Ben was friends with Sam Lavelle, Taurik, Sito Jaxa and Alyssa Ogawa. He occasionally played poker with them, as well as with some of the members of the senior staff, namely Commander William T. Riker, Commander Dr. Beverly Crusher, Lieutenant Worf, and Counselor Deanna Troi.
Background information Edit
The character concept of Ben was conceived by René Echevarria, who wrote the script of TNG: "Lower Decks". Of the character's creation, he said, "I decided to bring in someone who was not Starfleet." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 79) The invention of Ben came about simply because Echevarria wanted to have a character "who hitched aboard the ship for fun, who's unconcerned about rank, and who passes along stupid rumors!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 282) The Ben character was never intended to be Guinan instead. Ben allowed the writers to present an insight into the lives of the civilians who lived aboard the Enterprise, something which the writers had wanted to do for a long time. ("Lower Decks" audio commentary, TNG Season 7 Blu-ray special features)
In the final draft script of "Lower Decks", Ben is described as being around his early to mid-twenties. The script goes on to say, "[Ben] has an easy smile and wit. He signed aboard a Starship for fun and adventure, and as a civilian, isn't subject to the pressures of Starfleet. He likes nothing more than to kid his friends about how seriously they take everything."
Actor Bruce Beatty auditioned for the part of Ben. At that point, René Echevarria and a couple of other people suspected Beatty was the best performer for the role. Someone else was very nervous about selecting Beatty, though. "So, we had an interesting controversy in casting for the role of Ben and I don't remember who it was but somebody expressed discomfort that... You know, here's a character, we've never seen anyone like this before, we've never seen a civilian on the ship, working in a bar, working, you know, in food service," Echevarria said, with a laugh. "And was it appropriate or not to cast an African-American? And, you know, you've gotta remember this was twenty years ago but, you know, was that the right message to send, you know? And I remember, I was just like, 'Well, guys, we're about to talk ourselves out of a job for this guy!' [....] We almost talked ourselves out of giving him the job, because of a perception of political correctness." ("Lower Decks" audio commentary, TNG Season 7 Blu-ray special features)
René Echevarria, Denise Okuda and Michael Okuda agreed with one another that Ben was "just a nice guy." Denise Okuda went on to opine, "If the series had gone into another season, I think it'd be fun to bring him back, 'cause I think he was a fun character." ("Lower Decks" audio commentary, TNG Season 7 Blu-ray special features)