Special Announcement & Dan Amrich Interview Tomorrow

Back on WinBreak.com, there was a short lived “STAR LIGHT” series of interviews. The goal was to interview people who were influential in the games industry, famous in some form or another. For all intents and purposes, it was almost identical to the Better Know a Gamer series of articles. The Star Light series had a few questions that were targetted toward these special interviews, but were otherwise the same thing as BKAG.

Therefore, I’m doing away with Star Light in the interest of growing Better Know a Gamer into a longer running series. And tomorrow, the series gets its 34th installment, its first here on NuAngel.net. And what a special occasion it is. I will be interviewing Dan Amrich, Activisions OneOfSwords. Stay tuned, it’s only a few hours away!

WinBreak Star Light issue #2: TriXie!!

Nu: First, let’s get one thing out of the way: many gamers prefer to be known by Gamertag only; it’s an identity all to itself. “TriXie” seems to be one of those. Larry Hryb is Xbox Live’s “Major Nelson,” but “TriXie” seems to exist unto herself. Do you have a real name, or does that remain under wraps?

TriXie: My real name is Christa Phillips. I did keep it under wraps for a few years, but the LA Times did a story on GamerchiX in September, so I had to reveal my true identity.

Nu: We’d all like to think that playing games for 8 hours a day is what it’s like working in the Xbox division, but there is real work to be done! What is your job title at Microsoft, and what does the job entail (a typical day in the life of TriXie)?

TriXie: I don’t even have an Xbox in my office. The only gaming time I get is when I’m at home. My job title is Xbox LIVE Community Manager. A typical day for me is figuring out what titles to play for the next Xbox All-Nighter, Family Game Night, GamerchiX Ladies Night, etc. Or talking to Rhoulette and Jinx and figuring out when the next Frag Doll Friday will be. I deal with hundreds of emails both on my ‘Christa’ account and my ‘TriXie’ account. I go to meetings, make plans for upcoming themed promotions (like My Mom’s a Gamer, or Back to Old School or Valentine’s Day). I may choose a new Xbox.com forum moderator, or start a new forum area (like Gamer Parents and Family Gaming), write a Gamer Spotlight, commission a new article from Xbox Dad or Elle, or film a Community Confidential episode for Inside Xbox. Several times a year I travel to report on gaming events. This week Video Monkey and I are headed to Phoenix to cover the Madden Bowl. The week after that we’re covering the Grammy Awards in LA. And on March 1st I’m doing a keynote presentation at a conference at UCLA.

Nu: Wow! Looks like February is going to be busy for you, but exciting for us!
When did you start at Microsoft, and what was your job title, then? If it was different than it is now, how did it evolve into the position you now have?

TriXie: I started at Xbox in February 2002 as a contractor, and became a full-time permanent MS employee that July. I started as a Technical Writer doing documentation. I wrote the first Xbox LIVE manual. I started writing the Gamer Spotlights (and using the pseudonym ‘TriXie’) soon after Xbox LIVE launched. My work with the community grew as the membership grew. Now my goal is to help all 10 million LIVE members find games they like, learn how to keep their kids safe online, connect with fun people to play with, and let them know about cool stuff happening in the larger community and with smaller groups.

Nu: In your “Family Fun Day TriXie Travels” blog post, you mention that you are a college dropout. What were you going to school for?

TriXie: I have actually dropped out of college three times. I’ve studied all kinds of useless liberal arts stuff: Literature, History, Film, Folklore, etc. I loved school and if I could go to class and write papers the rest of my life I’d be a happy girl. But I gotta put food on the table… 🙂

Nu: Don’t I know that!
What would you be doing if you weren’t working for Microsoft?

TriXie: Hmm. If Microsoft were to disappear tomorrow I’d go back to school most likely and support myself as a freelance writer. Maybe I’d try writing a novel.

Nu: My kind of girl! Maybe someday TriXie and NuAngel can co-author some books! …Wishful tihnking? Ah, well… 😉
How long have you been gaming?

TriXie: Since Santa brought my brother and I Pong in the ‘70s.

Nu: How is your office decorated?

TriXie: I’ve attached a picture. I don’t think you could really call it ‘decorated.’ This was taken in the fall (as you can see from the trees) and it’s twice as bad as it was then.

Nu: What’s playing now? (What music do you listen to while you work?)

TriXie: Right this minute I’m listening to my Howling Wolf, BB King and Robert Johnson playlist. After that I think some Springsteen will be in order. I need a little Bruce every day.

Nu: Which games are you playing most, in your free time, right now / plan to play a lot over the next couple of weeks?

TriXie: On Xbox 360 I’m still playing Zuma. And Boogie Bunnies. I’m planning to play Bioshock soon… but I scare pretty easily.

Nu: What have you learned about web-writing and dealing with the masses that you may not have known going into this position?

TriXie: The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that people who win prizes often act like jerks. They are rarely grateful and often demand special treatment or extra stuff. A couple winners have been wonderful exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.

Nu: That’s a revelation! I didn’t know people could be so ungrateful. I was honored to be the winner of Major Nelson’s HEROES Giveaway in December-January. I intend to post pictures and share my joy as soon as it gets to me (it has “arrived” it my address, but I actually moved the day before it arrived, and my family has yet to forward it!).
Finally, do you have any additional parting words?

TriXie: Remember, if someone acts like a jerk on Xbox LIVE, use the tools in your dashboard to file a complaint. We can’t punish the bad guys if we don’t know who they are!

That’s it! That concludes the second issue of Star Light! Let me give the BIGGEST thank you in the world to TriXie! Taking time out of her clearly busy schedule to answer the questions of a site online for less than a month! Thanks, TriXie! Remember, Better Know a Gamer introduces you to people you may not know, gamers from all walks of life. Star Light will feature well known names and faces in the industry!

WinBreak Star Light issue #1: Avid X.

Nu: So, the first question with every gaming related interview should always be: your gamertag! For everyone out there, what is it and where’d it come from?

avid: My gamertag is “avid x3ro” , originally it was XERO but over the course of time harsh rains and winds eroded it down, to what it is today.

Nu: Your website, 360style.net, seems very busy. So much more going on than my lowly startup! I’m sure you have a large following of your own, though I heard your appearance on the Unscripted 360 podcast # 57. So for people still new to the Xbox community (and who skip the top of every page on 360style), when was 360style.net founded?

avid: My baby was born May 2nd, 2005. The idea came from the TeamXbox forums. I was a big wallpaper and avatar contributer and I decided I wanted a bit more respect and a place to call home for my artwork so I decided to start 360 Style along with another community artist, “igotgame1075”. In August of 2006, I was given a hand with the site, my good friend Delilah Blaze stepped up and redesigned 360 Style. This took 360 Style from being your basic html webpage to the deep database it is today.

Nu: 360style seems to focus on a much more gritty part of the Xbox community. Skull designs and graffiti fonts pepper the site. I love the edgy yet fun attitude of the staff and members of the site (we all hope McKillin’ makes a return). How would you describe 360style?

avid: 360 Style is what it is because I have built the community to be very open ended. At first it started as a wallpaper website, but since has grown to be so much more. If I decide to post a video of a kid microwaving a cat on my mainpage tommorow I will. That is where the “style” comes into play. I like to think of us as the artistic goofballs of the Xbox community. But even though we like to screw around, we still work hard to bring unique content to our users.

Nu: Tell us a little bit about the man behind the gamertag. We’d all love to think that blogging gets to be a full time job, and reviewing video games will pay the bills, but that remains to be fantasy for most of us. Then again 360style does have a large staff, Microsoft MVP recognition, and so much more – so maybe it is, for you! What’s your day job, family life, and any other details that make up Chris Erickson, and not just Avid X.

avid: I am a single bachlor looking for a gamerchick to take long walks with on a pixelated beach. During the day I cut meat at a grocery store and at night I turn into Avid X, the internet addict. I have generated some good chunks of money on my website, but nothing to really call a profit. I put so much time and money into it, its going to take a lot more then a few google ad checks to allow me to call this a job.

Nu: Did you go to / finish school? If so, what did you major in? Do you get to use any of those learned skills at all when working on 360style?

Avid: Dual enrolled in some Graphic Arts classes in high school, from there I attended a local community college for a year and then got mixed up in something we call life. No degree here, but hopefully someday.
The design skills I learned in school did not help me in any way, shape or form. I was already self taught long before I started taking classes. In class I was the guy who had to help everyone. 😛

Nu: What’s up with the Bacon Waffles, or is it still filed under “don’t ask questions?”

avid: Well young Xbox jedi, its a inside joke between some community leaders that attended the Crackdown community event at Microsoft last February. Let’s just say Nelson R. from AchievementJunkie.com ordered bacon waffles and ended up getting 1 bacon waffle. He was also the first one to get his meal. We all sat around and laughed as he ate the lil’ kid sized waffle. Ever since that I noticed other people on forums have fascinations with bacon waffles, which encouraged my addiction. They are interesting.. I mean the bacon is in the waffle.

Nu: How long have you been gaming?

avid: Since NES…

Nu: What’s playing now? (What music do you listen to while you work on the site?)

avid: No, music. I never listen to music on my PC, just podcasts.

Playing now: www.thegamersgarage.com – Fatal1ty Interview.

Nu: Which games are you playing most, lately?

avid: Call of Duty 4, Spongebob Underpants Slam!

Nu: Do you have an all time favorite game (any console / PC)?

avid: Psychonauts is easily one of my favorite games ever. I have yet to see a game top it in level design.

Nu: What have you learned about web-writing and dealing with the masses that you may not have known going into this position?

avid: To relax, you can try to write an article or review and make it sound like your are reading a wikipedia page or you can make it “real” and honest. I’ve learned that keeping it real has gotten me alot further then anything else.

Nu: Any additional parting words?

avid: Seriously, check out our podcast at www.360stylecast.com and search for us on iTunes. We have put a lot of effort to make it a unique show for the community.

Thanks a lot for the interview!

Well, everyone, this concludes our first STAR LIGHT segment! I want to think “avid x3ro” for taking part and submitting himself to my tortuous questions! See you next time around!

WinBreak Star Light: Interviews with Community Leaders

ANOTHER new segment. WinBreak Star Light. Shining a little bit of star light from community leaders. Their words, their wisdom… shared with you! Star Light will allow me to do a similar segment to “Better Know a Gamer” – however, the questions will often be more targetted to this individual. Better Know a Gamer will often be a form letter set of questions, where Star Light allows me to speak with community leaders from the Xbox 360 gaming community, or prominent members of the video game industry, and ask them very specific questions.

I think you’ll enjoy these, and I will post them as often as possible, much like the Better Know a Gamer!