Caiti Ward, founder and co-ordinator of Roo Teeth, the Australian fan community for machinima production company Rooster Teeth.

Caiti Ward, founder and co-ordinator of Roo Teeth, the Australian fan community for machinima production company Rooster Teeth.

Odds are, if you’re a regular gamer then you’re probably familiar with Red vs Blue, the popular Machinima series made using the Halo engine. If you’re a slightly more hardcore gamer, then you probably also know the people who make Red vs Blue, Rooster Teeth. Well Rooster Teeth make a lot more than a web series now. Starting out as just friends recording Halo jokes in a bedroom, they are now a large company responsible for managing a social networking site, producing vast amounts of digital content (Sketches, Web series and the very popular Achievement Hunter) as well as attending gaming events at numerous expos like Pax, E3 and their own annual Expo RTX.

They’ve grown a lot as a company and so, naturally, has their fanbase. One member of their fanbase is Caiti Ward, who went from simply being a casual fan of the group to the founder and co-ordinator of Roo Teeth, a community for the Australian fans of Roo Teeth. Like Rooster Teeth themselves, what started as a small group of friends has now become a large group itself. I caught up with Caiti late last year to talk about how Roo Teeth came about and what’s in store for the community.

So why don’t you tell us about the beginnings of Roo Teeth and how it all started?

Caiti: Roo Teeth started in February 2011, it was kind of born throught the first Australian Rooster Teeth Street Team gathering . I didn’t have anyone to go to the Armageddon Expo with so I thought ‘Well maybe there are other people who want to go but don’t have anyone to go with?’ So I went onto RoosterTeeth.com, which I’d just started  to be more active on and found some forums and talked to some people and started a group and went from there. Then afterwards we though ‘This is a lot of fun!’ and everyone said it was an incredible experience, we’ve made all these friends, why not make this an annual thing and see how we go? So I started organising RTOZ for October in 2011.

I still find that to be a remarkable achievement and testament to the powers of an internet community. Tom and I actually went to RTOZ this year (2012) and not only was it great to see all those fans in one place but the Q and A with Burnie and Gavin [of Rooster Teeth] was a great highlight. At what point did you guys actually make contact with the people at Rooster Teeth about doing joint events? I mean, it really doesn’t seem like a big period of time between when you were just a small group of fans to getting this direct access to your idols?

Caiti: No, no it really wasn’t. In fact, the amount between that first gathering and when we actually started organising it was only two weeks. It was Matt, Geoff and Griffin [of Rooster Teeth] who attended Armageddon Expo in Feb 2011 so I went up and introduced myself to them and the guys that I was with and explained how it was the Street Team that we’d organised and everything. We told them that we were there just for them and then chatted more about what we’d like to do and stuff like that. And then it was that Saturday night that I said to everyone “Hey, why don’t we do a big event?”. So on the Sunday I went back to them [Matt, Jeff and Griffin] and said what we were thinking about doing and how they felt about being involved?

It also helped further when that same year I went to RTX in May [the Rooster Teeth Expo] where I met all the other staffers, including Burnie, the president of Rooster Teeth, who somehow knew who I was before I’d even met him. It was the strangest thing, I walked up to him and he goes “Heyyyyy Caiti” and I was like “Oh god!”

Ha ha! That’s kind of creepy!

Caiti: I know, right? Burnie Burns the creeper! No, just joking.

That’s extraordinary though. That’s pretty much every fans dream, right? Something that starts as an idea and all of a sudden you’re there, right in the middle of something you’ve always loved. And you’ve had more contact with them since then, you went over and actually helped out with RTX this year. What was that like, helping with an event on their home turf?

Caiti: Well it was very different to when I went the year before. The year before [May 2011] was very much an intimate setting-

Because that was their first RTX wasn’t it?

Caiti: Correct. So this year it was actually a convention setting, so they had 343 Industries there, a bunch of other suppliers selling T-Shirts and merch and whatnot. I also went the first year as a guest but this time as volunteer so that kind of changed the dynamics of things as well but it was pretty amazing I guess, being a part of that. Especially going from running my own events to being in the thick of their event was a really, really good experience. It was also a lot of fun, they are really incredible people and it’s really nice and inspiring to be around them as well.

Now are there any exciting plans in the future? Rooster Teeth have just announced they’ve got a new web series coming out, a new animated series by Monty Oum [RWBY]. As Rooster Teeth keeps getting bigger, does that mean Roo Teeth is going to get bigger as well?

Caiti: I think so, yeah. It’s really interesting that you say that because I think when they release this series it’s going to bring a whole new bunch of fans to Rooster Teeth because it is very, very different from anything they’ve done before and it’s something that they’re really excited about. So I suppose that may very well change the dynamics of what we do as well, but at the moment I’m just focusing on a backlog of ideas I’ve had, so for this next RTOZ now I’m thinking about having it in a kind of convention setting, so I suppose we’re like one step behind what Rooster Teeth are doing with their events? I’m trying to grow as the community grows so if we get more peole involved who are interested in anime related things we’ll obviously expand in that direction but for the time being I’m going to focus on the people we’ve already got.

What advice do you have for any other fan groups or communities out there that are just getting started?

Caiti: Dedication, I suppose. I mean, it’s really hardcore dedication and not to allow yourself to be discouraged by anything. There will be times when somethings not going to go the way you want it to, especially when you’re organising events, something you have promised could fall through and sure it’s really disappointing but don’t lose hope, I guess is what I’m saying. That and remembering to keep being inspired by the people who inspired you in the first place. Also, you’re doing it for the community so just don’t forget who you’re doing it for but most importantly I think just keep on having fun. That’s the biggest thing. When you’re organising events, the event itself can really overwhelm you but if you just take a second every now and then to remember why you’re doing it, it really changes your perspective.

Well I think ‘Don’t stop having fun’ is probably a good mantra to live by.

Caiti: Yeah, definitely.

And lastly Caiti, I know you’ve been busy but have you had a chance to sit down and play any Halo 4 yet?

Caiti: I haven’t! My housemates are big gamers as well and I haven’t even had a chance to see THEM play it either. My housemate Ben has actually been playing Assassins Creed instead so no, and I’ve been away! I don’t even think Chris and Kerry [of Rooster Teeth] have played Halo 4 yet. They left America to come down to Aus just before it came out so yeah, they haven’t been able to play it yet.

A gamers worst nightmare.

Caiti: I know right!

Thanks very much for coming on the show Caiti

Caiti: No problem, thanks for having me.

And I can confirm at the time of publishing this interview, that Caiti has since had a chance to finally play Halo 4.

Ben O’Brien hosts a weekly radio show on 2rrr 88.5fm called ‘Big Head Mode’. You can stream the show every friday, at 9pm on www.2rrr.org.au and you can follow the show on facebook for updates, news and gaming reviews at www.facebook.com/bigheadmode2rrr