Paxley: It's an honor to interview you. You are one of the greatest ever and an icon of the Gamefaqs era, so I would like to know how exactly you discovered Gamefaqs and when.
GGFan: I discovered GameFAQs way back in either late '99 or early 2000. A friend of mine was raving about this massively convenient website that had cheat codes, secrets, and so on for practically every game on the planet. Back then, we didn't have social media platforms like YouTube or even Google, which made GameFAQs to go-to place to learn about games. They even had message boards in which you would often stumble across useful topics (they weren't called "threads" like they are elsewhere) or just interesting banter about the games.
Paxley: Yeah, I understand why Gamefaqs was so successful considering social media didn't really take off yet. When did you become a regular presence on the message boards, and which boards did you frequent back then?
GGFan: I actually didn't make my first account until 2001 because I didn't know how. I usually perused the EarthBound, Pokemon (eventually Blue and Red would be given their own boards), Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy IX boards because those were the games I was enamored with the most at the time.
Paxley: So you were definitely an RPG junkie back then, huh? lol.
GGFan: Yeah, I suppose I was, haha. I found games that centered around a character's growth more appealing than "go from point A to point B." This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy platformers like Mario and Sonic--quite the contrary, actually. I was just fascinated with the concept of the silent protagonist traveling the world and earning renown or accomplishing a lofty goal, witnessing first-hand his development along the way.
Paxley: Why did you name your account "thegreatestgamefan" (eventually people would call you GGFan for short, right?)
GGFan: So, back on August 30th, 2001, I was on the EarthBound message board as usual. My brother noticed what I was doing and goes, "Is that a message board? Do you have an account there?" He also used message boards like WrestleZone, so he knew his way around them. I told him I didn't and he encouraged me to make one. He sat down and helped me register, then said, "Why don't you name yourself 'thegreatestgamefan' because you love games?" I thought it sounded decent enough, so I went along with at and the rest is history.
Paxley: Do you remember the first post/topic you ever made?
GGFan: Yes, I do. Right after my brother left I wrote a topic on the EarthBound board titled, "How much damage did you do to Giygas when praying?" A couple of people responded and it was almost surreal to me. Obviously, the internet was big in 2001, but it wasn't quite there yet. I had friends and family who didn't have a computer, the older generation insisted it was evil and/or useless, and we relied on the post office for practically everything. Nowadays the internet is ubiquitous in society and industry, but back then my parents never used it and I didn't care for it, either; that is, until I learned about GameFAQs. I thought it was fascinating to have access to a platform that allowed me to discuss games and disseminate my ideas with people all over the country (and the world).
Paxley: That's so true. The younger generation was born into a time where internet dominated society, but that wasn't always the case. So when did you start posting on the Pokemon boards?
GGFan: So, what some people don't know is that Pokemon Gold is my favorite game in the entire series. I invested far more time into that than any other Pokemon game I ever played; however, I never visited its message board prior to creating my account for some reason (I guess it just never crossed my mind to do so). I started visiting it on a daily basis as well as posting there in November of 2001 or so.
Paxley: Were you posting on the Blue board too?
GGFan: No, I visited that board a lot back in 2000 but never posted there.
Paxley: Do you remember what kind of topics you made and who the regulars were?
GGFan: I remember dukeming, The President, Stupid Fool, Celia, Pidgeotto, and Blackthorne. It's funny, actually: despite it being almost 20 years ago, the climate was very typical of an online gaming message board. Everyone had a distinct gimmick; for example, The President was the veteran trying to help others, dukeming was the arrogant yet talented newcomer, Celia was the elitist who looked down on others, etc. As for what kind of topics I made, I thought I was great at the game simply because I played it so much, but there was a stark contrast between ingame and competitive, clearly. The President put me in my place once, but not in a harsh way; rather, he explained why my Pokemon and moves were not ideal. This made me see the game in a whole different light.
Paxley: The story goes that you left the Gold board and started frequenting the Blue board (known as just the "Pokemon" board back then) and discovered online play. Is that right?
GGFan: Kind of. I started posting on the Yellow board (not Blue) in early '02, though I still visited the Gold board, which was where I eventually stumbled upon what were called "war stories." Basically they were a player's analysis of his/her own game; they were helpful because replays, though extant, were not abundant like they are now. I read a lot of those war stories (mIRC logs of GSC games), which prompted me to ask around about online play on the Yellow board. A user by the name of Pidgeotto told me about mIRC and Azureheights, and that the latter only supported RBY.
Paxley: Why didn't you use mIRC? You were a bigger fan of GSC, right?
GGFan: Yeah, I definitely wanted to break in as a GSC player, but mIRC had to be downloaded and my household was dependent upon dial-up. Moreover, mIRC wasn't intuitive as it was a text-based simulator. Azureheights had a more user-friendly interface and didn't need to be downloaded.
Paxley: lol, imagine if you did download mIRC though. So much would have changed.
GGFan: Yeah, haha. I still think about that occasionally--what if I initiated the 24-hour download and installed mIRC instead? I suppose I'd be the GSC gimmick instead.
Paxley: How was it on the Yellow board? Was it better or worse than what you'd find on Smogon?
GGFan: It was toxic and political. Nothing on a Smogon scale, of course, but you still had egos running rampant and your fair share of "flamewars" (what we called arguments which included insults back then; not sure if that term is still used). I remember this one person named Yurika who some people believed was an asocial boy pretending to be a girl. He/she was very polarizing and egotistical but had a useful "Rate My Team" topic that helped me learn a lot of the basics.
Paxley: When did you start playing competitively, and how good were you? How did players get better back then considering there weren't many replays, no chats, lack of tours, etc?
GGFan: I "made my debut," so to speak, on April 28th, 2002, on the Azureheights PBS, with a lead Charizard that used Flamethrower on the opposing Exeggutor for 43% and was put to sleep on the same turn. I played my first tournament game in July against DeadTrainer in round one of the "Tournament of Doom," where I led with Snorlax and lost 4-0. I actually think I improved a lot from my first game in April to my first tournament game, which leads me to the next part of your question. Each board had at least one "Rate My Team" topic, which usually contained a lot of useful information. People posted their teams, got feedback, discussed potential Pokemon and movesets that could work, and so on. Most people back then used something called AIM, which allowed you to chat with others. Also, you could list your AIM username on your GameFAQs profile, allowing you to form networks.
There were a lack of tours, yeah, but that would pick up eventually. Azureheights stored replays of finished games, but it seemed arbitrary as to how often the games were saved.
Paxley: The TourneyOfDoom was on the Blue board, right? How do you compare the Blue board to the Yellow and Gold boards?
GGFan: Yeah, once I entered that tournament I began frequenting the Blue board a lot more. It was larger than the Yellow board too, so it was natural to make the move. I thought the Gold board was the friendliest place, actually: not many egos who made things harder for everybody else. In retrospect, the Blue board had people who had a penchant for causing trouble and eventually became internet hell. The Yellow board was similar but less active, and once Yurika left it calmed down a lot.
Paxley: The Blue board was where you ran into psystorm, who was equivalent to a modern-day Smogon user, right? It was also where you won the legendary TOS.
GGFan: Yeah, I don't want to rehash what I already wrote about in my book, but psystorm was your typical abrasive and asocial loser who looked down on others and had a terrible attitude but backed by a gang of followers because he presumably won something in the past. The tension started in a "Rate My Team" topic in which he was exposing himself as a moron: he insisted that Seismic Toss on Alakazam and Explosion on Golem were "n00bish." As green as I was back then, even I knew he had no idea what he was talking about. However, people took his side and basically told me to know my place and be quiet.
As for TOS, that was huge for many reasons, as we all know by now. Tournaments weren't a normal fixture on GameFAQs at the time, so whenever there was one it generated a lot of discussion and speculation. Even though only 8 people entered, the signup topic reached around 156 posts and was full of talk as to who would win and how far I would get. By this point psystorm and I were rivals, and people wanted to see us play each other, but it wasn't meant to be as he would get crushed by another newer player and subsequently run off for several months after having his ego shattered. Redwall Dude, who was a troll and maybe psystorm's most notable admirer (though knew his way around the game, admittedly) lost in the first round after going out of his way to put me down. Meanwhile, I beat Ratster in the first round, who was your typical troll who was on a mission to "put me in my place" (for saying Seismic Toss on Alakazam was good) but lost, then beat Syberia, who won the TourneyOfDoom by beating Shuveit (considered by some the best player on Gamefaqs at the time) in the finals, beat Shuveit in an exhibition game prior to beating Syberia, and then won the tournament by beating MetalMew with an UU team.
Paxley: So you shut up so many people while making a big name for yourself. Your detractors lost, you beat your naysayers, and you won in dominant fashion. What made you decide to use an UU team in such an important game?
GGFan: I had recently got into UU and felt like I could win reliably with those Pokemon. Luckily, I was right when it mattered the most.
Paxley: You won TOS in January of 2003, right?
GGFan: Yes, that's right. I believe TOS started in late November or even the middle of December. I remember Ratster using Raichu as a means of countering my Slowbro, then I remember playing Syberia around Christmas (maybe a day or two before). I definitely won the tournament in early January. I won by sweeping him with Golduck, and I also had Electabuzz, Mr. Mime, and maybe Tentacruel and Tangela as well.
Paxley: What made you decide to turn heel and become the young, arrogant superstar? It seemed like you had a lot going for you.
GGFan: Yeah, I definitely could have been one of the "good guys," so to speak. I earned a lot of peoples' respect and undone (a respected tournament player who was a legitimate jerk before) messaged me on AIM just to say, "Sorry for doubting you, I was wrong." It was because the environment was so unwelcoming and political. I felt most people were unlikable and wanted nothing to do with them, so I decided to create a monster and give them a dose of their own medicine. It was also fun, I admit, to taunt and treat people the way they treated me, though I was no saint, either.
Paxley: Interesting that you say you wanted to create a monster. Psystorm was gone, so there had to be someone to replace him.
GGFan: Haha, but at least I had results and actually knew what I was talking about.
Paxley: On that note, you had the most dominant year in the history of Gamefaqs's circuit, winning 12 tournaments in 2003 and won like 80 tournament games. How were you able to win so much throughout the year?
GGFan: By playing as much as I could, networking, asking for advice, and varying my teams. I played Hipmonlee a lot in 2003--almost 40 times in total. Out of all those games, only three of them were tournament bouts; the others were all about testing Pokemon and learning. I also played undone several times, took on a few apprentices (David Kirk, for example) and played them a lot, too. I learned right away that you couldn't rely on just one team (although I would contradict myself later on) and built all kinds of teams: non-lead Gengar teams, Rhydon teams, Zapdos teams, Jolteon teams, even Clefable and Hypno teams. I would say there were a good 30 or so completed tournaments on GameFAQs that year, and I played in maybe 75% of them. Sites like Smogon are strict oligarchies in which you don't get as many opportunities to play, but the moderators on GameFAQs were, for the most part, disinterested in what was happening on the board, which meant anybody could start up a tournament. You didn't have to be a moderator or a "tier leader" or a "contributor"--none of those convoluted politics that ruins the game.
Paxley: You won so much. You were easily one of the best RBY players around. Why did you decide to become a mega heel and create those alternate accounts that you talked about in your book?
GGFan: I wanted to satirize peoples' behavior: the community was extremely elitist and unwelcoming for the most part. I also thought a lot of the discussions were asinine and revolved around brown nosing; for example, you might find a thread about what the best Pokemon in the tier were and stumble upon a post from a lowly lackey that would go something like, "Fish used Cloyster once so I think it's OU (I actually read this exact message in the first RBY server on Netbattle in 2004)." This kind of clique mentality and perpetual asslicking pervaded most topics about competitive play, and when the elitists decided to make an appearance in a tournament, it was hard to stomach. Besides that, I admit it was fun to see their indignation upon seeing anybody--even an alt--praise me in any shape or form. The posts were so outrageous and over the top that it was hilarious: "ggfan is the greatest ever, no questions asked; ggfan inspired me to get into pokemon."
Paxley: I think what it made it even more effective is that you were legitimately great at the game.
GGFan: I wouldn't say I was great in 2003. I was definitely a rising star and a notch above my peers such as Lesm and MetalMew, but I don't think I reached the level of the Nitros and Hipmonlees of the world until 2005 or MAYBE the middle of 2004. But yeah, winning as much as I did definitely helped.
Paxley: Supposedly the "anti-GGFan crusade" was known for making excuses every time you won and constantly tried to downplay your success. Can you elaborate on that?
GGFan: It certainly seemed like a pyramid of excuses. First I was told that I couldn't beat anybody and should shut up (for saying that Seismic Toss on Alakazam and Explosion on Golem were good moves). After I won TOS, the excuse was that I only won once and needed to do it again. By the summer of 2003 I had won something like six or seven tournaments, so now the excuse was that I was only to able to win 8-man tours and couldn't win "anything big." I won the GameFAQs Summer UU Tourney, which had 16 participants and was essentially a "who's who" of the era--now the excuse was that it wasn't OU. I won TOS3 in the beginning of 2004, which was just as large and had four different tiers, but I get told that "only 32-man tournaments matter." Note that 32-man tours were practically non-existant by this point, but my response was, "Let's start one and I'll win that too." I did eventually win one in 2005, the VBR, which ended up being the biggest RBY tournament of that year.
Paxley: You hosted fake tournaments with your alts too, right? But you did it to annoy the elitists and didn't count those towards your official statistics.
GGFan: Yeah, I "hosted" several of those flippant affairs of satire. I would usually "beat" one 5-0 or 6-0, then edge by the other two in "intense, close" games. The alt who lost in the finals would praise me and call me the greatest he ever had the privilege of playing. It made people irate for two reasons, I guess: I was satirizing their behavior rather accurately, and I derailed the atmosphere.
Paxley: Would you stage the games or just report the scores?
GGFan: Just report the scores, obviously. If somebody wanted to watch I would say, "Sorry, it already happened" or "Oh no, the log was deleted."
Paxley: That's hilarious. When was the first time you made an alternate account and when was the first time you got banned?
GGFan: The first one was named "Skunkbreath," which I made in the middle of 2002, I believe. Several of my messages had been deleted and my karma count plummeted, so I figured I could dance around the moderations by having an extra account. It actually ended up being an invaluable safety net, as my original account, "thegreatestgamefan," was banned in the fall of '02 because I jokingly threatened to infect the Final Fantasy VII Social Board (I was a regular there) with a virus. The moderators took it seriously and instantly banned me. Skunky met his demise a month or two later, I'd say, after I posted an erotic romance between Donkey Kong, Mario, Link, and Marth called "MLHM" on the Scenario board.
Paxley: Wait, what?
GGFan: GameFAQs had some "hidden" message boards. One of them was "Scenario," which was a safe haven for fans of Super Smash Bros Melee who enjoyed writing "scenarios." (they were deleted on the main Melee board because they were considered off topic). These were stories that featured battles played under specific rules that aligned with the plot. For example, you might find a scenario called "Luigi's Nemesis" and read the first chapter, where a ninja would break into Luigi's house and stab him. In order to advance the plot you'd have to win a battle, which might be something like Luigi at 50% health (because he was wounded) vs Sheik (the ninja).
There was one infamous Scenario called "MLM," short for Mario, Link, and Marth. It was sexually explicit and angered a lot of people. The user who wrote it was banned and never seen again (I forgot his name), so I thought it would be humorous to bring up old wounds by writing the sequel. I was quickly banned and ostracized from that board for a long time.
Paxley: Fair enough, lmao. What did the "H" stand for?
GGFan: Donkey Kong's name was Hans. He was a homosexual German ape. For the record, I speak German and have been to Germany on multiple occasions. I love Germany, and I love Donkey Kong.
Paxley: I see. Going back to your performances in tournaments, even though you won more than anybody, you said you don't think you were the best. Why is that?
GGFan: In terms of numbers I was the most successful player on GameFAQs, but in terms of ability I was a tier below Nitro, undone, and Hipmonlee. I think these were the three best on the board in 2003.
Paxley: Speaking of Nitro, tell me the story of the type clause tournament.
GGFan: Nitro made a comeback in 2003 after not playing for a year or so. MetalMew hosted a type clause tournament in which I found myself up against Nitro in the first round. Redwall Dude messaged me on AIM and warned me that Nitro was the best, but I was motivated to win. I actually scouted him and was able to discover some of his games on the Azureheights PBS, which was immensely helpful. He lead with Venusaur like I thought he would, so my lead of choice, Venomoth, gave me the early advantage. Unfortunately, I accidentally gave my Golduck Venomoth's moveset (you could give Pokemon any moves you wanted on the PBS), so I was basically at a 5-6 disadvantage from the start. I remember executing perfectly and Nitro complaining about being unlucky even though I outplayed him. I ended up winning 4-0.
Paxley: Wow, that's amazing. Nitro was the best player back then, right? I imagine that win really enhanced your reputation.
GGFan: It did. People were surprised I won, but MetalMew pandered to Nitro and forced a rematch because we didn't actually finish the game. It ended with me up 4-2; however, all Nitro had left was a 60% paralyzed Jolteon at -1 Special and a paralyzed Tangela at full health. I had a paralyzed Alakazam at full health, a Raichu that had Seismic Toss at full and no status, a Venusaur at full and no status, and something else. Jolteon was as good as dead and my Venusaur obviously had Swords Dance.
Paxley: It seems kind of dickish that a rematch was forced, but it's also very typical.
GGFan: Yeah, pandering has and will always be the norm. However, I need to point out that Nitro won the rematch in convincing fashion and also obliterated me in TOS2. Nonetheless, while I wasn't at his level, I proved I could get there with enough work put in. In retrospect I also found his behavior kind of disappointing, but maybe I can't blame him for being protective of his spot since it was a usual aspect of the culture.
Paxley: TOS2 was after the type clause tournament, right?
GGFan: Yeah, the type clause tournament started in March, I believe, and then TOS2 started either on the same month or in April.
Paxley: You faced Fish in the first round. Tell me the story.
GGFan: Fish was also gone for ages and was still retired, but Redwall found his AIM address and gave it to me. I persuaded him to sign up for TOS2; before I knew it, the roster was loaded. I was there, Hipmonlee was there, Nitro was there, undone, Fish, Redwall, Haste2, David Kirk, etc. I was excited for sure. I don't know if I made this clear in my book or not, but Fish requested a warm-up game and I was eager to oblige. He led with Tauros, got insanely lucky in the first few turns, and I forfeited because it was pointless to play it out. After that, we had a week to play our game, but he never answered my messages, forcing me to DQ him.
Paxley: Fish was irate and threw a tantrum, right?
GGFan: It was an elitist tantrum. He was angry because he said that two-week deadlines was the standard in tournaments (keep in mind that we're in the Bo1 era). My response was that he had no idea what he was talking about and that he was a "washed up hasbeen" (this was my go-to insult to the elitist veterans). His comeback was that I was a "neverwas" and posted the log of him destroying me with his performance-enhanced Tauros.
Paxley: So Fish was being a massive elitist idiot and you were in the right. Why did you resort to faking the log to make it look like it was your Tauros?
GGFan: Because he had his gang of ardent, loyal disciples and I was the young heel with no significant pull. It didn't matter how wrong he was and how right I was. I figured I may as well embrace my heel persona and take things to a new level since there was no chance of fostering positive change. Also, as I'm always honest during these interviews, I'll admit that it was humorous at the time.
Paxley: But you got a lot of heat for it.
GGFan: Haha, yeah. Redwall, who was a friend, turned his back on me, I had a couple of strangers message me and threaten to kill me, and the anti-GGFan crusade was born. Practically every topic on that board revolved around me for over a year. People would hijack topics to troll me; for example, somebody posted a topic about which starter they chose, and some obnoxious person replied, "By the way, stay away from GGFan--he's a notorious troll in these parts."
Paxley: But you weren’t innocent either, were you? What things did you say at this time that pissed people off?
GGFan: I often claimed I was one of the best players in the game, and I called the respected veterans “washed up hasbeens.”
Paxley: Well, you did win 12 tournaments in ’03. You more than backed it up.
GGFan: Yeah, that’s what made my heel run so effective. I may have won at least one tournament a month throughout the entire year. But I guess I was too arrogant (on purpose) and had zero respect for the culture.
Paxley: You don’t respect the culture now, lmao.
GGFan: Some things never change.
Paxley: When did the IBT start?
GGFan: A month later, in May.
Paxley: I think it’s stupid how Smogon claims it made you go insane. It makes zero sense, but it’s Smogon so I guess it’s supposed to be stupid and embraced by morons.
GGFan: Yeah, it’s just Smogon lapsing into autistic flailing as usual and trying to troll me because "ggfan bad because i smogon person" so I understand. But yes, there was a dedicated circuit on GameFAQs—it was easy to compete. As I said before, there were around 30 tournaments on GameFAQs in ’03.
Paxley: How did you really feel about your chances of getting in, and do you think you should have?
GGFan: Of course I knew I had no chance. The tournament was organized by the same people I constantly criticized, and I was heavily disliked. I just wanted to have some fun at their expense and derail their reunion. However, I should point out that I also did it because I was critical of the toxic and elitist culture. I felt it was unfair that people were chosen more because of networking and politics than how good they were.
Paxley: Is this when you started making alts?
GGFan: Yeah. I remember this one brown-nosing troll named Grombolar. This is what he said verbatim: “Know your place, GGFan. Nitro has won more tournaments than you have karma.” I was annoyed by the onslaught of sycophants who acted as if they worshipped these people, so I decided to satirize their behavior and create an army of alternate accounts who perceived me as God’s gift to Pokemon.
Paxley: Do you remember the names of your first batch of alts?
GGFan: I remember cool poke, SpankyGopher, and Jeroffin.
Paxley: How many did you have in total, and when were they banned?
GGFan: I had about eight in total; just enough to host the “tournaments.” Red13n, an old RBY player, was also a moderator on GameFAQs and came back for the IBT. He abused his power, which resulted in all of my accounts getting banned. I made more and more, and he would ban them. This went on until the IBT was over, so I guess I was banned regularly from May to July.
Paxley: How did he abuse his power?
GGFan: GameFAQs is very different from your standard message board. You can’t simply ban somebody because you don’t like them or because the person was banned previously. However, what red13n would do was mass moderate my messages, even if they didn’t violate the TOS, and I was despised by a couple of other moderators because some people on the Blue board complained about me on Message Board Help. So, even if I said nothing that violated the TOS, another moderator or even administrator would condone the abuse of power.
Paxley: How many accounts got banned from May to July?
GGFan: I’ll say 15 or so. I actually stopped hosting the fake tournaments after the first batch of accounts were banned because I had to tread carefully. I never had more than two accounts until the middle of 2004.
Paxley: So things got stable in July, after the IBT, and you went back to your winning ways. Winning the Gamefaqs summer uu tournament must have felt even more satisfying after everything you went through earlier.
GGFan: It was certainly satisfying because of all the bedlum that transpired prior, yes. I think what made it especially memorable, however, was that the final four consisted of the “new generation,” so to speak: me, MetalMew, Lesm, and gunbladelad. Gunbladelad wasn’t very good, but he came onto the scene around this time, and he was also known for derailing threads to tell people how horrible of a human being I was, so it was nice to get that win. Anyways, all the elitist veterans were knocked out early and I won—what more could I have wanted?
Paxley: I want to hear the story about how you won two tournaments in a single night.
GGFan: So, from January to October I was undefeated in the finals of tournaments. I was 7-0 in September and barely extended my streak to 8-0 when I beat kuleguy18 in the finals of an OU tournament that came down to a Tauros ditto. Then, in the beginning of October, I lost to Fuzion in a game that was also decided by a Tauros showdown (though I recall Fuzion had another Pokemon remaining). Later, on October 11th, I faced kuleguy18 in the finals of an RPT (RandomPokemonTournament) and Fuzion in the finals of a Triple Type Tournament (you read my book, so you know what the rules were). I beat kuleguy, then decided to play Fuzion right after that and came back from behind to win the game.
Paxley: I see. So you had history with both, and you got your revenge on Fuzion who ended your streak.
GGFan: Yeah, there was a redemption narrative here, I suppose. I remember the exact date because I played these games at the same time the New York Yankees baseball team completed a miraculous comeback against Boston Red Sox in game 7 of the ALCS. Just as my brother was screaming like a maniac, I was beaming when I won that game against Fuzion.
Paxley: And didn’t you have Yashouzoid cheering you on?
GGFan: Yes, that’s right. He was my protégé and lackey at the time; after I won, we both told everybody how great I was for becoming the first person in the history of the game to win two tournaments on the same night. My signature read something, like, “First person to win tournaments on the same night!”
Paxley: People must have been pissed, haha.
GGFan: Yeah, they were naturally irate. I remember gunbladelad in particular being really angry, and this random account (who was probably somebody’s alt) named “LinkZelda345465” or something of that sort unleashing a barrage of insults and expletives.
Paxley: You played as a member of team US East in the first ever World Cup soon after. Can you review the controversy there? Why weren’t you the captain? In my view you were easily one of the best players in the game.
GGFan: The first World Cup started in November. I was indeed a member of team US East alongside Red Comet Sazabi and Fuzion (I forget who else was on our team). I wasn’t the captain because Fuzion was friends with the organizers.
Paxley: So it was another example of politics getting in the way of common sense.
GGFan: Well, I was the face of the board, so to me it didn’t really matter if I was the captain or not in some tournament organized by people I didn’t like. They didn’t like and I didn’t like them, but I still got to play which is all that mattered.
Paxley: What other teams were there?
GGFan: I remember US West, US South, maybe US Midwest, Canada, and Europe.
Paxley: Do you remember who won?
GGFan: US West won. David Kirk beat Shuveit in the finals, who was another one of my protégés, so that was nice.
Paxley: Your game against kuleguy caused a lot of controversy.
GGFan: In the first round we played team Canada and I faced kuleguy, who was one of my rivals by this point. I barely won the game, but I used Focus Energy Jolteon, which is broken on the PBS in that it guarantees Critical Hits. However, everybody had been using Focus Energy in tournament play for ages, so I thought it was very petty that people would try to debate the legitimacy of my win.
Paxley: It sounds like they did it only because it was your game, given who was organizing it.
GGFan: That’s exactly what it was. Ultimately, I guess the argument wasn’t strong enough, and kuleguy also displayed sound sportsmanship by accepting the loss. Thus, we knocked out Canada and advanced into the second round, where Europe eliminated us.
Paxley: You went on a rant in December which led to undone issuing an open challenge.
GGFan: I wrote something like how I never received the praise I deserved and that I was one of the greatest ever. I was being facetious and having fun being the heel, but people ate it up nonetheless. Yes, undone did indeed challenge me in what I describe the “loser leaves town” match afterwards.
Paxley: So the loser had to leave the board forever. How did that go?
GGFan: Yes, that’s right—loser leaves forever. He was in the waiting room before me so I tried to gain an early advantage by challenging him with an alt, but he caught onto it. He left that game, and then when I challenged him as “GGFan,” he had a different team and won.
Paxley: So you got completely wrecked. How did you respond to that?
GGFan: Obviously, I wasn’t going to do the honorable thing and walk off towards the train tracks with a stick and a sack, so I claimed that my cousin played and that I was now ready to go.
Paxley: People must have been furious.
GGFan: I remember when undone reported that he won, people were thrilled and expected me to leave. I got the usual, “You’re a bastard, I can’t believe this, Of course you would say that, LMAO R U kidding me?!”
Paxley: Looking back, how do you feel about that?
GGFan: That’s the most “heinous” crime I ever committed, I guess. It wasn’t a tournament game, but it was still an underhanded tactic. But if I took the loss and left honorably, what fun would that have been? Anyways, I see it as the dirtiest thing I ever did because Fish was, to be blunt, a dick and an asshole who was clearly in the wrong, and my alts were harmless and only created to satirize the culture. Undone, however, was somewhat of a mentor. He actually apologized to me back when I beat Syberia and played me a lot, which helped me improve. He even once tried to give me advice when I told him that I enjoyed being a heel. His response was, “But people will want to see you fail.” That they did, and he was the one who delivered that failure.
Paxley: But you got revenge in the last OU tournament of the year, according to legend. You beat him in the first round. Is that right?
GGFan: Yeah. That was a huge win in that it shut up my detractors and helped me gain some much-needed momentum. I remember people were claiming I got lucky, but I don’t think it was as bad as they made it out to be. My Tauros was at 50% and survived a Hyper Beam from his Tauros at 1%, then landed a paraslam. Next, my sleeping Starmie came out at 88% and woke up before he could kill it. The odds of surviving Hyper Beam at that range are a little more than 1/3, though I acknowledge that Starmie waking up was lucky (it was a two-turn sleep).
Paxley: You ended up winning 12 tournaments in 2003, which is absolutely insane. Do you remember the other two tournaments you won? You won 8 in October, then won those two on the same night to make it 10, and then….?
GGFan: One was a 10-man OU tournament. All I remember was beating somebody named Caos2 in either the first or second round. The other one was a 16-man OU tournament where I beat Redwall Dude, metalscyther, and then got a DQ win over red13n in the semi finals. I revitalized the tournament at the end of the year and ended up beating Caos2 in the finals.
Paxley: I’m curious to know how many tour games you lost. Do you remember all of them?
GGFan: I lost to Hipmonlee in the semi finals of the first RPT, then to Hipmonlee again in the semi finals of a tag-team tournament (OU), I lost to Nitro in the first-round rematch of the type clause tournament, then to Nitro again in the second round of TOS2, I lost to roy master in the first round of an OU tournament, I lost to GDPT/VietStrikier in the first round of another OU tournament, I got swept by kuleguy18 in the playoff round of the Pokemon Season, I lost to Fuzion in the finals of an OU tournament, I lost to undone in the second round of the World Cup, and my last loss was against Redwall Dude in the second round of the OU tournament in which I beat undone.
Paxley: And how many games do you estimate to have won?
GGFan: I won 12, so at least 3 per tournament in those. I went 6-0 in the Pokemon Season before losing to kuleguy in the playoffs, which puts me at 40+. Add my victories in the early rounds of other tournaments that I lost in and I’m now at 50-something. Finally, there were a few unfinished tournaments, so, overall, I’d say somewhere between 60-70.
Paxley: So, let’s say you went 60-11 in 2003. That’s god tier.
GGFan: 60 out of 71—not bad at all.
Paxley: Who do you think the best player was that year? You said you didn’t think you were the best.
GGFan: I’d probably go with Hipmonlee. Unlike the others who were at his level, he played in a lot of tournaments and wasn’t absorbed in the elitist culture. He wasn’t afraid of looking bad for losing, at least not as much as the likes of Nitro and Fish were. Fish played in zero tournaments and had been on hiatus for an eternity, so definitely not him. Nitro was great but he didn’t play enough, and I feel that undone, although very good, was not quite at Nitro’s level (just a tick below). Hipmonlee played a lot and won both the IBT and TOS2, which were the two biggest OU tournaments on GameFAQs that year. I was quickly improving every month and holding my own against the old guards, but I wasn’t at the top yet.
Paxley: Interesting. How do you feel about Hipmonlee’s run in the RBY Cup?
GGFan: I don’t know much about it.
Paxley: He’s in the finals.
GGFan: I’m not surprised at all. He’s very competitive and doesn’t take kindly to not being considered one of the best. When he came back in 2018, it seemed like his results were a bit inconsistent, but he’s been at it for almost two years now. Good for him.
Paxley: Sounds about right. Let’s go back to GameFAQs. In 2004, Netbattle was starting to become popular. You were in the first RBY server and ran into two of your old enemies, Yurika and Fish.
GGFan: I started using Netbattle in December of 2003, though a lot of us still played tournament games on the PBS mostly out of tradition and reliability (it didn’t have to be downloaded). As you know, Yurika was the first elitist I ran into way back on the Yellow board in 2002. During the IBT season in the middle of 2003, he/she was highly critical of me while I annoyed him/her tremendously by my satirizing the culture with my alternate accounts. Yurika sees me on the server, says something along the lines of, “lol it’s ggfan! I’m gonna embarrass you!” and lost pretty easily. I remember winning 4-0 with relative ease, which prompted him/her to congratulate me, say, “ok, don’t be an ass,” and run off. I didn’t see the troll after that for a good while.
Paxley: Ouch. Sounds like you shattered his ego. Did you face Fish in the famous rematch on the same day, and when did this take place?
GGFan: No, I faced Fish in the rematch shortly after. This all happened in January of 2004.
Paxley: Care to tell us the story?
GGFan: The first RBY server on Netbattle was hosted by this, pardon my French, worthless cocksucker named “wally” (which is supposedly slang for idiot in a certain dialect, or so I’ve heard). Wally despised me despite never having even posted on GameFAQs and would constantly berate me, edit my messages on the chat to things, like, “I AM GGFAN I AM SHIT” and some other dumb, juvenile things, and was a massive sycophant to the likes of Fish. In fact, he loved Fish so much that he made him a moderator of the server (note that Fish hadn’t played in a tour in maybe two years by this point and was barely active). Honestly, it was a miracle I wasn’t banned—leave it to someone as stupid as him not to do so. Well, one day Fish challenged me to a game, which, of course, many people spectated, including the head moron himself. It shocked me that Fish would do that; part of me believes wally persuaded him to do it because he wanted to revel in my misfortune by watching me flail helplessly in my boxing match with god. Turns out his god was actually nothing more than a fish out of water: I won 2-0 easily, outplaying him the whole game. I could have won 3-0, but I went with the conservative play and used Explosion.
Paxley: Oh my god, lol. So wally was basically equivalent to a moron asskisser on Smogon, right? Like a Mana, get backer, marili, ZoroDark, or a Mannat.
GGFan: Yeah, you could say that. He was the type that tries desperately to fit in by hating people disliked by the almighty clique.
Paxley: Wally was pissed as hell, wasn’t he?
GGFan: Fish actually took the loss well. He said “gg,” I said, “gg,” and that was it—or that was SUPPOSED to be it. I forget exactly what he said, but wally sent me a message. I lost it and went all out on him. At the end I may have said something, like, “Since your hero lost, are you going to start sucking my dick now?” He said, “yeah,” and banned me.
Paxley: LMAO. You went out on a high note, at least.
GGFan: I should also mention that I beat IMAP during this time, who was a revered player back in the early days of competitive. Fish, IMAP, and Yurika were all big presences on the server. But yes, I was gone and invested my energy into what was left of the tour scene on GameFAQs.
Paxley: You won TOS3, which was the biggest tournament of the year in terms of prestige. Can you go into more detail about it?
GGFan: TOS3 was kind of like GameFAQs’s swan song. All of us up-and-comers converged for one last big tournament that started in January and ended in March. We played RBY OU, RBY UU, GSC OU, and GSC OU, and it was double elimination.
Paxley: How many people signed up, and you remember who was in it?
GGFan: 16. It was me, David Kirk, StS, kuleguy, Fuzion, Yashouzoid, Red Comet Sazabi, Cloud19 (David Kirk’s friend), Lesm, and I forgot who else was there. Maybe boongee, kevdude, and baseballa1 also played.
Paxley: Yeah, that’s quite the loaded roster. Do you remember your road to victory?
GGFan: I lost 0-2 to Fuzion in round one, which prompted Nitro and a couple of his lackeys to mock me. In fact, I still remember what Nitro said: “lol ggfan lost tourney over gg no re.” Well, I beat StS in the next round, then I beat Red Comet Sazabi in the fifth round (don’t remember what transpired in rounds three and four), beat Fuzion in the semi finals, and then Lesm in the finals. The final four consisted of Lesm, kuleguy, Fuzion, and myself—the four best players from GameFAQs.
Paxley: Supposedly this victory made people irate as usual.
GGFan: I remember how they tried to put down the tournament before it started. First, when I said I would wait until 16 people signed up before starting, Redwall goes, “You aren’t getting 16 people. It’s going to be an 8-man tournament.” After the 16th person signed up I said something, like, “Well, I guess you look stupid now.” Redwall’s response was, “Sneak will get 64 people easily.” For those who don’t know, “Sneak” was a yearly tournament that was held outside GameFAQs. Anyways, TOS3 was a big success while Sneak ended up being canceled due to inactivity.
After I won, some people actually tried to troll me by saying I only had to win one or two games.
Paxley: What? That’s so stupid, lol.
GGFan: I don’t know why, either. When success is on your side, failure tries to intervene in all shapes and forms. However, sometimes failure doesn’t do a very good job of it.
Paxley: Were you still getting banned a lot?
GGFan: Well, I had limited myself to only have one or two accounts at a time for several months (starting from either June or July). Nonetheless, I was still getting banned frequently: I was winning a lot, which elicited outrage. Add my abrasive responses to the equation and my usermap was among the worst on the site. Actually, after I won TOS3 I got banned again, and couldn’t make an account on GameFAQs for a while due to a new rule they promulgated that actually blocked your IP from accessing the message boards after getting banned. This rule caused a lot of controversy and didn’t last long, however, but for the time being I couldn’t access GameFAQs.
Paxley: How and when did you come back?
GGFan: At the end of 2003, a new troll named Brony started posting on the Blue board (I’m not being biased—he would call himself one). He messaged me on AIM one day and said he was a huge fan of me; eventually he told me that he would happily make me a few accounts. I, of course, took up his offer, and the rest is history. I got around the IP block with a new desktop that used broadband instead of dial-up, which I imagine resulted in a new IP address. I would say I came back in either April or May.
Paxley: So you came back in the spring of ’04. The tension was high though, right?
GGFan: Yes. During this time several people were fed up with the board resembling a juvenile war zone, so they all started complaining about me on Message Board Help and even made a petition to KOS me. KOS, or “Kill On Sight,” was the harshest punishment you could ever receive: it permanently blocked your IP, and you would be instantly banned if any moderator found out you were on the message boards.
Paxley: What was the result of that petition?
GGFan: The topic was eventually deleted, but it made me an even more notorious target that some moderators wanted to take out. Actually, I found out that there were users who had nearly a hundred banned accounts while my usermap was clean due to the new IP, so I wasn’t anywhere close to KOS territory. Administration only dished out the dreaded KOS in extreme circumstances, and they would eventually abolish this punishment altogether as it was impossible to monitor their “most wanted” list, so to speak.
Paxley: How many accounts did you have now?
GGFan: I forget which ones Brony made for me and which ones were my own. I had at least eight active accounts for the first time since May ’03, which meant I could start hosting more of those “prestigious tournaments” that the masses enjoyed so much.
Paxley: How did your relationship with Brony end?
GGFan: In the midst of my fake tournaments, there were three legitimate ones. I won the first two, and then I was in the finals of the third against Brony himself. Since we had become bosom buddies I figured it would be prudent to train him so that he could win games and further annoy my detractors. He was able to make the finals of the second tournament, and had now found himself in the finals of this one. For whatever reason (simply to cause mischief, I presume), Brony betrayed me. He was the host of this third tournament, and he had tried to dispose of me early on. He paired me against Redwall Dude in the first round (who was the best player in it after me), then had me play kevdude again in the semi finals for no reason at all after I won 6-0 the first time, and now he was avoiding playing me at all costs. Since I realized he was intentionally being a jackass I decided to DQ him from his own tournament and declare myself the winner.
Paxley: LMAO, that’s hilarious. So when did the biggest betrayal in the history of Gamefaqs take place, and was the aftermath of it?
GGFan: This was in June of 2004. The aftermath basically killed the entire board. He made a few alts of his own to wage war against me, I was combating him with the alts that he made me previously, and then you had my detractors fighting on Brony’s side. The board descended into hell—it all revolved around us trolling each other. We would hijack topics to troll each other, we would create topics with misleading titles; for example, I might write, “So, what’s a good moveset for Raichu?” only to write, “Brony sure is getting slow these days—must be all that extra weight” as the first post. Most moderators were lazy and were indifferent towards their job; they wouldn’t always delete the topics or our posts because they couldn’t be bothered to look past the topic title.
Paxley: There was a rumor at this time that Redwall and Brony were the same person. Do you believe it was true?
GGFan: The “GameFAQs War,” we’ll call it, consisted of me and my “army” against Brony, his “army,” Yashouzoid, and Redwall Dude. There were other users who would take sides during it, but these were the main figures. Yes, that accusation was indeed cast by several people, and, if I’m honest, I did see a connection there. Redwall was known for creating the occasional alt, and we used to troll other message boards before he turned his back on me. They also did tend to sound similar.
Paxley: How did the first two months of the war go?
GGFan: I made a lot of those fake tournaments, and would “win” every single one. I remember one was called “Hooray for 30,” which I made with my alt, “DevilLocker32,” that was a celebration of me winning 30 tournaments. Brony and his alts would express their outrage, he would sometimes make his own tournament, we were hijacking threads, and the TOS violations on both sides were steadily piling up.
Paxley: Was there any actual discussion of the game going on during this time?
GGFan: None whatsoever. No tournaments, no interesting discussions, nothing.
Paxley: Do you remember the names of your alts?
GGFan: I remember DevilLocker32, TazenRahn, Super Great Gaming F, WestWilder, RapidSpinner, TheWallsOfPain, Baksetballboy12 (not a typo), Hexmaster Z, Milcotti, TrollsAreLame, and YoYoChamp. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s all of them.
Paxley: Which was one was your main account?
GGFan: At first it was Super Great Gaming F, but I didn’t like the name and decided to make “Milcotti” my main account.
Paxley: In your book you wrote that you went into the “lion’s den” AKA message board help and started to become popular. But it was risky because there were moderators who hated you. Why did you decide to take that risk?
GGFan: For the longest time, GameFAQs had the dubious nickname of “internet hell,” and it was hard to dispute that—largely due to most of their staff being atrocious. I was genuinely tired of the egregious double standards, inconsistency, and blatant episodes of hypocrisy in regard to the moderation system, as were many people. So, yes, in August, I actually decided to start complaining about it. What happened was that somebody was railing against the system, asking why moderators delete some messages that violate the TOS but not others. A kiss-ass troll (MBH was swarming with those) replied that, since moderators aren’t paid to do their job, they should not be required to delete any messages. I interjected by saying that, if a moderator doesn’t want to do his job, there would be plenty of other people who would be willing to take on those responsibilities. A huge argument broke out; initially it was me up against some of the brown nosers, but other people took my side. I remember arguing that new users should have the right to mark messages for moderation (your account had to be 30 days old to earn that privilege), people should be allowed to bring messages that violated the TOS to moderators’ attention (you were not allowed to do this on MBH), and the system as a whole should be more consistent. The brown nosers argued that, if new users could mark messages, it would be too much of a burden for the moderators. People thought that argument was asinine and sided with me, as we were all frustrated with the system.
It was a huge gamble to do this, as you said, because there were moderators who despised me and that particular board was teeming with their lowly sycophants who were all desperate to befriend them in the hopes of becoming useless moderators themselves, but luckily I didn’t end up broke. I made it even riskier by supporting myself with my alts—an irate moderator easily could have banned me for it. Somehow, it wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
Paxley: You actually had moderators on your side now, right?
GGFan: In August, during the war, Brony impersonated my alts. He made accounts that had names like “EastWilder” and “AngelLocker.” Impersonation is a severe TOS violation that results in an instant ban, but he wasn’t banned right away. I went to MBH to complain, and it was Sashanan of all people who not only didn’t delete my topic, but basically told me, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this.” The year before, Sashanan hated my guts and was one of the moderators who frequently deleted my messages and got me banned. Now he was on my side, wiping out Brony; he was usermap axed (punishment that results in all of your accounts being instantly banned) and out of the equation. He made more accounts in the future, but he would end up getting continuously banned because of his filthy usermap.
I became a regular presence on MBH for the next several months, helping people get messages deleted, answering their questions, etc. A moderator actually messaged me on AIM and goes, “Hey, if you come across any messages that violate the TOS, I’ll take care of them for you.” I think his name might have been Demenoid Phenomenon, but I’m not entirely sure. Well, he was basically the Genie to my Aladdin: he frequently deleted my adversaries’ messages on the Blue board during the war, serving as an invaluable assistance in several battles.
Paxley: I mean, it kind of was a “from rags to riches story,” huh? You went from being a despised troll who couldn’t go a week without getting banned to now having an army of clean accounts and a moderator on your side.
GGFan: Yeah, I was almost invincible for a while. By October, all of my accounts had unlimited posting privileges and my usermap was relatively clean. Meanwhile, Brony, my most notorious foe, was constantly getting destroyed by moderation after moderation. However, I say October because my main account, Milcotti, actually got suspended, which, back then, resulted in a ban 95-99% of the time. During the suspension period of 24-48 hours, an administrator would decide whether or not to either ban you put you into “purgatory,” which prevented you from being able to post anywhere from one week to a month. I remember people being elated that I was suspended because it seemed as though my demise was inevitable. I even said that, if I miraculously survived my suspension, I would leave the board forever. Turns out I did indeed survive and ended up in purgatory for a week.
Paxley: Wow. You of all people survived the dreaded suspension. And LOL, how did people react when you ended up staying?
GGFan: They actually acted as if I had to leave. Of course, after getting out of purgatory I wrote, “Just kidding. =).”
Paxley: Do you think your reputation on MBH helped you avoid getting banned?
GGFan: Absolutely. The administrators knew about me by this point. My clean-ish usermap also helped, but surviving a suspension in 2004 was extremely rare.
Paxley: You were allegedly insanely popular on MBH. People were writing “Milcotti for mod” and it seemed like it was going to happen. How true is that?
GGFan: Yes, that’s right. Often times, when I would help out somebody, another user would write, “Milcotti for mod!” For the first time in ages, we were witnessing tangible change on GameFAQs: more messages were being deleted, more people were helping others, and some moderators were making a conscious effort to do their jobs. People told me that they were going to begin the application period for new moderators in 2005 and urged me to throw my name into the hat.
Paxley: In November, the war came to an end. How did it end and what was the board like after all of the destruction?
GGFan: Yeah, in November it was over. Brony kept getting banned, Yashouzoid got banned for jokingly saying he was 12 years old (if you declare you’re younger than 13, you’re instantly banned), and Redwall got suspended. The board was equivalent to a barren wasteland; there was very little discussion and several regulars had left out of frustration (Reasonably so—who would want to trudge through all of that nonsense?).
Paxley: How would you interact with your alts during this time?
GGFan: Back in October, I remember writing under my “WestWilder” account that I hoped the St. Louis Cardinals would beat the Houston Astros in the NLCS because my uncle was a bat boy at Busch Stadium. Then, I had my “TazenRahn” alt root for the Astros because he was proud of his Texas heritage (I have none, for the record). I know I’m being inconsistent with the pronouns, but it’s easy to lapse into this habit when you abuse alts. This was the gist of what I would do, basically. I would have these long, drawn-out conversations, but I would never argue with myself. My army was a harmonious bunch who respected each other and, more importantly, their hero, GGFan.
Since I had these accounts for so long (almost a year) and was so persistent, you’d get the occasional person who interacted with me as if my alts actually were different people. Even Yashouzoid, who was one of my biggest detractors, sketched drawings of what he thought each person on the board looked like, and gave me and all of my alts their own sketches.
Paxley: What was your main motivation to keep doing this?
GGFan: I thought it was amusing, sure, but I kept doing it because I felt they deserved it. Now, with Brony and Yashouzoid banned and Redwall suspended, the activities in the insane asylum known as the Pokemon Blue board were amplified ten-fold. I continued to host those fake tournaments too, except this time nobody could derail them.
Paxley: Do you regret your behavior in retrospect?
GGFan: It was childish and not very productive, but in retrospect I feel it was kind of inevitable. When I started out, the competitive scene was so elitist and toxic, and I was treated badly for no reason. It still is, but the difference between then and now is that, back then, you didn’t have anybody willing to speak out. Moreover, there was nowhere to go outside GameFAQs: Pojo and TPM were dead, and Azureheights wasn’t far behind. At least now you have PS servers, discord servers, etc.
Paxley: At the end of the year, the head cheese himself, CJayC, congratulated you on a job well done. Is that true?
GGFan: Yes. Back on MBH, I helped somebody out (I forgot how exactly) and CJayC replied, “You’re doing a good job, kid.” The topic exploded, as “Ceej” sightings were a rare sight back then and he almost never posted. This happened sometime in December.
Paxley: Wow. What happened to the topic? Did it reach 500 posts?
GGFan: A moderator deleted it for “off topic” posting, obviously out of envy and/or anger.
Paxley: You were on pace to become a moderator. Would you have abused your power?
GGFan: Against my enemies, absolutely (just as they would have done to me). Other than that, I would have been an active moderator who would have done his best to serve the community. It would have dramatically changed the course of my history too: as a moderator, there’s no way my “adventures” on the other boards would have been as tumultuous.
Paxley: So you basically owned the Blue board for a few months. You controlled most of the discussion with your various alts, had a moderator you could unleash at will, and were set to become a moderator. Things only got better in the beginning of 2005 when you were the first to successfully speedrun Blue. Is that right?
GGFan: I’m sure other people tried before me, but they had no idea how to do it properly. I was the first to complete a speedrun that was actually fast.
Paxley: This was back in February, right? What led you to speedrunning?
GGFan: Back in January, a troll with an eccentric personality named Jolt135 posted his “90-minute blitz” playthrough, in which you would try to get as far as you could in 90 minutes without resetting. He may have once claimed to have reached Celadon in 90 minutes, so I figured it’d be possible to beat the game in four or even three hours.
Paxley: Interesting that before speedruns, you had those “90-minute blitzes.” People really did have no idea what they were doing. You set the blueprint, right?
GGFan: Yes, and that blueprint was Squirtle. It seemed easy to have it plow through the game given its access to powerful attacks like Surf, Earthquake, and Ice Beam. I used Squirtle until I gained access to the Power Plant, then used both Blastoise and Zapdos to clear the rest of the game. Obviously, this wasn’t a perfect method, but back then it was revolutionary and Squirtle was the Pokemon of choice for several years until future speedrunners discovered the potency of Nidoran M.
Paxley: You set the first official world record of 3:07. Is that right?
GGFan: Yeah, but that was my ingame time. My real time couldn’t have been that much different, though.
Paxley: Cygnus broke your record in 2006, right? And he actually played competitive RBY on THE Alternative.
GGFan: Cygnus discovered my speedrun walkthrough that I posted on GameFAQs; he eventually reached out to me and the rest is history. He broke my record, beating the game in something like 2:40, and even played in a few tournaments on THE Alternative.
Paxley: I noticed you gave a shout out to your alts in your walkthrough that you posted on Gamefaqs, lol.
GGFan: Yeah, I did, haha. I believe I thanked DevilLocker32, TazenRahn, RapidSpinner, and YoYoChamp for inspiring me to write it. That was pretty sad, but it wouldn’t last much longer.
Paxley: Well, you were on top, at least. Now you were the godfather of the speedrun in addition to the power you had on the board. How did your empire crumble, and when did it start?
GGFan: It all came to an abrupt end in March or April of 2005. My main account, Milcotti, received a bogus warning for no reason. I’m not being biased or bitter here—the topic was something, like, “What are your five favorite movies of all time?” on the movies board, or something along those lines. A warning is a serious penalty that results in -10 karma and only allows you to post three messages per day for 48-72 hours, so naturally I went to MBH to dispute it. People were both shocked and annoyed that a moderator could make such an egregious mistake, but I was OK with it because, hey, mistakes do happen and it seemed like my moderation was going to be overturned.
That wasn’t the case, unfortunately. RaptorLC, one of the most corrupt moderators on the site, goes into the topic and posts, “Why do you have so many alts?!” From there, he wiped me out and I was subsequently banned.
Paxley: And so you were the recipient of the most famous usermap axes of all time….
GGFan: There were many users who had more active accounts than me. I didn’t even come close to some of GameFAQs’s most notorious criminals; however, when you look at how many of my messages were deleted, it may be the biggest wipe ever. Raptor went to town and abused his power like no moderator had ever done before, deleting practically every single message I had written over the last month.
Paxley: I heard Nickbush had 586 alts or something like that.
GGFan: Yeah, he was probably the most notorious alt overlord.
Paxley: How many of your messages would you say actually violated the TOS, and how many messages did he delete?
GGFan: Less than 5%, definitely. I don’t remember the exact number, but my Milcotti account had over 100 moderated messages by the time it was suspended. That’s insane by GameFAQs standards.
Paxley: Holy shit, that is insane. How about your alts?
GGFan: I would say at least 20 per alt, so, all in all, we’re looking at 300 moderated messages, at least 20 warnings, and 8-10 suspensions.
Paxley: Why do you think Raptor was able to get away with such flagrant abuse of his power?
GGFan: Because I made the moderators work harder. MBH was transitioning from a place where moderators would punish people from disputing their deleted messages to a place where people could interact with them and make the system more inconsistent. But, as with most message boards, words like “justice” and “fair” mean basically nothing, so I was a target that was eventually going to be taken out. I also had a friend who had access to the moderators’ private message board because he nearly became one himself, and told me that some moderators complained about me. However, moderators were strictly prohibited from publicly revealing the details of somebody’s usermap, so I guess they were dissuaded from doing much and had to wait until I made a mistake. Raptor was very high on the totem pole, though—he was a borderline administrator. I was done for.
Paxley: It’s pretty sad and pathetic that he would do that nonetheless. How did people react to what Raptor did?
GGFan: One person goes, “This is the same guy that everyone wanted to be a mod?” Another one goes, “Dun dun duuuuunnnn.” Yeah, the kiss-ass stooges had a field day with me. All of my accounts were gone—maybe 2500 karma in total. Then, back on the Blue board, people were celebrating and made a topic titled something, like, “ggfan is banned forever let’s party!” and then wrote, “what’s your favorite pokemon” as the opening post. I didn’t get any sympathy.
Paxley: Do you think you deserved to be banned?
GGFan: The ban itself was bullshit, but it had to happen. I was out of control in that I kept up this façade that they were all different people and that the Blue board was my personal kingdom. It was time to move on. While I would end up making more alts on GameFAQs in the future, it never got out of hand like it did on the Blue board. I was having conversations with myself, hosting “tournaments,” having debates against myself. I did it to spite people, but they were either gone or had been punished themselves by the system at this point.
Paxley: Miraculously, you survived this purge. Care to explain the story of “Super Great Gaming F?”
GGFan: There isn’t much to tell. I thought I was finished; however, there was one account I hadn’t logged into for several months, Super Great Gaming F. I hesitantly logged into it, afraid that it was banned as well, but it wasn’t. And so I survived. Nonetheless, my usermap was atrocious, so I couldn’t post very much for a while, as a single moderation could have resulted in a suspension.
Paxley: So you returned to the Blue board. How did people react after thinking you were dead?
GGFan: I remember hijacking that “party” and saying, “Hi, guys.” They were exasperated, of course.
Paxley: Supposedly the board recovered somewhat and there were tournaments again. You won all of them, right? What was it like during this time?
GGFan: The board had been ravaged by the year-long stream of flamewars and trolling, but after I got banned it showed a bit of promise. When I came back, Brony and Yashouzoid couldn’t do much to antagonize me because they were still recovering from their bans. Redwall tried baiting me occasionally; the logical response was to ignore him given how I was on extremely thin ice. There was discussion about competitive play again, and there were three tournaments from the time I came back to July.
I won all of them, yes. I remember when I signed up for the first one, somebody said, “I don’t mind GGFan when he isn’t trolling. He’s good at this game.” I beat holyknight in the first round of that tour, and I think Yashouzoid in the finals. I forgot who I played and beat to win the second one; maybe it was kevdude in the finals. Then, in the third tournament, I beat StS in the finals in what was a decent game. We were playing tournaments again, we were discussing things like how good Lapras was, was Confuse Ray worth using, was Clefable any good. There was still trolling, but it was infinitesimal compared to what the board had seen for the last year.
It is too bad I went down that path, though. After I beat kevdude in one of the tournaments he goes, “You’re really good. I wish you didn’t cause all of that trouble.”
Paxley: You still remarked that the Blue board died after the third tournament. Why do you feel that way?
GGFan: The playerbase was a fraction of what it was before. The likes of Redwall, Lesm, kuleguy, Fuzion, and StS made the jump to Smogon. Others like MetalMew, baseballa1, and Golden Goldeen disappeared completely. Moreover, tournament topics were always considered a TOS violation, which annoyed us to no end. However, now there was nothing stopping anybody from playing elsewhere or starting up his own venture. Also, thanks to the rise of Netbattle, RBY was left to die while ADV had become huge—there were dozens of independent organizations dedicated to the current gen. The future looked bleak for RBY.
Paxley: How often were you posting on the board at this time?
GGFan: Not much. I started up THE Alternative in July, started playing ADV on Nebattle, and eventually got banned from GameFAQs again. I didn’t post much until November or so, which is when I ran into samthedigital. He was really into competitive RBY, and so I decided to take him under my wing alongside somebody named Amaranth (not the one on Smogon). I thought Amaranth was the better player, but SamG (his nickname) was a lot more dedicated and passionate towards learning the tier, so he ended up becoming quite good.
Paxley: How did you get to know him if you were banned from GameFAQs?
GGFan: I met Icecap Veiwin on Netbattle in July, just before I started the VBR, who also had a GameFAQs account. He despised the site, however, gladly giving away his level 32 account (unlimited posting privileges). He also gave me his alt, “KomodoTheNinja,” which was already level 20.
Paxley: Who was GGFan, and who was the alt?
GGFan: At first it was Icecap, but I later claimed Komodo was me and Icecap was my “friend” because Icecap had a lot more karma, thus it would be easier to make him appear to be a separate person.
Paxley: Did you have any other alts?
GGFan: When I met SamG he gave me his alt, “Dink402,” which was level 31, I believe (another account with unlimited posting privileges). I was loaded now.
Paxley: That’s kind of funny, then. You didn’t make any of these accounts yourself. They were all given to you.
GGFan: It was kind of sad too. I remember being determined never to make alts again, only to be handed more than I ever could have possibly dreamed of; it’s kind of like a recovering addict waking up next to a pile of cocaine and meth. When it’s in front of you, when it’s in the palm of your hands, it’s impossible not to succumb to the temptation.
Paxley: Were there tournaments?
GGFan: No, the only tournament that took place was the GameFAQs Revival Tournament, which took place in July of 2006 or so. Prior to that, I was usually advertising THE Alternative, and ended up gathering quite a few people from GameFAQs as a result.
Paxley: Who from Gamefaqs ended up joining THE Alternative?
GGFan: SamG, Yellow, HizardcoreMike, Kampfer, and Makoscientist are the ones to come to mind immediately.
Paxley: Was there a lot of discussion about the game in 2006?
GGFan: It was OK. It was much better than before, certainly. We would discuss things like “Can (insert Pokemon) be effective in OU, “Should (insert Pokemon) be UU.” Things like that. And THE Alternative had analyses for every fully evolved Pokemon as well as a tier list, so there were at least a couple of resources from which to draw upon.
Paxley: You beat Smogon to the punch, right?
GGFan: Yes, that’s right. Several of their analyses were still missing despite Smogon having over 5,000 members at the time—goes to show you what passion and drive can produce.
Paxley: You also caught Smogon stealing from your analyses, right? The story goes that you noticed they were blatantly copy/pasting some of your analyses, most notably the Arbok one.
GGFan: SamG was actually the one who brought it to my attention; that is, how they copy/pasted my Arbok analysis. Of course I called them out on it, and it caused a lot of controversy. Upon investigating the issue I noticed that they ended up stealing from several of my analyses. It did help boost the site's credibility, if anything, as I believe that's what started to make people see it as the epicenter of competitive RBY.
Paxley: What was Smogon's counter argument? Was there any?
GGFan: Their response was that I was the one who stole from them even though some of their analyses were still missing.
Paxley: LMAO, typical moron Smogons. I wonder if it was ABR or Finchinator's dad who claimed that.
GGFan: Hahahahahahahaha. The rotten apples didn't fall from the trees.
Paxley: Lmao, yeah. Now, let’s talk about the Gamefaqs Revival Tournament. Did you create it? If so, what inspired you to do it?
GGFan: Yes, it was my idea. Since RBY had a distinct playerbase for the first time in a while, I thought it’d be interesting to see if it’d be possible to revitalize the GameFAQs circuit and have this tournament serve as its springboard back into prominence. Most of the participants were more active on THE Alternative, though Redwall also joined.
Paxley: How did it go? Was it successful?
GGFan: It was completed. I beat SamG in the finals in a decent game, but didn’t bother doing anything competitive on GameFAQs afterwards because it was simply illogical. We had our own website, our own forum, our own Netbattle server, our own tournament circuit, and we could instantly ban any troll who would try to derail things. Also, as I told you before, tournaments violated the TOS because they were considered “off topic,” thus they could be deleted. The endeavor of trying to build GameFAQs would have been as fruitful as trying to build a palace with pig shit.
Paxley: So you basically moved the GameFAQs playerbase to THE Alternative.
GGFan: Pretty much. In some ways you could interpret THE Alternative as a spiritual successor to the GameFAQs circuit (a more developed one, though).
Paxley: The GRT took place in July of 2006, right? Was that the last tournament on the RBY boards?
GGFan: Yes, July of 2006. It was the last tournament on those boards, but the Emerald board was hosting the occasional tournament and the Gold board went through a bit of a competitive resurgence (we'll get to those next time).
Paxley: What was the Blue board like afterwards?
GGFan: Brony made a comeback to troll me. There were flamewars every now and then for the next two years, but he didn't persist because his alts kept getting banned whereas mine had too many karma (mods discriminated against users with less karma).
Paxley: The last significant thing you did was beat Pokemon Blue without ever healing in 2007.
GGFan: Yeah, both SamG and I figured it'd be possible to beat the game without ever healing thanks to me realizing how overpowered Squirte is and completing the first credible speedrun with it. We actually both accomplished this feat, but I was the one who documented my playthrough.
Paxley: How did you do it?
GGFan: I chose Squirtle, caught a level 5 Pidgey to spam Sand Attack with, reset if I took too much damage, caught more Pidgeys, caught a Gastly, refilled PP by teaching new moves from the Celadon department store, caught Zapdos, used Gastly to wall Lance, and that's about it.
Paxley: You consider 2008 as the year the Blue board finally died. Why do you feel that way?
GGFan: In 2006 there was still the occasional discussion about compeititve play and a distinct playerbase. Although there was a paucity of information and interest in 2007, the board itself wasn't completely dead yet. By 2008 there was a total absence of relevance; it never got better.
Paxley: How do you feel that people are still interested about your past and want to learn more about the era?
GGFan: I think it's natural for the past to constantly be imbued with new interest, as we always want to be able to trace the development of things from their beginnings. In my case, I'm equivalent to a baseball player who started in the deadball era yet somehow managed to keep playing for the next 90 years. Obviously, you'd want to talk to me, as I'm simply too interesting to ignore.
Paxley: How do you think your acheivements in the Gamefaqs era stack up to, say, Pokemon Perfect?
GGFan: When I broke in, most tournaments were best of one, and the mechanics were vastly different. Trapping moves and Counter didn't work at all, Focus Energy was broken, Burn was broken, and so on. I would say the RBY I played in 2003 and 2018 were two entirely separate metagames, even if the Pokemon used were almost the same. As for legitimacy, all you have to do is look at how well Hipmonlee would end up performing on Smogon and look at my three-year reign as the #2 ranked player on Pokemon Perfect's leaderboard. There are a couple of other examples, too: Nitro played on Pokemon Perfect in its first year and did great in the GSC touraments, for one. The best players of that era would be able to adjust to the game now. Actually, I guess I'm a bad example in that I'm the longest active player ever, whereas the other two didn't play for several years.
Paxley: How do you feel about bo1 in general?
GGFan: To only scrutinize RBY in that regard is an ineffably stupid concept that, of course, gained precedence on Smogon. I was happy when it was best of one in POCL in 2018, the year our team won. I don't mind best-of-one play.
Paxley: Before we go, I have to point out that I find it funny you ended up winning 20 tournaments on Gamefaqs, not TOO far off from the fake number used to troll your adversaries.
GGFan: Yeah, the GRT was the 20th and last tournament I won on the Blue board (I would win one more on the Gold board).
Paxley: Well, that's just about everything. We'll continue next time with the Emerald and Gold boards.
GGFan: Great--definitely looking forward to that discussion.