It took me a while to figure out how to start the post. Should I start with some exposition or should I just jump right into it?
Well, I decided to jump right in. The time finally came. I just graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, ascertaining a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. I feel elated, overjoyed, and a little nervous. I am happy because I graduated and have many good memories to reflect upon. Excited because this pushes the boundary of success within my family. I am a first-generation college student, therefore becoming a graduate of a 4-year institution means much more to my family than I can comprehend. Lastly, I am nervous because this changes things for my family and, of course, myself.
I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot of people to thank. Honestly, it would be impossible to mention everyone, so I will mention two that come to mind. First and foremost, my mother. My mother has done a fantastic job raising not only me, but my younger brother as well. She believed in me and gave me much needed support at every turn. My mother expressed to me a couple weeks prior to graduation that she “never thought [she] could raise a son to go to college.” Just to be clear, this is her telling me that with everything she went through trying to raise me and my brother, my chances of achieving success beyond what the family had achieved seemed improbable.
When I told her that I wanted to study video games as a discipline and a career she was behind me 100 percent. I just needed to make sure I had a plan of action. And I did! It was with the tremendous help of my mentor Dr. Rashawn Ray. I remember when I first told him that I wanted to study aspects of gaming culture while in the sociology department and as a future career. Instead of being struck with skepticism and pondering if I just wanted to play games all day and call it research, he said “Ok cool!” Then he went to his computer and started listing off all the people he knew who dealt or at least dabbled with visual interactive mediums. I knew he would be a mentor for life.
On another note, where do I go from here? Well, the answer to that is Indiana, specifically Indiana University. I will be starting a PhD in Informatics where I will be studying…wait…wait for it…wait for it…video game culture! Some of the academics that currently study video game culture got their start in gaming culture by accident, if not a loosely related field of study. To attend a institution, specifically for the purpose to study video games and the people who play them is awesome. I even asked the director of the program did they read everything? Do they know that I want to study video games? Of course, she answered with a reassuring “Yes!”
Video games, as I have mentioned before, can tell awe-inspiring and emotional narratives. The people who play video games are just as interesting as the games they play. I am very thankful that I am able to bridge my gamer identity into my academic identity which will hopefully guide me to think about video game culture in fresh and exciting ways. Again, thank you to everyone! Now it’s time to play all the video games that I have neglected for months!