Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our recent 2021 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write and imagine their characters.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Commander Addison MacKenzie, playing a Human First Officer assigned to the USS Excalibur. She won the Boothby Award, given to those trainers who go above and beyond their Academy Training Requirements, and the Strange Medallion, given to those who perform above the call of duty in the position of First Officer.
DeVeau: In your last interview, you mentioned that you’re a professional musician. What instrument(s) do you play, and how did you get started into music?
Well, the long and short of it is I’m a conductor, and I work with professional and collegiate orchestras and bands. I started in 4th grade as a flute player and was pretty good, but a few years later, my middle school band director told me I might make a good oboe player and that I might get money for college – he was right, and I did. I got into (and stayed in) music because I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of really excellent teachers over the years.
You have been a member of the Training team for two years now and won the Boothby Award in our 2021 ceremony for your dedication. What inspired you to become a part of this vital aspect of our group?
I really enjoy teaching. I always have. The trainers are the first points of contact new players have with our game, so we’re not only responsible for showing them the ropes but also making them feel welcome. To me, it’s always interesting getting to meet the new members and giving them feedback on their writing. Each person is different – some are quite skilled, and some need very focused guidance. It’s a delicate balance, which is part of the fun for me.
What is the biggest challenge about serving on this team?
Part of leading the training missions means making an accurate assessment of the cadets, which includes possibly turning away someone who might be very enthusiastic about joining but who just can’t grasp our style of writing. This is pretty rare, but having to tell them they aren’t where we need them to be is always makes me feel a little sad.
In July 2020, you became First Officer of the USS Resolution and are now FO of the USS Excalibur-A, but you had served as an acting First Officer briefly before that. Would you share about that experience?
Oh, yes! That was a really fun time for me, and it wasn’t supposed to have ever happened! I was stationed back on the USS Veritas, and they had assigned part of the crew to the USS Diligent for part of the mission. Our group was headed by the Veritas XO who needed to take a very sudden LOA. At that point, Brian (Geoffrey Teller) moved up to lead that group and made me acting first officer. There was a lot of trouble in that mission – it was insanely fun to write!
How did that help you when you were assigned to your long-term position as First Officer?
When you’re moving into a command position, it very much becomes about the other people in your writing group and much less about you. You have to be thinking about the larger picture – How does everyone fit into a scene, what roles do they play, what are their strengths and weaknesses, etc. You look at the game in a much more strategic way. When I was on the Diligent, it was a chance to flex some command skills in a safe environment – Commodore Rahman and the rest of the command staff were still there, but we really got a lot of freedom to lead our mini-group.
What advice would you give to other First Officers, especially those who are new to the role?
Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself or have all the answers straight out of the gate. Figure out what parts of the role you do well and stick to it. You can always delegate other aspects of the job to various members of the crew and create a shared sense of responsibility. But, most importantly, don’t take the role so seriously. It’s definitely a lot of OOC and IC work, but if you’re not having fun, there’s something wrong!
Thanks for your time, Commander MacKenzie!
You can read more about Commander MacKenzie on the wiki.