written by: Terrence Sellers
Stephen Hoad is a modder. But when you meet him for the first time, that’s not how he’ll introduce himself. Before he gets to modding, he’ll make sure to tell you about his wife and baby twin girls. This is who he is and this is what’s important to him. He’s a family man first and a modder second. But it’s a close second. Stephen has only been modding for a little over a year. But in that short amount of time he’s already completed 11 full scale case mods.
While Stephen hasn’t been modding for very long, he has always had an interest in PC’s and the culture that surrounds them. He was a regular at PC related events and LAN parties long before he ever considered modding. He didn’t walk into modding as an outsider, but rather slowly made the transition to modding as a natural progression from basic PC user. After using PC’s for so long and then eventually building his own, it just made sense to try modding one. His first mod was encouraged by an established modder in Australia and it all snowballed from there.
What’s so fascinating about Stephen is his resilience and creative thinking. He loves to mod but also has to take care of a wife and two daughters. This means that he has to work a full time job and work on his mods while also caring for a family. Rather than settling for this difficult and inefficient distribution of time, he’s reframing the situation. Instead of trying to mod in his spare time, he’s trying to turn modding into a profession so he can do it full time.
A Real Pro
When people use the term pro modder, they usually mean to refer to well-known modders who compete in competitions and create memorable projects. While Stephen does fall into that category, that’s not how he defines the term pro modder. He wants to be a real professional, as in make a living working full time as a modder. And he’s taking that dream seriously.
In the next year Stephen hopes to open a workshop dedicated to producing modding materials for sale so other modders, both amateurs and experienced, can have easy to use pre-made components in order to create the builds they want in a fraction of the time. He hopes to be producing components for Cooler Master’s Maker Made store sometime next year. This is the kind of forward thinking and creative problem solving that led to his decision to create the Mad Scientist mod.
The Mad Scientist was inspired by Stephen’s desire to challenge himself. Specifically with liquid cooling. He wanted to do something that would push his skills to new heights with DIY liquid cooling in a way that would accentuate what he could already do with tubing.
“I wanted to do something with crazy water cooling and a laboratory scene popped into my head.”
The science theme is a relevant one because for Stephen modding is a craft. It’s more than just an artistic display of one’s feelings and ideas. It’s a profession that requires time, effort, patience, and practice. But it also takes risk. Like when Victor Frankenstein created the monster, great mods require people to push themselves to new heights. They must be willing to challenge themselves and ignore the safe and conventional. This is especially true when competing with a wide world of talented modders, many of which having a lot more experience than Stephen. This was the mindset that fueled the work that culminated with the Mad Scientist and clearly it was worth it.
The Mad Scientist won 2nd place in the Case Mod World Series ANZ edition. This was Stephen’s first time entering any modding competition.
Modder in the Mirror
Stephen Hoad’s outlook on modding is an interesting one. While he is a competitive modder, he doesn’t see other modders as his true competition. For him, his true adversary is himself.
“Even in competitions, I’m more looking at how my finished mods compare to my vision.”
The way he grades himself as a modder is completely introspective. He has a vision for what a mod is supposed to look like and that’s his ultimate goal. To create something that matches the vision in his head is a successful mod regardless of how it compares to other ones in the final results of a competition. He does not see other modders as being obstacles to his goals, but rather fellow creators who are also working to improve alongside him.
Stephen doesn’t see the need in comparing his modding to other modders because he believes all modders are unique and add something meaningful to the modding community. He believes modding should be judged on improvement and vision rather than who has the best tools and most time. This was one of the main reasons the Case Mod World Series was his first competitive modding event even though he had already built several mods before the Mad Scientist.
Modding on Merit
Stephen Hoad truly believes in himself as a modder and believed that it was something worth investing in. Many modders get into modding through luck or connections and never really pay their dues. Often do people start thinking about sponsorships before they’ve even finished their first full mod. This is not how Stephen did it.
“I self-funded four builds before I even approached any vendors.”
Stephen believed that he was responsible for proving himself as a modder before he had a right to try to take sponsorships from other modders. He put up the cash to pay for four complete builds out of pocket while starting a family. He was willing to make this investment because he feels responsible for his own future. It’s not someone else’s job to prove what he can accomplish and he didn’t ask for any such help before he had already established himself. He wanted to prove he was worth sponsoring before ever having the conversation so that there could be no question about his value as a modder.
For him, modding is not just a hobby. It’s not just something kids do in their spare time for fun. It’s a serious craft that requires you to put something in if you want to get something out of it. And that’s exactly what he did.
When asked about what the hardest part about getting into modding is, he says it’s discouragement. But not in reference to himself and not from the public. He believes that most would be modders get discouraged because they approach the art form incorrectly. Rather than building their credibility up by working on creating a gallery of mods to show off to the public and to possible sponsors, they run straight to companies in search of financial aid and are almost always turned down. This leads to people giving up before they even really get started. But he doesn’t look at this situation as being the fault of sponsors. He believes they shouldn’t just handout parts to every kid with a sketch. He thinks people should be willing to invest in themselves before someone else should be expected to.
The Modding Family
Stephen Hoad is an active part of the modding community. He was mentored by more than one modder in Australia and he works to pay that forward. He’s also a very active member of the offline modding scene. He’s already attended 10 different live modding events this year and has been invited to several more events and competitions. He also gives modding seminars with two other Australian modders, teaching people how to master skills like installing DIY liquid cooling.
Even with all these events, Stephen still works tirelessly on creating new mods. He’s currently in the midst of creating an Assassin’s Creed themed case mod with Cooler Master and has several other projects in the works as well. With two twin girls, a full schedule of events, several mods in the works, and a modding workshop being built, he truly is the Modding Family Man.
Check Mad Scientist mod worklog here: http://community.coolermaster.com/index.php/topic/16223-the-mad-scientist-master-case-5-mod/