Generally pretty self-aware.
When we envisioned the "Average Joe" series for Bungie.net, it's people like GhaleonEB that were foremost in our mind. This one-time HBO
newsman, and peer-appointed, Halo-related thread curator over at NeoGaf
("You're not Ghaleon!"), has made his mark on the community not only with his love of the game, but also for his clear-thinking, honest assessments of gaming at large. Chances are, if you've run into him, he's made a lasting impression on you too. He's good people. And though he's kept himself busy by donning a brilliant array of hats within the Bungie community, and though he typically chooses to keep to himself, we caught up to him and convinced him to donate a few moments of his time. Read on to learn more about him in his own words.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. I go by Ben when I’m not on the internets, and I’m a financial analyst at a tech company. Which is to say, I stare at spreadsheets all day and contemplate how $500k could possibly be considered so little that it gets rounded off. I don’t round pennies off of my income.
Q. And the gamertag?
When I registered for my first online forum back in the day, before most of the b.net users were born, I picked Ghaleon from the old Lunar games on the Sega-CD. That was taken though, so I tacked “EB” on the end for Eternal Blue, the name of the second Lunar game and still a favorite of mine. I just kept it as I moved around the web, and people have been confused about what it meant ever since. The best theory as to the meaning was that the last three letters are my real name spelled backwards, and I just have weird thing for internal capitalization.
Q. Where does your movement around the web take you?
A. I used to post at IGN and a few other community sites, but that was gradually whittled down to just The NeoGAF, though I’ll roll into the HBO and – with trepidation – the bungie.net forums on occasion. NeoGAF has a pretty large number of industry folks swimming with the proverbial forum sharks, so so it’s not uncommon to run into someone working on the game you’re trolling there. Word is Bungie is now using posts there to hire their web team (Editor's Note: LOL - LS
), so every post is an application of sorts.
The epic Halo thread I spawned over there has become its own sub-forum and community, with its own resident eccentrics and theatrics. I briefly considered starting up my own blog, but then realized I don’t have anything interesting to say. And here I am, saying it. Hi guys.
Q. Oh. Hello. Are there specific areas of the community that you find more interesting than others?
A. My love of Halo is tied pretty closely to the games themselves, so I’ve never paid much attention to fanfic and the like. Most fanfic is rather horrifying, and what little I’ve read left me scarred. It’s all about the game, so I look for videos of impressive or just plain wacky play. In particular, the top 10 compilations that MLG
puts out usually leave my jaw on the desk.
Q. What compels you to game? Do you game with friends and family? Co-workers?
A. I’m old enough that gaming is part of my DNA at this point; I’ve been gaming for a good 25 years or more. The reasons have shifted over the years, but it comes down to a love of interactive rather than passive entertainment. I’m attracted to mediums that are malleable in some way, which means I haven’t regularly watched TV for a good 15 years now. This has the side effect of making me hopelessly out of touch with today’s popular culture outside of gaming, but let’s keep that between us.
I live in a little podunk town outside of Portland, so I don’t have many social gaming opportunities, which is where Live comes in. I have managed to get my wife hooked on some XBLA games, and my older daughter is becoming quite the little gamer. In her first ever online Halo 3 game – just messing around with some fellow GAFers – she went straight for the shotgun to “shoot someone in the face”. She does her father proud.
Q. What was the first Bungie title you played? How did you discover it? What was is specifically that sucked you in?
A. Okay, one at a time.
[Editor's Note: sorry, caffeine. -U]
The first Bungie game I saw was Marathon on the Mac, but it was on my brother’s computer, which I was forbidden to touch under pain of death. I’m still alive, which means I didn’t touch it.
The first Bungie game I actually played was Halo on the Xbox, which I bought as part of a bundle deal. I got the system for Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Halo was a freebie, one I had heard of but otherwise had no interest in. Until I played it, that is. I haven’t stopped playing the Halo games since.
I did try to play Marathon 2 on XBLA, but alas. Vomiting. [Editor's Note: The dudes at Freeverse did issue a patch that softened some of the nausea inducing elements for in this game - LS]
What initially pulled me into Halo was the art and story; it’s a pretty compelling universe, with interesting nooks and crannies throughout. What keeps me coming back is simple: is it’s a fun sandbox to play in. I can play campaign encounters over and over, trying different tactics and am still impressed with how the AI and encounter design flexes based on my approach. Usually resulting in my death regardless, but the variety is in the number of ways I can attempt to avoid it.
My multiplayer time is spent almost exclusively in the BTB hoppers, partly hoping I can find a decent team to carry me, and partly because I get a kick out of vehicular shenanigans. It’s not really Halo without a Warthog careening about. I see a lot of broad humor in Halo’s MP. My kids have been getting into Looney Tunes lately, where anvils, rockets and boulders are employed and often backfire in spectacular fashion. I find BTB to be equally hilarious, but with lasers, warthogs and trip mines. In most games there’s at least one catastrophic pile-up that just begs for a saved film. Halo 3 has set the bar for social feature sets (in console games, at least); I’m honestly surprised screenshots and saved films are not becoming a standard feature in action games.
Q. Are you surprised by your level of community involvement?
A. I’m surprised that I actually have any community involvement, really. I’m generally pretty self-aware, but I didn’t realize I had become known for being such a Halo fanboy on The
NeoGAF until shortly before Halo 3 launched and I inadvertently attracted some attention. It’s been an interesting experience. The craftsmanship that goes into Halo and Bungie’s community emphasis has created a diverse and lasting community; it’s fun to be a part of it.
Thanks to Ben for the time. We agree, it is a fun to be a part of this community. You can have a bite of my French Toast anytime.