‘The Mighty Jingles’ – An Interview
The Mighty Jingles! It is a name that reverberates through the Internet and strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents. A self-professed “Brain surgeon, rockstar, horse-thief and noob gamer extraordinaire” best known for his series of take-no-prisoners YouTube videos that focus primarily on the MMO games World of Tanks and War Thunder, he speaks his mind without fear, albeit in a disarming British accent.
Awhile back, Matt Richardson, a frequent contributor to ArmchairGeneral.com proposed doing a “shared” interview, part of it to appear on ACG and part on Matt’s own website, Ritalingamer.com. He wanted to explore the mind and shady history of The Mighty Jingles—real name Paul Charlton. After making sure our horses were safely locked up, we gave Matt the go-ahead. The ArmchairGeneral portion of his email interview appears below. The rest of his interview with the Mighty Jingles can be read at Ritalingamer.com. Many thanks to Paul for taking time to participate in this extensive interview.
Matt Richardson: Jingles, you’ve mentioned growing up in foreign countries, including some time in Africa. Can you summarize your early life? What brought you to Africa? Where else have you lived?
The Mighty Jingles: I was born on March 10, 1970, in Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England. Didn’t really know my father, he was a Paratrooper who separated from my mother when I was four years old. My mother remarried when I was eight and when I was twelve we emigrated to South Africa where my stepfather worked for the South African Iron and Steel Corporation. After a year in South Africa we moved to Swaziland where I went to boarding school back in South Africa at a place called Barberton in the Transvaal. Interesting note, fact fans, Barberton is where gold was first discovered in South Africa and was the site of Africa’s first stock exchange!
This was, of course, at the height of Apartheid, but I was too young to have a clue about any of that. I didn’t think it was unusual that everyone’s ground floor windows had security bars on them, or that the kids at the school were taught to shut their curtains at night and jam their bookcases up against them to provide some defence against anyone throwing a molotov cocktail through the rich white kids’ window at night; that was just the way things were.
Looking back it’s painful how naive I must have been. I remember on the night of the 20th anniversary of the Soweto riots, all the kids at school were gathered into the upstairs study hall by the teachers once the town’s power had been cut—armed teachers I hasten to add—and told to not pay any attention to all the fires we could see burning out of the top floor windows. It was just the tobacco farmers burning the stubble off their crop fields. Yeah, right.
At 16 we moved back to the UK and at 19 I joined the Royal Navy. That was pretty much it for the next 22 years.
MR: You retired from the Royal Navy after 22 years of service. Tell me a little about your service. Why did you enlist? What were your primary jobs?
TMJ: I could tell you that I enlisted to serve my Queen and country, or to follow in the footsteps of my father (who we’d found out by now had died on active duty with, I kid you not, the French Foreign Legion) but to be completely honest the economy was in the toilet, I had no college degree and the Royal Navy were so desperate they were advertising in the newspapers. I needed a job. In retrospect I should probably have been very suspicious of the fact that the RN were specifically looking for Radio Operators … what was so bad about that particular job that people were leaving in droves? But I was young and stupid and figured that if they were desperate they’d take me. They did. Also I didn’t much fancy the idea of sleeping in ditches and getting shot at by the IRA, so that ruled out the Army, and I actually wanted to serve in the military so that ruled out the Air Force.
It didn’t take me long to figure out why they were so short of Radio Operators, by the way. Boring, repetitive drudgework with zero scope for personal initiative at junior levels, at all kinds of unsociable hours with next to zero respect or appreciation for the work you do from the rest of the ship because you work inside a classified compartment with limited access so no-one really understood what it was you actually did. That, and the fact that you were technically a part of the Operations Department who were happy to forget it whenever the rest of them were being praised but only too keen to remember when the Ops Department had to provide warm bodies for any particularly shitty job that no-one wanted to do. Also it was boring as all hell. Sitting in front of a radio broadcast logging signals for six hours from 2am to 8am, broken only by the exciting opportunity to spend an hour off cleaning the officers’ bathrooms. Join the Navy, they said … see the world, they said.
To be fair to the comms community, the job wasn’t terrible, but I was terrible at it. I was much better as a Writer, which is what the Navy’s Pay and Admin branch was called and after five years as a really bad Radio Operator I became a Writer and loved every minute of it. You got to go to bed every night, it was WAY better than being a Radio Operator. There were also only a few of us onboard any ship so there was a lot more responsibility at junior ranks and I loved it. if you were any good, because there were so few of you on any given ship, you were expected to be able to take on a hell of lot more in the way of responsible work and needed to be able to give competent advice to the Ship’s Company on a whole range of subjects that actually made a difference to their day-to-day life: leave, travel, money, allowances etc. Good Writers were loved by their Ship’s Company, bad ones were detested. No-one outside of the people you worked directly with cared if you were a good Radio Operator or not.
MR: I want to clarify—What does a Royal Navy “Writer” do?
TMJ: The name of the branch, “Writer,” is actually very literal. It stems from the 1700s when actually being able to read and write well was pretty rare and a need existed for proper recordkeeping in ships at sea. The name remained unchanged until the 21st century, when some overpaid genius decided the Branch needed “rebranding,” as “Writer” was a term that a civilian wouldn’t understand. So one day I was Writer Charlton and the next I was (I shit you not) Logistician (Personnel) Charlton. This brought to you by the same genius who thought that our “Chef” branch needed to be renamed to “Logistician (Catering Services) so civilians would understand what they did.
Day to day the job involved lots and lots of paperwork (and later computer work) sorting out everything from the Captain’s Correspondence, cashing cheques for the Ship’s Company, taking care of everyone’s mail, booking travel arrangements for everyone, keeping track of the locations and leave status of the Ship’s Company and maintaining the huge libraries of documentation and reference work used by the Marine and Weapon Engineering Departments as well as constantly being on the backs of every officer and senior rate onboard to make sure they all kept up to date with the massive number of official reports and returns they needed to complete each month.
I also had a much better job at Action Stations—First Aider. Way better than freezing your arse off in a Deep Seawolf Magazine on a Type 22 Frigate. When people are shooting at you the last place you want to be is 10 feet under the waterline surrounded by lots of things that react VERY violently to being shot at.
MR: Did you participate in any major actions during your time in the Navy?
TMJ: The first ship I joined right out of training was HMS Brazen and I flew out to join her in Dubai just in time for Ramadan in 1990. The more astute reader may also remember something else that kicked off just after Ramadan in 1990—the First Gulf War. So yeah, that was a relatively “interesting” time to be finding your way around your first-ever sea draft. It was mostly pretty boring for us, even if it was interesting for our Lynx helicopter crew who got to fire lots of Sea Skua missiles at various Iraqi gunboats. There was one occasion when things got particularly interesting for the rest of us, though. We’d sailed up to the northern end of the Gulf to relieve HMS London in covering our hospital ship for a few days at precisely the only moment during the whole war when the Iraqi Air Force came out to play. One of their targets was our hospital ship. Standard procedure was to position our ship between them and their target and “take the missiles on the chin” with our short range but highly accurate Sea Wolf missiles. There was just one tiny flaw with this otherwise perfect plan on the day. One of the launchers was broken and the other had a small but significant problem with its guidance system. So we put our ship in harm’s way, bent over and thought of England. The two MiGs got to within a minute of missile launch range when a Saudi F-15 splashed one and the other decided he’d had enough, dumped his missiles and ran for Iran.
So that was fun.
MR: As a military veteran, do you feel you have a different perspective on military and war themed games than the average civilian gamer?
TMJ: Probably, yes, but there are military veterans and then there are military veterans. As a sailor you tend to either have very boring wars or very short and very interesting ones. If your ship gets hit it can get very bad very fast. If it doesn’t … well. There’s not a lot going on for the First Aid teams. I am, of course, very grateful that I’ve had nothing but boring wars because that means no poor sod ever had a sucking chest wound that I needed to deal with, but I definitely don’t have the same perspective on it that someone has who ever spent any time on the ground in, for example, the former Yugoslavia.
MR: You’ve become famous within the World of Tanks and War Thunder communities for your YouTube videos. When and why did you start uploading replays and videos?
TMJ: My first upload was around June 2012. You can see it at http://youtu.be/N_B452qRGBg It’s pretty terrible. Well, the match I played was good, the video was awful. I was using the free version of Bandicam—which meant the videos were limited to 10 minutes in duration—and Windows Movie Maker to edit. You can get pretty good results with basic software like that but I had no clue how to edit at the time. I started uploading as a way of saving my better World of Tanks matches so I could watch them again even after Wargaming.net updated and patched the game engine. These days I just keep separate versions of the World of Tanks patches on my PC, but back then I didn’t know how to do that, either. I figured if I was going to record the matches I may as well say something about them and, inspired by YouTubers like Highflyer15, Quickybaby and Pandy, that’s exactly what I did.
MR: You’ve mentioned in your videos that you attract a certain amount of trolling hate from a vocal minority of WoT and War Thunder players. Do you have any idea as to why they would react that way? Is it just the way the internet is? Help us fathom the filthy depths of a troll’s mind.
TMJ: I get things wrong. Sometimes horribly so, mostly not, but there’s usually at least one factual error in every video I make. It might be something as trivial as calling a tank a T-34 when it’s actually a T-43, but people leap all over it. On the other hand, I sometimes get stuff so wrong that there’s almost an international incident over it. The most notorious example was when I was talking about a book I’d read by a guy named Belton Cooper. Reputable historians are probably already laughing their arses off knowing exactly what’s coming, but suffice to say that Belton Cooper’s book about M4 Shermans in World War II has some very interesting facts and an awful lot of opinion, rumour and outright lies masquerading as facts. I took the book at face value and very quickly learned an important lesson about checking my facts before opening my mouth. I’m a lot more widely read these days, Stephen Zaloga, Max Hastings and Antony Beevor being my favourite historians, but at the time it was my audience who pointed out my errors, and I had to do the decent thing, apologise for my mistakes and fix what I’d gotten wrong. The trolls had a field day with that one, but lesson learned—check my facts.
I also get a lot of stick from people over things I haven’t said. The best example being the TOG II tank in World of Tanks. There are people who hate me with a passion for telling everyone that the TOG II is a great tank, and hold me personally responsible for all the terrible players in TOGs who end up on their team and fail miserably because “Jingles said the TOG was a good tank.” Er, Jingles did NOT say the TOG was a good tank. The TOG is a terrible tank that is only useful in platoons of good players or played solo against very bad players. Jingles said the TOG was a fun tank; there’s a massive difference. But no-one ever let anything trivial like the facts get in the way of an argument on the Internet.
And then, of course, you get people who just don’t like me or my style for whatever reason. I understand that. I hate Justin Beiber with a passion that borders on the psychopathic but he never did me any harm personally. I’m not surprised there are going to be people who feel the same way about me.
Did I really just compare myself to Justin Bieber? I’m never going to hear the end of that one.
MR: Like me, you play both World of Tanks and War Thunder (indeed, I got into the former because of your War Thunder videos). You seem to have come to the conclusion that World of Tanks and War Thunder Ground Forces are very different games in separate niches. What puts you in the mood for one versus the other?
TMJ: The thing I like about War Thunder is that if I want to just have a quick derp around, shooting everything that moves, I can play an Arcade battle and be done in five minutes. On the other hand if I want to spend twenty minutes scrutinising every bush for threats and moving carefully I can play a Simulator Battle. Or a Realistic Battle if I can’t make my mind up. Doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, there’s a game mode to suit.
World of Tanks is different. It’s whole-heartedly an arcade tank game and not ashamed of it either. Arcade battle in War Thunder can be very derpy, despite, or in fact because of the added realism. Tanks don’t have health bars and a single shot in the right spot can and does ruin your day. At times, War Thunder can feel a bit random, as if knowing about the strengths and weaknesses of the various machines is secondary to just being the one to get the first shot off. And that’s fine, being the one to get the first shot off is what won tank battles in reality, too, so the skill in War Thunder becomes the art of positioning yourself to get that first killing shot.
World of Tanks is completely different. Health bars mean getting shot first isn’t necessarily going to end your game right after it starts, and understanding the game mechanics, NOT understanding tank warfare, and being able to translate those game mechanics into effective action on the game map is what wins games. You can do crazy Hollywood stuff in World of Tanks that would just get you killed in War Thunder nine times out of ten, and that’s what makes World of Tanks fun and exciting. Of course, the one time in ten it works in War Thunder makes for an absolutely epic video, but you can’t count on it happening in War Thunder the way you can in World of Tanks if you’re good enough.
MR:: Do you play any other historical or strategy games? What about tabletop gaming?
TMJ: Not really, no. I used to play Games Workshops’ tabletop battle games as a teenager, and for a long time strategy and wargames were my favourite brand of PC game. I used to love Master of Orion from Microprose, Battle Isle from Ubisoft, Panzer General from SSI and so on. Then RTS games like Command and Conquer came along and hardly anyone was developing turn-based strategy anymore. I recently started looking around for a good historical strategy game and tried To End All Wars on Steam but it was FAR too complicated for me. I should probably check Armchair General for some recommendations!
(Right you are, Jingles! Just click here to find all of the electronic games reviews on ArmchairGeneral.—Editor) http://www.armchairgeneral.com/category/pc-video-game-reviews
Check out The Mighty Jingles videos on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/BohemianEagle
About the Author
Matt Richardson is a freelance social media consultant and web traffic analyst in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has a degree in History from Davidson College, with a special interest in military history and the Civil War. He has rotted his mind with video games since childhood. You can follow Matt at @MT_Richardson and read his blog at Ritalingamer.com.