This month we get to learn more about Ben, the player behind Lieutenant Commander Cristina Fiore, Strategic Operations Officer aboard the USS Ticonderoga, CA-1471.
Age, Sex, Location?
26 / M / Northamptonshire, UK. Note the ‘M’ bit – it gets really embarrassing for all concerned when they overlook the fact that I’m a guy playing a female character! I had one guy once who absolutely wouldn’t take no for an answer – in the end I had to get a sworn statement from my girlfriend at the time before he finally believed me and fled the site in horror…
When did you first join FedSpace?
My first character, 2Lt Haren Mormel, graduated the Academy in June 2002. I switched to Alanna Treborn (who later became RAdm Treborn) in around 2004 until I had to step away at the start of 2010, and Crissy Fiore was born when I came back in November 2010.
What brought you to FedSpace?
I was chatting to someone about wargaming when they asked if I liked Star Trek and fancied doing some writing. They were after the recruitment points and actually said how long I needed to stick around for them to qualify. I think nearly 9 years is a little longer than either of us had in mind though!
Tell me a little about the process of developing your character.
Personally I tend to let my characters evolve ‘organically’, if that’s the right word. I’ll have a direction I want them to go in, but other than that I try to get under their skin and react to situations as they would. For example with Treborn I wanted a really headstrong, heart-on-her-sleeve battler, whilst Fiore takes a much more measured approach and is a more vulnerable (and, I’ve been told repeatedly, more realistic!) character. The finer details of how they react to situations, and where those reactions take the character, are pretty much made up on the spot. I prefer it that way and as a result I like to think I end up with deeper characters that are better to play alongside.
Do you think it is easier or more difficult to play someone based on yourself?
I’d probably say it’s harder. I find it easier to think how a character would respond to a given situation, because they’ll have been brought up in that environment and used to it, and you don’t have to overcome the fact that it would pretty much all be new to me. The honest answer to ‘how would I react to a phaser’ is ‘ooh, shiny!’ which is no help to anyone!
So far, what is your favourite part about being a member of FedSpace?
Definitely the community spirit. This is one of those places where you get out what you put in – I’ve put in an awful lot over the years but in return I’ve made some lifelong friends, and met some truly amazing people that I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. They’ve been there for me when I’ve needed someone, and I’ve been able to help and support others as well. Where else do you find that kind of spirit?
If you were president for a day, what would you change?
Not so sure this is a change, but I’d want to make sure all the players appreciate just how much ‘backroom’ work goes in behind the scenes to make FedSpace what it is. From your good selves on the FNN, to the Wiki team, to RAdm Grayson and the decision makers, right down to all the extra effort the COs have to put in to make the individual missions a success. The actual posting side of things is, for COs and above, very much the tip of the iceberg!
What makes a good Ship/Station?
A good crew with players that are willing to use their initiative. Sometimes as a player you have to step up and make things happen, and when you have a number of people willing to do that, it tends to result in something very special.
What do you spend your time outside of FedSpace doing?
Professionally, I’m a trained lawyer working in high-level debt recovery. I don’t actually chase people for money myself any more but I do advise on strategy, and am more involved with preventing debts from happening such as when a company collapses.
Outside of work I’m a competitive Warhammer player, one of the few hobbies that’s apparently even geekier than being a Trekkie! I attend tournaments up and down the country and have amassed a lot of trophies and titles along the way.
What is your favourite Star Trek series?
DS9, no question. I like my sci-fi gritty and dark (if you’ve read my posts you’ll probably have figured that out!), and DS9 was the only series in my view which even attempted to go in that direction. The others were a bit too clean for my tastes.
Do you have a favourite line or phrase from either a show or movie?
Less of a phrase, but I did smile when Sisko left his baseball on his desk when having to leave DS9 to the Dominion / Cardassian alliance, just to show that he’d be back for it later.
Do you have a favourite character from the shows and why?
I’d say Garak from DS9. There was so much going on behind the scenes with him, and ‘hidden depths’ that were never fully explored.
What piece of Star Trek Technology would you most like to see today?
Anti-grav vehicles. I hate planes (I once ripped the armrest off a seat by gripping it too tightly in the middle of some turbulence) but I wouldn’t trust your average bus driver with a transporter, so I’ll settle for the one in the middle that would let me get places faster!
What FedSpace player would you most like to meet in real life?
That’s a tricky one, to be honest! I’ve met a lot of people from FedSpace including just about all of my best friends. There is one person who I won’t name, but we were really close for a lot of years and I’d really like to tell her in person how grateful I am for that and all the help she gave me when I really needed it.
What FedSpace character would you most like to meet in real life?
Alanna Treborn or Crissy Fiore, just to see how far they’ve come from my original thoughts. I did actually start a story a while ago with one of these patented Star Trek ‘dimension jump / timewarp’ plot devices dumping Treborn into my world, but I stopped after realising she’d probably be more than a little disappointed!
If you could list one pet-peeve about your fellow players, what would it be?
There are players out there who insist on using their in-game ranks and being called ‘sir’ on MSN and the like, and those people drive me nuts! It’s a game, and you’re being massively disrespectful to the people out there risking their lives in our armed forces to earn those ranks by insisting people call you Commander. Grow up!
Do you feel there is any disconnect between you and other players based on geographical location?
No, not at all. It’s a tribute to how well FedSpace works that the vast distances involved and the time differences aren’t a problem at all. When I was a CO, I had an American FO and two Australian DHs and it worked seamlessly. It really doesn’t seem to be a problem which is an amazing achievement.
What is in your FedSpace future, for yourself and for your character?
I’m hoping to climb the Command ladder again. I’ve served as a Fleet Commander and really enjoyed it, and I hope that those on the ships I worked with got a lot out of it as well. I loved every second of being a CO too, and it was mostly the sense of accomplishment out of mentoring players and seeing them work their way up the ladder to becoming DHs, FOs and COs in their own right. Real life forced me to take a step back but I hope I’m showing all concerned that I’m back and ready to give my all again.
If you could name your own ship, what would you name it and why?
I’ve always dreamed of having my own frigate called the USS Liverpool. Liverpool’s a city in north-west England that I have a lot of ties to. My Dad, who’s my best friend in life and the person I most look up to, is a Scouser (translation – person from Liverpool!) born and bred and his family have been there for generations. I was born there as well and we moved away fairly shortly afterwards but I still feel an affinity to the place. I’m also a fanatical supporter of Liverpool Football Club, so there’s every chance the ship’s motto would be ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and among the shuttle names would be Shankly, Carragher and Dalglish!
If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about you, what would that be?
See question 1! But other than that, I just have to be up-front and say that I’m not that big a Star Trek fan. It’s been nearly a year since I sat and watched an episode and most of my inspiration comes from the books and FedSpace itself. I’m much more strongly influenced by Babylon 5 and the new Battlestar Galactica, heresy though that may seem to some!
Thank you to Ben for answering my questions! Would you like to be featured in 20 Questions? Please email our editor-in-chief!