Well into the second term of this incredibly intense year, projects and deadlines are looming over us as the general craziness starts to ramp up. Food and sleep have been tossed to the back burner, and most waking moments are spent half-heartedly performing the tasks of daily life while mentally grinding away at the next great game idea.

In the whirlwind of it all, it can be extremely easy to groan about the unwieldy workload, the demanding assignments, and the human need for sleep – an evolutionary weakness if I’ve ever seen one. However, if I just pause and breathe, I realize what an amazing experience this is and how unbelievably lucky I am. Here’s why:

10. I get creative challenges every day.

I used to complain all the time about being stuck in jobs where I was just entering data all day, performing endless and mindless tasks that seemed to accomplish nothing. Now, more creative challenges are added to my plate on a daily basis, pushing me to think on the fly and outside the box.

9. Vancouver is an awesome place to live and work.

I live four blocks from the beach in a neighborhood full of organic markets and cute shops. I get to bike to work every day while watching the waves and mountains. Life is grand.

8. My instructors are well-known industry professionals with years of experience.

Unlike some previous teachers and professors I’ve had, the instructors at VFS seem to really know what they’re doing. Why? Because they’ve done it. They’ve worked on popular game titles and movies, rubbing elbows with the top guns in the industry and sometimes being the top guns in the industry.

7. Game design is a great social lubricant.

People love hearing about the games I design and are always willing to contribute their ideas. There are always things to talk about and people willing to listen.

6. There are no right or wrong answers.

Unlike in research or finance, in game design, there’s no wrong way to design a game. In fact, often, the more wrong you are, the more creative your game is and the more intrigued your audience becomes.

5. I get to play lots of games.

Research has become one of my favorite pastimes. Why? Because in the games industry, research involves playing and analyzing games. And since I had such limited experience with games coming into the program, I get to experience lots of popular titles for the first time. Now if I could just get my thumbs to cooperate and be able to push the right buttons at the right times…

4. I end the day with more energy than I started with.

Early on in the first term, I ran into Dave Warfield, the head of the VFS game design program. He asked how I was enjoying the course, and I excitedly jabbered away about how I went home with more energy at the end of each day than I started with at the beginning. Chuckling, he recommended that I enjoy that phase while it lasted. Eleven weeks in, I’m happy to report that the phase has no end in sight.

3. I get to be a writer, artist, sound mixer, programmer, designer, and virtual architect.

One of my favorite parts of teaching was the ability to wear so many hats simultaneously: teacher, psychologist, nurse, social worker, statistician, etc. As a game designer, I get to wear tons of hats and learn vast amounts of new information every day.

2. I get to design games.

How many people want to design games? Lots. How many people get to design games on a daily basis? Not many. Yes, be jealous of me. I’m living the dream.

1. I get to work with amazing people.

Each day in this program brings new surprises, laughs, and challenges. The best part of it all is the incredible group of people I get to share this life-changing experience with. And for the opportunity to work with them and get to know them, I’d gladly trade in food and sleep any day.