Building Video Games Offers Homeless Man A New Life

Jan 27, 2016

It’s a rags to riches story, starring a Boise man who lost it all, then found his way back through video games. Now Ryan Zehm owns and operates a thriving gaming company called NurFace Games.

A few years ago, Zehm went from working at a top tech company to living at a Boise homeless shelter. Now, he’s telling his story of how his perseverance and a little help from the Boise Public Library brought him back from the brink.

Zehm’s story starts at Hewlett Packard in Boise where he had a good job and a nice house. But one day he went to his office, found his department had been outsourced, and that he was out of a job.

He was left living in a downtown Boise homeless shelter.

Mystery of Malfaxus is just one of the games at NurFace Games.
Credit Ryan Zehm / NurFace Games

“I decided to walk to the library and use my computer knowledge and build something that would generate money and eventually get me back into a home.”

Zehm designed his first video game using free Wi-Fi and outdoor electrical outlets at the Boise Public Library. Now he runs NurFace Games and is winning awards in virtual reality.

He says Boise has everything it needs, including programmers, artists and musicians, to break into the gaming industry.

Zehm says he’s working with the Boise Public Library to create educational courses for kids to give back to the  library for all they gave him while he was homeless. Zehm first shared his story with Built in Boise, a website that highlights Boise entrepreneurs and their companies.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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