Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Silly Calamity, Games Are For Kids!

You may or may not be aware, as I have again allowed my blogging habit to lapse for a significant period of time, that I have decided to eschew fear and uncertainty and enroll in college for my dream career; namely, I want to code video games.  Specifically, I have a passion for all things Bioware, and if daydreams come to pass, someday I’ll be livin’ the dream in Austin, Texas, programming logic and AI for insanely cool action RPGs.  (Also, because it’s MY daydream, they’ll also ask me to do voice acting for the RPGs, and I will meet Brandon Keener, and garner a geek fan base on Twitter, and banter playfully with Felicia Day and get paid to attend every PAX and hang out with Wil Wheaton.  But really, I’ll settle for the former.)

But although I have embraced my path, I still find myself hesitating to answer when people ask, “What are you studying?”  Because we all have that inner voice that tells us we’re being selfish, or silly, or just plain says They’re all gonna laugh at you!  Because having ‘video games’ anywhere in your career objectives is childish, Calamity.  Right?  You’re a grown woman, on the backside of 30.  You have a nearly teenage son of your own.  Go to nursing school, or get a business degree.  Do something safe and sensible.  Generally, it’s all in my own head; people I’ve mentioned my plans to have responded positively, and I’ve started to think I’m just completely imagining that anyone still considers video games the sole demesne of children.

Well, not entirely.  Coming home from math class this morning, I stopped at the grocery store for dinner ingredients, and ended up in a conversation with a cashier who has always been very friendly and conversational with me.  She asked how I was; I said I was doing okay, but a little tired of school and looking forward to the winter break.  She asked what I was majoring in.

“Video game development,” I said.  “Well, the coding side of it, specifically.  Programming.”

There was a long pause as the cashier regarded me as though perhaps I were in the process of growing a second head.

“So....you want to.....what, make video games?”  I indicated that I did.  “Well.  That’s...different.”

Different?  “Oh I dunno,” I said lightly.  “There are a lot of game studios out there.  Some of the bigger ones have hundreds of staff members working on the major projects.  Someone else is out there doing it for a living.”

The perplexed look intensified.  She didn’t carry on with her cashiering or make any pretense of doing so.  She simply stood and stared as if I now indeed had a fully-formed second head, one that was wearing a pompadour wig and reciting the digits of pi.

“So, you know, I’m gonna...gonna work for Bioware someday, big studio in Austin.”  I shifted uncomfortably.  “Never see snow again.”  Still staring.  “‘Cause, I, hate snow...”

I gave up and turned my attention to the debit card reader.  She seemed to visibly shake it off, and snorted.  “Oh, you just wanna play video games all day long.”

Hardly,” I said, finally miffed.  “Programming is hard work and long hours.  I’ll be building the games that people play.”

“Well...have a nice day!”

The average gamer age is, well, my age.  Games are a multimillion-dollar industry.  There are children’s games on the market, but there are also decidedly adult games.  E-rated and T-rated and M-rated games, shooters and strategy and role-playing games, often with stories better than the average summer blockbuster movie fare.  Games that bring people together.  Games that make you think, make you cackle, maybe even make you cry.  Games are emerging as a legitimately mainstream entertainment like movies.  I’m willing to bet if I’d told her I was majoring in filmmaking, she wouldn’t have reacted as though I’d told her I was majoring in Pony Riding and Ice Cream (I wonder how much advanced calculus, physics, and programming are involved in Pony Riding and Ice Cream?).  Perceptions are changing...but yes, I suppose there are some who still think video games are a kiddie vice.

Still, I look at it this way...finally, one person reacted the way I was always afraid people would.  And it didn’t feed into my insecurity; it made me dig in and defend my choice.  Hells yes, world.  I am Calamity, I am Your Mom, I am almost thirty-seven gorram years old, and I want to eat ice cream and ride ponies develop video games.