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It's not always that simple

A presentation post about how I regained my entusiasm about game design, video games and how difficult is to decide what to do in our lives.

Dario D\'Ambra, Blogger

December 1, 2014

5 Min Read

Who I am? I'm not that kind of person who knows exactly what to do in his life, as the people who follow their aspirations since childhood. I'm that kind of person that don't really found what is his truly aspiration.

When I was a child I wanted to be a "scientist" because I wanted to build robots (the Gundam kinds). In the high school I wanted to be a writer and/or a videomaker, and indeed after the diploma I took a bachelor in modern literature.

I always made my choices thinking to what I liked the most in that particular period, without having in mind the long term. I mean: you can't be only a writer, you have also to make some money writing articles and similar stuff to make a living, so you have to choose a whole field you like and not just a specific occupation of that field. E. g. if you don't like writing in general, but just writing short stories, it's better to keep it as a hobby. But I always get blinded by a specific aspect of something and not the real thing.

After the bachelor I decided to take a master degree in Digital Humanities. I left my hometown and went to Pisa. And again I decided to follow that degree because I liked the courses but without a clean idea of what I wanted to do in my life. Without having a field or a specific job in mind.

Anyway the two year of the master were useful, I learned to code (among other things), and so I started to cross the line from player to game developer. I wasn't prepared as someone graduated in Computer Science, but my knowledge was enough to make some game prototypes.

I always loved video games, and often I imagined possible games, though I never tried discouraged by the efforts required to learn coding. At University I discovered that after all it wasn't so difficult and I actually started to enjoy it. So it began a new phase: I wished to became a game designer. I get myself into game studies articles and game design manuals writing a thesis focused on games as art and design proposals to unify more organically storytelling and gameplay.

After the master I had a bunch of possibilities: to found a part time job and start to make games; to return to my parents and try a year of full time game development; to go to another university and attend a master in game design. I was a little bit tired about university, and I'm not so confident in that kind of courses that teach you creative disciplines, because I think that gave you a standardized vision. I didn't want to leave the people I had known in Pisa (my girlfriend and my friends), therefore I opted to find a part-time job or an internship in some software house.

I sent emails to almost all the Italian indie software houses (they aren't a lot), not having much luck. Simultaneously I sent CVs also for web developer positions, and a company proposed me a full time job. A job in which I was not particularly interested, but that would give me a fair salary. So I decided to take it, saying to myself that I would developed games in my spare time, and in the meantime the job would have made me a better programmer (and this was partially true).

Now are passed 7 months and I never found the time to do someting game related. Since I believe that you find the time to do what you really like, I started to think that maybe I don't really wanted to become a game designer, after all I wasn't constantly playing or inventing games, I'm not even so passionate in fun mechanics. I was always interested in the narrative part of the games, in the ways a story can be told using interactivity.

So I started to think on what I always done and never get tired of, something I was more confident. And photography popped out in my mind. In the last years my interests in photography slowly and constantly growth, and I never had stopped to photograph for too long. I'm even one of the photographer of the university radio. So during my job I started to daydream about a career in photography, but soon I realized the same old story: a career in photography means to photograph also (and mainly) things you're not interested at, nevertheless I ever demonstrated some interest in photojournalism.

What a mess: I didn't apply myself with enough commitment, or I sought too much freedom in everything I wanted to do. Recently a friend of mine decided to quit university to follow his dream: music. He said he picked me up as an example, and now I should pick him.

I was discouraged to follow a game career because I didn't feel enough confident, I looked those people who started to make games at 13 and I said to myself that I wouldn't enough talented. Now something changed, I'm returning on my footsteps, I'm retaking all the researches I had done for my master thesis, and reading new papers and books, I even restarted the development of an old prototype.

Who I am? What I want to do?

I really didn't found an answer, but having a job deeply changed the perspective from where I watch my life. I understood that above all commitment and determination are necessary, that's what makes the difference, more than talent, more than passion (because sometimes it fades away to return time after). And if you really want something you should never make compromises (and if you have to, make them just for a short period, without being swallowed by the sense of security they provide).

Now I'm reconsidering to take a degree in game design, or trying to deepen my human-computer interaction knowledge. I want to regain the confidence I had when I graduated, and to maintain it, and the only way I know is to make games. I'm not leaving photography, if I'm determined enough I even could make photography my part time job (even if it means to dirt my hands with assignments I don't like), making from both my passions an investment and some incomes.

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