Videogames. Movies. Music. Podcasts. Gadgets. Sly t-shirts.
Jeff Wycoff is a man of many interests. But the thing he may know best is the thing most people miss about geek culture: each of these can provide a meaningful connection with others.
Talk to Jeff – who helps manage our GeForce team’s social media efforts – and you’ll find a man who wants everything he touches to have a meaning, a mission.
That’s especially true with Low Elo, the weekly “League of Legends” podcast he co-hosts. It’s one of the most popular podcasts in the gaming community.
“As great games become more social they become great social networks,” Jeff says in the mellow baritone familiar to the 200,000-plus who download the show each week. “There has to be a resource that teaches people how to play these games like human beings.”
It’s All Geek to Me
Like everything Jeff does, Low Elo works on several levels. Take the black t-shirt he’s wearing with an image of Godzilla on it and the slogan “ゴジラis coming.” It refers to both “Game of Thrones,” and “Godzilla,” playing in the furious cross-traffic of two great geek cultural franchises.
Same, too, for Low Elo. Tune in. You can hear Jeff and his co-host Dave Quarles discuss “League of Legends” tips and tricks, personalities in its community, and the thriving eSports scene that’s grown up around one of the world’s most vibrant gaming communities.
For Jeff, Low Elo is also a way to help build a real community around the game. Not just with tips for new players – Low Elo is a term used in the game to describe players with more losses than wins – but as a way to get people talking about how to talk to each other.
“Why not take this term that’s so negative and turn it into something positive,” Jeff says.
One of Us
Jeff’s passion for gaming led him to NVIDIA, where he joined our GeForce gaming team, which has cultivated a passionate community.
It’s a community Jeff knows well. Jeff is a passionate gamer, of course (What does Jeff play? In short, everything). But working at NVIDIA has helped take him to the next level. On his first day on the job, Jeff remembers sitting down with a colleague – Keoki – who asked him what he gamed with.
When Jeff mentioned a low-end product made by another company, Keoki opened the cabinet next to him and handed him an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680. Jeff still has it. “It was like getting a bazooka,” Jeff laughs.
Jeff now games with two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards, an Intel Core i7-3960X processor (“It’s a beast,” he says), two 256 SSD drives and two 2 terabyte Seagate hard drives, and 16 GB of RAM, all powered by a monster 1300 Watt power supply from EVGA. It’s enough to drive a 27-inch ASUS monitor and twin 29-inch ultra-wide displays from LG on either side.
It also helps drive the podcast he puts together from his home near NVIDIA’s head office. Like most podcasts, Low Elo is a passion project rather than a moneymaker (although subscriptions are available to those who wish to contribute). But while the episodes are created around the hectic schedules of Jeff and his collaborators, it feels polished.
To create each episode, they contact each other on Skype – giving their banter the immediacy of a real-time conversation. But everyone on the call records their comments separately on professional-grade mics. The voice files are then shared on Google Drive or Dropbox and mixed into a seamless whole.
The result is a podcast that, like Jeff, seems as comfy as the “Adventure Time” animal slippers he wears around the office. Its authenticity is steered by what the cohosts know about gaming – and about their audience.
While the conversations are wide-ranging, Jeff’s no shock jock. Jeff, Dave, and regulars like Rin Elenika (or RinTheYordle), and their guests tease each other, and their audience. But if the material gets out of hand, the cohosts will make cuts. “We want Low Elo to be something that gamers can listen to with their kids,” Jeff says, who signs off every show with the catchphrase “stay classy.”
Jeff’s task is far from hopeless. While gamers were once known for screaming and off-color comments, Jeff says those stereotypes are becoming less true as more people take up gaming, and gaming itself becomes more social. “As all of this becomes interconnected it’s harder to hide behind the anonymity that used to let that leak out,” he says.
In part, that’s because gaming can be such a good way to connect with other people.
“As time goes on gaming becomes more mainstream,” Jeff says. “The question is no longer one of being a gamer. It’s more of a question of what games you’re playing and what platform you are playing on.”