Community Spotlight - Josh

Our last spotlight of the year features experienced community moderator Josh!

Here we are in mid-December, the year is almost over and what a year it’s been! We started our Community Spotlight series several months ago with an interview with Amir, one of our biggest fans and now one of our Deckhands in the official Forums. Since then we’ve spoken to fans ranging from site owners to professional dancers, and these Spotlights have given us a better understanding of the people who make up the ever-growing Sea of Thieves community.

In our last Spotlight we caught up with another Sea of Thieves Deckhand, Aaron. He gave us an insight into what it’s like being so involved in the Forums, and today, Deckhand Josh (also known as JediKnightXIII) will be continuing that as he tells us what community moderation and participation mean to him.

Introducing Josh, Sea of Thieves Deckhand and experienced Community Moderator!

[Q] Tell us a little about what got you into gaming?
[A] I've been a gamer for over 28 years. I started out back in the later days of Atari, but "my" first console was the Nintendo Entertainment System. I remember wanting one for Christmas with my brother one year, and was ecstatic when "Santa" brought one for us. While my early days were filled with action platformers and RPGs, through the years I've played games from almost every genre and most platforms, and have since firmly developed an affinity for persistent shared world multiplayer games.

[Q] What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
[A] In all honesty, while I have played various Rare titles in passing over the years, the one that I have a real affinity for is R.C. Pro-Am from the days of the NES. While I grew up playing Nintendo, and eventually moved to the SNES and Sega, by the time that the N64 came out I had moved on to the PlayStation (and then PlayStation 2) as my primary console, and so didn't really get to play many of the premier Rare titles, like Conker, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie or Goldeneye, enough to grow attached to them.

After that, I moved into PC gaming for a while before settling within the Xbox platform, and again while I dabbled in Kameo and Viva Piñata, because of my particular gaming preferences at the time I just didn't really have an affinity for them either. However, whenever I found an NES emulator or other way to play classic NES titles, R.C. Pro-Am was always one of them.

The joy in this photo from when Josh got his first console is infectious.

[Q] What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
[A] I'm primarily playing The Division, though I recently picked up The Secret of Monkey Island, and so am playing that for the first time. I tend not to play many games simultaneously, and almost only play multiplayer titles. I have a core group of friends that I have been playing with since Halo 2, and we all tend to move from one title to the next as a group.

I definitely have many favourite titles for each platform over the years, and a select few overall. Among them are (in no particular order): The Legend of Zelda, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, the Halo series, Crackdown, Borderlands, Chromehounds, Destiny, The Division, Age of Empires II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy VII, Twisted Metal: Black, Phantasy Star Universe and more.

Because I'm pretty selective in the games I play, I tend to dedicate a lot of time to them and therefore associate them with being among my "favourites". When you've been gaming as long as I have, you tend to reflect more on games by generation and genre, and what your personal interests were at that time, so it can be hard to pick just a handful of titles without recalling some other game that has great memories associated with it, and then another, and another.

[Q] Along with Aaron, you’re one of the most active members of the Sea of Thieves Forums. What would you say is their strongest draw?
[A] The community. One of the great things about our community is not just the excitement that we all share for Sea of Thieves, but that we have established a culture with how we engage one another. From conversations and speculation around the development of the game, to fan creations and stories, to open communication and feedback from the developers, we all feel like we have the opportunity and ability to be part of the process in some way, and in the six months that I've been a part of it, as a whole the community has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

[Q] As we’ve mentioned, you’re also one of our Deckhands! What does being a Deckhand mean to you and how do you approach the role?
[A] As I said in my response to the last question, because the community and culture are so important, I approach my role as being a steward of that culture and fostering or supporting it as much as possible. I try to be consistent with how I address questions or concerns, usually with a heavy dose of sarcasm and animated GIFs.

Released in 1987, R.C. Pro-Am was the third of many games Rare would go on to release on the NES.

[Q] Since the launch of our Insider Programme and now news of our Technical Alpha, the Forums have been buzzing. As part of the community, how are you finding this fresh jolt of excitement?
[A] We've seen three major cycles of community growth so far, and as more and more members get involved and new voices are added, one thing that keeps me coming back is seeing that despite it all we tend to gravitate toward a central tenet of civility and camaraderie. This may seem counter to a community created around a game about pirates, but that's one of the great things about it.

[Q] If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A] Eh, I'm not about to reveal that just yet, as we don't know if our in-game characters are going to require our Gamertags, or if we can create a name for our pirate(s). Don't want someone stealing it from me. Filthy pirates.

[Q] What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A] I'm an avid reader of fantasy, a movie and TV geek, and I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and swimming. I have a five-year-old son who is obsessed with Star Wars, Harry Potter and pirates, and keeps me on my toes most of the time. I really enjoy just spending time with him building Lego, playing games and creating things. He keeps asking about certain videogames, movies and books that he knows I enjoy but he himself isn't quite old enough for, so I'm eagerly anticipating the day that he can experience worlds like The Lord of the Rings, and so much more. He's been getting into videogames, developing the hand-eye co-ordination necessary to handle a controller in complex 2D environments, and I look forward to when he will be able to make the jump to 3D.

[Q] What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
[A] As previously mentioned, with all my years of gaming experience I've really solidified what I feel to be my "ideal" type of game – a persistent, shared world, co-op experience that has a lot of strategy and player (not necessarily character) depth, that's not only challenging, but also social and fun to play. With games like Destiny and The Division most recently, and Chromehounds prior to that, coming close to that ideal, so far everything revealed about Sea of Thieves fits right into that realm. I can't wait to just sail the seas, taking in the environment, and sharing new challenges and experiences with friends and my son (who I'll have a blast playing with).

Adventure awaits!

[Q] Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A] Sea of Thieves and Rare isn't the first game I've officially been a community moderator for. I've also served for Ruffian Games as a global moderator for their forums, as well as community moderator for Realtime Worlds and their APB forums. The odd thing about it is that all of these companies are (were) based in the United Kingdom, and yet I live in the United States.

I also have my name in the credits for a game, Crackdown 2, as I provided some art assets that were used in the final game.

And there it is, our last Community Spotlight of the year. We’d like to thank Josh and everyone else who’s taken the time to talk to us since we started this article series! While this is our last one for now, you can be sure that we’ll have plenty more in the new year, so keep your eyes peeled on our social channels and we’ll see you in 2017!