The end of the first semester of the second year at university is close at hand. Only two weeks remain before the final milestone is to met, only 6 days before a game theory report is due. On the 11th of December , I and the rest of my class will be presenting the work we have done for the main project under one of the modules, as well as hand in a project report for it in form of both electronic and physical submissions. And this is nothing like the first year’s end-of-semester presentations: there are certain expectations of professionalism that we have to try and meet as much as possible for the presentation. Also, where the first year did not count towards our degree, the second year does, and our work is going to be marked not only by our lecturers, but it will be externally marked by, to my understanding, an academic professor. This really delivers a sense of pressure and urgency that, in realistic terms, I was going to encounter at some point anyway in university. But where in the first year it was more down to the shock of being in an entirely different climate, dealing with a different way of working, and learning some uncomfortable truths along the way, this year it’s the extent of the workload that has to be given at the end and the perceived standard of professionalism not just for this year, but the increase of that standard in the third year.
But I also think it might be to do with the fact that I now see it as a “this is it” stage. Before, I would have thought that whether or not I pass this year and make it to third year was the point of no return, the great moment of truth regarding my proper place in game design. While that’s still true in some ways, I think what’s coming in two weeks may yet be the real moment of discernment, or at least a more imminent one. I feel that how well I do now may yet affect my future in terms of game design, and I suppose university in general. Depending on how well I do, which is pretty much going to depend on the results and feedback I get, which I don’t expect to receive until January after the winter holidays, my morale and desire to continue doing game design may change in a way based not on whether or not I like game design but based on my own sense of merit, as in whether or not I am worthy of continuing. Although I do plan during the winter holiday to take some measures to pursue greater skill as a designer, improve myself, and achieve a measure of self-excellence in preparation for the future, my drive for that could be greatly affected by how I do in the coming weeks, and how that’s evaluated and assessed. If I think I am doing well, or even better than I thought, I will be convinced that I have a measurable future in game design (not at the expense of my other interests, like music and art) and become more motivated to pursue greater merit or talent in that field. If I think I haven’t done as well as I thought, but am convinced that there is potential or a genuine desire to improve, then there may still be hope, enough for me to convince myself to push forward. If I think I’m doing poorly, then I might worry for I’m going to do in the second semester, let alone the third year, and be pushed further into doubt and anxiety, affecting my future in the field of game design.
I also got a certain feeling that it’ll also be a test of whether or not I can handle the real world of academia, or a world where I have to meet certain standards in order to survive, grow, and thrive, and that if fail then maybe all that talk of balance would only belie what is ultimately a chaotic personality. In retrospect, that just might be the anxiety, given the reflection put towards balance, duality/polarity, and the self, and I often have a tendency to imagine how things might turn out, and play in my mind, to borrow words from Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, the shadows of things that might be.
I do not have long to find what is in store for me, and I will have to wait through the winter holidays before I can know for sure, but in a sense I long to know. And the only way to find out is to advance. Glory, hope, or despair await. Or who knows, maybe it won’t be as big as I thought.