In an attempt to get to know the other players/members of vVv better - those who don't play in my respected division, I've decided to branch out and talk to these players. I've always been interested in not only the people in a community, but also how they came to be in the community, the hows, whys, what ifs.
Q&A with vVv NaturaL
Ahryse: How did you first become interested in vVv? What keeps you around?
vVv Natural: I didn't apply to vVv until February of last year. I've known about vVv since their beginning, because I was a Gears of War player growing up. That's what got me involved in the competitive scene and how vVv started. What made me apply and interested in becoming a vVv member, was improving myself as a gamer. At the time, I didn't really play Call of Duty - it was actually the last game I wanted to play. But unfortunately it's the only console game that's played competitively. The community is a big bonus too, you get to meet people and play with new people. Overtime, I wanted to be on staff and learn about the eSports scene in general. I started following League of Legends a lot more and MMOs as a whole. I got interested in the eSports scene, which is what I like to do now. I'm always learning about what's big, what's coming out and how the business side of eSports works.
Ahryse: If you followed vVv for so long, what held you back from applying earlier? Did vVv just not have a division you were interested in?
vVv Natural: No it really wasn't that, because vVv had Halo, Rainbow 6 and Gears, which were all games I'd played competitively over the years. Back when Gears had just started and picked up by the competitive scene, when vVv had just started, I was in another clan/organization which lasted about a year and a half. At the end of it, I was really burnt out and didn't want to be involved with a large group of people. Some of my friends from that organization went to vVv. Due to this, I was around vVv even though I wasn't a part of the community or a member. In the meantime, I just played with my friends from school and my team. A few years went by and I wasn't playing with anyone and wasn't playing competitively anymore since Halo 4 died, which led me to applying for vVv's Call of Duty division.
Ahryse: Is Call of Duty the only big FPS console game played competitively?
vVv Natural: Right now, yeah. Console gaming was made successful because of Halo. MLG got big through Halo. It really took off Season 2 of Halo 2 and by the time Halo 3 came out, you started seeing the big sponsors like Dr. Pepper partnering with MLG. In my opinion, Halo is the reason MLG is where it is today. Without Halo, MLG probably would have never gotten big enough to include Starcraft. Halo Reach was an awful game which slowly killed the competitive scene. When Halo 4 was released, it stayed in the competitive scene for about 6-8 months before the money disappeared. This left Call of Duty as the only FPS in the competitive scene that was even relevant as a console shooter.
Ahryse: Is the upcoming Halo expected to be better than its predecessors?
vVv Natural: Unfortunately that's not really how console gaming works. Usually the original is always better than its sequels. Take Unreal Tournament for example. Unreal Tournament was amazing, but by the time it got to Unreal Tournament 3, it was atrociously bad.
Ahryse: Oh so what about Battlefield, it doesn't have any competitive scene? Oh no, you're laughing!
vVv Natural: Think about that for a moment. You've played Battlefield before right?
Ahryse: No, but I used to be part of a community where it was hugely popular, so I thought it seemed like a good choice for the competitive scene.
vVv Natural: There's two different sides to Battlefield. It's an awesome game to most people because there's nothing else like it. You literally get to run around a map in tanks, airplanes and choppers and blow things up. But because of that it can never really be competitive, only because it would basically be vehicle warfare. I'm not saying it wouldn't take skill, but it wouldn't be ranked competitively. Everyone would be camping for vehicles. They've tried running tournaments without vehicles, like 2v2, 5v5 but it's not big. Its just not a competitive game, because the maps are too big and player movement is choppy. Actually, now that I think about it, pretty much no console game was made for competitive play except for maybe Halo 3. So yeah, there are too many things about Battlefield that are buggy, broken or just wouldn't fit into a competitive atmosphere.
Ahryse: Will the competitive scene for Call of Duty: Ghosts drop and revert back to the previous title?
vVv Natural: Call of Duty releases a new expansion every year and everyone follows the new title. So Black Ops 2 isn't even played anymore. I'm really looking forwards to Titanfall or Destiny. Those two games could possibly replace Call of Duty in the competitive scene.
Ahryse: That was going to be my next question! Are there any other console games that could be played competitively outside those two?
vVv Natural: In the near future, that's about it. Those are the only two hopefuls - possibly with Halo. But they really screwed themselves with Halo 4, so we'll see what happens.
Ahryse: Why did you decide to join the vVv staff?
vVv Natural: When Addiction rose to Vice President of Operations, Call of Duty Assistant Manager became vacant. BlackStarr was the current Call of Duty Manager at the time and when he announced the position was open, I thought I would be a perfect fit. When I got it, I found I enjoyed the staff work and being involved with vVv. I was able to be more involved with the community. When you're on staff, you need to know who everyone is as far as members goes. When I was Assistant Manager, I did a really good job keeping up with applicants, I knew who just about every applicant was. I tried to know who they were, what they did, why they were in vVv, what they liked to do, etc. I like to get to know people on a personal level. I tried to do that with the staff as well.
Ahryse: What would you say your biggest challenge has been since being on vVv staff?
vVv Natural: I would say... It's a combination of a few things. A personal challenge was getting used to the fact that I didn't have time to play competitively anymore. I also had to grow into my role and learn to be a leader. I mean, I've been captain of a few sports teams, but having a whole division of 20-30 guys looking to you [and BlackStarr], it was stressful sometimes. You want to make sure what you do is right. I want to make sure if I'm going to put something out, it's 100%. I don't want to have any second thoughts or anything like that. I needed to make sure I made enough time to interact with everyone while still completing my staff duties. It was a complete turnaround from what I was used to as a gamer.
Ahryse: How would you say you learned to be a leader?
vVv Natural: I had a lot of good help. I've always had a really good idea of people. I'm really good at talking to people one on one, especially because I can usually tell in someone's voice whether they do or don't get something. I learned from both Addiction and BlackStarr, they're both really good at what they do. They know how to talk to people, how to make something sound right.
Ahryse: What did you do in the instances that you felt unsure or weren't confident in what you were doing?
vVv Natural: Jerry has always been really open, as with Addiction and BlackStarr. If I ever had any questions, I would always go to them without any hesitation, because they would answer to the best of their ability. Obviously there are instances where they'd make me figure it out on my own, maybe put a different spin on it. You can't have someone always giving you all the answers, sometimes you need to be able to think for yourself.
Ahryse: What do you enjoy most about being on staff?
vVv Natural: Knowing you're a part of such a great and growing community. You're involved in the growth of vVv and the direction it's going in. You're involved in helping make it successful. I've learned a lot about eSports, business and just life in general. One of the advantages about being on staff is you get to know Rob and everybody. Everyone on staff is really smart, so you get to learn so much. You learn things about certain things that maybe you previously didn't have any interest in. You get to talk to Jerry a lot more - and Jerry's probably one of the smartest guys you'll ever meet in your entire life. I swear to God, he's wicked smart.
Ahryse: What have your learned from your cumulative time with vVv, as an applicant, member and staff member?
vVv Natural: Just from being in vVv in general, I've learned its crazy how you can bring so many people together who all share a common interest and learn so much. What brings everyone in vVv together is we all love games, playing games together, being around and learning about games. So it brings a large group of people in, then friendships and bonds are formed, which may even be stronger than the bonds you have in real life. It all comes from our love of gaming. Its hard to have that type of connection with somebody.
Ahryse: Do your family and friends know about vVv?
vVv Natural: My mom does. I don't even tell my dad about it. He would never understand this whole scene. He's so old school, he doesn't understand the growth of video games and all the opportunities that comes with that.
Ahryse: Your mom knows, does she understand or support you?
vVv Natural: No, neither one of my parents really supported me. My mom hates the fact I do stuff like this, but she's more understanding to a certain extent.
Ahryse: Was having your family be unsupportive of gaming ever something you had to contend with?
vVv Natural: Pretty much after I got my first 360, everything gaming-wise after that I paid for by myself. It's funny because my parents always supported me in baseball and basketball. But they never really supported me in video games. So if you think about it, what's the difference between me playing video games and making money off that versus playing basketball or baseball. I never got the support for the one thing I really loved to do. It's just ironic.
Ahryse: What do you think is the biggest thing separating vVv from other communities?
vVv Natural: Definitely success. We're extremely successful in pretty much everything we've been involved in. Our nickname is the 'talent factory' because we've produced so many talented players who got their start at vVv or grew to the point that they were a top player or in the top 32 players in their respective game. We had 12 of the top 18 Gears of Wars players get their start at vVv. There are no other communities like this one. Simply because not a lot of communities are also an organization. They're not around the height we are. I mean, we have a challenger LoL team. There's so much hype around that, it gives our community something to get around, support and root for. I can't even think of other communities that do that. There are other organizations who have teams, but they don't really have communities behind them.
Ahryse: What are your 2014 goals for vVv, outside the Year of Talent?
vVv Natural: It's hard to say, because most of my goals are involved with talent. Ideally, I would like to get really good Call of Duty players back into the vVv scene. I want to help vVv grow from a business standpoint, learn from Rob and see if I can help him with ideas or pitches. As a whole, my number one thing is to help make the Call of Duty division better. Even with League, I want to help get better players. Something I personally want to do, is grow the community on a talent level. On a personal note, I want to improve as a person. I want to better myself and make my life a little bit better.