It’s been a tough few months. Experiencing very real and non-video game death, again, as well as a selection of the special snags, mires and quandaries that a person’s ongoing life can bring has kept my heart and mind far away from the individual tasks and broader thought that compose the larger pursuit of my Master’s thesis. In keeping with those feelings, a somewhat frustrated and dissatisfied essay follows.
I’m feeling like this isn’t something I want to do anymore. Like in the grand scheme, it seems like a lot of what we’re doing here is just bullshitting each other. Like we in this field, and possibly we in most or all of academia. Theoretically bullshitting each other- which I think is probably worse. An M.A. in Speculative, Hypothetical Bullshit Studies for me please, and I’ll jump in the workforce as a… Comp adjunct? And just keep the ball rolling. Maybe if I get lucky I’ll land a gig as a consultant or creative director, another pair of titles that don’t really, definitively mean anything. But I’ll make enough money in those positions to be able to afford to have some kids to whom I can teach the value of compromise.
My therapist has not so subtly reminded me that because I’ve grown accustomed to finding success with limited effort, I have a tendency to get really down and despondent, and sometimes even bail on stuff when I’m not getting it right away. Tell that to my ex-girlfriends, am I right? (I feel like that’s a joke for a persona other than mine.) I’ve sunk too much time and energy and put too much of myself into this pursuit to really think about walking away from it now. And I feel that there is value in obtaining and having a Master’s degree. So I will not be torpedoing this operation. Though I really could I’m not going to bail. Instead, I’m going to rally. Unfortunately, I’m coming to feel that this work that I am committed to finishing is not going to be the transformative, insightful, life-altering, culminating piece of my formal education that I had hoped it would be. I wanted this to be a thing that I made with my heart, that came from somewhere good inside me, that used the good parts of my head and my heart to create something that was both good and mine and that I could be proud of and feel confident in. Now I’m feeling like it’s just going to be something I write with my hands, using only the little get-out-of-trouble-quick part of my brain, and it will be adequate, and it might even be good, but when it’s done I won’t care about it (I might not even care about it while I’m working on it) and it won’t help me understand myself or what I want any better, and it won’t help me enjoy my life or appreciate it all, and it won’t open any doors or lead me in new, challenging, fulfilling directions that I can feel good about. It might get me some kind of job, so that will be ok. But it’s not not depressing. I really wanted to write about games because I have so loved gaming and certain games and game worlds and experiences. But so far I haven’t loved writing this way. It’s felt like a task, not a labor of love.
I’ve been told before that I have talent as a writer, although my feelings about the act of writing are ambivalent. I think I enjoy it, I enjoy being good at it, but I don’t always enjoy doing it. Working on my thesis lately has felt like the kind of writing I don’t enjoy: laborious and stressful and obligatory and not growing organically in a way that I’m excited about.
What followed after were my thoughts on switching the focus of my thesis to a piece on the performative nature of social media, identifying that behavior’s roots in traditional human interactions and explicating the uniqueness of it’s iteration on the internet, as well as juxtaposing my own social media presence with the psychological and emotional truth of my actual lived experience. It sounds like a great idea to me, but I don’t think I’m going to do it. I’m feeling a little better about my games project and the overall state of things since I first wrote this post a week or two ago. By no means do I feel solid and confident, but I at least entertain the possibility that my work could come out as something really positive.