When Detroit native Corey Cliett told his grandma he was moving to Fargo, North Dakota, she asked him this: “Are you sure?”
He said yes.
“Then go,” she said.
And so he hopped in his car and went. He was drawn by two things: his long-distance girlfriend, Christine, and the indie game developer scene emerging in the Fargo-Moorhead region.
That was a little over a month ago. Corey is now a member of the Prairie Den, spoke at the last Fargo Game-Makers meet-up, and has a long-term vision for the future of the Fargo’s indie game dev community. Currently, he’s growing his video game podcast Nerd Synq faster than ever, he said.
“It feels like I’ve been here forever,” he said. “’I’ve made more progress with Nerd Synq in this one month than I did in Michigan for 3 years. Fargo is the perfect market.”
Corey originally started Nerd Synq as a press outlet to talk about video games, so he could get media badges to conferences like E3 and Comicon. But as he attended more conferences he began to notice a trend.
“The big companies will forever stay big,” he said. “Activison, EA, – they’re not going anywhere. The true value in the game industry lies in the video game developers because they have no one to impress. They have fresh ideas that are growing because they love creating.”
It was after Corey met the makers of popular indie game Shovel Knight at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), that he decided this was his passion; to foster a healthy indie game dev community. He began using Nerd Synq as a way to highlight local game-makers.
“My focus is to create a community where indie devs can create video games and see results in their own backyard,” he said. “Local fame is very important, because if you start off strong where you’ve been planted, you can go anywhere.”
He started in his hometown of Detroit, working a job at a bookstore while building Nerd Synq in his spare time. But when his North Dakota native girlfriend began sending him articles about Fargo’s game-maker scene, he was intrigued. Intrigued enough to give it a shot.
Once he arrived, things began moving much more quickly.
“The moment I touched down in Fargo, it was nothing but go,” he said. “This has been like a freight train without brakes.”
He’d read about Fargo’s coworking space online, so he headed first to the Prairie Den. There he met a handful of Prairie Den members, who connected him with the Fargo Game-Makers and others. Now he says he’s become very plugged in to the game-maker scene, and is publishing regular content on Nerd Synq.
“I’m working with a lot of the big names,” he said. “Fargo Game-Makers, Section 9, PODS Game Design… I’m constantly in talks with those three to help make this culture rich.”
Last week, he spoke at the Fargo Game-Maker’s meet-up about his vision for the indie game dev scene. Part of his dream is to create a downtown hub for gaming, creating games, and meeting with other game devs, he said. He did pick up a day job at evolution1 doing customer service. But his energy is fueled by his work with the game-makers of Fargo, he said.
“I feel like the truest version of myself here,” he said. “I feel so jazzed all the time.”
Leaving behind Detroit wasn’t easy. He left behind lots of family, like his three younger sisters and his grandma. But when he left, his grandma also asked him another question.
“Will you regret not going if you don’t?” she said.
One month later, Corey can answer.
“I regret nothing,” he said. “Nothing.”
Corey’s Go-To Games:
Street Fighter, always. Mario Kart. FIFA. Shovel Knight. Tomb Raider. Super Smash Bros.
Check out more from Nerd Synq here.