(The following copied from the Stronghold Games “About Us” page)
Born and raised in Queens, New York and now from Somerset, NJ USA, Stephen had dreamed of entering the board game industry in some bigger fashion. A gamer since childhood (and there are many many years between then and now), Stephen has serious game geek cred, which includes playing RPGs since the late ‘70s, playing and running LARPS during the late ‘90s and ‘00s, playing computer games and MMOs throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s, playing CCGs from their inception through the early 00’s, and finally diving deeply into designer board games during the late 90′s. He has also playtested games for several major publishers in the industry.
Stephen organizes several gaming groups, including very regularly scheduled small/medium-sized groups, as well as a very large group that could almost be called a “mini-convention”. Stephen is mostly passionate about heavily thematic, American-style boardgames. Stephen’s geekiness doesn’t stop at gaming, however. Stephen is also a fan of Sci Fi and fantasy, and an avid craft beer enthusiast and former homebrewer.
In late 2009, Stephen Buonocore put together a business plan to create a new board game publishing company. The first meeting with a business partner was held on October 25, 2009 in Atlantic City, NJ USA, where a mission was established and plans were set in motion to start Stronghold Games.
It all started in the days of B&W reruns and you could buy a comic under a buck, whose artistic skills showed up in kindergarten (so he was told), introduced to comics by his mother with a gorcery bag of yellowed paged coverless issues, when the bug hit. From there on, he has been with comics ever since. Reading and drawing for comics (Covers, interiors, writing, layout, etc.), RPG/CCG (Covers, interiors, logos, cards, etc.), logos, t-shirts and anything else that has to to do with art.
Ponk is a Mathematics student from Germany who has had a passion for games ever since he was old enough to hold a controller and a set of dice. Ponk has been playing games for as long as he can remember, starting with his moms old N64 and some classic board games. At around 16 he discovered a video podcast of a tabletop RPG group and instantly fell in love. Ever since then he has been active in RPG groups, playing various different systems both as a DM and as a player.
A turning point in his life came around the age of 18 when he was introduced to the world of speedrunning. Speedrunners form a worldwide community that is connected by one thought: beating the games they love as fast as possible. Ponks interest made him pick up the Super Nintendo classic game Super Metroid, which is one of the most popular “speedgames” ever and is often referred to as the “mother of speedrunning”. But his interest didn’t stop there.
Besides optimizing his runs, competing in online games and tournaments, commentating races and developing new categories, he also started a project that had not been done before and still has not been done by anyone else: Beat Super Metroid completely blindfolded in a single run. After a half a year of inventing strategies and a lot of practice, he was able to beat the game blindfolded in just under 10 hours real time. Ever since he has constantly improved the run, bringing it down to a time of under two and a half hours. Since then, he and the Dutch runner Katun24 founded a community for blindfolded gaming that has been growing in popularity ever since and has brought up many awesome and talented blindfolded runners.
Watch Ponk stream at https://www.twitch.tv/ponktus