Legend Spotlight - Anja (Gaming_4nj4)
Sea of Thieves has always been about the players. Whether it’s in-game, at events or across social channels, the thing that brings us together as true pirate crews is the interaction between us all that builds our community.
One particular pirate can regularly be seen out there on the waves using her platform to celebrate others, lift up her fellow sailors and get involved in as many events as she can. So we caught up with Anja, AKA gaming_4nj4, AKA the People’s Pirate, to discover her Legendary story…
[Q]: Can you tell us a little about what got you into gaming?
[A]: My dad is a pioneer in IT stuff, so he built my first PC in the late 1970s, a wooden case he made himself with a jigsaw, self-soldered circuit boards and a handful of games on floppy disks. I played my first shooter game at the age of 3 and that was over 40 years ago.
IRL I constantly confuse people when I tell them “I’m a gamer”, obviously I don’t look like the classical stereotype! One of my favourite things to do is explain to parents my age “no, videogames do not cause violence, in fact they’ve prevented violence all my life” as I can vent by playing games, relax from a stressful work day and distract myself from overthinking problems. Gaming – as opposed to watching TV – requires you to focus on what you’re doing and keeps your mind and hands occupied.
[Q]: Were you a Rare fan before Sea of Thieves? Do you have any favourite Rare games?
[A]: I have to admit, I’m not a fan of a particular studio, I’m more into specific titles. The first Rare game I remember playing was Snake Rattle N Roll in my own first home as I was only allowed to take the old console with me, the newer one went into the possession of my younger brother.
I’m a very loyal gamer as soon as I get into a game, so I have roughly seven years of Borderlands 2 on my CV, and after that some years of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. PvZ was my first contact with a gaming community. Only to a very small degree as I didn’t use social media back then, but I was considered an ambassador even there, always trying to negotiate between different smaller enclaves. So I guess the path I took with my all-time favourite game Sea of Thieves was predetermined.
[Q]: What other games are you currently playing? Any favourites?
[A]: I hardly ever have a ‘main game’, but there’s one thing I am missing in Sea of Thieves that I have to fulfil somewhere else: base building. So I really enjoy hopping into Grounded every now and then to build mushroom castles and grass-plank skyscrapers, bully insects like they bully me IRL and collect resources. And when I don’t have much time at hand, I occasionally jump into Dauntless or Fortnite for a short round of fighting.
For Anja the seas are all about having good times with friends and her crew, the Headwinds.
[Q]: When did you first set sail on the Sea of Thieves, and what was it that attracted you to the pirate life?
[A]: I started playing SoT in the late Beta, because my husband and his colleague needed one more crewmate to handle the Galleon and my husband wanted a game for both of us again, so he told me “enough plants and zombies killed, you’re gonna be a pirate now”! I was a bit hesitant at first, playing with (and against) strangers? But the sheer beauty of the game caught my attention immediately, just looking around and enjoying the water, nature, storms, sunsets and sunrises and the realism of the surroundings combined with the comic style of the pirates, it didn’t take long for me to get fully lost in the world.
As soon as I made my first friends in the game I regretted the choice of my pirate a bit, but during the Beta the servers were only online on weekends and time was precious, so hubs and colleague hurried me to choose and get going. That first pirate was a good-looking guy and if I ever had the choice I would have kept him as an alternative appearance, but after a while I really wanted a pirate to match my name and voice because Sea of Thieves sometimes makes you stay and chat in the game long after the adventure of the day is done, and I wanted a pirate to identify with.
[Q]: How did you go about becoming a Pirate Legend? What were the main challenges and highlights of your journey?
[A]: At first my approach was very casual, as I was still rooted deeply in my PvZ community and the Commendations seemed way too high to ever fulfil (one of my early crews hated me for always telling them “yay, one less of 1000” whenever we turned something in), but soon ambition kicked in and it became my only game.
One of my very early highlights was my very first Skeleton Fort on a Sloop with my hubs. It took us three hours and countless respawns, and we were more than a little surprised that nobody bothered us there. Afterwards we read that there were server issues that day and nobody was able to load into a game, but the people who stayed in the game could still play!
The Hungering Deep was definitely another highlight, I was forced to interact with strangers and I loved it (to my own surprise) so I did the event a couple of times, at least often enough to get some clips and screenshots. My screenshot addiction only started with Sea of Thieves.
Another thing that I really liked was ‘alliances before Alliances existed’, so we often approached other Sloops at a Fort, agreed on mutual protection and sharing the loot 50/50, and finished it together. We barely ever got betrayed, my personal ‘talk first, shoot later’ philosophy was born and (depending on what crew I’m sailing with) is still my strategy today – a friend once called me the least toxic player in the game because of this. Call me naïve (I know I am) but this philosophy helped me find some good friends out on the waves.
[Q]: Can you remember the moment when you became a Pirate Legend and how you celebrated?
[A]: I do indeed! July 8th 2018, one of the days with an unofficial alliance, and I was one pixel short of Merchant Alliance rank 50. So at Plunder Outpost I asked our befriended Sloop for one of their Gunpowder Barrels to sell and they gave it to me, I bought the level, got my shanty, put on the purples and we celebrated together when I showed them the Legendary Hideout that for the first time I was able to open for them.
Some of Anja’s favourite things in the game, the Boom Boat and matching costume.
[Q]: Do you have any advice for other players currently on the path to Pirate Legend?
[A]: I do: have fun, make friends, join social media (I did that myself exclusively for Sea of Thieves), connect with people, share memories and capture them in screenshots! Don’t get too attached to the loot (the loot isn’t yours until you turn it in) and be prepared to lose – a fight, your ship, ‘your’ loot, your trust in an ally – anything goes and everybody WILL sink eventually. Never forget how much fun you had up until you sunk.
Don’t be salty or sour, focus on the sweet moments. If you are in the game chat, you will hear people cussing and swearing, yes, even I do that in the heat of a battle, but don’t take it personally (unless it is) – shake it off, it’s a game, the servers give, the servers take, just like IRL you can’t always win, nobody does. Every new day will bring a new chance and the servers won’t shut down tomorrow, so try it again the next day!
[Q]: What would you say are your favourite recent additions to Sea of Thieves?
[A]: The Legend of the Veil Voyages are breathtaking! Every new Voyage you start is different, with cursed islands, X Marks the Spot maps, picture riddles, ship graveyards and a fight to the death at the end. Stunning execution – I cherish the moments when the Shroud parts for a beautiful sunset or sunrise.
Fish name tags! When I first saw them I squeaked with excitement! My fishing Commendations would have been a lot easier if I had these earlier, but I still like fishing and do it for friends (or for Renown at the beginning of a new Season). And when I learned it’s a feature for inclusivity, it got me even more excited.
Fireworks! A beautiful sight to celebrate the end of a Voyage, an in-game or IRL event or to greet other ships. I just hope one day I can turn off force feedback for fireworks only, as my scarred hands in combination with a crew overjoyed for fireworks can spoil the beauty.
Sitting and the sound effect that comes with it. A whole new way to enjoy the surroundings and to take screenshots. The locations and times the Rare team chose for the Commendations are stunning. I loved every moment of discovering the different views at the different times of the day.
Fast storage! I once read on socials it feels like you no longer have to dive headfirst into a barrel but are able to just take and store. As I still have in memory how we supplied up in the beginning, the development of the whole storing system has taken a quantum leap from only one stack per barrel and having to give up half of our resources for delivering a crate of anything, to the seemingly endless capacities we have now.
[Q]: What sort of content would you like to see added in future for Pirate Legends?
[A]: How about adding the Shrouded Ghost to the game for real?
[Q]: Legend status aside, what are your greatest achievements in a game, Sea of Thieves or otherwise?
[A]: Being here in this Spotlight, together with receiving the Hat of Unfeasibly Glorious Fame for being nothing more than a little everyday ray of sunshine for a community that gives so much back. From the beautiful sketches, drawings and paintings of my pirate (and recently even turning me into a character in a comic!) to being recognised on the seas, having people follow me all across the map after they saw my name just to ask for a selfie together, to saving our ship after recognising the name of my friend Mr Fawlout or allying up at a Fort of Fortune for these reasons. Smile and the world will smile back at you.
Smile and the world will smile back at you – Anja has been practising this all her life!
[Q]: You’ve become a staple on Twitter and in many communities, always happy to help out and showcase talent. Do you have a favourite community or event?
[A]: There are so many awesome people, groups and events in and around this beautiful game, that it’s really hard to choose favourites. One thing that I can’t emphasise enough is the unique way you can connect with people all around the globe through this game. It’s not always about really playing the game and achieving Commendations. I’ve never played a game before where you can just sit, emote and talk for hours after you’ve stopped playing.
Watching the in-game days go by, taking occasional screenshots and just vibing and hanging out with friends you met because of the game. All across timezones from +9 hours in Australia to -9 hours on the West Coast of the American continent. Sometimes it’s hard to manage and organise the time differences, but sooner or later we make it happen.
But there are two groups that I want to highlight here who really helped me on my way. The first group of pirates who invited me to be a member is a small chat group on Instagram, the pirateCLB (the Curious Laughing Barnicles – typo intended), my first encounter with the SoT community and my pirate family from the very start of my social media activities. Our little think tank of creators who I catch up with every day, we’re not a crew as we barely sail together, but these people are my home base for all my online deeds.
The second group is my crew, the Headwinds, who so kindly adopted me and introduced me to community events – of which our most important is the Race of Legends, whether it’s the racing or helping behind the scenes. We have our special crew day, the #HeadwindsFriday. We sail together as this wonderful group of friends, welcoming and kind, open to guests, if the servers let us make it happen. Always helpful and uplifting, we’ve got each other’s backs. May the wind be in our faces and faith in our hearts!
[Q]: What kind of other hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: Besides the husband mentioned above with whom I’ve spent half of my lifetime now, I have two more hobbies. My first concern is always caring for my fur babies, my four cat-boys. Watching them chasing each other, taking care of each other or just putting on a stand-up show for their humans is the most rewarding thing ever.
My second favourite hobby is teaching. I studied to become a teacher a long time ago, but for silly reasons did not finish with a degree or diploma. During the lockdown of all schools in 2020, my former crewmate asked me for help with his school stuff and I really, really enjoyed it. It was exhausting to teach every day after work for 2-4 hours, but it was a price worth paying. Explaining and showing everyday examples for what has to be taught, I love it! I just wish I lived in a less bureaucratic country and would be able to do it for a living without starting at zero at university again.
Anja has four cats who are always around her, spreading joy in the way only they can.
[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: Being a chronic pain patient for more than two decades, I cultivated a childhood habit into therapy and this is what shows in my interactions with people in-game and on social media as well as in real life. I learned that I don’t have any less pain when I make other people feel bad, but if I succeed in making them smile and feel better, I feel better. So my habit of smiling at strangers, which I already had as a toddler (my mom always says she never came home from doing the groceries with a hungry child, every vendor had the urge to reward that smile with a little treat) and that I still have IRL (nothing better than an elderly lady confused at first and then smiling back), developed into my online behaviour.
When there is something I can help with, I’m always willing to offer help or sometimes just an open ear and the time to listen. When I see things that make me smile or that I admire, I want to share them. When I see a masterpiece of any kind of art with only a handful of likes, I try to ‘use’ my influence to make more people see and appreciate the time and effort the creator put into their work.
Whatever happens, take it with a smile and it feels easier and better. And those people who’ve sailed with me more than once know the laughing fits I have every now and again and keep reminding me to “breathe, Anja, breathe”!
And so another Legend Spotlight comes to an end. A huge thank you to Anja for taking the time to chat to us and give us a little insight into her days before and since becoming a Pirate Legend. We adore her commitment to celebrating the best that her fellow players have to offer, and how she herself embodies what it is to be a part of the Sea of Thieves community!
We'll be back in a couple of weeks with another Spotlight, but until then you can check out the whole collection of previous Community, Creator and Legend Spotlights, or see some recent player creations over on our Community Hub. Make sure you stay up to date with everything else going on in Sea of Thieves by keeping an eye on one of our many social channels, and we’ll see you next time!