tell us more!
[A]: Shari Furnstahl is the owner of The Dance Academy, the studio where we filmed. In 2011 she needed a dancer for a live show performed every year at A Victorian Country Christmas (big Christmas event at our state fairgrounds). A friend of the family recommended me to her and she took me in even though I had never danced a day in my life. The dancers showed me the ropes and I have been performing every year since. Eventually I started taking classes at the studio and now currently teach hip-hop to ages 6–adult.

[Q]: Of course, you were another one of the stars of our E3 Gameplay Trailer! What was it like to play Sea of Thieves for the first time?
[A]: Sea of Thieves will be a very special game. Playing the game brings people together in a way I haven’t seen in games before. Getting to demo the game when not that much was known about it was incredibly exciting, but the thing that made that first playthrough so amazing was getting to share it with a bunch of people who were just as ecstatic about the whole experience as I was. Those of us from the Play It First contest are still in contact since the visit and you can bet we will be sailing together once the game is released.

Showing off those dance school colours with pride!

[Q]: Are there any moments from your visit to Rare that stand out more than others?
[A]: I can’t choose one moment. I am still fairly convinced the whole trip was a dream. Seriously though, the whole trip was perfect. One thing that caught me off guard though was how down to earth and honestly happy Rare was to meet us. I had to stop and take a moment to go “Oh yeah, these are people too, not just the legends that crafted a large part of my childhood”. At the very least I expected them to be afraid of us. You don’t just invite a bunch of strangers into your home, pay for their food and everything, then put your trust in them. But that’s exactly what Rare did.

Another moment and surely the most surreal event was when Rare’s studio director, Craig Duncan drove a few of us to dinner. He said something like “So I got room in my car for a few, do you guys want to roll with me?” then just like how any group of friends would casually set up an event, we took off for the restaurant… with the man in charge of the whole Rare shebang. It just seemed too unreal, it still feels unreal.

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A]: I have always loved the name ACE. When I hear the name ACE, three main elements come to mind that are all tied to things I love: cards, flying and a certain character from a very pirate-y anime. I also quite enjoy the name given to me by Sea of Thieves lead designer Gregg Mayles, DOUBLE-CROSSIN’ ROSS. Normally this would be an ironic name given my love for team play; however, it was very fitting for a moment in-game when my crew and I orchestrated a scheme to get everyone on one island for a drink in one of the taverns so that we could bail and steal their ships (as seen in the trailer when we accidentally left Mike behind).

[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: Music is life. Whether it’s jamming out on one of the few instruments I’ve ‘sort of’ learned to play, or kicking back in the sun with a good book and some groovalicious tunes in my ear (including some from Rare’s impressive library of gaming music). If music be the food of love… I’m at the all you can eat Sunday special and haven’t eaten in months!

[Q]: What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
[A]: To quote the great CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow, "It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs. But what a ship is...what Sea of Thieves really is... is freedom." So, that’s not exactly what he said but the idea still stands. I can’t wait to stumble across mysterious objects and strange happenings while exploring! I can’t wait to be the pirate I want to be!

Here's a ship and some good weather. You know what to do, Alex.

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: My very first birthday party was pirate-themed. It included an epic treasure hunt complete with clues and loot buried in a trash bag in the forest. Truly a party of epic proportions!

Thanks again to everyone at Rare for going above and beyond with all you do for the community. It’s been a blessing to meet you all!

And thank you, Alex, for taking the time to chat with us! You can be sure that having you all over to visit earlier this year was just as exciting for everyone here at Rare. Another Community Spotlight is on its way and you can check back on our website in a couple of weeks to find out who we’re chatting to next! Until then, keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels for the latest on Sea of Thieves.