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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making School Relevant

     I doubt I'm the only one who finds school boring. I suffer from narcolepsy every time I hear about working at a generic IT job or sit in a class that I can't relate to anything involving the games industry. Most college students either don't know what they want to do and be or do know what they want but only chose it for the money. I'm not one to trade happiness for a guaranteed paycheck, and the thing I want most is the thing I'm most passionate about. My psychology teacher even asked me the other day "What's your special talent?" And I answered "Game development. I am an artist, I love bringing my ideas to life, and I'm willing to tear the world apart to do what I love most."

     He asked a few others the same question before he asked me and they either responded with "I don't know." or halfheartedly named their major and shrugged. The whole class seemed to be in awe of how confidently and passionately I answered the question of what I do.

     That moment had me thinking about what makes me different. We were also talking about intelligence that day which shifted my thoughts toward why I do well in school, but only excel in subjects and projects I can relate to game development. I wondered why I literally fall asleep instantly when I'm not doing something I can relate to video games.

     I think the answer is my focus. My brain is ready to learn anything it needs to in order to produce the content I'm so passionate about. Anything else is considered wasted effort and could be better used refreshing my mind for more work later on. Being honest with myself, job interviews for a network security jobs has nothing to do with me and I automatically consider it pointless. I don't sleep on purpose, I just can't focus on useless information and tedious tasks that amount to nothing.

     I especially hate the times where I'm dreaming about trying to stay awake, feeling proud that I'm still awake only to snap into reality and find out I was asleep the whole time. Another bad school skill I have is presenting information I couldn't possibly care less about or believe in. The most recent example of this would be a group PowerPoint presentation I did where my group had to pitch an idea for an imaginary baking machinery company. It was horrible. The project felt like the biggest waste of time and took 4 weeks, 6 assignments, imaginary job interviews, and still isn't done.

     When my group presented the project and it was my turn to speak, I found myself stumbling over words and having to look at the PowerPoint to remember what I was supposed to say. I never have that problem when presenting things in my Gaming & Simulation class. I'm known for telling engaging stories and providing knowledge that just come from the heart in that class, but in this Technical Communication class I'm out of my element and have to lie to myself and my audience.

     We have to pretend that this is the type of job we're after and just thinking about that makes me feel sick to my stomach. Of course I swallow the pain and just get the work done, but I can't help but feel like I could be applying my skills to something valuable. I've always felt like I learn more on my own with Google at my fingertips than I ever do in class.

     So what can I do to stay awake? How can I bring the passion I have in Gaming class to my others when presenting information? I think I found a solution and a good time to test it.

     I have a presentation in my IT security class (another mandatory and boring course) about risk management and I plan to shift it's tone and perspective toward that of the games industry. Throughout the presentation I'll have images, similes, and nods toward things the audience (nearly all gaming major students) to keep them and myself entertained and interested. I'll also be talking about how the security information could apply to game studios and publishers with examples.

      If I could try to apply similar techniques to all classes I consider boring (nearly all of them) maybe school will be less horrible as far as research papers and presentations go. Teachers can hardly blame me for trying to relate everything I'm learning to my major that I'm paying out the wazoo for. As far as group projects go, there's almost no hope of this working, but I think I'll be considering I don't have any more of those in the foreseeable future.

     I have tried this before but always in little doses in the fear of it being off topic and frowned upon by the teachers who would consider games a waste of time, not a real career, and all that jazz. Now that I'm in college and am literally paying over $100K to learn about game development I think I have a good reason to try to connect all the dots.

     If you're in school and haven't tried this already, I hope I gave you a spark to start a fire that'll keep you warm during the cold winter that is school time.

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