Pathways

It’s been a while since I’ve done some good old-fashioned heart to heart blogging. I miss doing it because as I write I often have realisations, or discover that things that seemed airy-fairy have actually become real. I could put the general idea into a short story or express feelings short hand in a poem, but when you need to sort some shit out, it’s best to go straight to the heart of the issue.

Hopes Dashed

What I’ve been lacking in recent years is a sense of direction.

I graduated university, had a tough time finding a job, and eventually found myself temping. Two years passed and I’ve been temping in the same role ever since. I was passed up for a permanent role both times. I still have a massive student loan and my attempts at making it into Journalism were unsuccessful. In my first year of studies I started a degree in Computer Science to be a video game programmer and designer. I found that too hard so I switched to a Media Studies degree which I ended up getting after three more years of study. But then I gave up my games journalism ambitions. As you can see I have trouble committing to things!

I want to move on with my life, career-wise. I don’t necessarily want something secure, just something with meaning, a job where I have the authority to create things and initiate change. Like my first job as a checkout operator I feel like the work continues to pour in every day, waiting for me to process it, only for more to come in again the next day. It’s a never-ending cycle. I’ve achieved all I can in my current position. I’m no longer learning new skills, and I simply feel stuck, committed to a job like every other poor sap, living for a pay check.

I was always determined to find a career I loved. It was instilled in me at a young age. At Intermediate I had my heart set on becoming a Game Designer. At College I was excited to choose my subjects for the year and take on Computing subjects to follow that dream. But it looks like I’ve taken the easy path, finding a job that pays the bills.

Okay, enough with that sad story. Crying about my poor choices in the past isn’t going to accomplish a damn thing.  This is what I’m going to do about it:

 

The Plan

Leave my current job. Find somewhere  I can grow and learn new skills, or at the very least try out living in a new work environment. And preferably I would work part-time if my budget allows. My rule of thumb is my time and happiness is of greater value than money. I don’t want to work 40 hour weeks if I can help it. It leaves me exhausted at the end of the day and without motivation to write and pursue my passions.

Start up my own business. I’ve read that being your own boss, even with the extra stresses, is still better for you, as you now have control over how you run your day-to-day life. I’m not sure what services or goods I would sell, but I have a feeling the online world will be an integral part of it (and hopefully something creative involving writing).

 

Today’s Dream Career

Today my aspirations differ to that of when I was younger. I no longer wish to work for a big games studio like Naughty Dog. The games are huge, multiple year projects and with so many people, there’s little room for actual creative direction, unless you’re the creative director, and even then you have to please publishers and shareholders. But seeing the indie scene does make me wish I had taken that path. Seeing the stories of indie developers trying something new and finding worldwide success, a la Minecraft and Super Meat Boy, is super inspiring. But If I’m true to myself I haven’t really initiated efforts into the medium. I’ve dabbled in basic game design software  but never seen a project to completion. And just forget about all the times I attempted programming. Learning Java in my early Computer Science courses was the closest I got. Wishing for one day when the opportunity comes along where I somehow have the skill set and the experience to design and program games with no effort, is stupid and a fantasy.

So what about covering the stories of game designers? Besides the fact the industry is extremely competitive — especially in New Zealand where most games writers still have their day jobs. I reviewed games for a few years. I enjoyed finding an excuse to look at games on a closer level. It wasn’t a critique by any stretch of the imagination, but it was something that let me stretch my brain muscles and offered me a creative output via writing. More so I loved writing about the games industry in features; pieces heralding the growth of the industry or where I would like to see more growth. The problem with being a shy journalist, is shy journalists don’t get stories. You have to be lethal in your approach in getting news and asking the hard questions, regardless of the medium. I thought about doing a graduate diploma in Journalism and using that to get a job at a newspaper where I would hone my skills as a reporter, all to get to that (second) dream job of being a professional games journalist or games writer.

There’s still parts of  these dream jobs I admire, but I’ve come to a point where I’ve gone back to the roots of my respective dream careers. What I loved wasn’t actually games. I thought it was the subject matter. It wasn’t. Pure and simple, it was being creative. I wanted to be a creative person. Express myself and get paid for it. That was my ultimate ambition and still is to this day. And I think I may have found the outlet; writing. I know I’m no Stephen King — far from it actually — but it takes practice to get better at anything. And although I didn’t tinker as much as I could have with coding games, I am determined to see this one through — to put my best foot forward, and make something of myself. As long as I take steps towards this every day, I will enjoy the journey, and maybe one day people will want to read what I have to say.

12 thoughts on “Pathways

  1. Michael,

    I know exactly how you feel. Especially the stuck part. It reminds me of a quote from an old episode of Blackadder: “We’re in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun.”

    I had the same epiphany a while ago, and I “retired” from the 9-5, and then, a few months later, I went back to it. My first instinct is to say “Big mistake!” and, on one hand, that’s true…but on the other, I feel like the past year has actually been really valuable because it has allowed me to be absolutely certain that it’s not just some airy-fairy “Oh, I’d be much happier if…” thing, it’s actually true. Maybe I don’t know what I’m really made for, but I know that it’s not this.

    I’m leaving my job/flat/the country in the next few weeks and I’ve really got no idea what the future holds and I cannot wait.

    Anyway, I did have a point. Which is good on you for having the guts to stand back and take a good look at your life and be honest with yourself about whether or not it’s actually making you happy and, more importantly, to make the changes that you need to, in order to get back on track. It ain’t easy. Good luck!

    1. A thoughtful comment AND a Blackadder quote. I couldn’t have asked for better!

      Thanks Jhakka. But I do need to take action and not just talk about it. I will make changes. Just like you. 😉

      Good luck with your journey. I’m sure you’ll find your feet somewhere exciting!

      M.

      1. Thanks. I’ll land somewhere. So will you 🙂

        If you need to be poked with a virtual stick now and again to remind you to keep going with unsticking yourself, just let me know 😉

        Meanwhile, this conversation has inspired me to actually go and write something. It may or may not end up being a poem entitled “An Ode to Sticky the Stick Insect”!

  2. Michael,

    I know exactly how you feel. Especially the stuck part. It reminds me of a quote from an old episode of Blackadder: “We’re in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun.”

    I had the same epiphany a while ago, and I “retired” from the 9-5, and then, a few months later, I went back to it. My first instinct is to say “Big mistake!” and, on one hand, that’s true…but on the other, I feel like the past year has actually been really valuable because it has allowed me to be absolutely certain that it’s not just some airy-fairy “Oh, I’d be much happier if…” thing, it’s actually true. Maybe I don’t know what I’m really made for, but I know that it’s not this.

    I’m leaving my job/flat/the country in the next few weeks and I’ve really got no idea what the future holds and I cannot wait.

    Anyway, I did have a point. Which is good on you for having the guts to stand back and take a good look at your life and be honest with yourself about whether or not it’s actually making you happy and, more importantly, to make the changes that you need to, in order to get back on track. It ain’t easy. Good luck!

    1. A thoughtful comment AND a Blackadder quote. I couldn’t have asked for better!

      Thanks Jhakka. But I do need to take action and not just talk about it. I will make changes. Just like you. 😉

      Good luck with your journey. I’m sure you’ll find your feet somewhere exciting!

      M.

      1. Thanks. I’ll land somewhere. So will you 🙂

        If you need to be poked with a virtual stick now and again to remind you to keep going with unsticking yourself, just let me know 😉

        Meanwhile, this conversation has inspired me to actually go and write something. It may or may not end up being a poem entitled “An Ode to Sticky the Stick Insect”!

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