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My First Week at Rare: Emma


Hello! For those of you who missed my introductions on Twitter and Facebook, my name’s Emma and I’m taking on Web and Community Support here at Rare. Basically this means I’ll be engaging with you lot via social media, monitoring online buzz and generally helping to manage Rare’s web presence.

Having only finished an MA in Web Journalism a short while ago my first week in the ‘real world’ of work has been both exhausting and exciting. Pros – the free canned drinks. Cons – the feeling by the end of the day that I may lose my teeth to said drinks.

Just a bit of background. I’m 24, I’ve been gaming before I could write and when I find myself with spare time I make cake. My dad has been in IT since before I was born and my first gaming experiences were sitting on his lap helping him play DOOM on the computer (with a joystick) until my mum would walk in and scream in horror at the violence I was delighting in. Subsequent experiences were going to my best friend’s house every day after school to steal time on her brother’s N64 playing GoldenEye on paintball mode and playing vintage games on her SNES. These days I’m more of an RPG girl, the Fable series is one of my favourites. I also love Viva Piñata as a way to chill out and getting friends round to play Kinect Sports. Sadly it would seem my lack of talent at actual sports translates to also having no talent at virtual sports.

Monday 22nd July
I spent the few weeks between finishing my MA and getting a job offer from Rare doing unpaid work experience in windowless offices on rather dilapidated industrial parks. So arriving at Rare this morning was a very welcome change! The grounds are beautiful, I’m a country girl at heart. I was met at reception by the lovely Anna who gave me the site tour. Having only seen the lobby and the inside of a conference room at interview I was keen to poke around a little more. As far as workplaces go, I have a feeling this one’s going to be rather amazing. There are games rooms set up for lunchtime and post-work gaming, a games library to borrow consoles, games and box sets, fridges full of free drinks and plenty of places to chill out. I’m working in one of the barns (yes I work in a barn) with a lovely view of some of the many on-site trees.


Today was spent mostly going through the Twitter and Facebook accounts to see what you guys like to talk about and what Leigh has posted in the past. From what I can tell, you’re quite a vocal bunch.

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February Social Frequency

It’s February 2AU – well, it was – and as always, we’ve been driving power to the Rare Twitter and Facebook feeds by running for hours in the big social media hamster wheel down in the maintenance shed. In this way we’ve been able to promote our most recent permanent and contract vacancies, point people towards new Rare staff profiles and start plugging the next wave of Kinect Sports Gems, amongst other things.

We were also happy to have other internet and community content rattling around in the wheel that we could pounce on and broadcast to a wider audience: content including Video Game Pianist Martin Leung’s fine interpretations of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie tunes, Conker classroom art and sculpture, NeoGAF’s wistful ruminations on Wizards & Warriors, Rare Gamer’s Top 5 Unsolved Mysteries and a whole bouquet of features that (kind of) tied in with Valentine’s Day including another Top 5, Jo Dark and a bunch of drunks. Ah, the romance.

Other subjects of our sometimes-related ramblings included cyberpigs with old Banjo NPC names, Twitter milestones, the Harlem Shake, Wreck-It Ralph, improper Texan grammar and a sideways look at the week’s equine news. Also, if you didn’t know, we totally have a pool table.

A rapid escalation of amphibian namedropping saw February dubbed the Month of Battletoads: we had 1UP (RIP) pondering the low profile of Rash & co. amongst other Missing Mascots, Arcade Sushi’s ‘Toads vs. Dragons match-up, reports of a live performance, a couple of mag scans from back in the day, and of course the whole surreal Groupon affair even as the curtain descended on February in all its wonder.

Want to keep on keeping on following us more regularly? Initiate super pursuit mode and chase down the RareLtd Twitter profile or the RareLtd/KinectSportsOfficial Facebook pages. If you don’t, we can’t be held responsible if any of this stuff comes up in a pub quiz. What? How do you know it won’t?


January Social Jumpstart

2013! The year we find out what the Mayans were trying to save us from. Seems like a good time to put an end to that AD business and restart the count from 1AU (After Un-pocalypse). So in January 1AU, here’s a rundown of what was circulating through Rare’s ‘channels’.

Beyond spreading the news of a Kinect Sports Gems page update and Ultimate Collection putting players through their paces at an NFL event, we shared a whole stack of pics this month, most notably in the snowy Rare HQ gallery. In fact you could follow the whole (annual) epic snow saga from the first icy morning through a near lock-in to the wintry gallery aftermath. And in the midst of all that was another office shuffle with exciting real-time before and after window shots. Yes! All the red-hot breaking news as it happened! Also cake.

There was plenty of fan activity spanning audio, video, photography, art and cosplay: a celebration of Battletoads‘ music and a YouTube medley of Rare themes, a Field Goal Contest video throwdown, an unlikely Ghoulies/Sports artistic crossover and a snapshot of one fan’s very fine Rare figure collection. And the cosplay? Sure you’re ready? Okay: a re-enactment of Banjo-Kazooie‘s game over scene and a man dressed as a GoldenEye N64 cartridge. Meanwhile Rare Gamer rolled out Top 5 lists themed around Xmas presents, exploitable features and cheat codes while TrueAchievements got cracking on those walkthroughs for Kinect Sports Gems.

Over the course of the month we also mourned THQ and HMV, offered Robin’s flumpet services, dropped some knowledge, learned some new words along with new uses of existing words, tried to subvert a Hollywood film, fought bacterial conjunctivitis and considered developing Xbox Kinetic Tennis Ice Ice Baby Superstar. We kept busy.

Now it’s back to life in the fragile future world of February 1AU, and if you want to keep tabs on how that’s working out for us, we post stuff daily on the RareLtd Twitter profile and at unpredictable intervals on Facebook as RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. We also do a monthly summary for THE LIKES OF YOU. Same time next month then?


December Social Deceleration

Not to make it sound like we fizzled out like a wet sparkler in the twilight days of 2012 – we prefer to think of it as winding elegantly down for the holidays. Fortunately there was plenty going on in the first three weeks of the month to balance out the final week, when we were all at home ignoring anything work-related in favour of tearing open presents and eating all the Ferrero Rocher in the world.

Of course, perversely, the main Rare event of the month went and happened on the 25th anyway with the second wave of Kinect Sports Gems rattling through the system and spilling out onto Xbox LIVE Arcade. Prior to that, we’d published the long-in-gestation Kinect Sports Tepid Seat, said farewell to the exhausted KS1 Facebook app and witnessed the gamerscore huntsmen at TrueAchievements get cracking on guides for the first wave of Gems. In terms of Rare’s Minecraft contribution, December held only a single piece of news, but as a round-up of the Halloween Skin Pack charity haul it was a good one. Heartwarming developer solidarity ensued.

The month in Exciting Lists and Features started with a bang as GoldenEye was bigged up in TIME Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Video Games and crowned king of GameTrailers’ Top 10 First-Person Shooters, although Game Informer’s nod to DK64 in a rundown of the Freshest Raps was an honour on pretty much the same level. Perfect Dark gave us 10 minutes of rowdy LAN Party action, Freezeezy Peak got a Synthetic Orchestra makeover and Rare Gamer delivered a Top 5 of Rare Doomsday Scenarios. Very festive! One thing in that paragraph, at least.

The 12th month of 2012 was also laced with interesting dates, references to Schwarzenegger and Don King, attempts to do justice to the #XmasGames hashtag,  totally legal fights, fire alarms, freebies and seasonal photos of frosty windows and the Rare Xmas tree (the latter instantly subverted by scandalmongers). And the Games on Demand version of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts went briefly on sale on December 29th, but we couldn’t post a reminder on that day due to Ferrero Rocher immobilisation.

Right, 2012, we’re done with you. You couldn’t even deliver an apocalypse, just so much rain that even the Rare ducks and geese looked sick of it by June. We’ve already set sail in the 2013 social media fun boat, so if you’re interested in seeing what kind of stuff it throws overboard, doggy-paddle after it on Twitter (at RareLtd) or Facebook (at RareLtd or KinectSportsOfficial). Failing that, catch you back here in early February for our next monthly stopover.


November Social Non Sequiturs

Movember! Black Friday! Thanksgiving! Kinect Sports Gems! Second week of Kinect Sports Gems! That’s what happened in November. Well, there were a few other things. The Minecraft Halloween Skin Pack charity deadline was up, we landed ourselves some space to talk recruitment in Develop and marked the 30,000 Twitter followers milestone with a couple of Rare shelf tat giveaways. That’s what happened in November. As a result, Gary Busey secured the presidency.

Off-site Rare list and feature sightings got started immediately as we picked up on Games Radar’s Halloween celebration of hooded characters, Complex’s 50 Coolest Video Game Villains and a day of speculative Xbox fightin’ game rosters featuring contributions from OXM (US) and Invert-On. Rare Gamer list action also kicked into gear later in the month, with Top 5 rundowns on Mr. Pants Sightings, Thanksgiving Gluttons and Femmes Fatales. The rhinoceros horn, it turns out, is formed entirely of keratin.

In particular, late ’90s Rare shooters got a good share of coverage in November. Perfect Dark was not only the focal point of some tasty retrospectives but seemingly present in spirit in Black Ops II. For GoldenEye, meanwhile, we saw late recognition of both its 15th anniversary and its LCD game little brother. Neatly bridging both games, NeoGAF pundits had some interesting things to say (good and bad) on the topic of GoldenEye and PD‘s lasting popularity. Our locally sourced red cabbage has won plaudits for its rich texture.

Other blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em Rare game reappearances throughout the month: Banjo-Tooie in limited edition art, Bad Fur Day in sculpture, Blast Corps in real world news, and Kinect Sports just out there pulling muscles, slugging vegetables and empowering the youth. Only the most experienced professionals should attempt to integrate chimp juggling into their act.

Finally: poll results! When we kicked off the latest run of Rare Life staff profiles, we asked which areas you’d like to see covered. For some time it was neck and neck between Art and Software, but in the final stretch those budding coders raced ahead with 27% of the vote, leaving Art on 25%. Design finished a close third with 23%, trailed by Production (9%), QA (9%) and Audio (6%). Software it is again for the next one! The people, they have spoken. Those stains? Dandelion & burdock.

So that’s that – we’re all Novembered out. Next monthly social media catch-up scheduled for the start of 2013, but you can keep up with us on a more regular basis via our RareLtd Twitter feed or our Facebook presence at RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. Have a merry Mayan apocalypse! You win the Blankety Blank cheque book and pen.


October Social Occurrences

Caketober! We promised cake photos (regardless of whether or not you wanted them) and so with the assistance of the world’s oldest Rashberry, we rustled up, presented and went to town on three deliveries of novelty cake action throughout the month. Well, three that we told you about, anyway. Next time: Pievember! Or not.

Things unrelated to cake or pie but related to Rare during October included an onslaught of new vacancies that we’re looking to fill (both permanent and contract), a couple of Skin Packs for a popular 4m-selling XBLA game, and the opportunity to grab Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection (of celebrity casino scuffle fame) for 20 squid. 13 sports! 20 squid! Do the math/maths depending on your regional abbreviation of the word ‘mathematics’.

As Halloween approached we unleashed a frenzy of pumpkin-whittling creativity, just a glimpse of which could be seen in this pic (featuring all three eventual winners, as it turned out). Also easing into the Halloween spirit throughout the month were fansites Rare Gamer and RFDB with lists of Grating Ghosts, Halloween DLC, Cemeteries and Ghostly Encounters, while an earlier non-spooky Top 7 featured the toughest Rare challenges for all you hard mans.

Notable mentions on other sites included GoldenEye love in GamesRadar’s history of Bond games, a dedicated outing for Banjo in Game Informer’s B-K Replay and some real old-school memories in a Retro Gamer thread on fave Ultimate games. Not forgetting fan art highlights of gaming’s premier post office loon Fanny Franker and buff Battletoad Pimple.

And the traditional penultimate paragraph round-up of other arbitrary shenanigans: a couple of competitions for Minecraft Skin Packs! 4000 tweets! Pre-Rare arcade gamesBirdwatching! IntranetsDarth Vader! And Mike Singleton. Sad face.

That’s it then, people. If you want to catch up with us before the next monthly social shakedown, you can use Twitter and Facebook to hunt us through the night like those tramps in Hard Target: we’re on Twitter as RareLtd and Facebook as both RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial. Be sure to bring Lance Henriksen with you. He can sign our faces. Lance is the man.


September Social Selection Box

Cake! We forgot to address the urgent social issues of the day by bringing in tons of cake last month. Next time. Definitely next time. October? Caketober.

While most of September’s Rare press activity swirled around Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection – its launch day, its trailer and its hip and banging college tour, assuming young people still use those exact terms – momentum also built behind recruitment as we continue to marshal our forces for the next big thing. Word was spread of opportunities including Network and Gameplay Engineering through the futuristic trumpet of social media, and our first staff profile in a while settled on Tools Engineering to form another facet of a software-focused September. But if you find all that stuff boring, someone also sent in a humorous picture of Jet Force Gemini on XBLA. Kind of.

Outside the loop of our immediate in-house schemes and plans, Rare Gamer rallied round the proud standard of Top Fives to deliver on Rare Arcade References, Unlucky Characters and Awesome Tanks, while RFDB rolled up their Rare commercial collections into one mighty whole. Elsewhere, The Completionist tore through the fundamentals of Diddy Kong Racing in approximately 17 minutes, Zero1Gaming pottered around in gaming gardens including one of ours, and Dorkly locked and loaded some of the best ever multiplayer maps.

It was also a month of Twitter two-fers, with two Rare-inspired comic strip outings, two quality snippets of translated Kinect Sports: Season Two reviews, two instances of unsolicited end-of-week education, two film-related Kinect Sports retweets, two overheard workplace comments and (at least) two raised glasses on the 30th birthday of Ultimate Play the Game. And among those posts not so easily paired up were the latest Minecraft Skin Pack giveaway, a belated Revels outburst, a vengeful cat and someone getting excitable about KI3.

Sirs and madams, it ends there. You know where to find us for more frequent updates: on Twitter as RareLtd, on Facebook as RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial, or round the back of Somerfield in Ashby de la Zouch selling insider secrets (and stale cake) at very reasonable rates if you know how to do the special handshake.


August Social Ordnance

The first casualty of social media is cake. No cake pictures for months. We’ll try to fix that next time, but right now here’s our retrospective recce of the Rare social media landscape throughout August.

Plenty of bases to cover too, not just Rare’s Minecraft Skin Pack 2 invasion and Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s role in the G3 Celebrity Game With Fame and Play to Give charity campaigns; we also added more new positions to our contract and permanent vacancies, had Software Manager Bjorn dispensing recruitment tips in Develop, and to round off the month Season Two boosted the desirability factor of the Xbox Family Fun bundle for anyone looking to kit up with the best of Xbox 360 and Kinect in one fell swoop. We even raided the supply depot for another Skin Pack 1 code giveaway on the same day. Court martial that!

Campaigns of the past were remembered in a wide range of Rare (and Ultimate) retrospectives over the course of August, from Eurogamer‘s salute to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts all the way back 24 years to Knight Lore in the words of CVG, by way of Digital Spy‘s DKC remembrance and at least three GoldenEye lookbacks courtesy of Register Hardware, Destructoid and 1UP. A recap of Ultimate’s games on Commodore 64 helped mark the machine’s 30th anniversary, while Battletoads popped up not once but twice, with a sighting of the elusive arcade version posted on Reddit followed by a NES completion attempt in cult Japanese series Game Center CX.

Meanwhile, the long-serving fansite battalion formed up to roll out features based on Rare Kings and Queens, GBC and GBA commercials, plot holes, bad aliens, side-scrollers and unhappy endings, grotty bosses, melodies, bad schools and wastes of time. Heck of a tour of duty this month, soldiers.

Other points of social media engagement throughout August included the loss of a couple of national institutions, Peter Dickson at the Olympics, outdoor meetings, edible eyeballs, misguided mail and Ninja Turtles. And let’s not forget the outcome of the latest community poll: we asked you to choose your favourite Kinect Sports: Season Two add-on pack, and quickly saw the Basketball Challenge Pack tear into the lead with a winning 26% of the vote. Maple Lakes and Midnight Mountain came joint second on 21%, Challenge Packs #1 and #2 bringing up the rear with 16% apiece. No runaway victory for the freebies! Who’d have thought?

That’s it for another month: to enrol for active duty on the social media frontline, flush us out on Twitter or in one of our Facebook guises (currently Rare and Kinect Sports). Otherwise, take four weeks’ leave then get back here in full dress uniform for the September situation report. Dismissed!