Beyond the Screen: Joffy Aulx-Gao

I talk a lot about the real people that live on the other side of Eve's screen. I've always been fascinated by people and Eve is certainly one of the greatest tools ever invented for meeting people from all over the world. In my years of playing Eve I've known a Cucumber farmer in Romania, a Rancher in South Africa, a student in Corsica, soldiers, ship captains, oil-rig workers, scientists - name an occupation or a location - and someone there plays Eve it seems.

When I started Stay Frosty one of the very first pilots to show an interest was a very young pilot named Joffy Aulx-Gao. He had only been playing Eve for a few short months when he joined Stay Frosty, but his enthusiasm was apparent from the first. There are people you meet in this game that you just know are going to be special if they stick with it. I knew Joffy was special, even before I knew just how special he was.

Years ago, out here in real life, I was fortunate to meet a very special man who worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I won't mention his name, he has since passed away, but he was their top ticket seller. He also had Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. Together with some great help from the MDA, we created an event called the Muscle Team here in Pittsburgh that brought famous athletes together with children that suffered from the various incarnations of that affliction for a night. Over the six years that I served as a National Vice President of the MDA we raised well over 3 million dollars for research and other support for the MDA. That man became a good friend of mine and I learned a tremendous amount from him, and all of those I was lucky enough to know thru that experience.

MDA-Bryan&James
This is me with James Harrison at the MDA Event
I mention all of this, not to take away from what I'm about to tell you, but to set the stage properly. Joffy quickly became extremely good at PvP in Eve. He won several of our monthly Hick's Awards for total kills and total solo kills. He became rather famous for his amazing Tristan and then Astero solo kills. And he also became an important part in everything that Stay Frosty did. From helping with events, to organizing, serving as our Diplomat, and essentially becoming one of the core members of our rapidly growing family.

More importantly, he became my good friend.



At some point during that first Summer Joffy confided in me. He isn't a normal Eve player you see. Joffy has a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Pompe disease. For the most part Joffy is confined to his bed, primarily because of problems with his back. His motion is rather limited, primarily to his hands, fingers and face. He has had to innovate a bit to make Eve work for him. He's had to manage the UI in order to minimize the amount of mouse travel he needs to perform and it is virtually impossible for him to use key-commands while playing and working the mouse.

Joffy's squished UI

I'm going to let him tell it in his own words:

"I can only move my hands, fingers and face so it was challenging to play EVE in the beginning but I learned to do it better using only a mouse. First thing I did to become faster in PVP was to set up my UI so I had less mouse travel and it actually worked fine, next thing was to get a better mouse that I could adjust to my needs so I bought a Razor Ouroboros because it can be adjusted in size and mouse speed.


And of course lots of practice, theoretical knowledge isn’t enough when it comes to PVP, you need to learn it the hard way by dying and getting used to it.

When I don’t play PC i’m a professional handicap bowler, this year goes good so far with an average on 165. Last year me and my friend came in 3rd but that’s not good enough. XD

I never let my disease get me down, I fight back!"

One of the hardest things for me has been knowing this about Joffy all this time and having to keep my mouth shut about it. Especially when commenters on his videos make fun of him for not using key commands, or someone from the Tuskers does the same in local, or the numerous times it has happened right here on this blog. But I promised him I wouldn't say anything and I didn't. It was his right if he wanted people to know, or if he didn't.

Recently Joffy has moved over to our WH Corporation and started living out of the Wormhole. He hasn't said it, but I suspect it has become harder for him lately. When he disappears from the game, or from comms, or from chat for any length of time - I worry. I can't help it. But I also know he is incredibly brave and wants to do this for anyone else out there that is in a similar situation. Anyone that faces their own challenges. As I said at the very top, Eve is a great way to socialize, meet, and explore the world - even when you are limited in some way in real life. Anything is possible.

Joffy wanted me to know that isn't his dog

Beyond the screen are real people living very real lives. I strongly believe it is important to never forget that. At the end of this past week of talking about how we treat each other in-game, about where lines might be and where they might not be, about building places in-game and out, and of hearing news of friends that are no longer with us - I think this is the most important lesson of all. We are all real people.

Joffy is a fighter. A Pirate. A PvPer. A great player in space and in the Alliance. He has come a long way since those first few months and I've been proud to fly along-side him since day one.

Keep the courage my friend.



35 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Joffy deserves all the credit, it was his idea to come forward. We both believe there are probably other people in similar situations - people like veterans for example - who feel trapped and alone. Eve is certainly one way in which people in this situation can reach a wider world and became social, engaged, and involved.

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  2. o7 Joffy. Thanks for letting Rixx share.

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    1. You're welcome i just thought it were time to tell my story.

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    2. Thanks for sharing Joffy, I hope this will be an inspiration to others. The real good fights are the ones we fight every day in RL.
      Cheers!

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  3. Joffy, thanks for sharing your story on EVEOGANDA here. From the very first time I saw your videos I knew you were fighting something such as this. Keep up the fight and never let this drag you down, you are truly fighting a good fight!

    I've grown up around physically and mentally handicapable people and I admire them for doing what they do every day. You've found the right place to call your serious internet spaceship buziness home and I'm honored to fly next to you!

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  4. Joffy, this is news to me. I've always admired you but now that admiration has been buffed x 1000000000. Your courage and perseverance are inspiring...never change!

    Rixx, you are such a good and decent guy. I'm proud to call you a friend. I've known many EVE players who face hard challenges. It's tough to see hurtful comments directed at them from the uniformed, knowing there are unavoidable reasons for whatever it is about that person's play they are disparaging. The greatest beauty of EVE is its ability to provide a level playing field (albeit one with that fabled learning cliff!) and social engagement platform for everyone--especially those who may be challenged to find the same thing in their everyday real life. The value of that cannot be understated. Is it too much to ask that all players be more mindful about the challenges other players may be dealing with behind the scenes, and perhaps instead of being unconsciously and cruelly judgmental in their comments, find a way to be gently humorous and gracious in victory, loss, and analysis? Our better angels and all that...

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  5. I guess people outside of ABA don't realise what a competitive pvper Joffy really is.
    Just last autumn, joffy came within a hairs width of winning the alliance wide frigate 1v1 tournament., beating many very good pvpers.
    I have always held joffy in high regard, but after reading this blog, my respect has risen greatly.
    Keep it up, my friend!

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    Replies
    1. It were a great tournament with many good fights, but next time i win! :P

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  6. Joffy, thank you for sharing. I don't know the in game pirate or you but, keep it going and stay strong.

    Rixx thank you to let us all know Joffy's story, one of the reasons that I always follow your endeavors (RL and game) in Eveoganda.

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  7. The fact that he uses drone boats is probably the most impressive part.

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  8. Thank you Joffy and Rixx for allowing and telling this story. It truly is an inspiration and a valuable lesson in why you treat each person with respect and dignity. In game and out. You are both true gentleman.

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  9. Joffy's PVP abilities have always been an inspiration for me, he is a complete master of the tristan and the astero, but this takes it to another level altogether. Thank you for sharing this Joffy, your story really means a lot to me and I am sure to everyone reading. I wish you many more years of pewpew to come!

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  10. Joffy, thanks for sharing your story bro. It just makes me appreciate you even more :).

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  11. I have to say this has totally blown my mind, just over a year ago I was in Verge Vendor watching the local pirates killing everything that moved and I still remember checking out profiles and eventually making it to this blog.

    From here I saw Joffy's vid's get posted and those together with others got me super excited to get out there and try it for myself (I've even shown his vid's to most of my friends IRL XD) and shortly after I joined SF and as usual it was Joffy who said hi first ([ 2014.02.24 13:21:07 ] Joffy Aulx-Gao > Laguna Fox welcome aboard) that for me blew my tiny mind. ;)

    Thank you Rixx and Joffy I can honestly say I wouldn't be doing the things I am now without you guys and reading this I couldn't agree more with all the comments here especially Mynxee's :) But more than that I consider it an honour to have flown with SF for the last year, this whole thing might come across a tad soppy but hey like I give a damn!

    o7

    Laguna Fox

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  12. You go, Joffy. You're the best. I'm so proud to know you.

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  13. I have never seen Joffy ask for or give an inch in the game. Fucking awesome mate😳

    Oh, and thanks for sharing the solo c2 confessor fit, amazing fun.

    A privilege to fly with you o7

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  14. What an amazing and inspirational story. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day today at work. There's so much I'd like to say, but I know I'd just goof it up.

    Joffy, I admire your courage and your determination. There's so much others could learn from your example, including myself. May you inspire us all to not give up.

    Rixx, thanks for lifting Joffy on your shoulders and allowing his voice to be heard today.

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  15. Always had great respect for you as a PvPer Joffy. Now it's just gone to a while new level of wow. There are many others, most of whom we will never know because all we see is a small symbol in space. Thanks for letting Foxx share this, it's a true inspiration.

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  16. Joffy, thank you for your courage in stepping forward. I hope that through this, you are able to help and potentially inspire others. Personally, you already know what I think about you :). The only thing else I can really say is Thank You for being my Friend.

    Argos

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  17. Keep on fighting the gf, Joffy good sir! Nasty little Tristan pilot you =))

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  18. Amazing story. So much talk about the tools people use to play this game and we sometimes forget that there are those amongst us who don't even have some of the basic physical functions the rest of us enjoy.

    It's also great to keep in mind that EVE may be cold and dark in so many ways, but there are some great people behind those screens.

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  19. Thanks everyone for the great response to this post. I freely admit to some amount of trepidation during the last few weeks since Joffy came to me with the idea of coming forward. While I will always support anyone's personal decision, this is Eve after all and once a door is open it is impossible to close it again.

    The sheer volume of overwhelming support that we've both received has been heartening and amazing, from all corners of the Eve universe. So I just want to thank you all for that.

    It proves, once again, what I've always believed - this is a great community.

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  20. Thanks for this post - when I was in SF, Joffy was the best pilot I'd ever met in Eve - always challenging the meta, and what he could do in a little Tristan! Shows that physical advantage has nothing over true skill.

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  21. Joffy, Rixx, thank you for sharing this. Joffy, you are one of the best pilots I have met in EVE and a really good and cheerful person, keep the gf, man! Looking forward to see you in space when I come back.:)

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  22. One of the best posts ever, Rixx. Joffy, give 'em hell, kiddo. You give 'em hell. o7 to you both.

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  23. I had the pleasure of being recruited by Joffy to Stay Frosty. Great person and always said hello when I logged in. Even though I am no longer in SF I still use Joffy's ship fits. Which leads me to my next statement - the folks in SF are all great and are a reflection of the great people that run Stay Frosty.

    Cheers
    Si

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  24. Joffy is one of my fave personalities in this game. I literally just said that to him in another channel, and then saw this link lol. P.S. You dirty lowsec pirates are kidnapping dogs IRL now?! GrrrrrrABA!!!
    Honored that you help in Broadcast4Reps, Joffy. You rock!
    <3

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  25. Joffy is getting my vote.

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