The Current – Getting Schooled: Thoughts on Gaming, Game Design Education & Life

Posted on Jan 29 2014


It is common knowledge that our society values a good education and hard work, but, at the same time, it is understood that there should be time to relax and unwind. What happens when your education becomes about that which relaxes you most? This is the question I have been living through for the last year and a half and one that has been running around in my mind more and more these last few months.

Full Sail Game Design ProgramFirst, I need to share some background info in order for all of this to make some sense. I’m currently a student at Full Sail University, a private university dedicated to teaching students on a number of fields of study based on entertainment and technology, such as movie production, music business, video game design and development, and animation. I’m part of the video game design program, and it’s my job to learn about the many tools and processes involved in creating video games. The work isn’t all fun and games either; there have been many times where the work has almost seemed overwhelming, and there have been times where the learning comes quickly and naturally. It’s exciting to learn about how to actually create video games, but at the same time it can be exhausting. For example, The image below is part of an assignment in my Game Design 1 class. This flowchart is for an extremely simple game I created on my own; the full size of the chart could fit on one screen! Imagine the work put into a AAA game like Halo or even old games like Super Mario Bros.

Game Design flowchart example

I’ve noticed lately that I haven’t been finding enough time to enjoy video games as I have in the past. Either I’m caught up in large amounts of schoolwork, or I’m generally not in the mood to play a game. Both situations cause me a good amount of grief, especially as of late. My fear is that learning about game design is starting to affect how much I want to play video games. It shouldn’t, right? One of the things about learning game design is the emphasis on playing more games and replaying completed games to study and learn from the designs of these games. The more I learn, the more I should play video games and study them as much as I enjoy them. So what is holding me back?

Steam activity

Perhaps it isn’t me losing interest in playing, but rather the stress that has been creeping into my life more often. My schoolwork has intensified lately and so has my life. Losing jobs, losing money, staying on task with everyone here at The Fan and making sure my assignments are complete have started to take a toll on me. It’s interesting to think about how easily stress can slide into your life and before you know it, you’re feeling constricted and wondering where it all started falling apart. So what can be done?

Like all things in life, the key is to stay focused, prioritize and manage time properly, and keep moving forward. With the worst behind me, I can now focus clearly and get back to the grind with a renewed vigor. Games have been, and always will be, a huge part of my life, and I don’t intend on turning my back on them. I’m not letting the stress get the best of me and I am still extremely hopeful for my future as a game designer. Already, I’ve been seeing improvements in my work and my happiness, and I intend to keep it that way. For those interested in entering the field of game design, my advice is to work hard, stay diligent and remember that it isn’t all fun and games. Game design covers a large amount of work and dedication that is needed to bring an idea to life. It may come with some ups and downs, but it’s worth it all in the end. There’s more to come for me in my game design program and here at The Fan, so stay tuned and stay golden.

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