Let Me (Re)Introduce Myself
Wait! Am I allowed to say fuck here? Fuck it.
My name is Eric Lee Lewis, and I am more well-known on the interwebs as Indie Luchador. You know, that thing that was a subsection of Spiderduck Network that was all about indie games. It sort of, you know, got mildly popular, and people just started calling me the Indie Luchador.
I guess all of that is neither here nor there. I just wanted to say that we are back, and I couldn't be happier. But how did this all come back together, and what the hell happened?! Strap your bums in. Explanations incoming.
I guess we will start off on how I got started into the games industry
The year was... Nope! Not doing it like that. You see, I was a lost soul. I was a simple metal singer/song writer. And, of course, with any band, I had to rely on others to make something happen. I loved making music. I loved it more than almost anything. The problem was that others wouldn't always make it to practice, and nothing would happen. I quickly became disenchanted with making music after multiple instances of no-call no-shows.
Now, when I love something, I LOVE something and become passionate about it to an extreme level. I learn everything about it that I can and ultimately obsess over it. Music, video games, superheroes, and other categories that I just don't feel like spending three hours on naming. And I had always loved video games yet was always told that there was never a future in the industry. Boy, was that a huge lie.
So, how exactly did I get started? Well, at 23, I went to college for psychology and journalism. Psychology due to my interest in how the human psyche works, and journalism because of my longstanding want of covering video games for a living. Of course the adviser at the college told me there was no future in going to college for journalism, especially no future in video games journalism. So, psychology became priority number one.
Things seemed nice at college. I enjoyed my first few semesters. That was until I got THAT teacher. And not only did I get the nightmare teacher-- that teacher was my psych professor. This was not good, and ended up with me deciding that I wasn't going to continue on with college. I became the first person in my family to go to college and the first to drop out.
A few months went by, and I felt like an absolute failure until the day that I decided that I was going to have the balls to follow that unobtainable dream. I was going to pursue a career in the games industry. I created a tiny game blog on Tumblr known as Empty Wallet Gamer.
This blog was something for me to try to build up a portfolio. Something I could show to major gaming sites to try to get a job there after an undetermined amount of time.
After a few reviews, I started getting messages from other writers that had the same goal. Empty Wallet Gamer started growing in staff week by week until I was in charge of 11 other writers and the content that went on the blog. But with a lack of funds comes an abundance of issues. We needed other outlets. We needed podcasts, we needed videos, we needed interviews. These things were impossible and people started becoming uninspired. Some of the content creators no longer wanted to produce articles for the site and just faded away into obscurity while others kept busting their asses.
As for me, I started seeking out books and podcasts to help me learn new ways into the seemingly impenetrable games industry.
Pardon me while I go off on a tangent about the difficulty of getting into the video game industry
This may come off as a total asshole thing to say but, trust me, I have seen and heard some shit. There are writers that eat proverbial shit sandwiches. They bust their asses to try to make it to a larger site while those people at the larger sites keep their mouths shut about how to get in the door. Is this a fear that they will have contention for their ever-rotating jobs? I think so. It's easy to be replaced unless you have that "it factor." You know, that certain thing that sets them apart from the others that Greg Miller and Jeff Gerstmann have. They are irreplaceable because of their engaging personalities. Nonetheless, there are loads of "games journalists" that will do anything they can to hold you back from taking their position that you want oh so bad.
Not everybody is like that though. Some want to help out. They want you to know that, though incredibly hard, it is possible to get into the industry and will even share tips to get in. One such person named Dan Amrich even wrote a book about it called Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living. I can't recommend the book enough. It helped me immensely.
The point is that even though most games journos will put their noses high in the air to the smaller guys because they have accomplished their goals and are content with just making it, there are some that aren't just settling with making it and want to see the industry evolve. Even if that means seeing some of their friends pushed to the side so others can rise to the top and change things.
Back to where I left off about podcasts
I am a huge podcast fan. At the time of writing this article I am listening to podcasts about games, wrestling, Batman, and comedy. So, one day I am looking for new games podcasts to listen to. Certain podcasts were going to video format and lost a lot of the things that made them seem special due to new management and the restrictions placed upon them.
I ran across a podcast that was just launching called Galactic Gaming News. This podcast was two normal guys that just wanted to speak about their love for games. While the first few episodes were nothing great, the hosts conveyed their passion in a very convincing manner. Not to mention that one of the hosts named Jimmy really showed that he had that "it" factor I spoke of earlier.
At the end of those first episodes, Jimmy would always talk about how they would welcome guests and very much wanted them. So, I shot them an email and was promptly responded to. I was invited on and went on to go borrow money for a shitty microphone for my computer.
The episode was great and I even tried to remain as professional as I could possibly be. I connected with the hosts and was invited back on multiple occasions before I became a mainstay. I was writing articles at Empty Wallet Gamer, managing an international staff, and podcasting.
Eventually I got enough guts to speak to the GGN guys about just merging. They accepted, and Empty Wallet Gamer just became Galactic Gaming News.
Things continued on the way that they were, but podcasts became my number one priority because of the dynamic Jimmy and I had. While things seemed to be going well, the other host had personal issues come up in his life and decided to go on a hiatus that still lasts to this day. Jimmy and I soldiered on and added some of my co-writers to the podcast.
Time marched on but I wanted something more. I have never been known to stay content with anything. I always want more. I have an insatiable hunger to get better at things and to always expect more. I started falling out of love with what AAA developers had to offer. They were, and in most cases still are, producing the same old games. I looked elsewhere and fell in love with indie games and wanted to start interviewing the developers that were making the games that I was falling for. So I sent an email to the developer that made the games that spoke to me the most. I went straight to the top of my list and sent an email off to Edmund McMillen, and I expected to never get an answer.
I freaked out two days later when I had a response. I flipped even more when I read the email and it said that Ed would love to do an interview. Holy shit! A big name that was willing to help a small-time, never-interviewed-anybody-before podcaster. The interview was set and I started writing down all of the questions that I could think of. Even painstakingly reading, watching, and listening to his previous interviews so I didn't ask any of the questions he had been asked before. I wanted to be different.
The day came around, and I was as nervous as I could possibly be. Ed and his wife, Danielle, called Jimmy and I. We spoke for about two minutes while I started getting as giddy as a thirteen-year-old boy seeing boobs for the first time. I was meeting and speaking casually with the people that seemed to be making video games solely for me.
The interview started and I was in awe. Ed and Danielle were so nice and spoke to me like equals. Ed even pointed out to me that I should throw out my scripted questions and do a Howard Stern-style interview. Essentially, fuck scripts. Let's have a conversation. In my first interview ever, Edmund and Danielle changed how I would do interviews forever. I can never thank the McMillens enough for the help they unknowingly gave me that day.
Time went on and I kept doing interviews, but Galactic Gaming News started to become complacent. We were quickly going nowhere until one day when Jimmy announced to us that we would be merging with some guy named Trevor. Little did he know that I was already in talks with an indie game site that promised me limitless potential on what I would be able to do with them.
I left home to go to a headquarters that focused upon indie games
So there I was. I was moving on up to a site that had an actual dot com name. I was sitting-in on meetings about how the other writers would send for indie games for me to cover. I would write reviews and previews for the site, and was even given a list of a bunch of games by the same studio. Little did I know that the owner of the site was also working at that dev studio and giving his own games high review scores. Not to mention that a lot of those games were ripoffs of AAA games that were also completely and totally uninspired. Of course I didn't know this until my last week there.
I was happy that I was finally getting review and preview copies of games. This would give me a leg up on some of the competition. Once again, they had other dirty little secrets. They were leaking early press copies to readers. There were quite a few people that started playing a very early version of Legend of Dungeon. LoD was still about a year out from release, and I was already in love with it. In fact, I wanted to interview the married couple that was creating this gem. I went to the head of the site and asked him to contact them so I could interview Robot Loves Kitty. It was then that he told me that there was no need for an interview and that it was a waste of time. This hit me right in the balls as I was promised I would have the platform I needed to launch my career in interviews. Within that same day I had met another developer and asked him why he was advertising his game on our site due to our low readership. It turned out that they had made up numbers to him and were having him pay quite a bit to advertise on the site. He promptly pulled his ads and I was happy to help him out. But I knew I had to get out of that hellhole.
I just wanted a home with a dumb name so I could do interviews
I knew that I had more potential than sitting around at a website that was cheating indie developers out of money and review codes for their games. Though some may not realize it, I have morals.
I contacted Trevor Osz. He was the guy in charge of Spiderduck Network and, more importantly, he was the guy now in charge of my former home at Galactic Gaming News.
I was nervous about calling him via Skype. I am sometimes hard to work with because of my attitude towards others that could have control over what I am capable of and what I can do. Trevor was more than happy to speak with me and we got along right away. Trevor told me that he would love to welcome me aboard. Not only did he welcome me with open arms, he told me to start coming up with names for my own part of the site. That's right, Trevor offered me my own slice of Spiderduck.
I came up with names for my gaming coverage that consisted of Indie Alligator, Indie Alley, and then eventually came up with an outlandish name that encapsulated my two major obsessions-- Indie games and wrestling. Indie Luchador was my final choice.
Trevor got to work on creating Indie Luchador and I started podcasting with Trevor and speaking about what this thing would become.
I became an interviewer again, and even got to witness my new dream of working in the public relations and advertising side of the industry
As soon as I grew some balls and spoke to others in the industry, I learned how to compose emails in a professional manner. I started emailing indie developers that were creating games that were blowing my mind. I had to get back into the mindset of interviewing others, upon realizing that I wasn't going to be held back by Trevor or any rules.
I got to interview some of the best upcoming indie developers and got to befriend some of the coolest developers ever. But the interviews weren't the average question/answer types. They were conversations that meant something. I even met one of my best friends and current bosses, Nicolae Berbece. Yep, penis jokes in an interview bring people together.
Some of the interviews even turned into me working PR on one of the most successful indie games of all time. Though I won't speak about who it was, I can say that it is well-loved and on a few people's top 10 games of all time. The release of the game went very well. A ton of money was made and for the first time ever I saw my name in the credits of a game. Though not credited for the actual work I did, I was a character in the game. But the saddest thing of all was that in my personal life I was about to become homeless. He even knew about my issues and never offered me a dime. After all, he was now a millionaire and I was only hoping for a little bit of help. You know, $98 for a bus ticket so I could get to a friends' so I had a place to live. Instead, I had to ask people I didn't know for cash and he no longer cared about even being my friend. To this day he doesn't acknowledge my existence nor will he do interviews with me anymore. I only helped with changing the direction of his life. Of course, he changed mine as well. Maybe I shouldn't be so bitter.
Spiderduck became a place of trying hard to only go nowhere
Spiderduck Network ended up becoming nothing more than a lower version of a bigger gaming site. We were writing about things we didn't care about. We were dreading not being sure about who would or wouldn't show up to record podcasts. We were sitting on our thumbs and not being sure what we were doing.
Trevor decided he wanted to pursue writing about wrestling and he was no longer going to keep Spiderduck running. He let us know with some advance that we could keep it running. At the time I was just moving back to Michigan and living with my now ex-girlfriend. She had a child and we had bills. Lots of bills. I had to get a job and did so. I started working in an adult foster care home taking care of mentally-challenged residents.
I had completely forgotten about living my dream
I forgot what I was doing with my life. I forgot what made me happy. I ended up becoming severely depressed. Depressed to the point of entertaining thoughts of suicide. Everybody knew how miserable I was. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember what made me happy. Spiderduck was dead, and I didn't know how to do any of this on my own. I just forgot.
My job was killing me. I worked my ass off (still do at the time of this) and had months prior signed up to work for a website that was supposed to be launching. A site that would have a built-in audience. The site never launched and I was tired of waiting.
I got out of work one day and spoke to the guy launching the site and told him I wanted out. I just couldn't handle stressing about the fact that 4-5 months had gone by and nothing happened yet. I guess this came at the right time.
Later that night I got a call from Nicolae Berbece and he asked me if I wanted to come do Marketing and PR on his upcoming game, Move or Die. I gladly accepted and am actually working on this project in the background as I write this article.
A day later, I realized that somebody had written in the old private Spiderduck Staff Page. Trevor said he was relaunching the site. I couldn't have been happier. I was just starting to get out of my depression and at the right time, Trevor pulled me out of it. I am happier than I can even explain.
And that's where we are right now. I don't know what the future holds, but I can say that things are going to be way different from here
So what is Spiderduck about now? Well, video games.... and whatever we want. We have decided as a group to reunite. Some of us are working in other sides of the industry since the split. Some of us are not involved with games at all. Some of us just went on with life and left behind Spiderduck Network.
We are back together now. Some of us have stars in our eyes realizing that we don't have to try to be professional anymore. We can do what we want, when we want. I am excited to see what some of the new people are going to do. I am thrilled to know that we will have podcasts that will have nothing to do with games. I couldn't be happier about knowing that I will be doing interviews again. But most of all, I am happy to have a home again.
To those of you returning to read our shit and listen to us: Welcome back! To those of you that are new to us: Welcome to what we are. We won't compromise who we are or what we do. And to those of you that are looking for a cool competitive multiplayer game to play, check out moveordiegame.com.