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Interview with StarSlay3r, Top Female U.S. Gamer

Ciji ‘StarSlay3r’ Thornton has been gaming since she was a child and began playing competitively in 1998. She has won many Guitar Hero competitions since then and has ranked up to a total of over 30 top five finishes in nine different games in three genres.

Thornton is considered one of the top female gamers in America and is a threat to many top teams and players. She has been ranked as high as fifth worldwide for Guitar Hero: World Tour in 2008.

Thornton also made history in 2009 by being the first female in the World Cyber Games (WCG) to ever compete on Team USA, and she is considered the best female in Guitar Hero based on tournament players.

She was also a contestant on popular TV shows such as WCG Ultimate Gamer and Sony’s The Tester.

Telkom Do Gaming caught up with Thornton for a chat.

Telkom Do Gaming (DG): Hey Ciji, thanks for taking time out to chat to us.

Thank you for having me!

DG: How long have you been playing Guitar Hero for?

I've been playing Guitar Hero since shortly after its original release date in 2005.

DG: So what would you say is the secret to a good Guitarist Hero?

Being good at Guitar Hero just takes practice. I had been playing a similar game called Guitar Freaks since 1999, so when Guitar Hero first came out I was already playing on Hard difficulty.

If you practice a good 20 hours a week and review the forums for star paths, tapping, and other techniques you will see a drastic improvement in your performance. Practice makes perfect!

DG: What has been your most memorable achievement in Guitar Hero?

My first time competing at a national level on Gamespot's tournament TV was pretty memorable. I had so much fun and ranked third in the nation for Guitar Hero 3, beating out the top ranking Wii Guitar Hero player which was something that I was really proud of.

I was also pretty surprised when WCG offered me the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Pan American Championships for Guitar Hero last year. That was an awesome time and it led to me taking first place in Rock Band while I was there!

DG: Apart from Guitar Hero, you also play Street Fighter IV. How is that going? Any recent competitive wins?

Street Fighter has proved to be one of the most difficult games for me to master... probably ever. Most of the time I pick up games very fast but this past year of playing the game has definitely been one full of learning, and I'm still learning every day!

My most recent tournament placements were fourth, fifth and seventh when I competed in New York last month, and I recently placed fourth place with my team RM519 and Steve the Champion at the UGTL tournament this past Saturday.

I have been placing top eight in tournaments lately which has been a great accomplishment. I even got my first OCV (one character victory) singlehandedly, taking out a team of two top players in New York at the CTF tournament last month, which was a great show of how much my skills have improved in the past year.

DG: How does it feel to be the most recognisable female in gaming?

I don't know if I'd say I'm the most recognizable female in the gaming industry, but the fact that so many people know who I am and acknowledge me more for my skills than the fact that I'm just a female in the industry is something that makes me happy, since it shows me that my hard work is not going unnoticed.

I really hope to see more female gamers popping up as time goes on because I really think that there are too many really talented female gamers out there that aren't getting the recognition that they deserve.

DG: Having been on both WCG Ultimate Gamer and The Tester, you have become somewhat of a television celebrity too. Do people just recognise you in the streets?

Yeah, I get recognised at some really random places. I've been recognised when doing everything from shopping for clothes and buying games at Gamestop to getting my brakes checked at Pep Boys.

It's pretty crazy how many people watched the shows and can recognise me on the street but that's a good sign because it means that the shows were a success.

DG: Being so recognised, you must get hit on like crazy at LANs, right?

Actually no, it's quite the opposite. I think guys are most nervous to approach me when I'm hanging out at LANs or video game tournaments. I think the majority of the guys see a girl at a LAN or whatever and just assume that she's there with her boyfriend or whatever, and I usually go with a group of friends so I can see how that could be their thoughts. Don't be shy guys!

DG: Ultimate Gamer was predominantly an Xbox competition while The Tester was PlayStation 3. Which is your preferred console and why?

Ahh, I get asked this question a lot actually... I used to be really hardcore into PlayStation because of the Final Fantasy series and I have been a PlayStation Gamer Advisory Panel member for five years, and am a fan of the PS2.

A couple years ago I bought the Xbox 360, since I noticed a trend with tournaments all going over to 360 and figured it'd be beneficial for me to have the system to practice the games on.

I never got around to buying a PS3 but do play some games on it. I don't really think one console is better than the other per sê, but I just personally prefer to play on the 360 due to the fact that I'm a competitive gamer and it's in my best interest to use one.

DG: In The Tester you used the nick ‘Star’. Why did you shorten it? Where did the nick ‘StarSlay3r’ come from?

StarSlay3r originally came from taking StarScream and Team Slayer and ‘Leet Speek’ and combining the three. Since my name was StarSlay3r on Ultimate Gamer, and since the name StarSlay3r was taken on PS3 already (and not by me), my name was shortened to Star for legal purposes.

DG: So when you aren’t shredding guitar and rocking the Street Fighter, what keeps you busy? Any interesting hobbies?

I am busy working on some deals with companies right now and I am doing a lot of top secret things that will soon be unveiled.

I am also working on organising a tournament with TecHNaSTy in New York. I always have something going on whether it's organising events, doing promotional or marketing work for a company, or practicing for a tournament. It's a bit overwhelming at times, but totally worth it in the end.

DG: Well we won’t keep you! Thanks for your time Ciji.

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