On Laser Tag and Teamwork and New Beginnings

10423650_256394664484671_5637342470431730556_nSaturday night was a night of many different beginnings. For Jonathan, it was the official beginning to a company he’s dreamed of since he was fourteen years old. For David and I, for Jonathan, and for, I’m sure, the rest of the team, it was a surreal moment when we opened the envelope containing our certificate from the State Corporation Commission.

It’s official, ladies and gentlemen – Wyvern Interactive has entered the scene. We exist. We’re legal. It’s something we’ve all worked extremely hard to see happen, and it’s happening so much sooner than Jonathan and I had imagined when we began talking about making Wyvern a reality back when we were 18. A lot has changed in five years.

* * *

Jonathan and I met during our freshmen year at Lord Fairfax Community College when he was running for the president role for our college’s Student Government Association. He came up to me and one of our now best friends Sam before class one night, and in about five minutes he had charmed us into voting for him. But truthfully, it was his passion that caught my attention. Even then, when he was running for presidency, his passion for what he was doing was apparent. Jonathan has every intention of changing the world; as for me, well, I had no idea that that brief encounter before my Psychology class would change my life.

Jonathan and I graduated from LFCC and moved on to George Mason University, an unplanned but lucky accident. During our first semester there, while at the gym, a guy almost backhanded me while demonstrating to a friend how to use one of the machines. Our first semester was full of near mishaps and strange occurrences, so I put it out of my mind – until Jonathan met me for lunch one day several months later and said, “Hey, remember the kid who almost hit you at the gym?”

I did.

“I think he’d be great for Wyvern.”

And, though I tease him about the gym incident, David has been an incredible asset to our team. He’s talented, entertaining, and possesses both the confidence and the attention to detail that have become Wyvern’s bywords. When David is on a project, you can rest assured that the product could ship before he’ll say it’s finished. There are few people on the planet 1475830_246619252128879_3426830058494667615_nwho have a higher set of standards. While Jonathan and I originally nicknamed David “Padawan”, a term we used with affection because David was new to our fledgling studio, David has moved past that; I’ve yet to meet a better person suited to the Art Director role for Wyvern.

Ehren, our Deputy Art Director and Director of Motion Capture, quickly proved his worth as a team leader when he calmed me and several classmates down during one particularly rocky class project session, then not only called our slacking teammate out for not working but kicked the guy off our team. In my experience with class projects, few team leaders are comfortable with dealing with a useless teammate, let alone kicking him or her off the team or turning him or her in to the teacher. Ehren did both, which impressed me, and his art skills – and personality – did the rest for Jonathan and David. Plus, while Ehren is more mellow and balances out the high strung personalities of the rest of us, he has a great mind for details and a keen eye for both art and motion capture.

Brian and Nicole, our Sound Director and Lead UI Artist respectively, also make up Wyvern Interactive. Brian is superb at telling a story through sound, and Nicole pays attention to detail and has a focus for organization that makes her an incredible asset to our team of Type A’s. After that, our team has come from a variety of places. Some have approached us; others, like Ehren, we’ve recruited. We’re extremely selective of the people we bring into Wyvern, and there are two critical requirements our team members have to meet.

The first, talent, is a big one. Jonathan, David, and I all have a tendency to be perfectionists and slightly (read: extremely) obsessive about our work. That obsession stems from overwhelming, consumptive passion for our work. While Ehren is more laid back – or at least, quieter about his perfectionism – he definitely understands the importance of passion to our studio. “Passion is what makes something great,” he says, “and that is something every member of this team has and it’s something we want every member to bring to the team.”

The second, and most important, requirement to become a member of Wyvern’s team is that the people we bring in have to fit in with the rest of the team. Like the Fast and Furious series’ philosophy of “ride or die,” our studio is a family. We laugh, we fight, but we work together. And to work together so well, Jonathan sums it up succinctly: “Someone could be the most talented person in the country, but if he or she is a jerk, or doesn’t truly appreciate his/her peers and teammates… We don’t want them.”

And that, my friends, is that.

* * *

            Saturday night was the first time our team was together as a group, and while we were missing several people for various reasons, it was still incredible to listen to the group yelling warnings, commentary, and target locations to each other as we played a laser tag rendition of Humans vs. Zombies and feel, really feel, the effort the team was putting into working together.

And, frankly, that communication and effort was pretty intimidating when all ten phasers were aimed in my direction as I became the “zombie” smack in between all of the players. 10489776_256396104484527_8215613016828110072_nAnd it was frustrating when I couldn’t escape or tag anyone because their communication was so solid that they had me stuck underneath one of the catwalks.

But for me, that frustration was a testament to what we have built.

Wyvern has gone from a fourteen year old Jonathan’s dream to a legal, Federal- and State-recognized company. We took a group of people, most of whom barely knew each other, and made up a well-functioning unit who played a pretty sick game of laser tag. That sense of unity will transfer over to the studio floor, and the feeling of connection, communication, camaraderie, is part of what Jonathan, David, and I dreamed of when we imagined Wyvern once it came alive.

That dream has become reality.

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