MA, Reflection One: Why?

So the journey now begins for personal growth and development over the next two years. Deciding to do a Masters was the first step, but why did I choose to do it? I thought I knew and had, and still, have numerous ideas on what I will be doing and studying over this period. Having numerous ideas is not necessarily a negative issue, but in order to focus and harness these ideas into something more tangible, I need to question and analyse them. This blog post will explore the origins of these thoughts, helping to establish where they have come from, the start, the beginning, the spark.


So what or where is the start? Does it lie in the decision to undertake a Masters and if so, what prompted that decision? Was it for career goals or something more meaningful? To answer these questions, I first need to answer why computer video games at all? For the past five years, I have been teaching games design and development to a diverse range of learners. It is the most prolonged area of employment I have had since leaving secondary school many years ago and while reflecting on the reasons why I arrived at a double barrel conclusion.


The first conclusion relates to video games, specifically. I enjoy designing and developing computer games because I enjoy learning. This subject area is continually changing and growing. There is a constant stream of new technology and applications being produced and updated to help with the process of design and development. Therefore this area provides the opportunity to be in a constant stay of learning. However, what is learning, and how do I measure it? Descriptively learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study. I do enjoy learning, but many other subject areas offer similar if not the same opportunities to be in a constant state of learning, so again I have to ask why computer games? Is it some form of nostalgic feelings related to childhood and the earliest memories of playing games or something else? There is no easy answer; I did play many games when I was younger, so there is probably some nostalgic feelings associated with the subject area, and I do enjoy learning but the euphoric moments come from the solving of problems. Because the software and technology used to develop video games are so diverse and creative within the subject, it provides an infinite number of ways in which something can be produced and therefore, an infinite number of unique problems. It is this technical creativity that I enjoy and also the cause of the problems I love to solve.


So why do this in education teaching? It is not just as simple as enjoying solving problems because holistically the students I teach will come across similar problems due to the educational level, modules and curriculum structure; therefore, I am not solving or figuring out any new problems. The euphoric moments within teaching arise when I see students figure out a solution to there problems giving them that eureka feeling and moment which I can understand and relate too. There are, of course, many other factors to teaching that I enjoy, and different reasons as well as motivational factors, but within this blog post, I wish only to try and reflect on that which relates to the specialism of computer game design and development.


I think this concludes the double-barrelled answer but does not shed light on why I have decided to undertake a Masters, what am I looking for or seeking? Reflecting on why I do what I do, the obvious answer would be that I am seeking a problem to solve or fix. However, I do not think this is the case because I already get fulfilment regarding this via teaching and personal projects. That is not to say that I am not seeking any problems to solve, but is it the main motivational factor behind the decision to undertake a Masters, or are there other reasons? I think to answer this I need to explore why I enjoy playing games.


Playing, is a keyword, what is it to play, what enjoyment do people get from playing, why do I play? I play for personal enjoyment, and that enjoyment comes from the challenges and rewards a game provides. All games have reward systems, but I am not discussing the in-game rewards; instead, I am discussing a more profound sense of accomplishment that comes from our subconscious selves. I believe that it is our subconsciousness that determines the rewards we seek and what we class as a reward when playing games. I like many different types of games, but by far, I would have to say that strategy/puzzle games are the type of genre I play most. I find these types of games offer the most in terms of challenge and reward, and I have played many different types of them. However, How do I measure such rewards? The rewards within games depend on the person, for example, when I play strategy games, I like the long term challenge as I feel a great sense of accomplishment when a long term plan comes together. In many ways, strategy games also have problems that need solving, and in a way, these problems need a creative response. Another genre of game I play a lot are first-person shooters. Unlike strategy games, these sorts of videos games require a very different approach and playing style. First-person shooters require the individual to remain intensely focused in order to maximise their chances of success because the style of play is often expeditious. It is this aspect of gameplay I find most exhilarating, especially when playing against other people. Other genres of games I like to play include role-playing games (RPG). These types of the game rely on story-based elements with character growth and customisation aspects that allowing players to create a representation of themselves within the game worlds or a character for a preferred playing style. There are many other genres of games I enjoy playing, for a verity of different reasons and on reflection, I think that my go-to games are dependent on how I feel at that particular time.


I have managed to answer why I like particular types of computer games and why I have a career within education teaching games design and development but not why I have undertaken a Masters. In regards to this decision, there remains a verity of reasons such as career goals, a new challenge, rewards, and problem-solving. However, by exploring what I like about games and what enjoyment I get from teaching has helped me understand the challenges I am possibly seeking in regards to the Masters and the direction I want to go. As discussed at the start of the blog post I have many ideas on the areas I would like to look into further, however reflecting on the reasons why I play games, and the type of job I do has helped me narrow down some of these ideas. In the next blog post, I will explore these ideas further while reflecting on this post.

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