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Ambassador spotlight: SunkNath

If you don’t know SunkNath yet, then we’d love to introduce you to him! SunkNath has been a member of the Ambassadors Program for quite some time, and as you’ll learn, he’s well-acquainted with our history. The Ambassadors Program isn’t the only way SunkNath keeps himself busy helping others, however; in addition to engaging with our community, he also doubles as an active Beta Tester as well as an established volunteer within his university town’s community. Read on to learn how SunkNath is getting involved in — from testing Windows products to helping create a space for children to learn from and enjoy video games at their local library.

How long have you been a member of the Xbox Community? What do you love most about playing on Xbox Live?

Oh, my. Where do we start?

I have been on Xbox Live for five years – [as I] joined back in 2011. I love the community, making new friends while playing online with others. The laughs we can get, and the people we can meet is extraordinary. I play with mixed age groups and am open to having a laugh and gaming with anyone.

What sorts of games do you play in your free time?

All sorts of games: Gears of War, Minecraft, Call of Duty, Roblox, Forza and Grand Theft Auto. Really depends on what mood I am in, as to which games I play. I mainly like my First-Person Shooters, Roleplaying Games, and action-packed games. [I] especially [like] the games you need to think about what you’re doing, and how this will impact your objective.

What are your all-time favorite games?

What a tough question! Has to be: 1. Rainbow Six because of the strategy behind it, as you can’t always do Call of Duty-style and run in like headless chickens; 2. GTA because of the ability to free roam and do what you want; and 3. Battlefield, as it has big maps and you have access to more vehicles that you can use. You [can] mainly find me in the air in a fighter jet.

Do you have an exciting gaming story you’d like to share (Ex. Unlocking a prized Achievement, a fascinating story moment in a game you haven’t been able to shake, etc.)?

A group of friends and I were building on Minecraft on my world when we decided we were going to build a rollercoaster. We started off with a small one and gradually made it bigger. We made it so big that it now takes 10 minutes to ride it fully, and it passes through five different biomes. It free falls from the highest point of the map and goes to the very bottom of the map – at bed rock level. This took my friends and I five months to build.

I wouldn’t recommend going on the rollercoaster in survival mode. As when it comes to the free falling bit, you do die.

When and how did you hear about the Ambassadors Program? How have you seen the Program grow?

I had first been told about the Xbox Ambassadors Program when I was participating within the Microsoft Community. One of the Moderators for the Zune Forums told me that I could become an Xbox Ambassador and that I should try and apply. So I did in November 2012.

The Ambassador community has grown since then, with more Ambassadors who are willing to help others! When I first joined the Ambassadors Program, we had the old Xbox blogs, and I remember that one of the loots was the ability to blog within the Xbox.com Blogs at Level 9. They had also just introduced five new Levels of the Ambassadors Program, meaning you could work your way up to a Level 15 Ambassador.

We also had Miss Ermine, and they had just introduced the Xbox Ambassadors account to start posting Announcements in the Forums. Miss Ermine was responsible for the Ambassadors Program, and she worked with us to ensure we were happy and answered the questions we wanted answers for. We didn’t have the Ambassadors Support Forums, so it was all posted within the main Xbox Ambassadors Forum, which sometimes was overwhelming.

In a previous conversation, you mentioned being part of the Ambassadors Program when Skype bots were a main mode of support. Can you talk a bit more about that?

Yeah! I still have the old friend on Skype, although it doesn’t talk much.

We could use the Ambassadors Bank of questions or the Skype mega bot. This was when we still had hotmail.co.uk and live.co.uk. We often needed to sign into Skype, though, to use it. It would come up with one question at a time, with three options: ‘take the question,’ ‘leave the question’ or ‘troll’. If you picked ‘leave the question,’ it would then ask you if you were available to take another question. What I found funny was the option ‘never ask me again,’ which would stop it from asking you.

You mentioned in our previous conversation that you’re a big fan of Beta testing. Why is this? How did you get started Beta testing, and what products/services are you currently doing testing for?

I’m involved in Beta testing [because] I love trying products before release [and] seeing how they develop and getting hands on [experience] with finding bugs within the software. I also like to write about what I test, and it enables me to be ready to help people with the product(s) I have tested when they are released to the public. With Windows 10 and Office, I get training materials made available to me as a benefit of being a Moderator and Wiki Author on the Microsoft Community website. This is also helpful as we see new features before the software is released.

I started Beta testing when I was in Year 11. I tested the new Outlook.com website when they merged it with Skype. I then began to test updates for the Xbox 360 Dashboard and enjoyed every minute of it.

I am currently Beta testing: Xbox Updates (Xbox One Preview Program); Windows PC and Phone Updates (Windows Insider); Office Updates (Office Insider Program) and any games that are available to me to test.

You originally reached out to me regarding your involvement with libraries local to your University town. Can you talk a bit about this?

I volunteer my time and energy at the library, helping people with computer-related problems and helping the children with their homework if they are stuck. I also help with the Summer Reading challenge, which promotes reading and makes it fun for the children.

I am also going to be teaching children how to code with Code Club, which is also [at the library where I volunteer.]

Throughout the summer, and [during] the summer reading challenge, I had asked about taking my Xbox One console into the library so the children could play. This is because I felt that this would keep the children out of mischief, as they will have something to do and look forward to. So the manager decided to let me run the Xbox event as a trial to see how it works out over the summer.

The reason why I help at the libraries and in schools is because I am wanting to become a Teacher in IT and Computing in secondary schools (ages 11 to 16), and have seen that I can pick up valuable experience if I work/volunteer in libraries and schools.

What games are most popular at the Library? Are you planning to bring any specific titles this holiday?

The games that were most popular were FIFA and Minecraft. We [also] had a Pixel art event, which allowed children to create artwork on their own or in groups.

I am hoping to do a Halloween-type event where the kids can build a fun scary house with the Halloween texture pack that is available in Minecraft. However, this still needs to be authorized by the library’s managers.

You said you were studying to become a teacher, correct? Do you think there’s any overlap between that career choice and your involvement in the Ambassadors Program?

I am wanting to be a teacher in IT and Computing. I have always loved to help and teach people new things. Whether it is teaching children how to keep safe [online] or parents how to set up family settings, I am always willing to help and teach people new things.

I am always enthusiastic when it comes to technology, including Xbox. So yeah, I think the Xbox Ambassadors Program has some part to play in me wanting to be a teacher!

I know you mentioned starting on Xbox in 2011, but given your work at the library, I’m wondering when you first started gaming and whether it was any earlier than that.

I first started gaming when I was five years old, playing rally games and Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation 1. I then moved on to PlayStation 2 when I was about eight years old, amd then PC when I was 11, playing Stronghold 2 and free online games. In 2011, I moved onto Xbox 360 and stayed on Xbox [consoles] ever since.

What current Ambassador activities do you most like taking part in, and why? (These can be social – such as tuning in for streams!)

Has to be [engaging] the community of Ambassadors. I’m friends with some Ambassadors, although with University I don’t find much time to play online or help people. My biggest love of the Program is helping others. I love to try and help others within the community Forums and in the Ambassador Support Chat. It is always a good feeling when you have answered someone’s question and made their day.

Do you have a specific memory related to your time as an Ambassador you’d like to share?

Oh, god, about six shiploads of memories.

This person was going to give up on his Xbox [console], as he was not able to play online as it kept disconnecting him from Xbox Live. I decided to help him and guided him though the support articles, ensuring he understood what [the support articles were] getting him to do.

After spending one hour with the player, we found out it was because of the speed that the network provider had given them […] After they had sorted the connection out, he was thankful that I stuck by and helped the best I could – even if it took an hour.

What do you hope to see from the Xbox Ambassadors Program in the future?

I would like to see more opportunities to help folk at Xbox, and within the Community, with testing. Like the chance to test a new console or device being worked on.

Most importantly is more ways for us Ambassadors to get involved as a community, [like] hosting Xbox Playdates, not just for Ambassadors, but for the wider Xbox Community on Xbox Live, and having our Playdates advertised on the Xbox Home under “Community,” where everyone can see it and connect when they want to. I think that way we can make the Xbox Community better.

[Also] being able to write articles on the support website or Forums – like we can on the Microsoft Community (Wiki Articles) – that we can maintain and attach videos to, so the community/reader is able to get a clearer picture on how to do something. I have found when you’re trying to teach someone something, sometimes they learn better [by] being shown first and then [by] doing it for themselves. At least with the videos being created by us, they are able to see how to do something which can be easier for them.

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