Interview with Joshua van den Ham

Well my name is Joshua van den Ham, I live in the Netherlands. Born in 1988 and i studied microbiology, ended up as a gardener and I am now busy as a community manager for Warnation and I am also one of the Co-Founders of it. I have led in GW2 the Desolation community for a while and we got to be number 1! For that time, and we were also so organized back then, that if needed, to stop a flood of band-wagoners from coming in by tanking, I even created a small system back then with multiple servers, to balance the bandwagon flood, so that they get thinned out so much that they would not make a majority anymore back then. 

So yeah I kind of have a movable life, but it’s also one that lets me keep on learning and developing. My biggest dream eventually is that i get so far myself, that I can give other people jobs, so that less people have to worry about their income and have a good time living on this planet, while taking care of their families. I have known poverty myself and also how it is if you need to take care a lot of your family as the only man in the house and i am proud to see how my little brothers and sister are growing up! Specially when my dad left, I needed to do a lot more to at least try to fill that role a bit for them.

1. So tell me a little about where you grew up and what it was like. You’re from Holland, was there a large gaming scene there when you were growing up?

Actually not at all, well as far as i believed back then, I could only start using the internet at home for gaming since that I was around 17 to 18 years old.

2. Were you always interested in gaming? You said you were born in the late 80s, what was your first console and what are some of your first memories gaming?

Yup, my first thing that I played on was a Commodore and it was the very very old version of Gauntlet, the joke though is that i was very very young when iI played it, I thought just before I was 4 years old. So yeah that was a very very long time ago.

3. When you helped found Warnation what was happening at the time that led you to it? I know you said you are a microbiologist by training, what led you away from the sciences and into running a gaming collective? 

After I was done with school and things in my life went downhill, I want to keep a part for myself, but let’s say I have been at the bottom of it all. Classic story isn’t it, guy being at the bottom and want to rise like a phoenix and being busy with it, only in this story he drags others to rise with him. For me though, the way to do it was by gaming and giving people that extra that they need, to get to that point in their own way. In the meantime, I did some carpentering work for a while, till I found out about that there were some things not right where I worked, so i quit it.

After it i ended up as a gardener for Rob Maingay, but he passed away 2 months ago, he was a great man and an example to many, an sculptor till the end. Let’s say normally i don’t do well with somebody as my boss, but he was the only one that i had never mind that he was. So at the moment i am full time active trying to build Warnation through things like Gab, Youtube and Twitch and also by talking with the members, because they are also important. But Warnation started slowly when we started it, it took quite a while before we had some basis to truly start and that also was busy at the moment and thank God i am not alone in this, this week somebody offered to build our website on a professional level, which was something very big for us. Kazu, did our technical stuff, I was more the laughing with everybody guy, Zona rebuilded a guild that was dead/dying, Smokey, will do in our future our offline big parties!, Sharx does a part of our news/bloggy thing together with me, our secret super investor in terms of money does not want to be known, but lets say he knows who i am talking about and without him, to start out would almost be impossible, Spanksalot is our WoW guild leader and building up the guild of what it is now, together with his members and his council, they should be proud as hell XD!!! A lot of hours are already put in it and we are proud to do it. Ofc with also my past experience on Desolation with Kazu and our super investor, we already have some experience in it!

4. Do you believe everyone can game? Or are there some people who probably shouldn’t be allowed to touch a keyboard/controller ever for whatever reason. 

Gaming is more than just pressing buttons all day, you have so many genres that there is a way for everyone to enjoy themselves, we are technically eventually going to the level that people only using their heads is already enough to be able to game. So even if not everyone, cause of a handicap can game, they will be able to in the future! But like with everything, stay in the grey area of decency, do not go too far, unless you want to be a professional player. Just enjoy gaming.

5. What do you make of the (somewhat say maybe 10 to 12 years ago) recent phenomenon of women becoming interested in games? And do you have a lot of women on Warnation?

Well i see it as a positive grow, because gaming is for everyone! And we do not have a lot of ladies (we do have some though and god they are good, never PvP them, they will wreck most guys), but they are more than welcome to join in!

6. What do you make of #GamerGate? We’re you on the side of the average gamer or were you with the big companies and games journalism? To you what was the major issue in #GamerGate?

I may back then have been big, for me it is the first time i heard of it and i am already like, to bad the trolls are ruining it for everyone again, but the point itself stands correct indeed. I do not like political correctness, i do like decency, and that decency means welcome to the club you are a normal member, like everyone else. Not that people should be treated differently, because of their gender or what so ever. Corrupted journalism in games, is something though that has been going on for quite a while, i have heard enough stories from people i knew in the past how this worked and how stupid it was.

My side is more like, it’s ok to have women being active in the gaming world and even presenting stuff or make games, i mean why not? But the companies (NONE of them) should be getting corruptive and try to bribe critics to give a good review, they just need to make a good game. Because of that situation the quality of games nowadays seems to ‘stagnate’ a lot. And that is something that needs to change!
I have seen Snes games with better graphics, better music and better story, then some new pc games nowadays and no i am not talking about indie games.

7. What do you think of these recent pushes to get more women into positions of influence and power in the gaming industry? Is this just a phase or will it go away when Anita and Brianna get sick of harping on games?

Yeah this is the kind of thing, that I am like why pushing? Let me say it like this, if somebody is good at making games hire him or HER. Who wants to push somebody that is bad in making games, should be fired and help building that wall for Mexico, to be any bit of useful for society. When political correctness itself will be down a lot of these things should not happen anymore.

The thing is there is also a social science behind this, currently companies just see what is in and what is not, because they want a couple of things, cash, influence and power. Is that a bad thing in itself nope, because it’s human nature, they just follow the route where they can get most of those 3 and that is that route unless somebody is able to change that route, which is what we are currently seeing around the world. By being able to influence it, is also to tackle one of those 3 things, stop their money, they lose influence and after that power, stop their influence, they make no money and they lose power, let them lose power, they lack influence and they make no more profits. This is at the same time why things like this are something very interesting for me to learn about.

8. To you what is the difference between a hardcore gamer and a casual? Is there any middle ground?

Wow this is a good question I need to say! Well to start off there are big differences, a hardcore gamer in general puts tons of time into a game and also has very very high goals to achieve, there are some fables though about hardcore gamers, like that they have no social life and that they do not work. That is not true, I know a very big amount of hardcore players with good social lives even kids and a job. They just know how to push very hard and have a strong goal in mind to work forward too, they get their fun out of that and it is their good right.

The casual gamer most of the time does not put that much time into and is more busy with just doing things like dailies, having fun chatting with some guildies in between (hardcore people are doing way more active stuff with their guildies) and helping out friends in game and after doing that they are ok and they call it a day.
The middle ground?

Well it is achievable, but it is very very hard to accomplish, especially because that there are always issues between the hardcore core people and the casual groups around it, they way to go around this though falls mostly on the guild leaders and officers back. At the end of the day through managing and planning activities with everyone and only the core group (for more hardcore content) and being open for each other is the way to go. And yes again the lines of decency falls in place here, respecting people no matter where they come from or who/what they are, if they just want to game let them game. Same goes the other way, nobody is special(so no victim cards are accepted here as currency) and at the same time everyone is important, because you build a community together, but you do have leadership that you have to listen to.

9. My mother runs a gaming shop with my dad. They’ve both been gaming since they were teenagers and Atari was a thing. Do you see gaming as a lifelong hobby people can engage in? Or is it mostly a phase you grow out of? Maybe a little of both?

Dude first of all, YOU ARE BLESSED XD! Ok now for the official part, gaming can be both. Life is unpredictable unless you know off timelines in detail (I hope you do not, or else I am in trouble probably). Sometimes life takes you outside gaming and sometimes you are playing it till your death, my boss in his own way also gamed till he passed away, so it is possible. The thing is with a lot of humans (going a bit philosophical here) we are also trying to fill in a gap most of the times in our lives and everyone does it differently, let’s say gaming can let you become a Buddha if you do it right, at the same time being a Buddhist also can make you a Buddha, even being a cop can become a Buddha or just a farmer that has never even heard of gaming. It all depends on the routes of life that we are following that we are filling in that gap. And once we filled it, we have found our home.

10. What was your purpose in starting Warnation? Did it fill a needed void in the online gaming community?

When Kazu, me and our secret investor started it, we had the idea that we wanted to make a gaming hub where everyone just feels welcome and at home, while simply playing games with each other and having fun (all the other experiences that at least I hope that people achieve is through the gaming and having fun in itself). The void in the online gaming world, yeah for me it fills a void, there nowadays are mostly 2 types of communities small closed and big rich and open and filled to the brink with pro players, it seems that there is no room for other people anymore into that scene. Our goal is way different from that and that is that we also want to help the starting guys (we are not big ourselves right now though and there is still a lot we need to learn) to help boost them up, give them guidance if they want to be a guild leader. Help others achieving that top that they deserve as gamers, while also that they do not feel any pressure, no another point is that we want them to enjoy that ride. They still need to work hard, but
at least we can help out a bit with this.

11. What do you have planned for Warnation in the future? I know you mentioned something about Twitch streamers helping each other. How do you plan to go about doing this?

Well in my last answer I said a lot about it, so maybe in this one I can continue in a more specific way about it. To start off, in Warnation we have a auto host twitch group to start off with, later on when we are able too, we can make an official twitch team! Everyone is invited, because one of the thing is, if many people are hosting you, specially channels with higher amounts of followers. If your content is good, they will also walk over to you, which also creates a positive rise to your stream. This way, you are not only a success for yourself, but also for others and you share it with each other. At the same time there is still a healthy form of competition to improve the quality of your content that you are giving, this is one of the other things we can also do and that is giving each other feedback from our streams to help each other out.

So Chivalry (aka the gentlemen code a very positive form of rivalry, the route that you are also open to make your opponent stronger, to force yourself to also become stronger again etc etc) and Decency (once again) is in order, respect, but also an higher form of equalness (in the idea of, well that guy/girl got that far, cause he/she is good end of story and now it is my turn to improve myself on it), nobody is better than the other, only through hard work things can be achieved even with each other.

I know it sounds like a utopia for streamers, especially beginning ones, but I know in reality that it is way harder to achieve it then many may think or believe from this. Same goes for youtubers, we are still very small there, but having enough channels and managers helping each other out, putting content on the main Warnation youtube page (like groups like yogscast are doing), while also having your own channels to build up. All to just help each other out! A lot is based on talking and communicating with each other, being open and willing to work hard for yourself and also being free in it. In the far future, we want to keep people that freedom and for our possible pro players by then, this also counts for them! Gaming in our eyes this way should be about the fun part of it and the good things that it can give!

12. Why do you play games today? Hobby, relaxation, professionalism? And if you have a wife and some kids do you plan to get the whole family in on gaming?

Today I play them for the pure enjoyment of it and also a part of relaxation. I have had a past in hardcore gaming and maybe that will happen again once Camelot Unchained will come out and/or Crowfall. And this is what I also try to share in my streams, my enthusiasm and me hoping people would also become enthusiastic about it, after like 4 to 5 hours though, I kinda get a dip in the streaming and I get tired. I love the games that I play and I kinda also want to get people to the gaming itself and if they even like to game with us! And if they just like it they can chill out with me on the stream.

13. Do you think older gamers are sometimes put off by the new technology or perhaps they feel like they shouldn’t be doing what their grandchildren are doing. What is the age range of Warnation and who is your primary audience?

I can understand why they are put off sometimes, but like I said before. If your life is like that you should not game in the end, then simply don’t. It sounds really direct, but I don’t know any other words how to describe it then only this way. Our standard age range is 18+ for our guilds, but if there are families that want their own channels with children, they are all more then welcome to join in and have a good time playing games. I mean its is less heavy than Skype and when you play Minecraft you see each other in a way in game. I mean i have played Minecraft here with some of my friends and my little brother and sister and they got welcomed by the community like any other member. I will remember the day when they said
(because of my bad puns), OH NOES A SECOND POPPY HAS JOINED THE COMMUNITY! Yeah my little brothers and sister are good in the bad puns and bad jokes, but not only that they are even happy they also joined in for playing Minecraft, my little sister also said a couple of months ago, my grades in English went way up, because I joined in! For me that was something very happy to hear, that gaming with other people, learning how to speak English properly (what I also sometimes lack) is one of the good things.

14. What do you love about gamers and the gaming community?

The being open for each other, the daily talks and the willing to help each other out, the horrible sense of humor and no judgment after a tough discussion at times. Everyone is different though, but it does not matter to us, as long as you keep yourself decent as a member and don’t go overboard.

15. What advice do you have to some young guys out there trying to get a gaming project going? Or maybe they want to work in industry, how do you think they should go about doing it?

Keep evolving yourself, keep asking questions, show compassion and honesty and become the best you can be! And best of all, even if the whole world is against you or does not believe in you FUCK THEM you are the one making things true and doing the impossible.

16. What inspires you?

This will come actually perfectly in time and iI also may get a lot of haters for it, but it is actually Trump, together with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Boku No Hero Academia, also Undertale the pacifist ending, it shows an option that most of us always miss, but it exists! Even if most of this is fiction, they do inspire me (its about the idea behind it, that can inspire people)!

And why Trump?

He wanted to become president, he had the whole world against him at the start and he never gave up, no his fire even became stronger! It also helped me wake up to the fact that certain things even in this day and age are still possible and that also woke up a fire inside me.