<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy John. We started talking on the twitter not too long ago, and then he reached out and asked if he could write for us regarding his journey through the nerdy realm. I was all DUDDEEE!! That's so raaaddd!! And now, here we are. Like right now, in real time, this is happening. Pretty cool huh? HIT IT JOHN!!! </editorsnote>
#TalkNerdyToMeLover's John Sollitto
It’s one thing when you’re friends and family tell you that you’ve got it going on, it’s another thing to see it for yourself. To have real, tangible proof that you’re on the right track for where you want to go is something that gets you at your core. However, I want to make it clear that those family members and friends who tell you that you’re the bee’s knees? Those people see in you what you do not, and this article is for those lovely people who stand by us all and try and get us to see in ourselves what they see.
I first became aware of how things were going for me when I was speaking to the founder of the Vault one day over Facebook. For those of you who don’t know, let me give you some background on the Vault. The Game Creators Vault is this pretty awesome resource for students and game fans on YouTube and Facebook. I work on content, videos, and some articles for the Vault as the Editor-in-Chief.
Now I’m still in college, juggling the Vault and working part time for my father. That’s a lot of plate spinning and often times I feel like a carnie but I put my heart in the Vault as much as Jen puts her heart into this site and as many of you put your heart into your dreams as much as you can.
Mark (our founder) and I were chatting and I was outlining some videos we had in the works. Mark’s a great guy, a true visionary who wants to help others get into the industry he loves so much. It’s honestly a pleasure working for him and helping him realize that dream. Also, the fact that he kind of lets me run without boundaries is a pretty sweet gig too. I mean, when you and your boss essentially agree on the direction of the company and he basically says, “Go ahead, just keep our name out of the mud, stay on track with our vision and have fun,” I felt like I grabbed the star in Mario and that crazy invincibility music started to play.
The day he called me his #1 though, the day he told me I was the Saul Tigh to his Admiral Adama almost brought a tear to my eye. It was a small thing, just a little comment on FB given in terms I would understand completely as we were both die-hard Battlestar Galactica fans. I knew he appreciated the work I did and he trusted me. I mean, that was a totally no-homo bro-moment and I would have man-hugged the SHIT out of him had we actually been face to face.
It was kinda surreal to think that he would allow me to take control like this while he did other business and took care of his family, and I felt that my inexperience and youth meant that I wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. But there I was, running a web-show manned by four other individuals and working a Facebook page while still ensuring my life was still on the rails academically and personally.
The next moment came when I was at an annual mixer a friend of mine hosts for those in the game industry. Funny coincidence is that at this mixer over a year ago I met Mark and we essentially reinvented that Vault in a two hour conversation on an outside patio in Tustin. The Force is strong with that patio, I’ll tell you that.
My friend and I were catching up and he was giving me a pep-talk for an interview I was going to conduct with some big names. I was a little nervous and to be honest not so confident. Now, my friend Jim is kind of a big deal at this mixer because he has a habit of getting people on the right track for the profession they want. He’s the Fonz there and everybody wants a piece of him.
A young up-and-comer strode over and sort of politely interrupted us by standing creepily by and waiting for a break in our conversation to shake Jim’s hand and thank him for inviting him. Jim gave him a small lecture on what he needed to prep for his resume and what programs he needed to get familiar with. But, Jim was leaving a crucial bit of information out. He hadn’t told this kid (kid, he had to be my age, why am I talking like I’m older than him?) that he needed to look at the current market and see what games were selling.
So I told him. I told him to get familiar with what was out there and study what was selling so that he could make samples that companies would see as marketable. Surreal moment number two: this guy was looking at me and nodding like I was some kind of professor. It didn’t strike me until after he thanked me for the advice and I introduced myself to him, but it kind of hit me when I looked at Jim and he had this sort of wry “I told you, man” smile on his face. He was right. I was ready for this. I could do this.
The last sign came a few days ago on the Vault’s FB page. A new fan asked what it took to be a videogame journalist. Now, I didn’t answer right away, I maybe let it sit for a couple of hours and hoped Mark might pick it up and I told myself that I’d come back to it. Mark, that loveable sonuvabitch, called me out saying, “Ok Sollitto…this one's all yours!” Fuck. Now, I couldn’t let this guy down, this was exactly the type of question we encouraged at the Vault and there was no way I was going to flake out on a direct question. I laid down all the information that I had, everything I had been told or taught from anyone and everyone in the industry.
It rounded out to be a two paragraph response, and after I read it all back to myself I had a “Damn…” moment. I kinda knew what I was talking about, didn’t I? I mean, as I said, I’m not an expert but having interned at G4, freelanced for PC Gamer, and working in the industry in general I had some perspective and I got the gist of it. Enough to give some advice to someone who was just as passionate as I was. And he thanked me for it! Like I was someone with information he didn’t have!
Now, this whole piece is not to jack myself off and I know it looks like total ego-fellatio right now, but let me get to the point. You may not think you know enough to do what you want to do, or it’s too early for that, or you’re not ready. That’s bull. Grade A, farm-fed bull of the highest magnitude.
If you’ve got heart, and you’ve got a will, you’ve got a way. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young, you’re inexperienced, or you’ve got to wait. There will always be time, but what you do with that time and how you use it matters. Sooner or later, you’ll realize that you’re really an industry professional, or an expert in your field, or a freaking star at what you want to do. And as soon as you realize that, you’re ready to kick ass and take some names. You’re ready to be a force of nature that no one can stop. And once you get going, don’t you ever let up. Be like Mario when he gets that star and blast through those turtles, snag that flag, and save the princess. Most important? Don’t be afraid to be unapologetically awesome, just like Jen says. Own what you are. Don’t be a dick about it, but don’t hide it either. That self-assurance will go a long way, and will carry you through whatever obstacles rears its ugly head. So nerds, unite; because as John C. Reilly said in Step-Brothers, “We’re here to fuck shit up.”