This summer I was pulled and pushed in more ways than one, and in the moment it was a lot, but now as I reflect I’m grateful for it, and I expect Future Me to be so as well.
I took on the position of Production TA for CMU’s NHSGA (National High School Game Academy) over the summer, where 16-year-old teens interested in making games get to spend six weeks learning and making computer and VR games with each other. It is very similar to BVW in there being teams of five needing to work together to make something great.
By far, the most rewarding aspect of this process were these students. Looking that their experiences from the other side, I could see their expressions and mannerisms shift from being worried and scared to being proud. I got the chance to mentor five of these students (each TA had five mentees), and getting to hear their own thoughts about the design process, or narrative ideas, or interpersonal values, was fantastic. There is actually a scientifically defined term Naches which is the joy you feel when someone you mentor succeeds, and I felt that a lot. The students gave all the TAs personalized posters set to the format of the Aidyn Chronicles, a game by Chris Klug (the director of the program) that was shown to the students.
One of my mentees, Gilbert Fan, was a soft-spoken, kind individual who always seemed to see the best in people, was always bringing his teams together, and believes if we do something or make something and it helps even one person, then we can be happy. In his own way, he inspired me.
Which was good. I felt like I did the best I could as Production TA, and there are certain aspects of the job, like the interpersonal elements, that I indeed found rewarding. But I also felt very removed from the true creative process, so going forward I will be prioritizing my narrative and design skills, as these are closer to where I feel the most at home.
Here’s to a great fall semester.