In Memory of My Time at the ETC

A thank you to my time in grad school

Hello.  It’s been a while since I’ve written on here.  In short, this post will have to cover both my last semester at the ETC and also my summer of reflection that came afterward.

Things got very intense by the time my journey at the ETC ended, so I needed many months to travel, explore new people, and recalibrate myself a little before I posted back on here, and also before I took extensive steps to whatever awaits me next.

Now, as I’m applying to positions to hopefully formulate what I hope will be this next step, I’m still reflecting on my time at the ETC (as I have been all summer).

I took on a lot that last semester – being the equipment TA, plus Game Design, plus my amazing pitch project “Cutting Edge,” on top of the inherent stress that comes with graduating – and was able to do it all and do it successfully but at an expense.

I have a tendency to let stress build up in me a lot and on some level enjoy functioning on high levels of it, because that is when I feel very productive.  And I indeed was very productive:

  • Cutting Edge was a project very dear to my heart and interests, being that it was narrative-based, and the story itself of the idea of memory and death and finding emotion through that is one that I connect to a lot.  Plus, the fact that we were exploring editing in VR (video editing was one of my primary film interests before coming to the ETC) was something I had always wanted to do at the ETC to begin with.
  • On top of that, Game Design was amazing – I feel that my mind opened up a ton on the aspects of games, and when my flow state was really flowing for my projects, it’s almost hard to describe.  I tend to make games (and stories) that have a lot of moving parts that I want to see gel together, and seeing them do so is very rewarding.  But also stressful.

I am reminded of a talk I went to at GDC called the Failure Workshop, where one of the speakers, Jon Remedios, spoke how, early on in his game design career, he took on a ton at great expense to stability.

I spoke with him after his talk because I was feeling somewhat similar and that I felt that small, grindy daily details were slipping through my fingers (although I’d then be able to go into stress mode and do everything well).  He told me not to remake my entire process, but to challenge myself to do one little thing a day to make myself feel more productive/stable/etc. and to not sweat it because that stuff takes time.

On top of this, a big portion of the second-year community was gone, to co-ops or the West Coast, so I felt more alone, just interpersonally, than in prior semesters, and more anxious as a result of it.

I probably was also extremely stressed about graduating and believing that I’d lose touch with my closest friends here.  I take solace that, four months later, I am still in close contact with my three best friends, which gives me hope that those connections that matter most to me will still last.

I got through everything that last semester and I am glad that I did and that I am proud of the work I did in the process.  For my next step, I do hope to bring forth less overstressed production habits so that my work-life balance improves.  And now, having taken the summer to recalibrate myself, enjoy my family and the love that is always there, I feel ready now to throw myself into the next project and next challenge.

And I thank the ETC for giving that to me – a hungry desire to work in creative projects with creative people and the knowledge that we all indeed have the skills to make awesome stuff if we try.  And, contrary to when I graduated from undergrad, I feel less afraid to the world.  Because I feel prepared for the professional challenge that comes next.

And maybe even a little hopeful that there are more friendships out there that will be joy to encounter, meet, nurture, and develop.

Until next time!

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