MSN Gaming Zone: Behind-the-Scenes with Thresh, Gamer Extraordinaire

MSN Gaming Zone: Behind-the-Scenes with Thresh, Gamer Extraordinaire

The name is Thresh and just the mere mention of his name makes some folks in the Quake universe quiver with fear. Why? Because the man behind the name is one of the top online gamers around. His real name is Dennis Fong and his game accolades include winning Microsoft’s Deathmatch 95 game challenge, the 1997 Red Annihilation Tournament where he won the keys to John Carmack’s red Ferrari and in 1998, he was crowned the Quake champion at AMD PGL. Not bad at all! Besides playing competitively, he has created two online game review web sites. This is definitely one player that has taken gaming to a whole new level of competitive fun!

Zone: Thresh, many people in the online gaming community and the Quake community know about you and your talents, but for those who don’t know who you are, could you please share with us a little something about yourself?
Thresh: I was born in Hong Kong on March 11, 1977. My family and I moved here to the United States when I was in the 6th grade. In Beijing and Hong Kong, I attended international schools where English was everyone’s first language. So moving to the U.S. wasn’t a big deal.

Zone: What are you currently working on right now?
Thresh: I’ve created two online companies, Gamers Extreme and Thresh’s FiringSquad. It’s a great place to get the best information for game strategies, techniques and hardware reviews and recommendations.

Zone: Have you always been interested in playing games? What were some of your favorite games growing up (card, board, sports, etc.)?
Thresh: I really didn’t get into games until 1993. Growing up, I played lots of sports. I was very active in my school’s tennis teams and I founded our school’s first hockey team. The first game I started playing was Street Fighter.

Zone: Then do you have a favorite Street Fighter character and why?
Thresh: Ken is my favorite Street Fighter character because he has a cool uppercut and you can do a bunch of cool combos with him.

Zone: How were you introduced to Quake? And what were some of your first impressions?
Thresh: It was my younger brother who first introduced me to computer games. My younger brother’s room was right next to mine. So one day, I heard gunfire and huge explosions coming out of his room. I was really curious to see what he was up to, so I walked in and asked him what he was playing. It turns out he was playing Doom. The game looked neat, so I sat down and started playing. And since then, I’ve been hooked.

Zone: What is it about this game that makes it so attractive?
Thresh: When I started playing Doom, I was playing against this character on the screen and kept thinking to myself, “Wow, this computer character is so smart.” I didn’t realize I was playing against a real person, until my younger brother told me I was playing against one of his friends in San Jose.I was amazed at the multiplayer capabilities within Doom. I started talking and chatting online to a real human! I think that’s what attracted me most about Doom, is that I wasn’t playing against computers. Instead, I was playing against people!

Zone: Tell us how winning the Quake Championship changed your life. What did your family think about you playing games and taking it to the next level as you have?
Thresh: A lot of people keep calling me the Quake Champion; in actuality, I play other games too, and have done fairly well in them. Microsoft’s Deathmatach 95 was Doom/Heretic/and Doom2, the Red Annihilation Tournament, the AMD PGL, and many other tournaments. I guess an interesting part of this whole thing was that playing Quake never took up that much of my time. It never took up time spent with my friends, some who didn’t even know I was playing online, or time away from school and sports. It was just something I did in my spare time, where instead of watching TV, I’d just hop on the computer and play a few games.

Zone: How is John Carmack’s ’87 Ferrari doing? How many miles have you put on it since you’ve gotten it and how fast have you taken it? Have you let any of your friends and family drive your Ferrari?
Thresh: The Ferrari is doing good. I haven’t put that many miles on it, because there’s really no place to drive it in Berkeley and I live just five minutes away from work. So I just keep the Ferrari tucked away at my parents’ home.

Zone: Can you quickly share with us some of your favorite Quake II strategies? What are some of the common Quake II mistakes you notice players making? How can they improve their Quake II techniques?
Thresh: I actually wrote a Quake II strategy guide. But some quick tips to always keep in mind is:

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Try to act like a sponge and soak up all the experience. You can always use it against other people.
  • Watch and remember what other players do to you. Everyone’s strategy is different, and if they do something really cool, like a unique shot, remember it. So the next time you encounter that same opponent, they’ll never have the opportunity to use that same technique against you. In turn, you can use this strategy in your next game against other players.
  • Each time you play, try to learn a new technique or skill. It’s a great way to learn more about the game.

Zone: We saw you at last year’s Age of Empires Rise of Rome Tournament. Do you play Age? If so, can you share with us what is your favorite civilization and do you have any favorite strategies?
Thresh: Yes, but I haven’t played Age of Empires that much. But I’d have to say that my favorite civilization is Shang.

Zone: What advice would you give a Zoner who wants to do what you do?
Thresh: Follow your own passion. Just because you like to play games, doesn’t always mean you can have a career in games. You need to make sure you learn the skills needed to be successful in the gaming industry. There are so many jobs out there in games, such as programmer, tester, developer, graphic designer, etc. I think the best way to start getting those skills is becoming a Beta tester for games.

Zone: In your opinion, what do you think is the coolest feature of the Zone and why?
Thresh: The Zone has such a wide reach of players. There are so many different types of gamers and games on the Zone. When a player comes on the Zone, they can select to play parlor games, a wide variety of retail games, strategy, and role-playing games.

Zone: What is your favorite part of working in the online gaming community?
Thresh: The online gaming community is constantly evolving. There’s always something changing and new technology being developed. I like riding on the crest of the wave, so to speak, of the gaming community and enjoy being part of this growing and changing industry

The Zone thanks Thresh for participating in our interview!



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