Ok, so the name. Play Vicious. The story begins with two people: myself and the multi-talented Quentin Fountain. And it started when I transferred away from the community college I was attending to a major university.

I attended UMBC. I transferred in as a junior and chose to major in Graphic Design because 1. I was in a deep love affair with digitized layout and design, and 2. I had to find something else to put my passion into because even though I deeply loved photography, the chemicals involved in the development process would make me so nauseous I could only be in the lab for moments at a time. This was one of the more unfortunate developments of my creative life because it was only a couple of years before digital photography became the standard. Ha, I'm still salty about that.

In any event, I was not a particularly good student, nor did I enjoy school. I did it mainly because my parents encouraged me to do and at that point, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, while my other classes floundered because of my lack of interest and my on-and-off alcoholism (I know, it's a theme) that I leaned on to deal with being away from home for the first time in my life, it was here where I learned I had a particular gift when it came to design and layout. Sure, I had enjoyed it up until this point, but when teachers began critiquing my work, they would often comment on how clever and inventive my ideas were. One professor, in particular, said they couldn't teach me anything and said they would pass me if I showed up on critique days to show my work. These experiences changed my perspective on how far I could go as a working professional. It helped to reframe efforts from a fun hobby to a worthwhile pursuit and a form of expression.

Word of my skills got around campus quickly, and I started designing for administration offices, social clubs, and event promotors. Of course, I wasn't paid well, but I loved the experience because I could sit in front of a computer and make stuff all day and make some money. This was perfect because I still did not know how to interact with the world outside that context.

My favorite place to work on campus was the Rathskellar which was in the basement of the Hillcrest, an old sanitarium (no, I'm not joking) that was converted into an event space. It was affectionately called the Ratt for short and was a very popular space for campus club events such as music shows, potlucks, parties, and fraternity functions. Its student administrator, Kevin, was a friend of mine, so he often asked me to design promos and merch for the space. In exchange, he gave me free access to the computer there, so I didn't have to fight people for open computers in the labs to do my coursework. A fun side effect was it was here where I met a lot of women who asked Kevin about the shirt designs the space would put out, and he would point them to me. Ha, the weird kid with the big ears who was always doing computer shit. Kevin was a hell of a wingman, so it was fun.

So I was doing some coursework on the night of a big event, but I wasn't feeling up to being around a whole bunch of people, so I stayed in the main office and worked. However, one of the people who put on that particular event that night, Vanya, knew how much I liked local hip-hop, so she came into the office and said I have to meet a local talent who went by Savidge Gawd. I still didn't want to go, but I have a weakness for insistent pretty women, so eventually, I relented and went with her to the main event space to see who she was talking about.

Immediately I didn't like the guy. I thought he was dismissive of Vanya when she enthusiastically said we should meet because he was a budding graphic designer in his own right, in addition to his music. I was turned off when I stuck out my hand in greeting and tepidly shook it without even looking at me. Still, this seemed like someone my friend thought highly off, so, in my awkward way, I tried to be friendly and talk to him about the artists I liked, who I thought was hot, and even if he had anything, I could listen to. His responses consisted of slight nods or shrugs while sipping whatever was in his cup. Eventually, I felt foolish and just walked away, returning to my lair of design and solitude, irritated at his casual disinterest.

A few days later, I got an email from someone named Quentin asking me about a recent website I had built for the Black Student Union on campus. He said he heard about it from a mutual acquaintance and was impressed by it, so he wanted to reach out to whoever did it for a possible collaboration. We made plans to link up, and I didn't realize who he was until I saw him in person. It was the same Savidage Gawd dickhead I met a few nights before. To say I was skeptical was an understatement.

However, much to my surprise, after we talked for a bit, we both realized we had a lot in common. We were both deep into music and design and big video game heads with a particular affinity for Soul Caliber (he was one of three people that could beat me regularly, and it would drive me NUTS). We also had difficulty making friends because of our wide range of interests and hobbies. Once we got past the debacle of our initial meeting, we quickly became good friends and collaborated on quite a few projects through his design imprint, OmegaDawn. We would spend many nights at his place working, and on occasion, people from the neighborhood would come by to hang out.

Over time, a community of artists formed around our regular meet-ups. Musicians, designers, writers, poets, and everything in between would congregate at Quentin's place to work, drink, do drugs, play video games, hook up, or whatever else we felt like doing. We didn't have a particular reason for getting together, and it wasn't on a schedule. But when it did happen, it always became an event of wildly creative people figuring out who we were by indulging our vices and enthusiasm in a space that created itself as a response to the kind of environment we wanted and probably needed.

Coming from a rigorous and conservative background, I had never experienced anything like this. The fevered sweet madness of free-flowing ideas and concepts coupled with an unprecedented range of people from all backgrounds who would indulge my comprehensive knowledge of my interests and share their own with the same force and joy I had. Our interactions were raw, compelling, thought-provoking, sensual, and organic. I felt free in a way I hadn't anywhere else.

It turned out to be one of the most significant moments in my development as a creative. A peak into what Shangri-la could look like for me if I dared to be myself in front of other people and the intense, enthralling beauty of connecting with like-minded strange souls that had personalities that didn't fit any particular box.

I'm not a business person or an entrepreneur. I don't care about building companies in my image, and I am for damn sure not a fan of capitalism. But I needed to remember these moments that nurtured my confidence as an expressive, dynamic, and weird person. I needed to crystalize the feeling and ethos of those times because they meant so much to me and defined the context of why I wanted to dedicate my life to creating and pursuing how to do it to the best of my ability and as authentically as I can. And how a community of diverse people worked to build that space so we could do that together.

Play Vicious was how I named that experience. The energetic, unfiltered, sometimes uncomfortable, but the relentlessly progressive pursuit of understanding ourselves through creativity. It defined us as a group of thinking and feeling people who wanted to burn away all unnecessary details and get to the essence of why we loved what we loved and exist in that space for however long we could.

In many ways, Play Vicious Social was a love note to those moments. An attempt to rekindle the creative altruism that had been ground down by years of corporate drudgery and restraining my expression, uniqueness, and ideas so I could survive in a space that did not reward those traits. An experiment if I could find the most genuine expression of self again and build a new community around it.

But if I was going to try something as original as running my own social media platform, it had to be for the right reasons.

And PV was always my reason.