Growing up, games were always my safe haven and an outlet for me to just disconnect from everything and get lost in a good story or gameplay experience. Games brought me a lot of comfort and also helped me develop some tight-knit relationships with those around me. So, I’ve always loved games, though, when it came to game design, it was a completely different story.
I’ve never thought about myself as a creative person, and to be honest, a lot of the times “creative” spaces always scare me because I feel like I can just never do it right. Even getting myself to take this class was so daunting, and I was convinced I’m going to be miserable the whole time. Well… I wasn’t miserable. In fact, I really LOVED this class because though I didn’t suddenly think I can “do everything right,” I instead learned that my ability to “never do things right,” was something to be celebrated. Game development was all about prototyping and ENDLESS playtesting. There is no such thing as “doing it right,” and the ability to recognize that it’s not possible to “do it right” has allowed me to approach game design from a constantly evolving perspective, where I can take feedback and apply it to make an improved, not perfect prototype.
I don’t want to sound all sappy, but I really do think this was such an important lesson for me to really grasp and get hit with. I think for so long I’ve avoided anything that I felt I wasn’t going to be good at, or can’t get right, and in doing so I’ve given up so many opportunities for growth. I think this even extends beyond tangible objects, in that, I can view all those moments where I didn’t quite get something right as a moment to find a better strategy, and try again with a new “prototype” or attempt. I’m not going to say that I suddenly am so good at doing that, and changed my perspective overnight, but I think I’ve really been able to get better at being more active in my mindset, and this class has taught to really reevaluate my missteps, and realize the way I choose to react or adapt is a choice.
Something that I’ve really appreciated about my experience in this class was the ability to work within a team. This class was the first ever experience in computer science I’ve had where I was able to collaborate with other people, and it REALLY elevated my passion for computer science. I was able to develop some really close connections with the most amazing people, and I think that has been the most rewarding part of this class. I was able to gain insight into new perspectives, share laughs, anxieties, and hustle with a group of peers, and I will cherish the memories I’ll be able to take out of this class. Sometimes teamwork was TOUGH and we had to have some super hard conversations, but those conversations were able to grow us so much as people, and for me at least, were some of the first times I’ve had tough team conversations. I’m so appreciative for how much this class has pushed me to come out of my shell.
I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome during this class was coming out of my shell during team discussions. Initially, I had just felt like I had nothing important to really contribute so I would often just stay quiet, and wait to be tasked with work that I could complete. I had a lot of anxiety about what I could bring to the table, especially because whenever I’m in a computer science space, I always feel like my technical skills are nowhere near anyone else’s “level,” and I feel I might hold my team back. However, in the moments I would begin to contribute earlier on, I saw people were really excited to hear about my ideas, and because of just how kind and enthusiastic my teammates were, I began to see value in my contributions, and really came out of my shell. The worst-case about sharing an idea is that we literally move on from it… which is nowhere near the end of the world. It’s better to get that idea out there, discuss it, and then decide as a team whether it was “good” or “bad” before self-selecting it out as “bad” and missing out on an amazing opportunity to improve our game.
Looking at the future, I really want to pursue more creative opportunities, which is such a huge thing for me to say. I’ve always just shut myself off from those spaces, despite being super passionate about creative work, and I think finally doing it has really changed my perspective on what I’m capable of. I really want to take another design, team-based class and continue to work on myself in my creative abilities, design process, and team collaboration. This class has been the best class I’ve taken at Stanford so far, and I’m so thankful for all the lessons it has taught me about myself and my ability to pursue creative projects.