Ciji Thornton (aka StarSlay3r) - Pro Gamer - Interview

Ciji Thornton aka StarSlay3r is a professional gamer, marketing consultant and cosplayer. She started gaming as a child and started competitively in 1998. She began her career after moving to Texas and entering the Midnight Gaming Championships just for fun. She became a top 10 Guitar Hero 2 player and got the attention of MTV. She has written a blog post on how to go pro:

How have other top Pro Gamers influenced you? Of course! If it wasn't for pro gamers like Fatal1ty I would never have thought that pro gaming was even a possible path to pursue in life. Fatal1ty, Stermy, Todd Rogers and Venessa Arteaga are just a handful of the pro gamers that I looked up to over the years that really set a good example for other gamers and have been very successful pursuing the professional gaming path in life.

When did you first feel successful in your professional gaming career? I'd say I first felt some sort of success when MTV wanted to film me for a show involving Guitar Hero and the documentary crew for FRAG showed interest in me as well. I was still very new to the whole Guitar Hero competitive scene, but to be getting major attention for my skills like that was pretty crazy for me.

What is one of your proudest moments in your career in recent times? I get asked this question a lot and I always have the same answer. I can't really pick one moment I'm most proud of. I did a lot of really cool things over the years, have been given many amazing opportunities and I'm proud of every accomplishment and goal reached over the past 8 years that I've been in the hardcore competitive scene. From appearing on 3 tv shows to reaching top 5 on the global leaderboards for Guitar Hero, any time I set a goal and reached it and then went beyond it I was proud of myself for pushing myself to the limit and doing well.

Ciji Thornton - Pro Gamer

You did a Hatsune Miku cosplay at PAX Prime. Could you tell us about that including how long it took to prepare? I've done a couple cosplays over the past 6 months and the average turnaround time is about 1 month for the outfit to be made and for all accessories and everything to be completed. Unfortunately my Hatsune Miku cosplay was not fully completed by PAX due to a recent move to LA and my current location not being as convenient for me to access materials needed. I still have to put some details on the tie and the skirt and I am working on making the headset light up. I'm hoping to have all of this completed and ready to show off at PAX South though. It was great to hear that people liked my cosplay though.

What is your favorite cosplay that you have done thus far? I'd say Judy Nails from Guitar Hero World Tour. It was fun to work on the outfit and most people knew me as "Judy Nails" in the gaming community at that point in time anyway, so it was a fun little thing to do a "play Judy and win" contest at PAX and feel like Judy IRL. I got to work with Activisions marketing team directly on the cosplay and the whole process was a lot of fun from conception to showing it off in person at PAX Prime for the Guitar Hero World Tour unveiling.

StarSlay3r - Pro Gamer

Also, what future cosplay do you plan to do? More variations of Miku for sure. I started getting pieces together for "Potato Girl" from Attack on Titan but couldn't finish in time for some anime conventions in the past. I thought the fad had faded so I gave up on finishing it, but after going to a few events and seeing so many people still cosplaying as AOT characters I figured I might as well finish that if I can. Final Fantasy characters are also ones I have my eye on, specifically Lightning from XIII and Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII. Some day I'm hoping to get the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jessica Nigri and start working on armor and such with worbla, but for now I'll stick with easy fabric only cosplays!

What tattoos do you have? I have 13 tattoos in total and they're all kind of random. The gamer ones that I have include the Quake 1 logo on the back of my neck, Mario vs Bowser on my right arm, Tonberry on my left forearm, Kingdom Hearts heartless logo on my left arm, and STAR (short for StarSlay3r, my gamertag) on my left hand fingers. There's one tattoo I have that most don't realize is a gamer tattoo, and that is the star inside of a star on my right shoulder blade. It's a tattoo that you see on Judy Nails in Guitar Hero 3. For years people used to call me "Judy Nails" as I was well known in the Guitar Hero scene for looking like her and being a top player at the game. I even cosplayed as her for fun for a few years. That was a little dedication to that time period.

I hear you really like Killer Instinct on Xbox One. Did you also play the original arcade games? I did not actually and this really seemed to surprise a lot of people for two reasons. Reason one being... "Who the heck HASN'T played the original Killer Instinct?". The second reason being that I am pretty dang good at the game for being a noob. I don't know what it is about Sabrewulf, but I love everything he has to offer and absolutely LOVE playing the new KI. I actually have an XBOne fightstick on the way so I can start playing the game regularly.

What is your favorite fighting game? Right now I'd say Killer Instinct. Of all time, Mortal Kombat 9. I have been a big fan of the MK series but MK9 was just executed so perfectly that I loved every minute of it when playing. If it wasn't for the fact that I moved to an area that didn't have any tournaments for the game I'd probably still be playing that game today.

What were some of your favorite games as a child? Mario Bros. was a favorite game back then and still is today. From the original NES version to the new one on Wii, I don't think I'll ever get tired of Mario games. It's a simple yet tricky game that is casual and a great break from the competitive titles I normally play on a daily basis.

Ciji Thornton with Totoro

I hear that you are into anime. What are some of your recent favorites? Not sure how far back is still considered "recent" but I'll say RWBY was one I learned about just this year that I really liked. Attack on Titan I got into last year and I can't WAIT for season 2. Sailor Moon will always hold a special place in my heart so the Sailor Moon Crystal is an obvious one for me. I also just recently started watching Sword Art Online as well.

What upcoming gaming conventions do you plan to attend? Well I have C4 - Central Coast Comic Con coming up next weekend in Ventura and I'll be speaking on a panel with miss Alana Evans about gaming on Saturday which is super awesome. I have also been asked to attend several other conventions over the next few months to speak on panels about competitive gaming but I have not 100% confirmed those yet, so no details to give out. PAX South is a FOR SURE along with CES although that's moreso about electronics than it is gaming... still... I'll be there!

You have raised over $25,000 USD for worthy charities. That's awesome! What is your favorite charity and why? My favorite charity is Starlight Children's foundation. Always have been and probably always will be. I just love everything they stand for, their programs, and everyone associated with the program. They truly do everything in their power to help makes these children's lives happier and more stress free, and I have a soft spot in my heart for any charity that focuses on helping kids. Child's Play Charity and Gamers Outreach Foundation are two other charities I highly support and recommend people donate to and help raise money for. Any time you can take a gaming talent and use it to raise money for an amazing cause I'm down, and those two charities are all about that. Also, this Thursday I'll be teaming up with The Gamathoners to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You can find me live streaming Smite with them to raise funds for St Jude over at at 9PM EST.

Is there anything else you'd like to say? Thank you so much for the interview! I appreciate your support!

What is the best way for fans to follow you?

If you have any questions please feel free to message me on twitter or facebook. I check those sites the most and love helping out my fellow gamers, so don't feel shy, shoot me a message if you have a question about gaming, cosplay or whatever!