Community Spotlight - Steve

We catch up with the other half of Rare Gamer!

What’s great about the gaming community is how fans will come together to create fansites, podcasts, wikis, YouTube channels, the list goes on. Collaboration isn’t unheard of in the Rare community, with the duos behind DK Vine and Killer Instinct Central being amongst the Rare fans we’ve spoken to before. A while back, we introduced Paul of joint fan-venture Rare Gamer. He runs the site alongside Steve, another Rare fan the team got to know quite well when he visited our studio earlier this year. We caught up with him for today’s Community Spotlight.

Steve alongside Rare writer Chris Allcock, of Kameo fame.

[Q]: Tell us a little bit about what got you into gaming.
[A]: Confirming every stereotype you know about Canada, the first game I had ever played was Ice Hockey on the Nintendo (NES) at four years old and I was hooked the moment the puck dropped. From that point on it was a blur of Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon and even Slalom until I was fortunate enough to have my parents pick up a Nintendo 64 a few years later. It was a technological leap that left me wide-eyed and wanting more, and it was in this era that Rare was cemented for me as the developer with a Midas touch.

Once a childhood friend introduced me to GoldenEye there was no turning back; we must have spent weeks chasing after each other in Facility, white-knuckle grip on the controllers as we tried to claim the Golden Gun first. Of course, GoldenEye proved to be just the tip of the iceberg, and following Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day, you could say that I've been a ‘Rarite’ ever since.

[Q]: What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
[A]: If I was stranded on an island and could only pick one game to play before I died of exposure, it would be Rare Replay for quantity and quality of games. But if I had to narrow it down to one hit in the collection it would be Grabbed by the Ghoulies for sure. I'm a massive fan of digital Easter Eggs and Ghoulhaven Hall is crammed to the rafters with references towards Conker, Banjo and even Mr. Pants so it's difficult not to love. Also, getting to smack a Zombie Pirate about with a frozen swordfish is equal parts goofy and brilliantly executed so it has that going for it.

Released in 2003, Ghoulies was our first Xbox game as a Microsoft Studio!

[Q]: What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
[A]: I've been dipping back into the Nintendo 64's library to show off the classics to my girlfriend, Crystal, and we've played quite a bit of GoldenEye, Mario Kart 64 and Perfect Dark in co-op and counter-op. We've just started playing through Kameo: Elements of Power on her Xbox 360, and in the meantime we've beaten The Beatles: Rock Band as she likes to sing. For replay value alone, I would still say that GoldenEye remains one of my favorites decades on – also, watching Crystal accidentally cycle through her weapons in a panic when she's fired on will always be funny to me.

[Q]: Can you tell us a bit more about running Rare Gamer alongside Paul and how that partnership came about?
[A]: As Paul has mentioned in his Community Spotlight, Rare Gamer has undergone a lot of change since it was launched in 2005. The original scope of the site was exclusively for Banjo-Kazooie under Spiral Mountain, and served as a news aggregator during the lead-up to Nuts & Bolts. At that time, I was tasked with moderating the forums, but soon became more interested in filling out the archives section which had just expanded to cover the Donkey Kong Country series. In the years that followed, the ambition of the site was to cover all of Rare's games with as much detail as we could possibly muster. With common threads found in many Rare games, I started creating Top 5 lists to detail them all in 2011 and found myself co-administrating the site shortly after. Paul is, and always has been, extremely passionate about Rare's titles – he's put so much into Rare Gamer and I've been extremely fortunate to work with him across the sea as the site continues to expand.

[Q]: Being one of the stars of our E3 2016 Gameplay Trailer, how would you put your first Sea of Thieves experience into words?
[A]: I have at Rare Gamer, if that helps! Nah – I would have to say that playing Sea of Thieves for the first time was the most immersed I've ever been in a video game. All of the elements work together; the lapping waves reaching the shore, the gentle rocking of the ship as it sails, the fractured light glittering on the water’s surface – it's like someone has launched the 'Ya-har' Protocol within The Matrix. It's really breathtaking and you get this sense of wild adventure welling up inside when you look out to the horizon and see only a few dotted isles separating the endless and uncharted sea.

As you'd expect, Steve has a pretty sizeable stash of Rare treasures.

[Q]: And how was your trip to Rare overall?
[A]: They were honestly the best days of my life, and I'll catch myself grinning just thinking about it from time to time. I still can't believe it all happened, and how fortunate I am to have experienced it. For decades, Rare has maintained a reputation of secrecy and guarding themselves very closely, and for the first time they were allowing a select few contest winners beyond closed doors – it was a real-life Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory scenario. I had always wanted to travel to see Rare, and until that point I had planned it as a bucket list item where I might have seen the gate and counted myself lucky to do so. But this? This was absolutely unreal and I have to thank everyone who took part in planning it out.

Getting to have dinner with Craig Duncan, Gregg Mayles, Ryan Stevenson... Having a proper taste of Birmingham weather with Louise O'Connor and Joe Neate waiting out the rain under a bridge... Going head-to-head against Robin Beanland on the Rare Killer Instinct cabinet... These are memories that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It's not often you get to meet your heroes, and when you do it's reason for celebration – but to meet all of them at once at the same time is something that you just can't prepare yourself for, but you're extremely thankful that it did.

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A]: If I could abandon all of the pirate conventions, I would call myself 'Sea of Steves'. But if I had to fall in line as a captain or a first mate I would choose 'Captain Eh Hab' ('Eh?' being the Canadian equivalent of an American 'Huh?', and 'Hab' serving as the nickname for the Montreal Canadian Hockey Team). I'm also quite fond of the name that Gregg had crafted with 'Bad Luck McCorkell', but I might have some difficulty in finding a crew willing to bring someone with such an ominous-sounding name aboard their ship.

It's always nice to see Sea of Thieves swag already looking right at home amongst hoards of other Rare merchandise.

[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: I've always been into the arts as far back as I can remember, so I'll find myself sketching, inking and painting when I'm not gaming. Last year I managed to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and have since landed a gig creating storyboards for films and television shows, which is something I really enjoy doing.

[Q]: What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
[A]: I'm definitely looking forward to setting sail and exploring the vast unknown. Sea of Thieves is utterly massive, and the fact that I could be the first pirate to stumble on unexplored land, or perhaps on an Easter Egg hidden away from busier buccaneers, makes me incredibly eager to investigate. I'm also looking forward to meeting up with everyone who joined us at Rare for a reunion of nautical proportions!

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: Despite being a really sceptical person, I have an outright fascination with cryptozoology and the study of cryptids. I will slam down any other facet of pseudoscience as harmful or irrational in the face of logic, but if you claim to have a photograph of the Loch Ness Monster and are willing to show anyone who doesn't dismiss it as crazy, suddenly I turn into Fox Mulder. Oh, and bonus fact – I share a birthday with Banjo-Kazooie.

Steve's Perfect Dark paraphernalia isn't in short supply either.

And that’s a wrap. As always, a big thanks to Steve for answering our questions, giving us more insight into Rare Gamer and generally supporting us over the years! We’ll be back again soon with another Community Spotlight so until then, keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels for all of the latest Sea of Thieves treasures.