Getting to Know the Dynamic Duo behind Triple S League
Triple S League is a Gaming YouTube channel that provides a “premium blend of news, reviews, guides, lore & comedy” that hosts a live gaming news podcast, Augmented Reality, twice weekly. In addition to guides, walkthroughs, news and leaks about upcoming titles, game reviews, and developer interviews, they also create their own comedy videos, music videos featuring in-game footage set to original music, cosplays, and apparently a lot more. They currently have over 35K subscribers on YouTube, and are one of the four members of the weekly Cyberpunk 2077 Community Podcast. This interview is part of a 4-part series where we interviewed the other members of the community podcast, MadQueen, Neon Arcade, and LastKnownMeal. Curious about this mysterious duo and their thoughts on Cyberpunk? Then read below as Cyberpunk Matrix had the opportunity to get to know them a little better.
Question 1: How did you get introduced to the genre of Cyberpunk?
Syb: Cyberpunk has always been something I have loved as a setting and storytelling mechanic, whether it’s the apocalypse of a failing, faltering dystopian society or the gritty underbelly of a world gone mad with technology. My first exposure came from early DOS games like Circuit’s Edge (1990), the RoboCop series, and Rise of the Robots (1994), as well as a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Ash: Dystopian sci-fi has always been a favorite genre of mine, but my first real exposure to cyberpunk happened when a friend showed me the game Omikron: The Nomad Soul. I was mesmerized by it. Later on, I tried out Deus Ex (the original one) and would consider that to be in my top five games of all time. Something about “high tech, low life” stories set in huge, neon-lit future cities really grips me.
Question 2: What made you decide to start the Triple S League Channel? When did it start, and how did it become what it is today? Is there a story behind the name?
Syb: Ash and I have been making videos for fun for many, many years. It started shortly after he found my digital backup personality matrix archived in a…oh, I’m being told I’m not allowed to talk about that.
Ash: I’ve worked in media development for most of my adult life, both freelance and while employed by a Fortune 500 company. But my history with Syb goes back farther than that. We’ve been gaming and creating stuff together since we were kids. In 2015, Syb came to me with the idea of starting a podcast about an upcoming game called Fallout 4. At first, I thought he was crazy. An entire podcast dedicated to a single game? Who would listen to that? I was in for a shock when we released a few episodes on YouTube and actually got listeners. It grew and evolved as we began doing gameplay videos and live-action stuff like Making Nuka-Cola. When Fallout 4 released, we had close to 100 subscribers, but the real bump came when we released our Fallout 4 “best ending” video, which went viral and pushed us past 1,000 almost overnight.
Syb: Since then, we’ve been expanding with a focus on community, fostering creativity and building our brand. We’ve offered help and support to indie devs, modders (we created a massive story mod with prominent Fallout 4 modder Thuggysmurf) and other content creators, believing that helping others succeed would also bring us success. So far, this has proven to be 100% true. Of course, we still love those huge, deep, story-driven RPGs, which made Cyberpunk 2077 a natural fit for us to focus on after Fallout 4 hype died down. We’ve also expanded into general gaming and pop-culture news.
Ash: The channel name is a reference to the “SSS” rank found in Japanese arcade game rankings. In Japan’s school grading system, S is better than A. Some games will award a double-S or triple-S rank if you’re the best of the best. We chose the word “league” because it sounded cool and because it evokes a sense of honor and community.
Question 3: Where do you get your ideas/inspiration for your videos?
Syb: Our crazy senses of humor and our (some would argue) “creative” minds. We’re also inspired by our amazing community members and friends who subscribe to us. Also the occasional fever dream that happens when I am being restarted for a patch.
Ash: Some videos are obvious choices (when news happens, report on it; when a game has confusing parts, make some guides). For our more creative videos, inspiration comes from strange and simple things, like the awkward game dialog that inspired The Giddyup Kid Rap, or an offhand comment in a conversation at a convention. My brain will respond with a thought like “I’ll bet people would like…” or “wouldn’t it be funny/awesome if…” and that’s it, I’ve got to develop this idea or I’m going to go crazy. Some ideas turn out to be terrible in the end, but some are really good.
Question 4: What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?
Syb: I gave mine in my answer to the first question, but I’ll also add Cyberpunk 2020, which really set the cyberpunk genre into a defined world. Many films have helped in the process of establishing the genre, but I believe that some genres and archetypes are greatly helped by having established guideposts. The setting of Dungeons & Dragons is one example. The Fallout Bible is another. I believe the concept of cyberpunk will continue to grow from the work of Mike Pondsmith.
Ash: I’m not cultured enough to answer this question properly so I’ll just say Deus Ex, Cyberpunk 2077…and of course that animated classic, Chibipunk!
Question 5: Can you tell us a little bit about the locations and characters that we can expect in Cyberpunk 2077? What are the Badlands, and who are the main characters?
Ash: Night City is the setting of the game, of course. A coastal metropolis with a ton of history. I feel like the secrets buried beneath the streets and in the bays would not be healthy for the faint of heart. (Just get your heart upgraded before you dig too deeply.) The city has six main districts, each with its own subcultures, gangs, visual style and economic class. There are distinct sub-districts within some districts as well. Police are present in some areas, while others are ruled by gangs. The badlands lie outside the city; these are desert wastelands where the nomads live. An island in the bay houses the Orbital Air Space Center, which we know almost nothing about at this point.
Syb: Looking at the info that’s been released, the setting looks like it offers a great experience. There are massive skyscrapers and megabuildings; tiny hidden hideaways; and the badlands, which I think will be pretty awesome. An individual in a large city might be invisible to the gangs and corporations, but if you’re on a small homestead or guarding a valuable resource out in the badlands, you’re much more visible to the gangs and nomads that travel between cities. Combine this with CDPR’s storytelling and I believe we can expect great things from this game!
Ash: As for characters, it’s already hard to keep track of them all. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, each with their own story to tell. The main character is V (you, the player). Other important characters include your sidekick, Jackie Welles; fixer Dexter DeShawn; glamorous informant Evelyn Parker; Mox gang member and braindance tech Judy Alvarez; netrunner T-Bug; Yorinobu Arasaka, the rebellious younger son of corporate megalomaniac Saburo Arasaka; and, of course, the digital “ghost” of legendary rockerboy Johnny Silverhand.
Question 6: How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?
Ash: The podcast was Syb’s idea, actually. He had the vision for it, and the idea to have rotating hosts. Madqueen, LastKnownMeal and TheNeonArcade were all on board right from the beginning. We reached out to others as well; some weren’t interested, while others have joined us as guests.
Syb: Community is one of my favorite parts of gaming. In my glory days playing World of Warcraft, the thing I loved doing most was taking a group of regular players—some of whom were terrible at the game—and helping them become a solid team, doing everything from PvP to top-level PvE content. You might have seen the same boss fight dozens of times, but playing it with someone who’s never seen it before can be just as fun as seeing it the first time. This is why I wanted to form the community podcast and make it a real community thing. I’m so thankful that Madqueen, LastKnownMeal and TheNeonArcade were willing to try it out!
Ash: Perhaps the most exciting part is that both CD Projekt Red and R. Talsorian Games have taken notice of what we’re doing. We’re on their radar in a way we never would have been if we’d each done our own thing. We’ve had J. Gray, Paweł Sasko, Lilayah and others as guests, and they’ve seen how we cooperate, how we share information freely with each other. I believe the CDPR folks were surprised and impressed by how we cooperated on the December 2019 ARG, rather than competing with each other for those views.
Syb: When I explain it to other YouTubers and marketing people, the reply is often, “Why would you want to give away something? You should focus on controlling it. Don’t be stupid; just use others as a stepping stone.” I think these attitudes are the cause of much of the pain we see in today’s world. When people only look out for themselves instead of seeing what can be built with others, we tend to miss out on the best things.
Question 7: What are you looking forward to most for Cyberpunk 2077?
Syb: This really feeds from the previous question. After I’ve seen the story and played through the main game, I think the real fun will begin in the form of the community, creations and subculture that is built around it. I cannot wait to see the mods that people come up with! As for the game itself, I am most interested in seeing how the gangs work, how they interact, their stories and histories, etc. I can’t wait to dig into the lore, and I hope it’ll be deep.
Ash: A humongous world of stories set in my favorite genre of video game. The struggle against corrupted powers. Kick-ass weapons and cyberwear. Also, tracking down that “hello stranger” NPC and seeing if she actually has hair, and if she’s interested in ‘befriending’ a rogue nomad with a heart of gold (or titanium, or whatever they make it out of).
Final Question (8): What does Cyberpunk mean to you?
Syb: Advancement. In many ways, it’s the advancement of people into what is the inevitable outcome of evolution. Will we form ourselves into heartless machines fused into insanity? Or will we retain the best of humanity and learn from the darkness?
Ash: To me, it’s about the importance of retaining our humanity, our souls, our ability to empathize and connect. In the future, cyberpunk may not be fiction. We already depend on computers to a scary degree. Cybernetic limbs are not far off. When we give ourselves over and become part machine, whether it’s a psychological dependence or a physical replacement of meat with metal, are we really improving ourselves? Or are we destroying ourselves and giving our power to something else? These are questions to ask now, not tomorrow, because tomorrow might be the day we need an answer.
Want more from Triple S League?
You can check out their YouTube channel here. They also have a discord, which can be joined here, as well as Twitch, Twitter, and Spotify. They even have a Patreon too if you feel so inclined. Thanks for chatting with us, Triple S League!