Three things bind Danny Yates and myself together; Magic: The Gathering, Social Media, and a career path that is anything but ordinary. What follows is the declassified Interrogation of Danny Yates.
Agent Palmer [AP]: Let’s start off with a few easy one’s. How old are you?
Danny Yates [DY]: I turned 33 years old this year.
[AP]: What town did you grow up in, and what impact did it have on you?
[DY]: Myself and my family moved around a bit when i was young so I guess the answer is ‘several’. I spent a lot of my younger years in Swindon in Wiltshire England before moving to the north where I spent the majority of my teenage years in Leigh Lancashire. I guess the main impact Leigh would have to have been my friends there and the fact that I was around a lot of my family which was nice. On the negative side it was (and still is) quite a depressed town so in a way it motivated me to see a little more of the world, not that I made it very far!
[AP]: And where is your current residence, how long have you lived there?
[DY]: I live in Dublin, Ireland, have done for around 4 years or so.
[AP]: Did you choose to live there and why? Is it for a job?
[DY]: I moved to Dublin for work 4 years ago but my girlfriend also lives here too so that was certainly a motivating factor for sticking around.
[AP]: So you’re in a committed relationship? Do you have any children?
[DY]: I’m in a committed relationship, no kids though.
[AP]: What is your current profession and do you have any side jobs or professions?
[DY]: Currently I work in Social Media, leading a small team of agents that handle the support side of things on Facebook and Twitter. My role at the moment involves a lot of work on training and making sure everything runs smoothly.
As for side projects I have a blog which has been on the back-burner for a while now which I want to get back up and running.
[AP]: What is your blog about? Or what will it be about if you change gears after such a long time off?
[DY]: I am thinking it will be more gaming focused, both video games and table tops stuff. Getting involved in my local Magic: The Gathering community has been really fun so I want to use the blog as a way of encouraging others to do the same.
Another option I am looking at, which will probably be a second project, is a blog where will watch and review really poorly rated movies. 2 out 5 stars or less kind of stuff. I personal find bad films somewhat entertaining. Mystery Science Theater would be a big inspiration here and, if I can organize it, I might give video reviews a try.
[AP]: At one point you were an archaeologist. Was being an archaeologist your first choice for a career path?
[DY]: It was, I always had an interest in it although some poor career advice early on derailed this for a while.
[AP]: How did you or have you overcome the poor career advice?
[DY]: It wasn’t easy, I basically just had to make a break with the course I was doing and start over so it put me back a couple of years sadly. I was two years in at that point so it was tough but it was definitely worth it.
[AP]: How did you get into archaeology? Was it Indiana Jones?
[DY]: Ha, it was more Time Team than Indy but he definitely struck a chord with me!
[AP]: Who are your favorite archaeologists? Why?
[DY]: Andrew Colin Renfrew (better known as just Colin Renfrew) would be the big one, he had a huge influence on the education of many Archaeologists (he pretty much wrote the manual).
[AP]: Did you dig stuff up? Any good or interesting dig stories?
[DY]: I did find some interesting stuff. A few inverted bronze age burial urns, flint arrow heads and inhumations (buried human remains) in Ireland. I also found some really well preserved medieval artifacts on a Dig in the Netherlands including a clog.
[AP]: If you were not an archaeologist as you have been, or a social media specialist as you are now, what would have been your other career path, or what would you be doing now?
[DY]: When I was younger I was always interested in Paleontology so that would have been my next choice I think.
[AP]: Did you always have a fascination with dinosaurs, or was it something specific, like Jurassic Park’s release?
[DY]: I always had a fascination with them as a young kid, my godfather was a Geology teacher so he gave me a bunch of books and stuff and that’s really what started that.
[AP]: Where did you go to school? What degree(s) do you have?
[DY]: I went to University in North Wales and got a degree in History and Archaeology.
[AP]: Why did you trade in your pick, shovel and brush for a keyboard and mouse?
[DY]: Combination of financial necessity and back problems! Basically much of the field was wiped out during the recent economic troubles as work was always very closely tied to the construction sector.
[AP]: How often do you think about putting down the keyboard and mouse and picking up a shovel and pick again?
[DY]: I think about it every so often but I am happy with where I am headed right now. Also I’m not sure my physio would ever forgive me!
[AP]: Technology has changed how archaeology is studied. What are your thoughts on the field as technology encroaches on digging by hand so to speak?
[DY]: I have personally found it incredibly useful as I worked a lot in the area of surveying. Previously all site planning had to be done my hand, lots of tapes and measurements and sketching, usually in the rain of course. This sort of work is still important for capturing fine detail but you can use surveying equipment now to capture the wider context of a site more quickly and accurately.
Off the field, again it has made things easier. The use of programs like AutoCad and Illustrator mean that incredibly accurate site plans can be made reasonably quickly.
There are loads of other exciting technologies, laser scanning and geophysics are just two that have allowed us to make some amazing discoveries.
[AP]: Moving along, what are your favorite ways to spend your free time (or hobbies)?
[DY]: Well, playing Magic: The Gathering for one, I love video games too but if I want to get outside I enjoy Stand Up Paddle boarding although I’m pretty new to it. I spend more time in the water than on my board usually.
[AP]: So you’re favorite non-digital game would be…
[DY]: Definitely Magic The Gathering.
[AP]: As an somewhat lapsed player from back in the day, let’s dig into Magic: The Gathering. When did you start playing?
[DY]: I started playing just over a year ago. i had dabbled for about 6 months but my first pre-release event was Khans of Tarkir. I am yet to attend a Grand Prix but am hoping to do this next year.
[AP]: Everyone who plays has a collection, how many cards do you have?
[DY]: I have never stopped to count but I have about 7 fat pack boxes full!
[AP]: How many decks do you run?
[DY]: I am running just one standard deck right now, an Green Black sacrifice style deck though I am still trying to figure out which direction to go after the latest rotation. Sadly my mono-red burn deck was decimated with the loss of Theros block.
[AP]: Favorite Color? Favorite Card?
[DY]: My favorite color would probably be Black and my favorite card right now is Ob Nixilis Reignited, just need to figure out how to abuse him correctly!
[AP]: Most Magic players love to read, so what are your favorite books?
[DY]: I do have a few, one of the first books I really remember reading properly is The Hobbit and Later on The Lord of the Rings. My parents were huge fans of them so I read them when I was pretty young. Terry Pratchett was a big influence, though I read too many to really list them all here I would say Mart and Guards Guards would be two of my favorites.
Phillip K Dick is another one of my favorite Authors, again I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of his stuff but my favorites would be Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and The Man in the High Castle.
[AP]: As a fan of the books, have you enjoyed the cinematic Middle-Earth?
[DY]: Yes and No. I love the original trilogy, full on love it. The Hobbit though? It just never grabbed my attention in the same way. I don’t think the movies are actively bad, but I have not watched the final installment yet. I found the first to be serviceable, but the second one almost sent me to sleep. It’s weird because I love the book, the films just feel a little thin, like butter scraped over too much bread…
[AP]: Since we’re on to movies, what are your favorites?
[DY]: Top five in no particular order would have to be Blade Runner, Alien, Vertigo, The Shining and The Empire Strikes Back.
[AP]: And your favorite digital games?
[DY]: I’m a big fan of the Halo series, don’t really want to think about how many times I’ve played through the series!
[AP]: Favorite TV shows?
[DY]: I have been enjoying Game of Thrones recently, other than that I am a big fan of a lot of Adult Swim’s stuff, The Venture Brothers in particular is a standout show from them. Doctor Who is definitely my number one though, I’ve watched it as long as I can remember. I remember having a few old VHS tapes of Tom Baker which got pretty worn out!
[AP]: Favorite music?
[DY]: I have a pretty eclectic taste and will listen to pretty much anything from Heavy Metal to Dubstep. My all-time favorite artists though would have to be David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, Nirvana were a big influence on me as a teen, just seemed to speak to me.
[AP]: Favorite Sports / Teams?
[DY]: I do enjoy International Rugby Union, stuff like the 6 Nations and World Cup are are always lots of fun.
[AP]: In spite of it’s rarity on American Television, I do enjoy all forms of Rugby. As an outsider, can you pinpoint why Rugby hasn’t quite caught on in the US?
[DY]: I feel like America is very married to it’s own sports, American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey, they are really important to the nation’s cultural identity.
The same could said of Ireland in relation to the G.A.A. and about Britain or Spain when it comes to football. It’s possible that there wasn’t any room for European style sports to run alongside these while the country was finding itself, that or it’s just one of those things that never made it’s way over with the original colonists.
[AP]: What hasn’t been checked off your bucket list?
[DY]: There are a few places I would love to visit, the Pyramids being one example, Tokyo being another.
[AP]: Let’s get back to what you’re doing now; Social Media. Did you always understood social media? Or did you have to work at it?
[DY]: I did not always understand Social media, I think like anything it’s necessary for you to educate yourself which is always an ongoing process.
[AP]: How do you keep yourself up to date in the realm of the ever changing social medias?
[DY]: With great difficulty although there are loads of great tools available right now that can make it much easier. Connecting with other people in the industry is honestly the best way to keep up and I find that LinkedIn is a great way of doing this as is Twitter.
[AP]: How many social networks are you on?
[DY]: Around 7, I think.
[AP]: What was your first social network?
[DY]: Facebook, unless you count MSN?
[AP]: And what is your favorite social network?
[DY]: I like Twitter for its spontaneity but Facebook for actually staying in touch with people, so Facebook i think would be number 1 for me.
[AP]: Who are your favorite social media influencers? Why?
[DY]: Matthew Ingram from Fortune, he always has something interesting to say and shares some really great insights. Also Amy Porterfield, again awesome insights that you can apply to your work including some great tips on audience growth. It would be remiss of me too not to mention Kristie Wells (my lovely boss!) who has been fantastic in guiding me through the start of my new career.
[AP]: What are some generic social media tips or tricks you have for people?
[DY]: Be visual, show empathy and check for typo’s.
[AP]: Big picture, what are some of your big successes, public or behind-the-scenes?
[DY]: The work I have been able to do in my current role has been particularly enjoyable. I’ve been able to build a great team and am enjoying the ongoing process of improving what we do.
[AP]: What can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
[DY]: Not a lot, I am hoping to resuscitate my old gaming blog but I am pretty focused on work right now.
[AP]: How well do you manage your time? And how do you or don’t you manage it?
[DY]: In work I am well organised, however when I get home that kinda goes out of the window! In work I like to use a sprint system for my projects, everything is given a priority and I set targets for myself to make sure I don’t take my foot off the gas.
[AP]: Where or what is the most productive/creative setting for you to accomplish your work?
[DY]: Outdoors in the garden suits me best, I tend to find office environments a little stifling. Maybe it’s the Archaeologist in me rebelling!
[AP]: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given.
[DY]: “Do, or do not. there is no try.”
[AP]: From Master Yoda, very nice. And what of the best advice you could give to someone…
[DY]: Don’t blame bad luck for your failures. you can’t control luck but you can control your own actions.
[AP]: Where and how can people contact or follow you?
[DY]: I can be found most easily on Twitter @Danzcave, any fellow Xbox gamers can feel free to add me, my tag is PhlebasD.
[AP]: Having been thoroughly sifted, it’s time to let you go and see enjoy the outdoors as is your want… I hope your interrogation was pleasant. Is there anything else you would like to add, or do you just want the bright light turned off?
[DY]: It was a pleasure talking to you, Agent Palmer, nothing more to add really, just want to thank you for taking the time.