July 31, 2008

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

I can't believe it's already Thursday. I have absolutely no idea where this week went. I mean, if I sat down and thought about it, I'm sure I could plot it all out, but this week has really flown, and I haven't gotten really anything productive accomplished during the "productive" 90 minutes I set aside each night this week. I managed to tidy up the apartment a little, reserve a hotel for AGDC, make a D&D character, and pay my rent. I think that's pretty much it. I have work I could be doing to prepare for the Guildhall but every time I even think about it I start to feel a little sick.

I'm not sure what that place has done to me, but I feel absolute dread at the thought of going back. Not to cast aspersions on the institution as I think it is perhaps the finest available in the field, at least as far as the knowledge and experience it manages to impart. It's simply the toll it takes on its students to do so that I can't really stand. Pretty much the entirety of corporate America is starting to attach to the idea of work-life balance, the idea that you need to have time to have a life in addition to your job in order to feel like a real person and keep yourself from going crazy. I do not believe The Guildhall is among the proponents of this philosophy.

No, The Guildhall asks you to put aside friends, family, hobbies, interests, or really anything other than work for the 18 months you are there. Students still manage to escape every once and a while and remember that there's a great, big, wonderful world out there that isn't just full of deadlines and despair. The sad part is, that when we student see that, we are simultaneously overjoyed and downtrodden. The thought of that great, big, world is joyous, but then after that brief glimpse, we remember that we aren't there yet, and we remember the suffering we must endure before we get there. That has really been the story of the Gearbox interns, the level designers most of all.

I don't know how it has been for other cohorts, or how it will be in the future, but right now, the C9 LDs just seem to have the worst of it. We are often asked to put in the most effort, for the least amount of recognition, and eventually we will be the lowest paid discipline among the graduates. Our specialization sports and unprecedented 59% attrition rate, and we are consistently asked to do the same amount of work as the previous LDs in a fraction of the time. Now, during the internship, we've gotten to see what the world is really like. We have reasonable deadlines, reasonable expectations, and our efforts (even relatively minor ones) are consistently recognized.

So now, here we are, two weeks from the end of our "break" staring into the gaping maw of two more Guildhall terms before we can find our way back to this happy place. The sense of foreboding is almost palpable... Anyway, that sure was a lot of rambling and I'm not even sure I can make sense of it all, but I think it's starting to make me feel bad, so I think I'm going to cut it off there. I'm going to try to enjoy what is left of my break, and hope the Guildhall has the good sense to allow us to gradually readjust to the GH way of life. Either way, by the end of this year, God-willing, I'll find my way back to this place, with no more Guildhall to "look forward" to on the other side.

P.S. Sorry if this post was kind of grim, I'm a bit tired and sad about my internship drawing to a close so I think the post got away from me. I am very hopeful that my last couple terms at the Guildhall will be productive and beneficial, I think it's just the first couple weeks that may be painfully jarring. Anyway, now I must game, night!

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