My Goals

Goal.

Since I ended my last post by talking about my goal – to influence other people with my games in the way that my gaming experiences have influenced me – this seemed like a good idea for my next post.

I am a very goal-driven person.

At least in the short- term. I make weekly (sometimes daily) checklists for myself, and at times I have e-mailed these checklists to my closer friends and family for accountability. I grade myself by week on how many things I have accomplished and versus how many things I wanted to accomplish at the start of the week, and I’ll usually reward myself with a small treat – usually a milkshake or a small gaming purchase – when I get an A for the week.

Hopefully I won’t go this far

That said, I often feel inadequate at making long-term goals. I can map out my weeks well enough, but when I think about things I want to accomplish in a year from now, my goal-making skills disappear. I often end up making extremely vague – and therefore not track-able – goals (like the one at the end of my last post) or I completely over-estimate the amount and the scale of things I can accomplish in that period of time.

So when my girlfriend asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years, it took me awhile.

Technically, I asked her this question first, which only makes it worse that it took me so long to answer. I don’t even recall what I told her that night, probably something along the lines of “I want to have a nice job and be with people I care about.” Again, a completely vague response. It made me think though, and several days afterwards that same question was still on my mind. After all, if all I wanted was to have a nice job and to be with people I cared about, why did I move out here and start taking classes again?

A few days later, I was talking to my roommate from college (my last college), when the question came up again (again it was me asking it): “where do you want to be in 5 years?” This time though I had an answer:

In five years, I want to have a family – that means get married and haveĀ  at least one child. I want my family to live within 10 miles of my parents and my college roommate. And finally I want to own a company that is involved with the gaming industry or with software engineering.

It was nice to spell out those goals, and I feel that that are ambitious enough to make me want to (and have to) work hard to succeed at them, while still being within reason in terms of if they are accomplish-able or not. Further, they seem reflectively focused on what I really want for my life.

As time goes on, I’ll try to continue to work on my long-term goal setting, maybe focusing on months for now instead of years. I hear it’s an important skill for developers/designers to have to set reasonable goals and to be able to be good at estimating time-tables for getting things done, so it seems like a good exercise.

I’ll be back with more posts next week. In an attempt to get some reader interaction, I’ll end this week with a question to any other potential game designers (or established game designers, or anyone for that matter):

Where do YOU want to be in 5 years?

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Why I Chose to Pursue Game Design

So I came across this report on PAR today (for those interested, my handle over there is Pantherra).

It’s worth a read for the gender/transgender issues alone, but the thing that caught my eye was the story of how her experience with games positively influenced her personal story.

In my previous post I said that the reason I wanted to get into game design is because I wanted to create something that I’m passionate about – that I wanted to tell stories. In reality, that’s really only half of the story. The other half is that I’ve personally experienced the positive influence that interactive games and media can have on people’s lives.

I want to create that experience for others.

My story isn’t anything terribly special. While working at my last job, I joined a progression guild in World of Warcraft. It was a great community and competitive in progression, while not demanding too much from it’s members. Really a perfect fit for me.

When the Mists of Pandaria expansion came out, we did exceedingly well, and I really threw myself into it. Between studying the fights, theory and sim crafting my character, and plotting out optimal DPS+ cooldown usage, I must have been putting in almost 10 hours a week into the game – and that’s not including time I was actually logged in.

And my work was paying off.

On most of our raid nights, I’d get at least a few top 200 World of Log rankings for my class (Retribution Paladin). And several times, I got into the top 10. Granted, we were pushing content (and therefore my parses had fewer to compete with), and with WoW’s dwindling player-base, I’m sure a top 200 world parse isn’t what it used to be.

All the same – these experiences gave me a measure of confidence and affirmation that allowed me to move on from my cushier job (and ironically my WoW guild – I cancelled my WoW subscription after enrolling in classes) to pursue something better – something I was actually passionate about. It gave me the confidence to tell myself “if I work at something as hard and as passionately as I worked at Ret Pally DPS, I can push myself into the upper echelon of whatever that is.” So, cheers to you Blizzard. If this whole ‘game design’ thing works out for me, you’ll be towards the top of my thank-you list.

And even if it doesn’t work out, I might as well say right now: Thank you for giving me the confidence to go after a dream like this. Seriously. Thank you.

My goal in all this is that one day I can create or be part of a game that influences a gamer the way my little WoW experience influenced me.

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On First Principles

It would be dishonest to say that I always wanted to be a game designer.

Truth be told, I always wanted to be professional basketball player when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I stopped growing in 8th grade. This left me at a respectable 6 feet and 3 inches, which was tall enough for an enjoyable high school campaign. However, a well-timed ankle injury less than a week before my division III college’s try-outs served as a final nail in that career-choice.

Since college has come up, I should mention that I came away from that (the first time at least) with a degree in Theology. I would think that’s an uncommon choice for an aspiring game designer – and so it shouldn’t be extremely surprising to learn that in college I didn’t have a career in game design in mind.

Truth be told, I don’t know what exactly I had in mind for my life post-college.

My reasoning went something like this: “This college has the best undergraduate Theology department in the country, and since I’m not sure what exactly I want to do, I might as well get the most prestigious degree this school can offer me.”

The short answer is that a Theology degree wasn’t exactly helpful in terms of helping me find a job after I graduated, and while I was able to work my way into a pretty cushy manager job over a mailroom at a pretty cool company, it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to work on creating something that I was passionate about. Most of all though, I wanted to tell stories.

So, I found a school that I could take some computer science classes at, packed all my stuff into my car (aside from my desktop and some clothes, there wasn’t much), and headed to start a new career.

And that’s where I am now. We’ll have to see what happens next.

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