About Vinland Virtual Labs

Once upon a time, a guy started a business doing all of the wrong things. Then he decided to fix it.

This is a story about a gamer.

This story starts with me, Kenn. I was born in 1964 when computers filled rooms and had about 10k times less computing power than an Apple watch. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in a state of poverty, but there was love in my home and somehow I made it to here.

I was around when Space Invaders appeared on the scene. I had a Pong console. In a post on this site, I make reference to asking for an Atari 2600 for my graduation present.

And right about the time I was graduating, the world of computing would take a world-changing step with the release of the first IBM PC.

The accidental computer programmer.

If I believed in “God” (I don’t) I’d think it was divine intervention. Maybe it was some sort of destiny (I don’t know all the things!) but mostly I just feel like I got lucky.

After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and I was working at a grocery store. One night I left pissed off and heard a commercial in my 5-minute drive home announcing that “you too can have a computer career in less than a year.” I called the numner when I got home (it was a Friday evening) and someone answered. He said he was working late anyway and if I wanted to come in and take the test, I might get into the class that was starting the following Monday.

I did go that night and take the test, and I passed, and that following Monday I was sitting in a classroom. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I’d found something that I’d be really, really good at and that I’d love so much that I’d do it whether or not I was getting paid.

Fast-forward.

Thirty years have passed from then to now. My life has been good, and I owe so much to that pivotal moment when I happened to be pissed at my boss and made a phone call. I’m still a gamer, and I still code in my spare time.

I’ve had a few moments in time where the two (coding and gaming) got together. I guess my first completed (but not distributed for obvious reasons!) game was an Asteroids clone for the Commodore 128. I was an animation programmer for a long-defunct game company in the 90’s; we made 2D sports games, and I coded the player movements in C++. Somewhere in the first decade of the 2000s, I was doing 3D art with tools like Poser and Bryce, and I even spent a grand on some 3D engine of the era that I never really learned how to use. I doubt any of this makes me any better prepared for modern game development, but it tells me something: this isn’t a passing fad for me.

"Education should learn from the positive side of gaming - reward, accomplishment, and fun."

Sebastian Thrun

"Gaming has been a great way to get to know people. That's part of what I love about games, that they are social."

Rich Sommer

"The further you get into technology, the further you go into gaming. That's the general rule."

Nick Johnson

"For me, the cool thing is doing things that could only be done in gaming."

Warren Spector

"The social element has really transformed the gaming experience."

Bobby Kotick

"We set up a situation and let you interact with it and see the consequences of your choice. That's what gaming does."

Warren Spector

"If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."

Marcus Brigstocke

"I think gaming has influenced popular culture in a huge way. It's worked its way into novels, and blockbuster movies."

Bill Bailey

"I've always thought that gaming and YouTube and the web is a very post-punk extravaganza."

Malcolm Mclaren

"If gaming were seen as an art, the important question would be not whether games are good for us but whether they are good, full stop."

Naomi Alderman

"Video games are a huge, incredibly popular, world transforming medium."

Austin Grossman

(ADHD)

Side note: I was diagnosed with ADHD… at age 58. It’s not something one develops; it’s something one is… therefore I’ve lived with it for the whole of my life without knowing or getting treatment. In retrospect, I’m kind of amazed that I got by as well as I did.

Today, I know, and today, I am being treated. It’s really helping me focus on things when I need to focus, and that’s a game changer when it comes to something like learning game development.

I have a vision...

…and it’s not to create my dream game.

I’ve always been creative, but no medium has ever been satisfactory for me. I learned to play the guitar, joined bands, and wrote songs. I wrote poetry and short stories and even one very lame (unpublished, thankfully) novel. I considered film-making and bought a bunch of books. None of it was ever enough, though. Short of something that is visual, audible, capable of telling a story, and fully interactive… that’s where I needed to be to create.

My vision is to realize my creative needs—to express something that’s been dying to get out for my entire life.

This is the part where, if I were in this for commercial gain, I’d promise something that’ll rock your world. That would be… disingenuous. What comes out of this might suck to everyone but me, and I’d be fine with that. Take it from an “older” dude… it’s the journey that matters. Work to please yourself; everyone else is just gravy.

Vinland Virtual Labs.

I’m not dumb; if everyone loves what I create, I’m happy to take a fair price for it in exchange for me getting to survive and support my cats while doing what I love.

A few years ago, when I was coding non-game things in my spare time, I created an LLC as a way of segregating my “business” activities. I invited some friends to join me, and so we ended up as an LLC with four members. This company actually supported me for a while, but we kinda just fell into a routine of doing ordinary things because people were paying us to do them.

Vinland Virtual Labs is a DBA for the parent company. It’s an agreement that we all made that I could do my own thing and we’d share resources and results.

The bottom line, it’s just a dude following a dream. No big corporate capitalistic anything, just one guy doing something that’s really seems like it needs doing.

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