Interview with Captain Stephanie Gionchetta

Ahoy Captains! 

Many of us love to think that we arrr the type of person to go rescue someone and do something truly daring that really matters.
I be sure that the Seven Seas arrr full of brave Pirates who arrr ready to come to the rescue o’ those who arrrrr in trouble. And today we have the honor o’ talking to one such person. That’s right me scurvy landlubbers! An extremely courageous and caring person be here with me today! Stephanie Gionchetta be a Pirate lady with a big heart an’ a charming smile!
Anne Bonnie (A.B.): It be a pleasure to have you aboard me ship, Stephanie. I've never interviewed Pirate ladies before, you arrr the very first one who visited me. Please tell me a little about yerself. When and why did ye decide to become a Pirate?
Stephanie Gionchetta (S.G.): Well, my name is Stephanie. I’m 35. I retired from the military due to an accident that occurred when I was on duty. Now, in my spare time, I volunteer as a lifeguard and medic for one of Belgium's Search and Rescue Services at sea. I’m also active as an emergency nurse for an ambulance service, and I’m a Navy Cadet instructor.
In September 2014, I was looking for a way to keep myself busy during the time I spent at home just waiting for my pager to go off, as well as when I was at the base waiting around. I was looking for a nice social game, one where you can play it and grow but at the same time not play it alone, and I found Pirates: Tides of Fortune. I’ve been playing ever since.
A.B.: Do ye prefer conquering the Seven Seas on yer own? Or do ye value the social aspect of the game and earnin’ glory with yer Brotherhood members?
S.G.: I like to do a bit of both actually… On the one hand, I like growing my island and troops so I can go out and fight for a place in the Rankings. That’s loads of fun!
On the other hand, I like to do what other Pirates did for me once, which is to help new members grow in the game. I enjoy pursuing common goals and fighting alongside my Brotherhood (BH) family to make our BH known on the Seven Seas.

Brotherhood Achievements

A.B.: Is there a specific Brotherhood Achievement your Brotherhood is currently working towards?
S.G.: Oh, well…. There are several! For 2016, we decided we would go medal hunting and try to get as high in the Rankings as we could.

Life as a rescue officer

A.B.: Good luck to ye and yer Crew! I am sure we will hear about yer scurvy Pirate deeds soon! I heard a rumor that ye not only sail on the Seven Seas looking for treasures but also rescue people that get in trouble. Is that true, Captain?
S.G.: Yes, it is. As I already said, I’m a lifeguard/medic for a Search and Rescue Service. We use fast rescue boats to get to people or ships experiencing difficulties at sea. I’m part of a small group of 30 volunteers who stand-by 24/7 to help and rescue those in need. This can be in ports, shorelines, and even far out at sea. I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years now…
A.B.: What was the most difficult rescue operation you have ever performed?

S.G.: It’s a difficult question since we had a couple over the years… Two of them are popping up in my mind right now… One had a bad outcome. The other one was a beautiful example of how people at sea help each other to reach a common goal.
The first one took place in one of the neighboring harbors. We got a call about a car that drove off the harbor wall with five people still in it. When we got to the scene, the car was nowhere to be seen. One person managed to get out of the car by himself, but the others were still trapped under water. Divers were sent down, and we were there to pull the victims out of the water onto our ship. Sadly, only one person was retrieved, but even after CPR he was a lost cause. We lost five lives that day and had to help one of the divers who went above and beyond to rescue those people. It was an intense rescue with a sad outcome, but it’s part of the job, you can’t save them all…

 Capture of Gionchetta Rescue mission

The other one is a more recent rescue that made world news. A big LNG tanker had hit a cargo ship. The cargo ship was sinking, and 11 people had to jump into the water. This intervention was a textbook one. All 11 victims were saved, not only by our service but as a result of a joint effort of every single ship in the area. It was a rescue I won't forget any time soon. 

Gionchetta on the job

Keeping calm

A.B.: Stephanie, how do ye manage to stay calm when crises occur? Does yer life experience help ye develop and lead yer Pirate Brotherhood?
S.G.: Let’s just say I find it easier to stay calm in a real life crisis than in a game one. In real life crises, when on the job, you know people's lives depend on your doing the right thing. In-game crises can make me explode. Thankfully, just like in real life, you can find support from others in the game.  

Does it help to develop and lead? Well, on some level it does. I can bring structure to my BH using my military background. I can teach my members things I do in real life. But on some level it’s not always that simple since I have a tendency to bring my personal troubles to the game, and that’s not always much appreciated.

Staying in shape

A.B.: In one of our conversations, ye mentioned that ye just returned from training. Could ye tell us about it, please? How important is it for ye to stay in good shape? Do ye expect the same attitude from yer Brotherhood members?
S.G.: The moment you asked me if I would agree to answer some questions, I was in a camp with the navy cadets. The navy cadets are kids and young adults who are thinking about a career in the army or navy - thinking about a career in the nautical world basically. We give them some basic training in a military structure. That specific camp is one of the land camps, where they learn to read and use maps. Some of them are taught how to be good team leaders while others learn to camp out in the snow and work together as a group. All things they can use in real life.
Training and staying in good shape, however, is important in every single aspect of what I do. Without training, you lose your skills and the endurance you need to fulfill your duty.
In a way, yes, I expect this of my BH members but I always have to remind myself that Pirates is just a game, and not every single player is there with the same mentality or has the same idea about playing. Where I can take it too seriously from time to time, others are there with no other intention than keeping themselves busy and have fun in their own way. And that’s all good.
A.G.: Captain, what makes ye come back to the game again and again?
S.G.: The people, for sure. Over the past year I have met some amazing people in the game. Some I only know in the game, while others I took the time to meet in real life. Some have helped me through difficult times and with others I have had a whole lot of fun. Every single one of them makes the game fun to come back to, even though I could have slapped some of the players I’ve met for being nasty.

Plans for the future

A.B.: What are your plans for the future?
S.G.: Isn’t that the million-dollar question! I don’t know yet, to be honest… Right now, I’m taking it as it comes, making myself useful in real life, enjoying friends, family, and loved ones.
As a Pirate, I hope to keep on annoying people, grow my island and my BH, continue having lots of fun, meet a bunch of great other Pirates and, hopefully, keep on playing for a long, long time.
A.B.: Stephanie, a scurvy thanks for visiting me humble abode and sharing yer amazing life story with us! I be proud to have a Matey like ye! Ye arrr one of those incredible people who make the world a better place! We'll meet again on the Seven Seas, brave Captain. Good luck!