During my time travelling to University, I would listen to several video game podcasts. Two that inspired me were: GamerTag Radio with Danny Peña and Major Nelson Radio with Larry Hryb. I found audio podcasts a great distraction from the long trip and loved listening to all the latest news, interviews and discussions. The one issue I had was that they very rarely mentioned or discussed issues concerning Australia.
As such I started researching Podcasting and Web development for about a year and came up with several concepts that sounded interesting to me and more importantly would be something that I was passionate about. I then discovered other members in the community that also had a passion for Xbox and together launched OzBoxLive Radio a podcast dedicated to all the latest News, Reviews, Interviews, Updates and Discussions concerning the Xbox brand in Australia.
For the first few years I was actively involved in interviewing community members over the Xbox Live service and asking them what they liked, disliked and would improve. We were active in official Xbox Community PlayDates and in fact were one of the first in Australia to be involved with these game nights. I have also spent time writing for the Official Australian Xbox Magazine with my own monthly feature called The Land of Oz which focused on Community specifically. Finally I launched the XperienceXpo Charity Event to demonstrate and showcase the latest and best games available. This was achieved by having a dedicated afternoon/evening at the State Library of Victoria with Xbox consoles all over the place. There would be a HALO room, Kids Corner, Racing Zone and Fighting Tournaments. Each game seen was donated by publishers and was also included in a giant raffle where all the proceeds would go to The Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital.
I'm not sure why I specifically started all of this. I guess I felt that if I didn't do something then no one else would. Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend several midnight launches and talk with the dedicated fans in the community, have invites to game previews, events, tournaments etc. and finally present to students in the hundreds to hopefully inspire them to start something involving the Video Games community.
At the end of the day I would have to say that it is because I am a very passionate individual and strongly believe that the Xbox brand, games and features can actually bring people together and do some good in this world.
B) Tell me a little about your professional work.
I currently work at The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) in Melbourne as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. AIE is a non for profit tertiary institution that specialises in Game Art, Game Programming and Visual Effects for Screen & Media. My role is to welcome students of all ages, attend schools and education expos, organise visits and other events and encourage them to sign up for one of our courses on offer.
Being an Xbox MVP I always bring an Xbox 360 with me to all the expos I attend and display the latest and most interactive games. I enjoy showing off KINECT games such as Fruit Ninja, Dance Central or Kinect Sports to the students, parents and teachers as they are always amazed at the technology and unique gameplay. Every now and then during lunch breaks I will demonstrate the latest Xbox Live Arcade or Xbox 360 game demo in our cinema to the students.
Recently I helped organise a Guinness World Record attempt called COSGAME 2012 for "Largest gathering of people dressed as video game characters" at Federation Square. The previous record was 425 participants and we smashed that with a final count of 470.
C) Has being an MVP changed the way you work in community?
Being an MVP has really changed the way I work in the community as my fellow Xbox MVPs and others are doing so many creative and amazing things all the time. They constantly motivate and inspire me to push myself and try and do bigger a better things. From initially interviewing members of the Australian Xbox Community over Xbox Live for the podcast to organising Community Playdates, writing for the Official Australian Xbox Magazine and even the questions that I would ask at the MVP Summit, E3, PAX and other gaming expos. I feel that it is my responsibility to try and find the answers and ask the questions that my community is counting on.
D) What are you working on in the community right now?
Now that the Xbox One has officially been announced I am working on the next XperienceXpo Charity Event for late 2013. My goal for this will be to have an entire day and night dedicated to all things Xbox. Having the original Xbox on display with the first Halo, Forza, Call of Duty etc in one room for people to experience the past. Then another room dedicated to the Xbox 360 with the best games available today such as Halo 4, Forza Horizon, Batman: Arkham Origins and more. Finally I would like to feature several Xbox One consoles with a range of the launch titles and demonstrate the new KINECT and online capabilities.
There will be Fighting, Racing and Shooting Tournaments and Halo: Forward Unto Dawn as the feature Movie playing in the cinema multiple times throughout the day. Entry will be FREE as always and will feature a massive raffle where guests will win bundles worth hundreds of dollars of games and prizes. All the money raised would go directly to the Royal Children's Hospital once again.
E) Do you have a favourite MVP moment?
I would have to say that one of my most favourite moments as an Xbox MVP was when I visited the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital to actually donate an Xbox 360 Console with Kinect camera and over 30 new games. I had organised and ran this XperienceXpo event every year since 2009 and simply donated the money from the raffle to the hospital each year. So last year I asked the staff at the hospital if it would be okay to visit and set the Xbox up to play a few games with the children for a few hours. This not only was one of the best moments as an MVP but one of the most memorable in my life. In reality all I really did was play some Xbox games with these children. But you have to remember that a lot of them have never played or even seen an Xbox before. And watching them interact with the Xbox 360 controller and Kinect for the first time was not only a memorable experience for them but also for myself. I remember the best thing that one of the children asked me was if I would be back the next day. One was even finally going home the next morning and did not want to go now that there was an Xbox there.
There are so many favourite moments that I have had throughout my time over the years. It really has changed my life and I am so grateful to be part of the program and represent my country and do what I can in the world of Xbox. At the end of the day I believe that a strong and passionate community is by far the most important aspect of any product, brand or company. I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP and am continually inspired and motivated by my fellow MVPs not only in the Xbox category but every other one as well.