Meet the Modder - Peter Dickison (aka G-gnome)

Meet the Modder - Peter Dickison (aka G-gnome)


Introduction

G-gnome has gone from relative obscurity to modding-mega stardom in the space of a few short weeks, all thanks to his first project, Orac³. The project is a unique blend of ultra modern clear-and-chrome chic, with a hint of retro Sci-Fi style. Although still a work in progress, it has attracted more attention than any other project I've known! What is even more unbelievable is that this is G-gnome’s first project. Living in Australia, when not at work or modding, he can be found playing Raven Shield in his free time.

The Interview

Matt: Before we start I'd just like to thank you on behalf of PC Review for agreeing to this interview.
G-gnome: It’s my pleasure Matt.

Matt: In your project log you mention that Orac³ (unbelievably) is your first ever modding project, how did you discover the world of modding?
G-gnome: I was right into computer gaming last year and, after owning a few beige boxes over the years, wanted to build my own system. I downloaded a few guides, read some magazines and built my own. I found I quite enjoyed the hands-on messing about with the internals and was surprised at how easy it was. I discovered Lian Li cases while surfing for components – they weren’t common in Australia at the time – and thought the aluminium look was very cool. So you could say my first exposure to modding, if you can call it that was a PC65 pre-mod window. Oh how things have changed… At the beginning of the year I wanted to build a second system and while surfing websites looking at reviews to see what parts I should get for it I discovered BiT-Tech and Mod-the-box and my eyes opened wider and wider and my jaw just literally dropped to the floor – these things were works of art! I was hooked and just knew I wanted to do something like this with my case. I had busted up my ankle while parachuting and can’t do a lot of the active things I used to enjoy so decided here was a new thing I could try.

Matt: In just a few short weeks you have risen to the status of modder elite, having your work featured everywhere and even joining the Bit-Tech staff team. What has this journey been like for you?
G-gnome: Fairly Hectic (understatement). I had been lurking at BiT-Tech for a few months while I was planning and working on the case asking the odd question and generally being the annoying newbie. I wanted to post the project there when I felt I had something worthwhile to show, basically to get feedback and show BiT-Tech how much they had inspired me to get out there and have a go at modding. I had no idea that the project would grab the interest of so many people (especially as, like you mentioned, it’s not finished yet). Moose at BiT-Tech did this amazing analysis of only a few minutes of traffic to the thread in the first week and it seems like most of the interest has come from hundreds upon hundreds of different sites rather than a few big ones like we thought (e.g. [H]ardocp, etc.) – Moose put it best when he called it a case of “uber word-of-mouth”. When the guys at BiT-Tech invited me to join the staff there I jumped at the opportunity (as you do). I have a busy full-time job and family life and get little time to Mod, let alone post a lot on forums, answer emails, etc so this has all added to the hectic nature of the last few weeks. In the near future I hope to concentrate on modding and stay off the forums for a while unless to post articles or project updates (I get tired and cranky otherwise) ;)

Matt: You say you took your inspiration for the Orac³ project from the sci-fi series Blakes 7, what made you choose this particular computer out of all the others in sci-fi to take your inspiration from?
G-gnome: I am a long-time fan of vintage British Sci-Fi. I watched Blakes 7 as a kid and followed (and videotaped) every episode – Orac being a particular favourite as Peter Tuddenham had done such a wonderful job with the voice and characterisation. As a kid I would have loved to have had a computer like it. The physical dimensions and look of the original Orac lent themselves perfectly to creating a case along those lines.

Matt: Although this project draws this inspiration from the television series, it is clearly very unique; who or what else has influenced your work?
G-gnome: I used to collect late 60’s/early 70’s futuristic furniture (all that bright-coloured, curvy plastic stuff) and particularly like the whole ‘retro-futurism’ thing – basically the 60’s, 70’s (and to a lesser extent 80’s) view of what the future would be like. You can see it in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and in other old SciFi series. I also like the art direction (or lack of) in bad post-apocalypse movies (Steel Dawn, Salute of the Jugger, etc, etc). I come from a fairly creative family and have an artistic background which helps – my twin-sister is a brilliant Graphic Designer and I spent several years working as a photographer shooting fairly edgy stuff for fashion magazines and advertising agencies. I got to photograph some pretty cool people and was fortunate to work with a lot of talented stylists and art directors. Of course, the works of great modders like Macroman, Mashie, Zapwizard, Hi-Tek, etc have influenced me as well. If I hadn’t seen Macroman’s ‘Macro Black’ I don’t think I would be as hooked on modding as I now am – it really inspired me.

Matt: I can remember feeling like that the first time I saw that case as well. It’s clear by your attention to detail that you take a great pride and pleasure in your work; what does modding mean to you and how does it fit in to your life?
G-gnome: For me, modding is part artistic satisfaction, part relief from life’s stresses, part escapism. I enjoy being creative, coming up with ideas and turning them into reality. Modding can take over more than it should sometimes but there is a lot more to life than making computer cases so I try and keep it all in perspective. Life has to be balanced.

Matt: In light of the overwhelming success of the project, some people have expressed concern that you might simply be a ‘one-mod wonder’, what are your thoughts on this?
G-gnome: I totally understand that some people might think this. I myself know from all the time and money I have put into the project that it will be hard for me to top. However I have already started planning my next case and I think I am more excited about it than I was when I planned the current project. Being the newest staff-writer at BiT-Tech should also keep me happily modding (and writing about it) for a long time to come.

Matt: Your current project isn’t even complete and already people are in anticipation of your next modding feats. What can we expect to see from you in the future?
G-gnome: Another SciFi inspired (this time custom-built) case. I don’t think anyone will have seen anything like it in modding circles (I certainly haven’t). But I plan on finishing Orac³ first!

Matt: ...I can't wait! Thanks for your time G-gnome.
G-gnome: Anytime Matt. I better go Mod something … where did I put my router ….?*G-gnome wanders off muttering to himself…*

Final Thoughts

After interviewing G-gnome I'm bubbling with anticipation, not only over his current project, but over the promises of future ones as well. In my opinion G-gnome has to be one of the best modders out there, not only does he have the imagination, creativity and skill to create a work of art like the Orac³ but also a great attitude and I'm sure the modding community will be greatly better off because of him; I'm certain that his fresh perspective will continue to push forward the modding scene in new directions for years to come.

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Matt Jason H
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