Why I game, and why I chose to pursue Game Design

Passion. Everyone has it. But few are able to turn their path into a career. A little over four years ago I decided to roll the dice and pursue a degree in a field I was passionate about. video games. And as a graduate of Full Sail University in March with a Bachelor’s of Science in Game Design, I am incredibly proud of making it this far, but the final dice is still spinning.

I have always been passionate about stories. From an early age, I loved stories and storytelling. This passion originates with a passion for reading, the story for the start of this passion is part of what I’ll share today.

It was 1997 and I was six years old. In the months following my father’s death, I was a bit of a troubled child. I wasn’t a bad kid, just struggling in some areas while I attempted to deal with the grief. One of the areas I had the most trouble in was school. I was in the 1st Grade, and a bit of a motor mouth. Looking back at the report cards from that time, my teacher did enjoy me in class but lamented the fact I chose to talk more than doing my work. One of the things I struggled with the most with at first was reading. I could read, I just didn’t want to. I would much rather do other things than reading. Like talk, or play, or talk. Did I mention talk?

It was late September or early October. Every day when I came home from school, I had chores to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I am the man I am today because my mother insisted that I learn to do things around the house. As she put it “I married three useless men, I will not raise one!” And she didn’t. However, at the time, there was one thing I liked less than reading and it was chores. I don’t even remember the chores I had to do, but I do remember trying to get out of them. Every kid that has chores does, and I was no different.

One day I came home from school and immediately began pestering my mother. So as punishment, she ordered me to go get a book off of my bookshelf and read it, and when I was done I was to come get her and tell her about the book. For some reason, I chose a book about the US Constitution and the Constitutional Convention. I have no idea why I chose that book. I remember the book vividly, and my mother still has it somewhere. It was a short book. And each page was composed in the same format. The top of each page was a painting, usually the style of paintings that we see in books about the time period. The bottom half was the story of the Constitutional Convention and the creation of the US Constitution. I’ve always had a passion for history in addition to stories, and I guess this is probably where that started as well.

After I finished the book, about thirty minutes after I had left her, I dutifully returned to my mother. As she washed dishes I recounted what I had read. She flipped through the book and after asking me a few question about it, she sent me outside to entertain my little brother and sister so she could have dinner finished before their father returned home from work. Success! I had narrowly escaped the clutches of chores. This happened daily until about two weeks later when she realized what was going on. I had discovered that by getting in trouble I was “punished” by getting out of chores and “forced” to read a book. By the 3rd grade, I was reading at a 10th-grade reading level. By high school, I had a book collection worth over a thousand dollars and regularly checked out my max amount of books from both the local library and my school library. As my mother puts it, she created a monster.

Since then I have experienced thousands of amazing stories. My love of reading from an early age expanded into television, movies, comics, and eventually into video games. I fully believe that video games are just an evolution of storytelling. With a controller or keyboard and mouse, I have experienced intense emotions and gripping narratives. I have saved galaxies, and have experienced that romance of the century a hundred times over. I have stood against evil alongside friends and I have cried as friends laid down their lives so that I might live to save the day. Video games are an extremely personal way to experience a story. 

This leads me to why I chose to pursue game design, and what drove me through four of the toughest years of my life. For the last six years, I have been working in retail. I enjoy the work for the most part. However, as anyone who has worked retail, especially for the largest retailer in the world, it is an incredibly needlessly stressful industry. A little over four years ago, I was a miserable person. this was three years before my diabetes would be diagnosed, so that was a huge part of my issues, but the biggest part of them was the fact I was hopeless. I just didn’t see how my life could improve. I had previously made an attempt at college right out of high school. And failed completely, maybe I’ll share that story one day.

At this point, I had heard of Full Sail University years before. I had looked at making a second attempt at college previously, but life got in the way, and I had to put that idea on hold for a few years. And a little over four years ago I decided to make go back to that attempt. So I applied and got in. 80k later at 26 years old, I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Game Design. Getting this piece of paper is without a doubt my proudest achievement. Until the day I got my diploma, I honestly never thought I would get it.

Getting my degree was a path that I could both better myself and my life while doing so in a field I was passionate about. Simple as that. And it only took me a couple weeks to write this to explain that.

Thanks for reading.

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