The N+ Founders
By Espen André ØverdahlEspenAO. Friday, March 16, 2007 4:52:10 PM
We give it to you real good this time! We have three interviews (at once!) when we had a chat with the Nplus founders. It doesn't get better than that!
Hi everyone, and welcome to the huge Nplus interview. We start off by having each member introduce themselves to the community.
Could you tell us a bit more about youself?
My name is Chris Thornton (seaempty), and I come from Southampton in the UK. I'm 27 years old, and I'm currently a Legal Assistant. As you may have guessed one of my main interests is video gaming, and Nintendo in particular. It's not my only interest, as I'm an avid cinema goer, and enjoy watching films. I like reading books, and attempting to write them.
Hi, I'm Anton Espinoza (CaptainSeagull), I will be 21 here on the 20th, and a few of my major interests include Nintendo, travel, and art.
I’m Ed Palumbo (DotEd) and I’m 26 years old. Online most people know me as .ed, or DotEd if the website didn't’t allow me to use a “.” in my username, not so much to hide my identity, but rather to establish a more unique or memorable name from site to site. I’m from Yardley, Pennsylvania (US), a suburb of Philadelphia. I work in Philadelphia as the IT Coordinator for a law firm (Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP, longest name evaaaar!). I went to school for Business Management, Organizational Behavior and Leadership with focuses in Marketing and Philosophy, all of which interest me greatly. However, I would one day like to apply those interests to my bread and butter, the video game industry. I’ve spent my whole life studying every aspect of the industry to prepare myself since my parents surprised me and my sister with a computer and NES as children. Little did they know the effect it would have…
The rest of the interview will be divided into several questions, answered by each member.
Were any of you part of any other social networking groups prior to starting the N+ group?
Seaempty: The N+ group is the first real online community that I've been a part of. I've been a member of other forums, but I've never been as involved in any of them, as I am in N+.
CaptainSeagull: Only on MySpace. There was one Nintendo themed group called "Join the Revolution" that .ed had started. To tell the truth being involved in that group was 90% of the reason I was on Myspace. Now, that group is called N+ and as we all know is located in Opera country.
DotEd: Before N+? *thinking* … *checks MyOpera page* Oh! I had been invited to the MyOpera Street-team group soon after joining MyOpera by former Community Manager Brian Johnson, he liked what I had to say about why I joined MyOpera in my About page. Besides that, I think after searching through the groups and not finding one that fit what I wanted to do exactly (with N+) I decided to create it.
Outside of MyOpera, I had spent a while using MySpace, but the “groups” there are too limited in features, you’re limited to an uncontrollable forum organized only by the last post and the group pages are covered with advertisements. The search didn't’t work, and the Nintendo groups were just spam and people fighting all the time. I did try to make my own, and it worked out extremely well, but it was only a matter of time before I wanted more options, control, and no spam.
When and how did the N+ group start?
Seaempty: My first encounter with N+ was at the end of August last year. I had recently joined the My Opera Community, and began writing a blog dedicated to the Nintendo DS. It got noticed by the legend that is DotEd, and he invited me to be a moderator on "N, the Nintendo Community", as it was known back then. I think he said something about being Voltron, and building a team based on people's strengths. I guess mine was my love of the little Dual Screen machine (and the fact that I'm a postaholic).
CaptainSeagull: Well when Opera and Nintendo announced their partnership to bring the browser to the DS and Wii, Ed did some research and stumbled into the Opera Community. He saw how amazing the community was and what a huge advantage running a group through Opera would provide. He asked me if I would want to help moderate the site. Well, you can't turn down Internet gods like Doted.
DotEd: In my mind, something started years ago: a gaming site governed by it’s users interests, not advertisers, but N+ started soon after joining MyOpera, as I was already looking for a community based site as a foundation for this something that I wanted to create (rather than a stand-alone site) but it took some time before I could find the right people to assist.
When I came back from E3 in 2006, I was on a mission. I was blown away by the lines to play Wii, but even more so by the experience of playing it for the first time there. When Opera announced that they were going to be providing Nintendo with the Opera Browser, I knew I was in the right place. I created http://my.opera.com/N in July, 2006 but the group url changed to http://my.opera.com/nplus when we applied the CSS theme, at that point the group was starting to take off.
What has been the overall goal with this group ?
Seaempty: When he started the group, Ed wanted to create a group that was the centre for all things Nintendo within the My Opera Community. I like to think that he has now achieved that goal. Having said that, I don't think N+ will stop growing and changing. When I first joined I personally wanted N+ to be a centre for all things Nintendo within the World Wide Web! I'm not sure if this is realistic, but my view of N+ has changed. It's become more of a community then I ever imagined it would, and this is the side of the group which I really like. The forums are taking off, and the introduction of the #N+ IRC channel has taken the social aspect of the group to another level.
CaptainSeagull: What we have always wanted to do was to bring news to fans about Nintendo related events, game, and system releases while providing as many sources as possible. We didn't want to spread un-true rumors. The Nintendo fan is a dedicated person. Along side the news though, we wanted fans to feel like they were a part of something big, something they could interact with besides games, in more of an industry type setting. At the same time though we knew that we had to be able to keep the experience positive, we couldn't have "flame wars" burning up our forums. - So far I think that we have been doing a great job, I am really surprised at our 500+ members already, and how active they are becoming with the group!
DotEd: The people lucky enough to play Wii at E3 came away with so much praise, yet when I would go online I would see people posting really inaccurate information, using opinions as facts, and posting information that to me proved they had yet to play it at all. Since the opportunities to play for those reading it all would be almost nonexistent until fall, I felt that the Internet readers may come away with a great deal of misinformation.
Something that has always bugged me with the way news is “reported” in the video game industry is that people tend to put a negative spin on good news, just because they want to influence others. People get sucked up in the hype or hate for a system and misinformation spreads as fast as fact because people are always clamoring for that one bit of news they may not have heard yet. That one bit may be wrong. That is why we try hard to post facts, tag rumors as such, and present our opinions clearly as opinions, supported by sources that have influenced us.
We don’t have advertisers, so we aren't’t playing to their interests. We try to respond to what our user base wants and adapt our offerings, what we report on, and where we are going. By the comments, polls, and forums present in N+ we can gauge our reader’s interests and if they want a place to post friend codes for a certain DS game, it’s there. If they want to know how a site looks on the DS Browser, we review it. A growing community run site, nested in a growing community that is managed in much the same way. The goal right now is to prepare for the flood of users that will eventually populate MyOpera with the release of the Final Version of the Opera Browser for Wii. These new users will bring many changes to N+ and we are really excited to adapt further. Beyond that, I’m tracking our reach daily. I want people to find us, our blogs, and our pictures when they search Google or Yahoo, and right now that’s starting to happen with increased frequency. With N+ membership growing by over 68% in the past month, technorati reporting thousands of links, and new features being added to MyOpera, I think it’s safe to say we’ve been successful so far.
What can we expect from you and the rest of the N+ founders in the future?[/b]
Seaempty: I think the community will continue to grow. Getting 500 members is only the beginning. You can expect to see some new challenges to get the members involved, more news and updates from the land of Nintendo, and hopefully some exclusive news and information. I'll keep on posting, of that I'm sure, but I like the contributions from the N+ members. We've already seen some member art, reviews, and things of interest found on the Internet. I hope that we can get more and more of these in the future.
CaptainSeagull: I think that Ed, Chris, Becky, and myself all have huge dreams for N+, I also think that we are all trying our hardest to not work ourselves up too much, haha, for me I would like us to reach a level of impact that allows us to have exclusive news, interviews with Nintendo representatives. Sometimes I dream that we have an office building with our own workstations. Where we work under Operas umbrella as a sort of 'relations' between Opera and Nintendo. That and we are loaded to the teeth with nerf guns and darts for office shoot-outs! haha! - But right now we are talking about opening up a net-shop where you can buy custom N+ clothing and gear! hopefully this idea is a fruitful one. Becky and I have just started the Retro-Review, so you can expect to see a lot more of those as well. We have begun partnering with other sites as well.
DotEd: A lot of unique content! And I really mean that. We’ve got some ideas that could very well spread like viral content does across the interwebs. Also, more interactivity with our users and their pages on MyOpera (after all, there’s nothing saying N+ has to only exist on a single url), this is something that no group has done before, and starting at the end of March, we’ll begin the first of many fun interactive scavenger hunts that will get as many users as possible on MyOpera involved. Also, expect to see some contests and more recognition of standout members.
he N+ group has acquired a lot of community "fame". Why do you think this has happened?[/b]
Seaempty: It has? I hope it's fame for the right reasons! I guess we're quite an active group which helps the word spread about us. The team of moderators is excellent, and I do think we each bring something different to the group. This diversity means that the group can appeal to a wide audience, and although it is a Nintendo-based group, I'd like to think that we appeal to people who have a more casual interest in the industry. We try to make it a "fun" place to visit, and put the emphasis on providing interesting content on which people can relate to and interact with.
CaptainSeagull: Daily Updates. Easily. There is sort of this un-spoken competition at N+ as far as blogging goes. So far Chris is winning. See, I don't think any one of us want to get pushed off the front page because other articles are born, so we try our hardest to find some quality stuff to either inform, or pump-up our fans. So almost every day you will see something new at N+. That and as moderators we really have played a lot of one-on-one with members. If any one asks us a question, they get an answer. We don't love to create articles just create them, we want to see the readers reactions. We love Nintendo culture, and to share that feels great.
DotEd: N+ is just a product of MyOpera’s users. I’m really thrilled to see so many users spotlighting the group or blog, and I think one reason for the attention from community members is because we’ve tried our hardest to give attention back. While some blogs and news sites use external links for nearly everything they report, we try to find news within MyOpera and it’s community, linking to actual user’s pages, empowering them. Beyond that, we have fun with it, and on a slow news day, we’ll post about what we’ve been doing on our own. This keeps it personal, and much more integrated to the community focus. Finally, we try to be the portal to other world news regarding gaming and the industry.
Why (My) Opera?[/b]
Seaempty: Before Nintendo released the Opera Browser for the DS, I wasn't a user of Opera. I thought that I'd download it to try it out before I purchased the DS browser, just to get a "feel" for it. I haven't gone back since. As for the My Opera Community, I stumbled upon it whilst searching for information about the DS Browser. I think it was actually DotEd's hands-on preview on his blog that caught my attention. I was looking for a blog that I could use to write about the DS, and having found other blogging sites to be confusing, and over-complicated to use, it was refreshing to see that My Opera offered a simple, easy to use blog, that yielded a professional look. At this point, the Community aspect wasn't a consideration, but as time went on, I found myself being more and more involved with other groups, reading other people's blogs, and looking at the various photo albums. My Opera does a fantastic job at bringing all these aspects to your attention. I like the re-design and it's focus on the people of the My Opera Community.
CaptainSeagull: Well besides the fact that Opera and Nintendo are partnered up, Opera gives N+ awesome blogging structure and options, fantastic photo-albums! great forum structure, count-downs are really useful for a product-release orientated site, member polls, what more could a group ask for? We even have the N+ chat room now!
DotEd: There are so many reasons. First, MyOpera is the best social community I’ve found, and I’ve tried them all. Second, the members here are incredibly well informed and are very net and tech savvy. Third, Opera’s unique relationship with Nintendo means that everyone with a DS Browser or Wii Browser will eventually explore Opera’s site, and these are the users we’d like to have as members. I firmly believe the flood of Internet devices and phones releasing in the coming years (the majority running Opera built in) will help MyOpera to grow very quickly. This is a company to watch. And finally, of all of the ways to coordinate with people around the world, MyOpera works so well with irc chat, personal messages, moderator forums, email and more, that we can easily use Opera and MyOpera to moderate our group and coordinate our efforts, no matter what time zone or country we live in (which is a fairly wide variety).
What distinguishes the My Opera community from other social networking sites?[/b]
Seaempty: I can't really comment, as the My Opera Community is my first real experience of a social networking site. From what I've seen of other sites is that they concentrate on the social aspect. My Opera has that, but also gives members the chance to express themselves via their blogs or albums. The fact that you get 300MB of storage space to me suggests that you're encouraged to upload files and share your creativity. If there is one thing I've come to realise whilst browsing the My Opera Community is that there are a lot of tremendously talented people out there!
CaptainSeagull: It feels more personal, and less "whored out" - I hope I can say that. Think of Myspace with a house built around it, you get your blog page, you get to have photos, you get to personalize. But with Opera you get all these things built better! instead of having ONE album, you get to sort your pictures, and even re-order them. Instead of just having one page of blogs, you get many, that and the tags, the tags are love. Everything is just way more structured at My Opera.
DotEd: The features, style, users, quality, forums, you guys really do listen and respond to feedback, community and individual polls, albums (not just a dozen pictures), community coordination, groups, irc chat, did I miss something?
Can we expect any real life MeetUps from the N+ group?[/b]
Seaempty: I think MeetUps would be an excellent idea, and I would think that if N+ continues to grow a MeetUp would be likely. Anton has already suggested that the moderators meet up at Nintendo World in NYC to celebrate N+'s first birthday. As I live in the UK I don't think I'd be able to attend (unless some generous person out there wants to pay for flights for me and my wife, hint hint).
CaptainSeagull: I sure as hell hope so. It would be fantastic if we could all meet up at some sort of Nintendo convention in NY or LA... or Oslo. Why is Opera planning on connecting our dots with some plane tickets? lolzorborxx!!1!
DotEd: Yup. Actually, FluffyBunny and I have been talking often about a MeetUp in Sweden with another gaming site. Beyond that, tonight I started working on a map that will help users find other close members so that they can coordinate their own on the fly. As we grow I want to throw a big event annually.
Have any of you developed real friendships through N+
Seaempty: One of the best things about N+ is the people I've met as a result of being a member. The moderators are a great bunch of people, and I think we are all on the same wavelength. The introduction of the #N+ IRC channel has meant that we can talk more with each other, and it's a bit more personal than private messages or forum posts. Since the channel started, I've gotten to know a few more members, and some of the conversations that go on in the channel are brilliant. The more time I spend in there, the more I get to know people; their interests, hobbies, backgrounds etc. It's nice when you find out you've more in common with people other than a love of Nintendo.
CaptainSeagull: Yes, definitely. Ed is like an older brother who helps me tackle the fears of dating. That and sometimes I let him know when I'm taking "a good old number 2" by sending him a text when I'm on the can - If thats not personal I don't know what is.
DotEd: Absolutely. Unforgettable bonds have already been formed. When we’re not enplussing, we’re still in contact, helping each other with all types of questions, relationship woes, and snack selection. When you share so much creativity with a group of people, you tend to understand where the other is coming from. Because we live around the world, we openly share information and back stories to help illustrate our perspectives even further.
Any last words?
Seaempty: I really love being a part of N+, and the My Opera Community. I feel it's given me an opportunity to be a bit more creative in life, be it by posting news in N+, or on my own blog. It's nice to be recognised, and the fact that N+ has really taken off makes me proud to be a part of it. I've met some great people as a result, and I hope that I will continue to do so.
CaptainSeagull: Hopefully these aren't my last words, I plan on saying much more about Opera and Nintendo in the near future. If there are any other questions I will answer all of them!
DotEd: JOIN N+! Next goal is 1000 Members! Hahaha!
Honestly, I would really like to get a Japanese local moderator… We’ve had a few apply to help moderate, but unfortunately they didn't’t work out.
Thanks for the interview, too. It is signs of support and recognition like this that you don’t get anywhere else. Opera really shows it’s watching the MyOpera.
Actually, I’ve got a question for you; who’s Opera’s best Wii Sports Bowler?
Thanks for everything.
That rounds up our long Nplus founders interview. I want to thank seaeampty, CaptainSeagull and DotEd for being a good sport and made this happen. I hope you made it to the end, and had a great read[/b]