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Interview from 11 years ago

Over a decade ago the HT's wanted to publish a book for the 10 year anniversary of Hattrick. This was never published, but the interviews are still lying around. Here is my interview as the president of the Flag Chasers Community (12497) back in 2007.

Flagchasers: Globetrotters with a Cause

Within the transnational Hattrick universe, the most global manifestation of them all might be the Flag Chasers Community (FCC). This federation, created with the best and most noble intentions, soon captivated the adventurous spirit of thousands of Hattrickers. It became, and still is, HT’s most popular federation. But the flag chasers and their hard efforts to add yet another flag to their international CV have turned into one of the most controversial aspects in the world of Hattrick. Users in the smallest HT countries, and thus the owners of the rarest flags, are not happy with the most fanatic chasers, be they members of FCC or not. Jeroen Janssen (Djens), FCC’s “Lead Concept Designer”, explains why.

Player profile:
Jeroen Janssen (Djens)
25 years old, poor form, healthy.
A pleasant guy who is temperamental and honest.
Has inadequate experience and inadequate leadership abilities.
Location: Rotterdam, Holland.
Living with: Girlfriend and two cats.
Occupation: Business Administration student.
Joined HT: July, 2004.
HT-team: Yo soy el hacho
Division: VI.689
Time dedicated to HT: On average, 5-6 hours a day. (I hope my dad won’t read the book).
Favourite team(s): PSV Eindhoven and Liverpool.

Specialty as a player: None.

Stamina: inadequate Keeper: passable
Playmaking: inadequate Passing: excellent
Winger: poor Defending: inadequate
Scoring: outstanding Set pieces: solid

Jeroen seems to be rather lost. In fact, he is lost. He shouldn’t be. After all, we’re hooking up on what should be his home turf, the immense Rotterdam Erasmus University. Jeroen’s been a student here for more than six years, but as we stroll along never-ending corridors looking for a good place for our interview he makes a confession:

- I can’t even remember the last time I was here. I try to study at home, and I’ve been working a lot alongside my studies, but I hope I’ll graduate next year.

Apart from work there are other time-consuming factors contributing to Jeroen being a student veteran. One is football: he plays, and scores many goals, for a university team, in the lowest division of the official Dutch series system. Another one is…well, you guessed it…Hattrick in general and Flag Chasers Community (FCC) in particular. Dedicating a solid five hours a day to the HT world doesn’t really leave you with much spare time.

Jeroen tells me that FCC became an instant hit. The founder of the federation, Swiss (former) manager Henri77, created FCC in August 2004 and managed to get 50 users on the very first day. His idea was to promote the interaction between HT users from different countries and cultures by inventing another, and powerful, incentive to play international friendlies: collecting foreign flags and keeping track of your collection.

- Many Hattrickers, including myself, were already playing international friendlies when FCC was founded. I think exploring and travelling the world, even in a virtual way, is something that has always appealed to people, that’s why FCC soon became the biggest Hattrick federation of all times, Jeroen says about its currently 7,700 members.

As age-old as humankind’s yearning for exploring the unknown is our instinct to compete. The pioneers of FCC were collecting nationalities even before flags were introduced in the HT universe, keeping track of them manually in a way that made any kind of verification impossible. The appearance of national flags in XXXX changed that, however, and a lot of other things as well.

FCC created its logo (see screenshot), to which you add a new flag by logging into the FCC homepage, adding the country x by checking the appropriate box, and than upload your newly generated logo somewhere online. All of a sudden flag collections became visible – and a source of enormous pride for successful chasers.

- Chasing flags is all about bragging, but in a good-natured kind of way. The more flags you’ve got, the more bragging right you have, Jeroen admits.

The appearance of national flags turned collecting flags into chasing, or hunting, them. A barely noticeable change, one might think, but this semantic modification of the name of the game made competition fiercer, at least for some flag chasers. It didn’t take long before the obsession with conquering flags made a small proportion of flag chasers, members or not of FCC (or of other flag chasing federations), go out of their way to add rare flags to their collections.

Desperate, or just enthusiastic, flag chasers send more or less friendly HT-mails to managers in small and/or new HT countries like Mongolia, Iraq, Benin, Armenia, Suriname and the like, asking for an international friendly. They write identical notes, with the same request, in the guestbook of managers in Algeria, Barbados or Nicaragua. Some even offer owners of teams in exotic (and sometimes poor) countries a tempting deal: a free Supporter package for that hard-to-get friendly…and the triumph and bragging right that comes with having that rare flag in your logo.

So, what’s the problem? If you ask the unfortunate HT player in one of the attractive flag countries he or she will point out that we are not talking about one or a few chasers who resort to the above-mentioned strategies. There are several hundreds of them, maybe even thousands of them. This means that an Iraqi manager is likely to receive hundreds of unwanted HT-mails or guestbook postings – every single week. Apart from the inconvenience caused by such behaviour - some of the victims of this unwanted attention get so sick and tired of it that they actually quit the game altogether – it’s a problem because challenging teams by means of unwanted HT-mails or guestbook entries is considered spamming and is forbidden. On the receiving end of the spamming, on the other hand, you find HT managers in exotic countries who shamelessly demand a Supporter package to agree to play a friendly. Some even advertise their “price” for a friendly on their team page, which of course is as forbidden as spamming.

Jeroen sighs when we talk about the spamming question. He doesn’t deny that it is a serious problem, but he thinks that FCC, being the biggest of the flag chaser federations, gets more of the blame than it deserves.

- My federation has some 7,700 members, most of them don’t spam at all. At the same time, the number of flag chasing spammers is a lot bigger than that. Of course there are bad apples in FCC as well, but it’s pretty obvious that most of the spamming troublemakers are not FCC members but members of other federations or not even HT Supporters.

Jeroen assures me that he does what he can to combat spammers in his federation. Whenever he finds out about someone who has spammed he blocks the logo of that member. While the logo will still be visible on the page of the user, he or she won’t be able to update it with more flags.

- The problem is that there are at least a handful of other places where you can get hold of our logo. That’s sad, but there’s nothing we can do about it, Jeroen laments.

Another example of proactive actions taken by Jeroen is the “report abuse” button that was recently (in October 2007) introduced in HT and nowadays accompanies every HT-mail you receive.

- We suggested a button like this two years ago. It took some time, but now it’s there and that’s good. With this button all the spam victim has to do to report the aggressor is to press a single button. In the pre-button era he or she would have to save the HT-mails, send them to the appropriate GM and just hope that someone would do something about it.

Despite the problems caused by less scrupulous flag chasers Jeroen strongly believes that flag chasing adds exciting and positive dimensions to the HT experience.

- It stimulates cross-border interaction and is an excellent way of learning more about different cultures and to make friends all over the world. Collecting flags, or at least being a member of FCC, makes it easier to meet foreigners and to personalize your experience of HT, he says, and gives me a few examples:

- In my federation people talk about everything that’s related to cultural things. We’ve got people who exchange recipes, others sign up in our postcard topic to exchange real postcards with each other. People keep in touch and help each other out. At one point I sent information about studying in Rotterdam to a German guy who actually became a student at my university.

Apart from being helpful to each other, flag chasers are creative people. To enhance their HT experience they have invented a number of different flag-related games (read more about them on the FCC website www.flagchasers.com), and a variety of ways of chasing flags. Some go for the most beautiful flags. Others choose to concentrate on countries that they have visited in real life, or places where they’d like to go. Another group of flag chasers play “bingo”, trying to complete rows and columns within the FCC logo.

Jeroen himself chose a different FCC category: instead of chasing flags by travelling abroad he’s been trying to convince foreign teams to play friendlies at his own home arena. Quite successfully, one should add: teams from exactly 100 different countries have played at Hellgate #1 in Rotterdam. He doesn’t, however, count on receiving any exotic teams any more.

- The last flags are extremely difficult to get hold of, you need lots and lots of patience, and a healthy dose of luck. When I reached a hundred I switched to chasing. I’ve got a looooong way to go, so far I’ve only got eight flags.


Link to the forum: (17224847.1).

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2018-11-26 14:36:52, 2686 visitas

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