It’s time once again, to bring you your slice of introspective community news to brighten your weekend. I’ll be chatting to Mark Farley
and taking a peek into the life beyond his Xbox.
____________________________________DavieMarshall: Hi Mark, thanks for the PM and for completing this community interview with me. I like the Gamertag style. Simple and to the point!
M: I was new to the Xbox and online gaming so when it asked for a GamerTag I presumed it meant my name. I have had many laughs at this but I don't mind, everybody looks for a unique Tag and ironically mine is probably the most unique in the 360 community. Very noobish of me but I don't want to spend 800 points to change it!D: At the risk of sounding like a game show host, how old are you, and where do you come from?
M: I'm 26 and live in Bolton, UK. I'm originally from Manchester so always been a Northern Lad but it's important to know my original birthplace when it comes to the football later.D: And you told me you have a girlfriend of seven years, is she sympathetic to your gaming hobby?
M: No she hates it but understands it's one of my hobbies, especially when soaps are on TV! She's nicknamed it the Devil Machine which I find quite funny as it's also my nickname for her... Only joking! She used to like co-op games in the past, SSX
on the PS2, Worms
and Sonic Adventure
on XBLA but nothing more.D: You gave me an interesting list of other hobbies in your PM, care to quickly list them again for us here?
M: Sure, I love football and running alongside many other sports. I play for a local football team and two 5 a side teams as well partaking in 10K runs annually. I'm a sporty guy but like to relax with films and gaming.D: That’s a fairly active list! It’s a wonder you can sit still at the Xbox for long enough to earn 90+k Gamerscore. Would you class yourself as being what may be known as a ‘fitness freak’, or is this list of active hobbies simply what you enjoy doing.
M: I do enjoy keeping fit but hate the gym. It has to be outside (I can withstand indoor football). I like to live by the quote "a healthy body is a healthy mind" to keep myself sane.D: Let’s start by talking about the study of sport at University. What did that entail exactly and how long did you study for?
M: It was my University course and lasted 3 years. It involved the ins and outs of sport which included physiology, the science, psychology, coaching and developing. It was an interesting course and many of the skills learnt have helped me perceive sport, especially the coaching, in a whole different light.D: And in retrospect do you feel your time on the course was well spent?
M: It's a hard one really, especially when I've had minimal paid work from it. Damn recession happended as I finished but I would recommend Univeristy to everyone for life skills alone.D: And those 10k runs you under take, how often do you manage to run?
M: I run a couple of times week outside my regular football but take part in organised 10K runs a few times year for competition.D: Do you constantly strive to beat your personal best time, or do you not push too hard because of the long list of other sports you take part in?
M:My next run is the Great Manchester Run
in May, 10K again. I am very competitve and persistent at anything I do. I don't like to lose to at Tiddly Winks! I'm aiming for 32-33 minutes in Manchester which is a few minutes under current best. D: And the football side of things, is it every Saturday you guys play?
M: I play 5 a side two nights a week and then play 11 a side every Saturday afternoon (as well training each Wednesday evening), this is for my local side in Bolton. It can be tiring but I was probably doing double this whilst I was at University so it's quite relaxing at the moment.D: And in your role as football coach, what kind of environment does that take place in?
M: I coach the team I play for on a Saturday which is obviously adults and they are 10 times worse than kids! I enjoy it though as it's good banter and preparation for Saturday. I also coach kids at a local Youth Club and often get asked to do the Youth Teams for my local side. It's hard to fit a lot in really so usually just stick to my own team.D: What would your proudest moment as football coach be?
M: Maybe not my proudest moment but I have coached in the States, this involved travelling state to State including Missouri, Ohio and Minnesota coaching 3-18 year olds the beautiful game of "soccer". I can honestly say I transformed some kids from not even being able to understand the game on the Monday to world beaters on the Friday. Americans have a lot a patience compared to us Brits and can listen all day long... Well the ones I met did anyway!D: How about one of your most difficult moments? Has there ever been a time where the referee has had to show you a yellow card for example!
M:I have only ever been booked (a yellow card) twice in my whole life. One was a very dangerous tackle on the keeper and should have been a straight red and the other was the complete opposite as the opposing player dived. I'm a hard tackler but very fair, it's a physical game so I often get knocks and bruises to show for it!D: Inevitably then, I must ask which football team you support! Let’s potentially divide the community in their responses with this question!
M: This brings me back to the start of the interview. There is only one team in Manchester and they are United. There's rumours of a team called Manchester City but we disregard them ha ha. I'm a very football minded person though I always try and watch games from a neutral point of view and criticise tactics etc. My brother is a City fan so that was enjoyable growing up and still is to this day.
Hopefully nobody has forgot Rooney's overhead kick from the other week, if you havn't seen it then YouTube it!D: I stopped following club football when the sums of money involved went from being silly to plain absurd. The weekly wage bills of top flight clubs are incredible and clearly fanciful even to the clubs as many announce millions worth of debt. Do you feel there’s too much money involved in football, or is it ‘just the way it is’?
M: Football is business and always has been. It's only the last 20 years or so that players have started to pocket millions. the Premiership started in the early 90's and has obviously generated a lot of money plus it's the most popular sport in the world and screened everywhere. Compared to other sports it can still rank quite low though with Schumacher (F1) who used to get £20 million a year and American Footballers and Baseball players getting £200,000 + a week.Other sports like tennis and golf can double that of a footballer if the particular sportsmen are good at it, ie Federer and Woods.
We could always go into Communism though? Ha ha.D: Segueing from being paid vast sums of money to the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s talk about voluntary work. You described it to me as being a ‘passion’ of yours. What is it that drives you?
M: I enjoy helping others especially with options that I never managed to receive. I grew up with minimal chances to get into sport clubs so I like to give back to my community so the kids that chance.D: And what kinds of voluntary work do you or have you undertook?
M: I do lots of coaching as I said before but also do some youth club work. Gets kids off the streets and together with their friends. Young people get a lot of flak off the government but it's always been the minority that spoil for the rest.D: What would be the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your voluntary role?
M: I was asked to coach a football team for the Greater Manchester Street Games which involves every sport, in every deprived town in Manchester to compete against each other. I coached the Bolton side (11-15 year olds) and we ended up in the final at Manchester City's ground and winning it. D: David Cameron (Prime Minister of the UK for international clarification) is pushing his Big Society concept at the minute. Basically a vision of his in which people of the community put in more than they are currently for the greater good and to improve the strength of local communities and reduce friction amongst groups where possible. Do you feel that, on the whole, we could and should be doing more for each other?
M: The UK has huge divides when it comes to class, race and ethnicity. They are obviously trying but it's hard to change the mindset of a particular society when every generation has passed down their thoughts and ideas. David Cameron's party controlled the country in the 80's and got it in this current state, then Tony Blair and Labour continued the style so it's only right that they try and rectify it, 25 years is a lot to work on though!D: In a list of questions as long as my arm, not once yet have we really talked about our console of choice, the Xbox 360! When you said you were active outside of gaming, you weren’t kidding!
M: Ha ha, an Xbox 360 question on a gaming site? That's crazy!D: So, the first question I’d like to ask regarding gaming is, how much time do you manage to bag in front of the Xbox in an average week?
M: Usually every late evening, like 11PM onwards for a couple of hours. so I reckon about 14-18 hours.D: And what will most of that time usually be spent on? Are you a FPS kind of guy, a FIFA fanatic?
M: I love FPS but didn't buy Call of Duty: Black Ops
. That series is well past it's due by date. Who thought Saw VII was good? Nobody, this works across all entertainment areas.I own Fifa but I'm still waiting for PES to pick up it's game, I love to hate EA but I always go back to their games because they are very well made.D: Can we see a snap of your set up?
M: Sure, temporary at the moment until my gaming room is finished, still waiting on Surround Sound too!D: And when it comes to getting your game on, do you stick on the music and relax, or is it a case of, on with the game face, crank up in the game volume and bust those achievements?
M: I listen to music every now and again, enjoy my rock and indie style music, ie Oasis and My Chemical Romance. Usually put something on my Laptop though like Smallville or Dexter if i'm playing a relaxing game.D: The Gamerscore of over 90k, (as I briefly mentioned earlier). How long has it taken you to get this far?
M: I've been a 360 owner since about a month after it's release. It was only after about 2008 that I started to understand achievements though and properly take notice.D: And how long do you think it will be until the milestone of 100k falls victim to you?
M: I'm trying to complete my games where I have only 1-5 achievements left so it may be a while but I have a pile of about 10 games to start so easily by summer time.D: You have over sixty completed games on your TA profile. You described yourself in your PM as a gamer who likes to complete games, but one who isn’t obsessive about it. More committed and persistent. Which game took the most commitment and persistence to get the full amount of Gamerscore available?
M: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
took me forever but I enjoyed every minute of it. I have a few silly games like Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal
that had an online achievement to get a 9 hit combo, this took me forever. I even stick to complete the bad games, Cabela's Alaskan Adventures
was another 1000G I'm pretty shamed have having because that game should never have even entered my house let alone my 360!D: And as a gamer not fixated with completion, how would you view a 1000G retail, out of a possible 1750G after DLC such as Borderlands. Is it complete at 1k off the shelf in your mind?
M: This gets mentioned in many forums. I have few games, Skate 2
, Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! (EU)
, Small Arms
etc where I have full score on the original retail. I know I have 100%, I bought the game with a possible 100% (1000G) not knowing DLC will be released. Anything more should be judged higher, ie Halo 3
should 175%. This would be hard to put across on the console and games list but maybe put little coloured stars/dots next to the game titles you have DLC in. Halo 3
would have 3 stars if you had all DLC but only 2 would be highlighted if had yet to complete one and then 3 will be highlighted once its finally done. Maybe just get rid of the percentage thing altogether! Theres limitless options!D: I like the sound of the star system. Be interesting to get some community views on this. Of the many titles you’ve played to date, which one or ones stand out above all others for you? This is the part where 90% of all past interviewees have answered The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a game which I just never got into...
M:I've never really been into Elder Scrolls
. The best games, in my opinion are Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
, Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
and Battlefield: Bad Company 2
.D: When it comes to getting hold of the games, do you rent or buy?
M: I own over 90 games but also have a LoveFilm account but mainly use this Blu-Rays, Just sneak the odd easy 1000G on every now and again.D: Reading through your profile I see you have a Windows Phone 7 powered mobile. Which phone is it and how much Gamerscore has it helped contribute to your ever increasing total?
M: I have the HTC Mozart. Brilliant phone but will be ancient looking in 12 months no doubt. I own 3 games but plan to get more at the weekend. I own Flowerz (WP)
(200g), Parachute Panic (WP)
(155G) and Fruit Ninja (WP)
I have tried a few games like NFS and the graphics are unreal for a phone game.D: And as a very active person, what is your take on Kinect? Too much extra curricular effort at the end of a long hard day, or a device which appeals to your active nature?
M: I will only ever consider Kinect if the bring out a controller type thing for it. Playstation Move should combine with Kinect then I would definetley buy it, Kinects sensor and MOVE's controller would be the perfect match. I have mental scars from You're in the Movies
.D: Microsoft have said 2011 will be the ‘year of Kinect’ (though it’s a slow year thus far by that statement in my opinion). What are you most looking forward to in gaming from the year ahead?
M: Batman: Arkham City
, I Am Alive
, LA Noire
, Future Soldier
. All of which have one thing in common, no Kinect!D: And coming away from gaming but still looking forwards, you’re off to Amsterdam tomorrow I believe!
M: Yea, can't wait for the break though I miss out on the Ajax game on Sunday but it should be an enjoyable experience!D: The mobile gaming will get a bit of use on the trip there and back I should imagine! A couple of easy completions to boost the score?
M:Yea Frogger (WP)
is on a deal so I'll get that and maybe another puzzle game whilst I wait for other half getting ready etc.D: And all too soon we’re almost out of time! If we’ve learned nothing else it’s that you’re quite possibly the most active person on TA with the best time management skills of us all!
M: Thanks! I like to think I'm well organised but I'm getting older but I just replace the playing football with a United season ticket.D: Is there anything that you’d like to say for all to see before you jet off for a ‘shmoke and a pancake?’
M: I'd like to thank everybody that has ever helped me with sessions and look forward to working with more. If anybody wants to help me with the Gold Trophy
achievement on Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
I'd be more than happy too!!
As Mark jets off to Amsterdam (am I the only one surprised he's not decided to run there and back?) the comments are once again open in response to this weeks interview.
Let the Manchester United vs. Manchester City debate rage! (But let's not get too heated, eh!)
If you’d like to be featured in a future Community Interview, or would like to nominate a gamer on this site to be featured themselves, please send a PM to DavieMarshall