Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Misspent Youth Pays Off

No game this time. Or perhaps every game.

Tomorrow morning, I defend my dissertation and get my PhD.

It is a valid question what a childhood of video games leads to. Thus far the answer has been student loans and blogging. Tomorrow, that changes. Tomorrow, I earn a PhD studying video games and comic books.

Real life rarely follows the narrative logic of video games. Few things do. This is why I dismiss video games as a narrative medium - narrative becomes really restricted when you have to stop every few minutes and fight a bunch more bad guys. Graduate school, to its credit, does exactly that though. Whatever stories of maturation and growth have played out over the past five years, and there are many, they have been defined against a backdrop of an unending sea of papers, revisions, writing, research, and other tasks.

And like a video game, and quite unlike life, it comes down to one zero-sum encounter. And that's the defense. An hour plus of oral exam on your work. A committee of professors grilling you and holding your feet to the fire. And you have to survive. You have to beat back the questions, remain calm and persuasive, and show that you know your shit. Show that you're as solid at it as they are.

It's a final boss. On your last life. With no continues.

I do not pretend that academia or video games are useful preparations for anything. They are ends in themselves. Neither reflects much outside of their own reality.

But I am steeped in both. And this time, just this once, everything lines up, and I am in my element.

And oh yes, I am ready.

*selects Bubble Lead*

Let's do this.

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