It feels like our last Community Spotlight featuring bearded buccaneer Mason wasn’t too long ago, and yet, busy as we’ve been, the time’s gone in a flash! Ignoring the poor attempt at shoehorning a tenuous reference to lightning and storms into this opening paragraph, that does mean that it’s time for another Spotlight.

Today we’ll be talking to someone who is no stranger to those of you who are regulars over on the official Sea of Thieves. Forums. If you are one of our regulars then you may have an inkling as to who we’re talking about, not least because of the title of this article – but if not, say hello to none other than Captn Jaq, who many Forum dwellers would describe as a little bit of a pirate legend!

Forum legend, Captn Jaq!

[Q]: Tell us a little about what got you into gaming?

[A]: A Christmas present got me into gaming… the Nintendo Entertainment System. You know the one. It looked like a grey cinderblock and you had to apply CPR to it when the game wouldn’t play. The whole theatrics of blowing it, pumping the cartridge up and down whilst in the machine, pushing the POWER and RESET buttons in a strategic way, only to find out that one of your cables wasn’t properly plugged in. Aye, that was my introduction to gaming. I grew up on Nintendo with Mario and my Dad by my side until moving out for college.

I had grown up on consoles with the Nintendo Wii being the capstone of my experience. However, with money being tight and having learned to live on a budget, I resorted to other means. No matter where I went, a laptop was much easier to maintain. I had grown accustomed to living on a laptop and carrying on with a console of any kind didn’t seem to make sense to me any more. So, I converted. I became a free-to-play PC gamer. But ironically, it would come at a price.

[Q]: Were you a Rare fan before Sea of Thieves and do you have any favourite Rare games?

[A]: I don’t think I was as I only followed the console; I followed Nintendo and became attached to what game I felt most related to me. Only being introduced to the Sea of Thieves Community/Forums-Fam, I think my favorite would have to be GoldenEye. I’m not a hardcore first-person shooter type of person, but I remember that being an exciting experience. It wasn’t just being cool and sexy – it was about the strategy, both in the story of the game and battle mode. And of course, my Dad. He was a James Bond fan and gave me the game. I would complete the story and unlock the goodies, and we would play against each other in battle mode.

[Q]: What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?

[A]: Within the MMORPG scope of things, I am very monogamous. I know it’s odd to phrase it in that way, but that’s the only other form I can describe it. For games of that nature, I don’t want to spread myself too thin. So currently, I’m in Middle-Earth battling as a she-Elf within the game of Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). Since POTCO (Pirates of the Caribbean Online)’s death in 2013, I’ve been playing LOTRO with a friend who I’ve known since POTCO, who played alongside me as my seafaring gunny.

For games that don’t need such a commitment, I play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Broforce, Spelunky and Cloud Pirates. I’ve searched for like-minded pirate games that try to fulfil what POTCO started, but publicly, I haven’t been able to find one. There were others that appeared to be close but not close enough.

[Q]: How did you first become involved with the Sea of Thieves Forums?

[A]: By answering questions and helping others. Toward the end of POTCO, I had become involved with their Unofficial Wiki, and it was roughly 3-4 years ago that I was introduced to their player-created community where ShamusTheBrute first started posting very early information about Sea of Thieves. From what was shared, including the Play It First competition, my interest was hooked.

I saw what Rare was trying to do, what they were trying to promote. They wanted to get to know us and after experiencing what I had of other online communities, I jumped on board. Of course, the ship had already sailed, and I had to doggy-paddle to get here, but I haven’t wanted to leave since I planted my boots on these planks and called it “Home”.

But aye, that’s how I got introduced. How I got involved was by helping people and informing them. POTCO was my first MMO experience. Prior to that I never played a game that allowed me to play with someone who wasn’t in the same living room as me. It was a very non-introvert thing to do, but I loved the movie and thoroughly enjoyed playing video games, so I learned and started to trust people.

Being a gamer in a MMO with open-chat that forces you to work with people you don’t know and can hinder your progress gives way to certain actions. And one action that I saw quite frequently was degrading newbies. Players would openly bad-mouth a player for “not knowing how to play” and not tell them how they can play. So, for me, I would briefly get to know these new mateys, teach them, and inform them of how to become better. And that has very much transferred to my real life in addition to how I’ve engaged new members from the start, by answering questions and helping others.

[Q]: Since joining the Forums, you’ve made quite an impression on the community! When you were offline for a while earlier this year, there were some amazing messages and posts on the Forums asking for your return. What was it like to see that kind of reaction?

[A]: Surprising, shocking, unreal. I knew that I was vocal. I knew that I was able to be visible on the Forums. But I didn’t think I mattered because I was only one person out of a thousand.

Much later on, even before seeing Joe sharing the Community-based Easter Eggs at E3 this year, I never thought the creators, developers and artists would acknowledge the reaction of the community or my absence. Riley had mentioned to me that I was legendary, and I thought he was being friendly because that’s how he is and didn’t take it into much consideration. But now, slowly, I wouldn’t call it that. I stand out in order to help others stand up. I’ve been through certain things in my life, which allow me to remember what it is like being trapped in that steep muddy hole in the ground, and I don’t like seeing others being trapped down there with me. I would rather have them get on my shoulders and climb safely out.

[Q]: Having previous experience within the POTCO community, is there anything you learned that you try to bring to the Sea of Thieves community?

[A]: My experience with POTCO is layered because I can’t think of POTCO any more without considering the aftermath and the growth of the emulator game factions. The slow death of that game affected many of us -- some for the better, others for the worse.

You need to take care of everybody. You can’t just think about yourself, your desires, your dreams; you need to be considerate of the developers, gamers and those who try to hold the two together. If your wants outweigh those of others, resentment and burnout can easily replace that which was once respect and passion.

You'll find plenty of co-operation in Sea of Thieves, Jaq!

[Q]: You put together a charity stream event with some of the other Forum members recently and it was great to see that kind of collaboration!

[A]: And it's just the beginning. Rare takes pride in its game, and I believe it’s because the game focuses on teamwork and collaboration -- because the company rallies around that strong sense of “team”. The root inspiration for the Charity Livestream or “The Pirates O'Charity” is Rare and its online community. We take care of each other. We look out for one another whether you’ve just joined two hours ago, or have been here since July 2016, our good cheer and goodwill doesn't just have to stay in our community.

Our generosity of spirit and treasure can be shared on such a greater scale. I’m very grateful for DuMy2008, Taydoge Swift, and Staticxtasy -- in addition to pirates like Corbshill, Sentaku, Fruit, DeathSword, Hammy, ProRestarter, JonathanStrange, George, GamerChick, and all who supported us and helped us stay sane for those near 48 hours. They are the ones who give Pirates O’Charity, and future charity livestreams a strong possibility of becoming a tradition in our community.

[Q]: If there’s one thing that would sum up the Sea of Thieves community and what keeps you so involved with it, what would that be?

[A]: I know it’s been said by others and myself quite a few times already, but it’s that sense of family. Family is what we are whether we’re on one side of the world or the other, whether we’re still in school or already retired, whether we’re studying to be a computer engineer or don’t know how to set up a mic if our life depended on it. We are family. There’s a strong relationship amongst us Forum members and with the company which other game communities don’t have or have allowed to fester and even die. We are all members of a Rare family, whether we realize it or not.

[Q]: Now that you’ve had a chance to play the game, do you have any stories or great moments that really stand out to you?

[A]: If by “great” you mean “incredibly jack-a-knave and quintessentially tomfoolish moment”, most definitely. Liz and Katt were wonderful tour guides. They treated us well; so well in fact that the first place we visited was the pub. And... I had the lovely tavern keeper hit me up with a couple tankards of rum/grog/booze. I can't really remember which fermented ambrosia it was – I don't know why – but I digress.

I believe ZeroAssassin and I were the ones against the counter, and I kept clicking the tavern keeper to serve me some drink. The first tankard was emptied quick. The drink ran down me gullet quite smooth. But I'd heard so much about the effects of alcohol in-game, I just had to investigate it to the best of my ability. So, aye, sadly halfway through my second tankard my vision became quite impaired, and apparently my feet knew not where to go properly, nor did the contents of my belly… poor, poor ZeroAssassin. He had such lovely clothes at the start of the test day too. I might still owe him a good day's washing. That poor man.

One of Jaq's chibi-style drawings. Now it's up to you to guess which member of the team it is!

[Q]: What are you looking forward to most when Sea of Thieves releases?

[A]: Sailing. I can't help it. I miss the sea. I swear I was born on a frigate in a former life, but aye, traversing Middle-Earth on horseback is liberating, but it is not the same as sailing and defending our hull and haul with your fellow shipmates. We are pirates. We are meant to live and die by the sea. We cannot thrive anywhere else.

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?

[A]: There is no “if”. There is and always shall be Jaquelina Finch – Captn. Jaquelina Finch. My piratey self is heavily influenced by one particular pirate – so much so that I would say that Jaq is the illegitimate child of said cad.

When Pirates Online broke the seal and became available to the general public, I wanted to embody Captain Jack. Pirates of the Caribbean caught me in a whirlwind and had stolen my heart. That movie made me want to be a pirate, and I have been when life has allowed it. Captn Jaq isn’t just an online persona, but when I’m able to put on those charms, scarves, tricorn and eyeliner, I can be myself in ways I never realized I wanted to be.

One sweet story that I can share of being Jaq in the real world is when I was able to participate in a few “Trunk-or-Treating” events (that’s when you dress up, decorate your vehicle, drive to a school- or church-parking lot, and allow the kids to Trick or Treat at your vehicle). So, I dressed up as Captn Jaq, made my dad’s car into the albino kraken (tentacles and all), and spent that late evening at the “Trunk-or-Treat”. And whilst there, guess who I should encounter but the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow as his elementary school, three-foot tall self – which would only get better!

Roughly 20 minutes had passed when his mother approached me. She asked on his behest if he could hang out with me for the rest of the night! We would spar each other – speaking all pirate-like – and have the passers-by reach into the mouth of the kraken for some faire treats. It was a wonderful experience.

[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming

[A]: I enjoy drawing and creative writing. Having the time to go back to writing poetry, scripts and fictions has been more difficult to complete due to work, but thankfully, BenBhavingBadly has brought me back to drawing since last year... and for the grander scheme of things, Rare has allowed me to practise my chibi-style of drawing.

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!

[A]: I’ve been known to imitate a cat so well that I have fooled both human and cat, respectively.

...

And that wraps up another Community Spotlight! A big thanks to Jaq for taking the time to tell us all a little bit more about herself. We can tell just how much she cares about her fellow Sea of Thieves fans and look forward to seeing how they all co-operate and collaborate as the community continues to grow. We’ll be back soon with another Spotlight, but until then, stay locked to our social channels to keep up to date with all the latest from Sea of Thieves!