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Cover image for Learning what it means to pursue a passion

Learning what it means to pursue a passion

errant_games profile image Errant Signal Games ・5 min read

I've spent most of my life "going with the flow"

By that, I don't mean "Casually taking what life offers," or any sort of enlightened take on how to navigate existence in a way that makes you happy and comfortable.

I mean more..."Carried by the strong current of a raging river." I've often felt as if there's little I can do about my circumstances or my life, or lacked the motivation to try and escape that "flow."

The Lore

I pursued the International Baccalaureate Program (think of a globe-trotting version of AP classes) in high school at my mother's urging. She thought it would help me succeed (I was always a C student who struggled with ADHD and motivation), and good mother's are forever concerned with your success.

I went to college after high school because that's what we've been telling teenagers they should do for the last 40 years.
I specifically attended the same college my dad did, even though I was accepted to Hartford University in Connecticut because, at the time, a part of me thought going to my dad's alma mater (the Evergreen State College) might strengthen what had always been a fairly painful relationship for me for many reasons.

Hartford is not the most prestigious school, yet a pretty good one. But as I'd always been a mediocre student, I didn't think I was good enough to take the plunge and pursue a "real" college career (resplendent with crippling debt and a degree in something lucrative).

After failing out of Evergreen (any who know the school will ask how that's possible, I'm sure), I was pushed by my girlfriend at the time to hold minimum wage jobs for the next few years until I made my next big decision: "I'll join the Army!"
The truth is, I wasn't happy in my relationship but had never broken up with anyone before and I wasn't doing anything with my life. I figured the Army would give me plenty to do. And they did.

I spent four years in the Army, got married and completed a tour in Afghanistan. When I got discharged, I pursued nursing because my wife was a nurse and she made decent money and liked it.
At the same time, I joined the National Guard because it provided access to really good health insurance and we were having our first child (who happened to be conceived on birth control*, fitting that "raging currents of life" theme). My wife also has Multiple Sclerosis (a crippling autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system). A single vial of medication to treat relapses cost $30,000 in 2014 (just the vial, no treatment).

Halfway through nursing school is where I ran into trouble with this pattern of living for the first time.

In 2015, a friend of mine decided to leave his job at a large video game company and pursue making his own games. Previously my discussions about video games all had to do with playing them, but as we talked more, the discussion turned more towards how they're designed. Specifically, how are they designed to convey a particular experience. It was around this time the passion for design was awakened in me and I began to adopt a more active perspective toward my life.

I began asking questions like "Do I really want to continue serving in the Guard for the next 15 years just because it provides me health insurance?" Dealing with random deployments that disrupt life (and my nursing school career at one point) and suck the time and energy from you (moving straight from a school/work week into a Guard weekend and right back into a school/work week) was wearing me out.

We had our second child in 2016, the result of my own "Going with the flow" one evening while my wife was in between birth control sources*. While I had found things to enjoy about my burgeoning nursing career, my wife's desire to move from Washington to Georgia (her home state), was beginning to grow on me too. I needed a change of scenery, a new land to explore, and could not help but notice that this drive was coinciding with an increasing desire to do something in my life, rather than just react to what life was doing to me.

Where did this take me?

We finally agreed to sell our home in late 2019 and move to Georgia on the premise that I would seriously lay plans to pursue game design as my career. Discussing these things led me to uncover several other hidden desires.
I didn't just want to make video games, I wanted to publish them as well. I wanted to form a company that would find video games worthy of publication and help refine them and gift them to the world.
I began to understand what ambition felt like, and what it was like to chart your own course through the river of life, rather than your destination being a product of its currents.

Recently I sat down with the wife and presented to her my desires for a game development career. I would spent 2 years and 6 months trying to make a game while working part time as a nurse. I asked for 15 hours a week of uninterrupted time and now I am focused on building a pathway toward that plan. I am designing a curriculum of skills, compiling a running list of resources I will need and learning about mistakes to avoid.
I'm also learning that to pursue a passion means adopting new ways of interacting with people. I've been on social media most of my life, but always as a laughable pundit, an inconsiderate commentator, a troll, an emotional reactor, or an asshole, like anyone else.
I'm learning instead to be a responsible and respectful presence with the singular goal of generating an environment for people to explore the games I want to design and interact with the feedback they provide.
I'm learning to share more of myself instead of just the funny memes I run across on the Internet.
I'm learning to put my work out there, no matter how good or bad I think it is, and take criticism in stride. I'm learning to give credit where credit is due, and when not only to admit I've made a mistake, but how to craft and plan to repair the damage I've caused and commit to it.

My story thus far has been one of where life will carry me on its waters while I tread them.
But now it's becoming a story of where I can lead myself, just by picking a direction and choosing to swim.

This blog will serve as a record of that journey. I will update as frequently as I can with new posts. I will share concept art, sketches, any commissioned work I obtain, and publicly explore ideas for my game's design, its mechanics and story in order to build interest in my game and receive feedback on its content.

Thank you for reading.

*To be very, very clear: My children are awesome. I adore them both and don't regret their existence for a second. But their arrivals were great examples of how life can carry you if you don't use the river to carry yourself.

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errant_games profile

Errant Signal Games

@errant_games

I am a nurse making a career transition to independent game development with aspirations to build a publishing company.

Discussion

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This was a really insightful read! Good luck with this new path you're taking in your life. I hope it works out!

 

Thank you very much! The path will be long and slow but I'm excited to share every step.

 

Good on you. To reflect on your being and take action shows courage, humility and insight. I wish you and your family well.

 

I appreciate your words, as extroverted as I am, taking these steps and putting myself out there is one of the hardest parts of it all. I was raised on social media like a lot of millennials, but we quickly got used to portraying a certain version of ourselves, rather than who we actually are. Game design requires authenticity I was not raised to expose. lol

 

Hey, I had no way of directly contacting you, so I'll comment here. Congrats on pursuing your dreams, especially in making a career change like this!

I am an indie game developer, and run an independent publisher, and I wanted to reach out to see if there was any way I could support you in your endeavors, perhaps through mentorship or just being available to answer questions.

My own game company, MousePaw Media, has been running a full-remote internship program for about eight years now. If that's something else that would be helpful to you, I encourage you to check out mousepawmedia.com/internships. (We do a lot of game engine stuff.) Hiring for the next cohort opens on August 15th.

I look forward to hearing back. My email is on my website, or you can contact through DEV Connect. All the best!

 

I am certainly interested in this. My current goal is to build a curriculum for myself to begin establishing the skills and knowledge base I would need to complete my game design goals. I will email you, thank you.