Hello! Eric here. I briefly said some words about Virtually Competent last week when Dikdik went live, but I think it’s important to know who’s behind the name rather than just appearing to be some anonymous content creating robot. So, now that you’ve hopefully you’ve gotten to know the rest of the gang, I’d like to introduce myself as well and maybe talk a little bit more about the group as a whole.
Formalities first: My name is Eric Neuhaus and I’m the founder of Virtually Competent! After trying to break into the game development scene for a few years, I finally decided stop trying and just DO it instead. So, I gathered up a team of the most talented people I know and said, “hey guys let’s make video games”.
Now, for the informal part: I wrote the following to introduce myself internally to the rest of the team. I mean, I’ve known most of them for a few years now, but they didn’t really know each other for the most part, so I thought some introductions would help break the ice. However, I think my little story told in private is just as relevant here as it was there, so I’m going to post it here in its entirety if you want to learn a little more about me.
Or you can just skip to the bottom. Not like it’ll hurt my feelings (unless you tell me you skipped it…then it will).
When I was little, I used to stay up late playing Super Mario Bros 3 with my mom. In the mornings before school, my best friend Kelly and I tried our damnedest to get past the second level of Sonic Spinball. At my dad’s, I’d help my little brother beat Mega Man X5.
I’ve never socialized very well with others, but in all those instances, I was able to feel confident and happy because those worlds were mine. Anything else I was introduced to-books or movies-never felt like my own. Nearly every other form of media were lifetimes older than me and I just couldn’t connect with them the way I could with video games. They were young, like me.
The NES released only a few years before I was born and it was my very first system. As I grew older, so did the systems I played. Between only visiting my dad on the weekends and my mom’s busy work schedule, these games were sorta left to raise me. I was never a good student in school. I didn’t have many friends. I didn’t know where else to go, so I went to the worlds I knew and grew up there. I’ve heard people argue that games aren’t art, but really: how can you combine so many types of “traditional” art (writing, movies, and music) together and say it’s no longer art? I could argue that I’ve had more moving experiences in games than anywhere else.
As I got older, I felt like I was just becoming more and more lost. The future was scary and I just couldn’t figure out what my place in it was. At some point in high school, however, I started to embrace my favorite hobby and began to think of it as something more than an escape from reality. After my favorite up and coming gaming website, Destructoid, added a community blog feature, I found my soapbox. I started writing all about my favorite games. I made friends with others who were similarly enamored. People like me. People who liked me. People who liked what I had to say. Not just friends or family that were obligated. These were strangers on the internet.
For a period of time, when someone asked what I wanted to do as a career, I shakily replied “video game journalist. You know, reviews and the like. I looked up to all these editors on Destructoid that were making a living out of talking about these things that they were so passionate about…things that I was so passionate about.
As I graduated from high school, I became paranoid that my writing skills were just not up to snuff and generally had a horrible time dealing with relationship troubles. Afraid and alone, I retreated to the battles I knew how to win. I decided to major in Computer Science because the classes were easy enough for me to blow off and still pass with A’s. I didn’t write as much anymore, or if I did, it was about sad realities in real life rather than happy realities in virtual worlds. I didn’t even play games as much or at all.
I gave up.
After reuniting with some old friends who I had lost in the transition from high school to college, I slowly started to feel more confident again. My old friends introduced me to new friends and many of them played games like me. I could connect with these people. I started working a shitty retail job in a used video game store where I met even more directionless people who, like me, hadn’t found their path in life just yet, but figured “Hey, if I have to work a shitty retail job, at least it can be one where I really know the product.” I saw many coworkers come and go…some I miss dearly today, but I sleep well knowing that they had their ups and downs just like me.
The very best of them already had big plans that had long been set in motion, but everyone falls on hard times and may find themselves working retail at one point or another. The most interesting person to apply to our little shop by far was actually Virtually Competent’s very own Colin Greenhalgh! He actually worked for a real, live video game studio in Iowa City before being forced to join our ranks. I was starstruck the first time I met him.
It was around this time that the path I wanted to take started to become clear and not totally unreasonable. Independent developers were popping up left and right on the internet and releasing their own games. The tools were everywhere and didn’t ask that I have a college degree to use them. I just had to know games.
And I do. We’ve known each other since we were both little.
I wanted to share that little story with you because I think it sums me up pretty well, but Virtually Competent isn’t just about me: It’s all of us. Colin, Mike, and Kelsey are all just as in love with the medium as I am. Surrounding myself with people like them, people whose eyes light up when they talk about their favorite games and their own personal creative endeavors, that is the most perfect way I can think to spend my time. I’m hopeful that in doing so, we’ll create some experiences that will resonate with others in the same way they resonate with us.
Moving forward, my role will consist mostly of keeping the team on track and managing the bulk of V-Comp’s social networking presence. Of course, I’ve got dozens of game ideas that I want to work on as well, but I’m going to let the rest of the team take the reigns on that front while I finish up my final months as a student (and work 40 hours a week at my full time job). It makes me sad to have to put my own personal goals on hold, but it makes me much less sad knowing that what little time and money I have left to invest can be spent helping the rest of the team achieve their goals.
As always, thank you for reading and please, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (or here on Tumblr)! Every time you validate our social media presence,
an angel gets its wings it encourages the team and I to work even harder!
Until next time,