Number 10 of the interview series. Co-Leader Pepperonipizza tells us about him, his life, his thoughts and his future. Quite an interesting one, absolutely worth the (long) read. Thanks to GI-JOE, Krayzie and Corey for their superb questions.
Could you quickly introduce yourself?
My name is Joachim. I'm from Belgium and currently studying in Leuven. I am a last year Master's student studying computing science. I like playing W:ET and Dota2. I like traveling with my girlfriend.
Computer science? Would you mind explaining what that is, for the non-experts among us?
Computer science is, well, the science behind computers. We study computers, how they work and how we can use them. It's very abstract and we don't really have a lot of practical knowhow of setting up servers or managing databases. We study mechanics that are behind these systems. What are computers capable of? How can we improve their techniques? How can we make them learn?
And what are computer science students going to do job-wise?
In the business world, people with this kind of education usually end up in the IT consultation business. They visit a firm look at their (computer) system and try to improve it and/or construct computer systems that the costumer (the firm) wants.
I'm not going in the business world though, I am starting my Phd. coming september.
That means you are going to stay in the university?
Yes. A Phd. student is a student as well as a faculty member. Aside from researching in my research group I will be an assistant for one or more courses. This means I will be responsible for exercise sessions for students.
Do you already have plans for the time after you finished your Phd?
That will depend on how well the Phd went. If they are very happy with me they might keep me around. That is called a post-doc. After post-doc it's a route to being a professor. It's all a bit abstract and hazy, but that's the academic career ladder.
If it turns out I won't be able to continue researching I want to start teaching at colleges. In Belgium, you need a Phd degree for that.
(A college is different than a university here, college is higher education that is practical-oriented, university is academic stuff)
So you're going to be a teacher basically.
Yes I like teaching and helping people understand things.
Did you like your teachers?
Some of my teachers I liked, others not. I guess it's no different than anyone else. It's not because I was very fond of my teachers that I started liking teaching. It's rather a result of some fellow students (or people at home) not understanding something and me helping them with it.
Your favorite subjects in school?
Math. And to a lesser extent physics.
No languages? Do you speak any apart from Dutch and English?
I also speak French. Belgium is bilingual and every adult has studied French for at least a few years at school.
I do not like studying languages because when you study languages you study something that is man-made. The reason why something is what it is in linguistics is usually historical and based on something trivial.
Studying sciences is studying something that man had no hand in. You're discovering laws that were there long before man was. Understanding these things is a lot more interesting I find.
How did you learn English then?
I learned English on the internet long before we started the subject at school. I used to have one English friend from a website-based MMORPG that was into studying English and I definitely picked up something from him along the way.
Did you start your gaming life with that MMORPG?
Not really. My gaming life started with Age of Empires. I had it on disk from a friend from school. I didn't understand anything but I still found it fun to play (remember the wololololo monks). After that we got a playstation and a few games for that.
What are your favorite genres apart from Real-time strategy?
My favorite games are team-based games. I like team-bases FPS games (like W:ET and TF2). My other side is addicted to Dota2 which is genre that is not very known: it is a Action real-time strategy game (or also called a MOBA game).
Does that mean you got your first computer before you got your first console?
Yeah we had a computer before we got a console. It wasn't very fancy but AoE 1 was manageable.
Do you currently have a powerful computer?
My current setup is two years old. Cost me about €700 at the time (a keyboard and screen included). It's definitely on the powerful end (still to this time) but it's no powerhouse. I can run most games at maximum graphical settings.
My CPU is rather regular, a dualcore Pentium and my GPU is a ATI Radeon HD 4870.
Do you play CoD4, Minecraft, BF3 or TF2 as well?
Of those games I only play TF2.
Do you only play free games or is that a coincidence?
Hehe. I also play some other paid games. I enjoy the Assassin's Creed series. I was also into Starcraft (and its MOBA custom map) until I got Dota2. Coming summer I plan to get into Witcher.
So when did you dive into the fabulous world of ET and TF2?
I got into W:ET by a pure coincidence. My neighbor on my first dorm in Leuven played it. He wasn't really into it but he enjoyed hopping onto it for relaxation.
I played it on his computer for a bit and I was immediately hooked. This was the first 'online' game that I had ever played. I immediately installed it on my crappy laptop (or as I call it: craptop) and lagged around in the ET universe.
I used to play on Evil Smurf's servers before coming to =F|A=. Played there with 200+ ping , 20fps and a crappy mouse and laptop keyboard. I'll never forget that.
I got into TF2 after I got my current desktop setup. It's not as serious as W:ET for me but it's 'quick fun'. Playing a round or two as medic healing heavies and helping them pwn the other team is fun!
When and how did you join us?
I started playing on the NoQuarter server and I really liked it. After a while someone asked me to join. I think it was .D... (or detoren). Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
People seemed to like me enough and I got accepted as a trial pretty fast.
And you became Co-Leader pretty fast, didn't you?
I consider myself a fast learner. I am also community-oriented. I learned so much during my stay in =F|A= I hardly know where to begin. But becoming Co-Leader was not only about learning admin commands and protocols. For me, it was about learning to take a step back and look at the big picture.
You also managed to make 970 posts in slightly more than two years. What a spammy person! Is the forum an important part of the clan for you?
I'm not as forum active as some other forum 'spammy persons'. Certainly not last year with my thesis and whatnot.
But I do find the forum very important for the clan. It's the central mechanism that brings us all together, every member of the clan. It's a place with a very broad use: it can hold clan-wide discussions on rules or a topic that considers one single server.
Elaborate on the "taking a step back and looking at the big picture" metaphor. How do you mean that?
I will be brutally honest. Many of the topics that talk about promotions also say that "you should play for fun and not for levels".
Well, when I joined this clan, I was definitely having fun, but my personality was very focus on the rules. I wanted to be mister perfect and jump to any situation that needed handling. I didn't question my actions, I was merely following the rules. I'm not saying what I did was bad, but I didn't see what was really important: having a good time on the server. I played on the server neurotically looking for a rule to apply and feeling happy when I could do so. I wanted to see my level rise. I was in it for the levels. At first.
So you were an uber-admin, looking for every chance to use your commands?
Then I learned one of the most valuable lessons in the world. I learned that it's not about the rules but about what they stand for. They stand for a fun gaming environment. I learned that rules don't always need to be applied and that sometimes it's better to just talk or joke about things.
I like to consider that as the moment that people truly started appreciating me and the things I did. Enough people noticed so that I got promoted to co-leader.
Summarizing it, trials and members should loosely follow the rules and put fun in front of them in order to get promoted?
Trials need to follow the rules. If you're trial you're still learning the ins and outs of the clan and its stances. Trials should follow rules best they can and in the meanwhile learn the procedures.
Once you're a member you can start reasoning more about what would be best in a situation. Communication is also the key here. Try to sync up with the fellow admins that help you on the server. But in the end the founders make all the decisions.
Jumping straight into the next question, what would you change if you were in charge of =F|A= for a month?
I don't think I would be able to improve things much. I imagine that running =F|A= is a fulltime job. There is great communication from the founders. This is not a given since most of the time they are very busy. I think the only thing that I would work on is a fixed schedule for map changes on servers. The procedure could benefit from a bit of stability I think.
What do you like most about NQ1? The mod? The settings? The players?
Some settings appeal to me. I like the fact that picking up an SMG will give you all of its ammo and not just the bullets currently in the clip. The double jump is different from Jay and I like the NQ double jump better. It allows you to double-jump even thought you are falling. This makes descending mountains with a single, well-timed double jump right before you splatter to the ground possible.
But what I definitely like most about the server are the people. There are really some players with a great sense of humor, laughing it up and being very relaxed.
Have you ever made any severe mistakes when it comes to the clan?
We all make mistakes. Back when I was in uber-admining I was very stubborn and always thought I knew it best. There were times when I didn't respect fellow members enough. I guess those are my worst mistakes.
How do you see the ideal member?
For me, the ideal member needs to only have two very important qualities
- Listen and learn from both members, (co-)leaders, founders AND regulars
- Be patient and communicate well
How do you imagine the future of the clan with all its games, servers and members?
That's very hard to imagine. At first the clan will definitely keep growing. But I imagine that we definitely have a limit. This limit will probably be reached when dare's duracell battery runs out because he'll be working 24/7 on all the servers.
And what's going to happen then?
Worst case scenario is that the clan will fall apart. But I don't think any of the founders will ever let that happen.
What will probably happen is that the community becomes too big for everyone to know everyone. What this will mean for the clan I do not know (especially at midnight after a very long day :> )
Probably separation into smaller groups?
I imagine something like that happening, yes.
Let us know about how you imagine your role in the clan.
Well, before I went semi-inactive this year, I think that my role, when fully active, can be described as follows:
A person that you can always come to with your problems and questions. Someone who can teach new players/trials the ropes. Someone who brings the people on the server together with witty talk and funny jokes.
And after you became active again?
I will definitely try to be that person again. But it's hard because I missed a lot of stuff and the growing of a lot of new members. Personal communication and creating bonds is pretty essential to what I want to do.
Share a funny joke.
Question: Who prevents a gorilla in a pink tutu from attending a ballet class?
Answer: The people responsible for that decisions.
Got one which is actually funny as well?
It's not really funny I know but when I talk about funny jokes it's rather practical humor about things that happen in-game.
I have another one that is a bit longer:
2 men are stranded on an island. They encounter natives. Unfortunately they are cannibals! They are a bit humane however and the chief tells our 2 survivors this:
"White man can earn freedom. White man have to complete two tasks. First task is: find 10 of the same fruit and bring it to us"
So the two go foraging. After some time the first person returns with 10 blueberries. Then the chief says the following.
"White man did well on first task. Now second task. Task is: put all 10 of fruit in your ass, but you must keep a straight face."
A bit abashed the first person starts at the necessary task. He's doing great with all berries until he's holding the tenth ready for "insertion". Unfortunately, the man starts laughing hysterically. The chief is puzzled.
"Why white man laugh? We have to eat you now"
The white man responds
"I couldn't help it! I saw the other guy return with 10 coconuts!"
Have you met any members in real life? Like Moron4 or any other Belgians?
Nope, I haven't met anyone in real life.
Are you going to take part in the meeting in Belgium in a few days?
I'm afraid I won't be able to. I will be in England then! Roaming the country side with my gf's family visiting those cute little villages you usually see in British detective series.
Your favorite TV shows are the ones with cute little British detectives?
I really enjoy a good detective series. One that isn't cheaply written. If you want a nice example, you should see the modern Sherlock Holmes series, they're really great!
Another TV show I like are Game of Thrones. Also I'm currently watching The Wire. I heard that it was well worth the watch.
It is, but Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty ugly, isn't he? How about movies?
Ugly? How can you say no to those cheekbones?
There are a lot of great movies. You can watch nearly any Disney movie and it's awesome. I also really like Osmosis Jones.
You may now comment that all those movies are animated.
Oh and for TV shows I forgot to mention How I Met Your Mother. That's a great series!
Your favorite music genre and bands?
I enjoy almost all types of music. As long as it's pleasing to the ear.
My favorite bands include Muse, Coldplay and Daftpunk. If you want to listen to a great electronic album, listen to Daftpunk's soundtrack of the movie 'Tron: Legacy'.
Do you like reading?
Yes I really like reading! I read all the current Game Of Thrones books. I also like reading detectives, Agatha Christie is a great writer. One of my first big books was The Lord of the Rings. And let me tell you: that is not the kind of book you want to start reading if you're not really an advanced reader!
You seem to be a huge detective fan.
I like solving puzzles and understanding things.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Crying in front of a table of 8+ people over something that happened at school earlier.
Something very silly. I saw my best friend walk around with other people. I was very young and very silly.
Anything else, more logical?
I really liked this one girl. I chatter to her after school for quite some time, always trying to make her laugh. We really seemed to get along well.
After some time the classroom gets reorganized. In the new seating arrangements, I'm sitting next to her. Needless to say I'm in pure bliss.
Next day the teacher tells the class the seating arrangements have to be redone because a parent complained that the current arrangements were made based on our grades. The teacher tells us that we can switch individually if both people agree. The first one to ask for a change is my girl neighbor. She asked me if I minded. I said "No" and felt gutted.
Why did you choose the name Pepperonipizza?
Lego Island! Pepper is the main character and he works in a pizza restaurant!
Also I should mention I'm a quite terrible at picking names. My other name that I use in Starcraft 2 is Stechm (you can laugh now).
It's phonetically equivalent with "Stack'em" if you speak like a drunk russian. And I like the odds stacked against me. So it was kind of a "come at me bro" name.
Do you often speak like a drunk russian?
I don't but I sometimes use crappy english variants and their phonetics to justify very bad name picks.
Who doesn't. Well anyhow, what car do you drive?
I don't own a car but my dad sometimes borrows me his Peugot Partner.
Would you buy a car if you had 100 million dollars?
What else would you do with it?
With 100 million dollars? Set up a scholarship in my name or a gaming charity. Invest wisely in longterm reliable technologies. Secure enough for a nice wedding and a nice house and a nice bunch of savings for the future kids.
A scholarship? For the fame, your ego or to help?
The help. It extends my joy of helping people understand things.
Would you stay in Belgium or move to a different country?
I think family is pretty important. If that wasn't a restriction, I think that we would settle in Amsterdam. It's a great city with great people.
And with certain coffee shops.
I'm afraid I'm a bit too straight to be making that suggestion successfully to.
Where do you plan to be in 10 years? Hopefully not a retired teacher speaking like a drunk russian?
I wish. Speaking like a real drunk russian takes at least 20 years of living in the gutter with a hangover!
But seriously in 10 years I hope to start as a professor teaching a course. I also hope to be settled in a nice home with two kids and my better half.
Why exactly two kids?
Talked about it with my better half. Currently the plan is two kids.
What are your hobbies when you're not looking at males with appealing cheekbones or helping people?
Gaming W:ET or Dota2 I'm afraid I'm a rather dull person considering my hobbies.
Who are your favorite members?
Hard to say, certainly now that I've been semi-inactive for some time. I could name all of the good folks of NQ here, each of them have their own special qualities and personality traits.
If I had to name a name, I'd name Raziel. Razbro has been a great friend ever since I joined =F|A=. We grew side by side in this clan and it was great to have the opportunity to have him help me grow.
Who would you pick to be stranded on an island with you? Him as well?
Yes! All hail the razbro!
Imagine you could swap roles, permissions and duties with a =F|A= member for one month. Who would it be?
Tough question. I think I'd pick chuckun. He's never on NQ and if we swapped he'd be forced to actually play on NQ! I would also benefit from the hands-on experience I get from trying to perform the same computer-wizardry he does.
What's your favorite food and drink? Belgian cuisine and beer?
I'm what you could call a "food-slut". I like almost any type of food. Usually the more greasy a food is the more I like it. But my appetite ranges from chinese (om nom nom babi-pangang!) to real Belgian fries to (German?) kebab.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be/why?
Bread with different things to put on it. You don't grow tired of that. Anything else you really grow tired of after eating it a lot.
Choose one thing to put on it.
In that case I'd take Toasted bread with the option to add butter to it with ham and/or cheese.
What's your favorite color? and why is it?
Bright, lightgreen. You know, the color a new branch on a plant has before it is fully matured. I like how it represents growth and nurturing.
Do you have any pets? Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, goats?
Not at my apartment. My mom has a lazy, fat cat. At my dad's there's no animals. My older brother breeds reptiles for a hobby (although he has quite a lot and is very good at it).
Also I'm allergic to almost every pet imaginable except for horses and dogs. But I've never had either of those as a pet.
What is the pet you want most?
During growing up I have had several cats. But I think that if we ever had a dog I'd totally be a dog person.
But my favorite pet would have to be a goat!
Just kidding, I'd really like to learn how to work with dogs.
If you were the first person to make contact with an Alien life form, what would you say/do?
Establish communication protocols. If they understood english, the first thing I would say is "Please have patience with our species, we have a lot of developing to do".
If you could pick any celebrity for a wife, who would it be?
I'm really not up to date with celebrity talk. My favorite celebrity is my better half.
If you could spend one day with a celebrity who would it be and what would you do?
If he/she could be deceased, I would pick Nikolas Tesla.
What would you do with him?
Talk and listen. His vision on things like electricity and electric power are unmatched to this day.
If you had to move to a state or country apart from the USA, where would you move and why? Still the Netherlands?
With no family restrictions, yes. In the current situation, I'd just stay in Belgium and look for a nice village that's not too far away from either of my parents or the parents of my better half.
What's your daily schedule, from morning to evening? You seem to be a night person.
Get up at 10-11am. Eat and relax until noon-1pm. Work until 5-6pm and then make dinner. After dinner work if it's needed otherwise game it up until my better half is done studying around 9pm. Spend quality time until she goes to bed at 11pm. After that I game until I fall asleep which is usually 2-3am.
What phone do you have?
An old Nokia 3120.
At what age do you expect to retire from work and what are you going to do as a drunk retired russian teacher?
Well, drink and talk crappy english of course! Preferable along with my buddies in =F|A=.
I have no idea when to expect to retire. I will probably be past 65 before I can retire fully. But if I have enough money and I am no longer liking working I will certainly try to retire earlier.
If you could visit any point in history, where/when would you go and why?
I would visit Benjamin Franklin when he's setting the convention for charges in physics. He defined them wrong. For reference: http://xkcd.com/567/
Are you afraid of spiders or snakes?
Spiders very much so, snakes less.
Who or what inspires you and why?
My father is a big inspiration to me. The way he is always calm and understanding will always stick with me.
Are you happy with your life so far?
I have no reason to be unhappy. I am blessed with an amazing girlfriend and the ability to do what I love.
What's your biggest dream?
I'm not much of a dreamer but I think that one of my biggest dreams would be to make a fundamental breakthrough in my research field.
What's your research field?
I will be working on a system that uses Logic to represent and solve problems. It is entirely different from the current mainstream where programs are written with regular code. Logic is more complex and has a lot of hurdles but also has some distinct advantages.
What's your life goal?
Be as awesome to my kids as my dad was to me.
If ET and Dota2 died today, what would you do with your free time?
Heh. I guess I'd find a new game to play with awesome people!
If your girlfriend told you no more video games, which would you choose, her or the game?
My gf wouldn't ask it without a very good reason. She knows what they mean to me. If she would ask I would listen given that there is a very good reason.
Now which would you choose? Her or the game?
Some things last longer, I'd choose my girlfriend.
If you never got introduced to gaming, would your life be different?
Very different. Gaming and especially social gaming has taught me very much. I would not be the same person without those lessons.
How does it feel being in a social gaming community? Does it change your prospects in traveling around the world after knowing some of the people in other countries?
It's great seeing different perspectives from different countries in our clan. I'm a bit of a shy person so I'm not quite ready to go visit people in real life yet.
If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you? A russian actor?
Benedict Cumberbatch of course! DEM CHEEKBONES. And I guess it would be movie about a kid learning how the world works.
What was the best gift you ever received?
Tough one. Most of my most prized material possessions I purchased myself. It might be a lame answer but the best gift I have received is the support of my parents in everything that I do.
What was the worst one?
When my mom remarried, the mother of her new husband gave me a coloring/drawing book for christmas. It was awfully nice of her and she was a very kind woman, just not the sort of woman that I was used to. What makes it the worst gift is that my mom asked me if I liked it and I said "no" in front of both of them. It was true but I still regret it to this day.
Would you like to come to the US to visit fellow clan members? And who would you want to meet there the most?
I don't know a lot of USA-based clan members. Of most of the non-NQ people I don't know which country I they are from. So I can't think of a name.
What is one thing you could not live without?
What scares you, other than spiders and snakes?
Losing the people most precious to me.