When teaching, I feel self-conscious and vulnerable when my peers observe me. I have to make a million decisions, and I know that for any one of them, I could devise a better response than what I did with just a few minutes to think about it. But I don’t get that luxury, and I have to hold my head high when I take the constructive criticism later in the day. I’ve been lucky to have very kind and supportive coaches, so I grew more and more comfortable with that experience.
Over the past few months, my biggest project has been making a video game about teaching. I’ve learned a ton about programming in C#, how to use Unity, and how to design a game. But of course, it’s not done yet, and living in that reality has made think a lot about creative work. Like when someone observes me in the classroom, I feel raw when I show my incomplete and frankly mediocre game to people outside the game dev community. I know that everything they’ve played or seen before has been worked on for probably years by probably a team of anywhere from 5-500 professional artists, engineers, and designers. And my dinky little game that I spent months learning how to make is not ready to be compared to those, but it will be.
There’s no sound. I did the graphics, so it’s hard to tell that the blue rhombus is a door, and that the pink thing in the student’s head is their brain and not their ear. I just learned how to make a clickable button, so thoughtful UI and UX design is a fantasy of mine. And I need to be okay with the gulf between my reality and someone’s expectations, or else I’m going to get absolutely crushed.
One of my favorite scenes from a Pixar movie is the ending monologue in Ratatouille. When Ego, the critic, is reflecting on his profession in contrast to the chef’s:
We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment… But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
I remember this when I put something out there to the world. I wrote this in a hurry because I’m in the middle of packing right now, and it’s a first draft, but it’s done, and like I said last week, something is better than nothing.
With that, I also want to share a video that I made about my trip to Europe last summer with Leaf. I had over two hours of video and one hour of audio that I wanted to craft into a beautiful, coherent memory of our trip. But instead, I spent a few hours that I should have spent packing to make a 26-minute, kaleidoscopic, unpolished movie that Leaf and I will probably still love every time we watch it.
Hope you enjoy, too!