After a long absence I finally present the eleventh interview in this series. This time about Thistle aka Spaceballs, an ET member from Germany. Since he has a habit of writing very long blog posts, I thought he deserves a very long interview as well. Decide yourself if it's worth the long read.
Could you quickly introduce yourself?
Hey, I am 27 years old and live in Wiesbaden, Germany. I like cycling, volleyball and badminton. And I enjoy eating.
I am studying English and French to become a teacher and most hopefully will finish by next summer. Unless =F|A= keeps me busy like this.
Have you already had some form of internship or teaching experience during the studies?
Yes, I was sent to France, Lyon, for a year to teach French students. It was quite an experience as the French school system is very different from the German one. Also, the way of teaching differs. Yet, it was very nice and I enjoyed it. I learnt a lot, made many friends and acquaintances.
So you taught native French speakers how to speak French?
No, that would have been awkward. I could never really teach them anything in French, I guess. I taught English and German at the time. Back in Germany I had several work experiences in high school, too. There I taught French and English.
Jokes apart, what's so different or special about the French school system compared to the German one?
In Germany we have a threefold system, which allows the parents to decide which school suits their children best. The school is divided into three levels and each school branch has a different qualification in the end. In France, however, until high school, there is just a single branch and all the students are together. It is called "collège unique" and school takes the whole day. In Germany, there is a similar development, but afternoon classes are not yet that common.
Are you going to teach German high school students after finishing your studies or something abroad?
I don't know yet. I always wanted to live somewhere else. I thought about living in England and teaching French. But in the end I will probably stay in Germany and simply teach here, since my family lives here and I don't want to be separated for too long.
Now why did you choose to become a teacher?
To be honest, I started studying languages out of a whim. I didn't know what else to do. With time I realized that being a teacher could be fun. I tried to teach in a primary school first, but that didn't suit me at all. So I tried high school and I enjoyed it.
I've heard you spend some of your time supervising children in summer camps. What's the matter about that and might that have been a factor as well?
No, the summer camp job came after the decision to become a teacher. It's a job I do, because I need money to support my studies. I enjoy summer camps, but I would not do it if I had enough money to get around at the end of the month.
Any other notable activities with children?
Before I started university I worked in a hospital for children with cancer. It was only a year and I did it because I did not want to do military service, but it sure was the hardest time in my life so far. I have seen too many children die and I still remember their names. It also was my first encounter with death...
The first one?
Yeah, to that point in time I didn't know anyone who died. Not even in family. It was the first time that someone I knew in person died.
Have you been a good student, teacher's favorite?
Not really. I always was average. Even in my studies I am just average. But that does not matter to me. Even if I am not the "best", as long as I get along with children and adolescents it is okay.
What was your favorite subject back in school? German, English or French?
Actually, it was P.E, still love it. I was above average in English and French, enjoyed both subjects, but they were not my favorite. And I was horrible in mathematics.
Do you speak any languages apart from German, English and French?
Have you ever been to England, the USA or France?
I have been to all three places. I first went to England when I was fifteen years old. I spent two weeks alone in London to explore the city and its people. During my studies I went to Exeter, in Devon, South England. There I spent several months in order to improve my language skills. France is a country I visit very often. I am in France 1-2 times a year. I have many friends in Lyon and some family as well, so I try to go there every now and then. I can't remember my time in the States. I was two years old and my parents took me along. So no chance. I have not been to the States since then.
Do you also have such a cute girl's name like some of our members?
My real name is Darius. It usually does not get mistaken for a girl's name. Just recently though my new nickname was mistaken for a girl's one. Is "Thistle" that girly?
Yes, very. Back to the gaming part. You've mentioned some quite old games in your most recent blog entry. What was your first console?
My first console was Nintendo's NES. A few years later I started playing on a N64. I still have that one connected to my TV to play Diddy Kong's Racing or Mario Kart. I never had any other consoles apart from these two.
What were your favorite games back then? Or was it only the two?
Mh,... I liked those two games a lot. And I was not so much into RPG games or shooters at the time. Yet, I played Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Those two games were revolutionary. I still have them and play them sometimes. I often listen to the soundtrack on youtube.
And what are they now? Besides W:ET of course.
You shall not love anyone besides W:ET. Joke. I play Guildwars and ET. I still have old games on my hard drive such as Keen Commander, Master of Orion and Doom, but I only play them occasionally. I would love to play Guildwars 2 and Skyrim, but I would need a new PC for that.
Do you play CoD4, Minecraft, BF3 or TF2 as well?
No, I have never played any of these games.
Your laptop is apparently too slow for CS:GO, Guildwars 2 and Skyrim. Are you more of a console gamer than PC gamer? No PC builder?
I definitely am a PC gamer. However, I would need money to build a new PC. When I saved up enough, I will order my new computer at an online store, which lets you choose all the components you want. I did that a few times already and it always worked out fine. Unfortunately, I only did it for friends who had money but no knowledge of putting together a computer. I never had the chance to put one together for myself.
How and when did you start playing W:ET?
Must have been around 2005. And I stopped in 2007, only to restart playing in 2011. I missed it so much. A friend told me about a freeware game which was supposed to be great fun. When I tried it, I sticked to it.
Have you been member of any clans before joining =F|A=?
Yes, I have. But it is a long time ago. My last clan was a Guildwars guild. I also was in an ET clan, but I forgot the name. It was no big clan. A community such as =F|A= is the first time for me. And I would not want to miss this experience.
Why did you join =F|A=?
When I started to play ET again in November, I stumbled upon the =F|A= servers. First, I did not intend to join any clan at all. I was not even sure, if I would continue playing the game. However, I liked the atmosphere on servers and the people. In December I registered on the forums, but was not very active. So I just played and sometimes even talked on servers. That way I got to know Pianist. We played often together from then on and in February he asked me, if I wanted to join =F|A=. I liked the idea of a clan and community that does not recruit because of skills but rather depending on social interaction and motivation to contribute something to the community.
Your favorite server appears to be Jay4. What's so special about that one?
I like the ping I have on that server. Apart from that I play there whenever Jay 1 is too full to play on. Jay 4 is just perfect, if I compare to other servers. Jay 2 is to hard with many raters on it. And I don't like fast shoot on Jay 3.
What are the parts you enjoy most about the clan and what do you dislike?
That's a difficult question and I cannot give a straight answer. The overall image is coherent. The system works. Perhaps I could say that I like most to play together with the friends I made in this clan. I enjoy spending time on the server with them and chat while playing. There is not really something I dislike.
What do you think about the clan's future? Are we always going to run ET servers? Should we rather expand to newer or at least more popular games?
Well, perhaps not ALL the ET servers will survive, but I hope that some will. And as far as I know we are already expanding. We just started a new server for CS:GO and I think I read somewhere in the forum that someone wanted to start a Guildwars 2 section. I don't know if it worked out, since I barely visit the RPG forums of =F|A=. I think it is good to expand in new games, but not too fast. One game at a time, if there are members interested in it. We always need capable admins to supervise the new game section.
How did you learn the principles of administrating the servers? Purely by reading the guides in our Wiki or did someone mentor you?
The basis should be the admin guide. Everyone should take to heart what is written there. After that I always ask more experienced members when I have questions. That happened quite often in the beginning. I am doing good now, I hope.
What do you think was the reason for your promotions? Hard work, coincidence, luck or a good tongue?
I always tried to contribute the best I could for the clan so far. So I was promoted to full member and am thankful for that. I will continue to help on servers, and be active on forums.
If you were in charge of =F|A= for one month, what would you change, what would you improve, who would you kick out?
If I were in charge and paid the server costs, I would probably start praying to God for the donation bar to be completed before the end of the year. I would not kick anyone. People who do not fit into =F|A= usually don't need to get kicked. They often realize it themselves and leave.
Do you consider yourself the ideal member?
No, surely not. I am bad at spotting cheaters, rather poor at recruiting. Yet, I try to do it and learn.
Have you already made some more or less severe mistakes in your clan life?
Mh, I once thought that the tracker was private and posted some confidential information. That was... stupid.
What's your role in the clan? Thistle sounds rather prickly. Are you goosing people to do their best?
I am just a normal member and do nothing special. I also don't tell people what to do. I just do what I think appropriate according to the situation.
Share a funny, weird or suggestive joke.
"Very dark the side is." - "Oh Yoda, shut up and eat your toast."
We have a good amount of German members. Have you ever met any of them in person?
Not yet. Only know some of them through xfire.
Would you participate in the meeting some of our members are trying to organize in Germany this time?
That depends on how my schedule is around November. I cannot say yet, if I will participate or not. Ghostwind proposed to meet in Mainz, which is near where I live. I might just go, if I have time.
What's your favorite movie, TV-show and book?
My favorite books/films are Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I am eagerly awaiting the film The Hobbit. I love Six Feet Under.
What kind of music do you enjoy? Retro game soundtracks?
I listen to house music, electro house, and sometimes classical music.
Tell us about your most embarrassing moment.
In middle school I liked a girl and told her. The next morning I saw her kissing some other boy in school. That was embarrassing. Everyone knew I liked her. I felt dumb.
You told us the story behind the name "Thistle" in one of your blog posts. What's the story behind your original name, "Spaceballs"?
That name came to my mind when I watched the film "Spaceballs". A parody of Star Wars, which I like very much. I simply decided to take on that name.
What would you do with 100 million dollars?
That is beyond my imaginative capability.
What about one million then?
Oh yea, pay the debts I accumulated during the studies, give a little to my parents, keep the rest for me to save up for bad times.
Where do you plan to be in 10 years? Teaching German in France while leading =F|A= in your spare time?
Haha, if =F|A= still exists, and I hope it does, I want to be part of it. Of course I hope to be a teacher by then, have a family and children, probably in Germany.
Tell us more about your sport hobbies, cycling, volleyball and badminton. Are you a competitive sportsman?
No, I am not. I do these sports in my freetime with friends. I do cycling the most. Volleyball and badminton are sports I do occasionally in summer.
And the eating part? What's your favorite meal and drink? Weißwurst and Weizenbier?
Mh, I like schnitzel most. I barely drink any alcohol since it's not too good when doing sports.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What did you cook while answering these questions?
Do you own a car or do you prefer to go by bicycle?
I have a car, which I need for my work as I often have to change locations.
What kind of?
It is a grey Peugeot 206. I named him Gandalf.
How cute. Who are your favorite clan members and why are they?
I like all the =F|A= members I have to deal with. I was really sad though, when Pianist took his leave some time ago. And really happy when he came back.
Would you pick him to be stranded on an island with you?
No. I would pick my girlfriend in order to satisfy my natural desire to reproduce my genes.
You wouldn't want to have a baby with Pianist?
I am afraid, no. Sorry Pianist.
Imagine you could swap roles, permissions and duties with a =F|A= member for one month. Who would it be?
I don't have someone specific in mind, but I would switch with someone who has the same level as me. Otherwise I would be afraid not to meet the expectations, if I just swap with someone who has more responsibilities than I do.
What's your favorite color?
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a lovely overweight cat named Max.
If you were the first person to make contact with an Alien life form, what would you say/do?
I would turn around and run away.
What kind of cellphone do you have?
I use an HTC smartphone (HD2).
If you could pick any celebrity for a wife or husband, who would it be?
What's your daily schedule, from morning to evening?
I get up at 7 a.m. and after breakfast, checking emails and forums, I continue writing my dissertation. And I play ET somewhere in the recreation time. When I go cycling, it is usually in the evening. Bedtime is whenever I am too tired to watch TV.
At what age do you expect to retire from work and what are you going to do as an old and grumpy German?
Mh, with the current demographic development in Germany and Europe, I will not be able to retire before 75, I guess. Who else will pay my pension?
I am going to sit in my wheelchair in some retirement home and scowl at the personnel.
If you could visit any point in history, where/when would you go and why?
I honestly don't know.
Which comic character would you like to be?
Mickey Mouse. He gets sexy Minnie.
Are you happy with your life so far?
Yes, I am. Money was always a big issue, but I doing fine and never had to suffer. I am happy the way my life is now.
What's your life goal? Teaching children?
Not the teaching itself, but giving the children the possibility to choose for themselves what they want to do. My job simply is to make sure they have what it takes to make that decision. My personal life goal would be to see my own children live happily before I pass away.
Or rather before you move into the retirement home. What's your biggest dream?
Not to move into a retirement home. I hope that I will be independent until the end.
Who is your hero, who or what inspires you and why?
I don't have someone like that in my personal environment. Sometimes I am inspired by politicians who dare to stand up against their own faction, because they do not simply say "yes", but rather use their own brains to think.
What is one thing you could not live without?
What is the biggest influence in your life?
My girlfriend is. She educated me. Or at least, she tries.
What's your favorite cuddly toy?
My little elephant.
Do you like to travel? Where have you been so far?
I love to travel and have been pretty much everywhere in Western Europe. I travel light, with backpack, and sleep in youth hostels.
Would you rather prefer a city trip or going to the beach?
I like both. If I go to the beach, it becomes boring after one week. But a city can offer much more for a longer period of time.
What is one thing you'd like to do before dying?
I would like to do some mountain climbing. Not without security though, because it might actually end up being the last thing I do before dying.
Have you ever forgotten your sports bag in the school bus?
Yes. Who hasn't....
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?
Perhaps, who knows if I will travel out of Europe in the future. However, if I do and travel to some country where I know somebody from the community, meeting would not be so bad. It is an opportunity!
If your girlfriend told you no more video games, which would you choose, her or the game?
Her. No buts and ifs.
If you never got introduced to gaming, would your life be any different?
Yes, for sure. I spent a lot of my youth playing internet games. I could have learned an instrument perhaps. When thinking back, I would have liked to play the piano.
It's never too late. Anyhow, if they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?
George Clooney would do fine I guess. My life story is about how I met my girlfriend because we exchanged our luggage by mistake. She opens it and finds my Nespresso.
That means your life is a Nespresso advertisement?
Mh, something along the way. Yes.
What was the best gift you ever received and what was the worst one?
Cliché: The best gift I received was my mother's love. The worst was a pair of socks.
Would you like to come to the US to visit fellow clan members? And who would you want to meet there the most?
Yes, I would like to visit the States. But not just for meeting members, but to see the country itself and travel through the states.
What are you most afraid of?
Losing my family.
What is your dream job?
I don't really have one in mind.
Would you eat a live tropical fish?
No, I like sushi, but I would not eat it, if it was still alive. I would knock it dead and eat it then.
If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?
I would kindly ask you to help me out, Krauersaut. And just hope you don't refuse.