By Phoebe Ng
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by video and computer games. For many people, it was either the stellar graphics, the intricate gameplay, the killer action, or the test of skill that drew them in, but for me, it was always about the story. Those age-old fables, tall-tales, heroic legends with a hint of romanceâ€” they always gripped me, cut me to the heart. Just like in the fantasy and sci-fi novels I read, I saw the human condition portrayed so clearly in those games. Even though the scenarios and environments that those characters lived in weren’t real, their emotions, struggles, and desires couldn’t have been more real to me. As time passed, my interest and fascination with these games and the gaming industry grew. By the time I was in high school, I was firmly convinced that my ultimate goal in life was to make video games for a living. Declaring this in front of my mom one time, I was satisfied to hear her express support:
“I’m perfectly fine with whatever career choice you make as long as you do it for God.”
“No problem,” I responded.
“Good,” she replied. “So you plan on making Christian video games then right?”
I couldn’t speak. I was shocked and appalled. The very notion of a Christian video game spelled absolute disaster for my career. There was no way I could possibly envision being able to deliver a Christian message in a video game without being terribly cheesy, and my horror only increased as I contemplated the insurmountable task of marketing this game. Nevertheless, my mother’s words always echoed in my head. I couldn’t seem to ignore them. As someone who was never good at doing things halfway, I soon became just as firmly convicted that as impossible as Christian gaming initially seemed, it was a challenge I could not refuse.
That conviction was the start of what would lead to the darkest period of my life. Applying to colleges, my majors wavered between Undecided, Computer Animation, and Computer Science. Eventually, God led me to UCLA, where I was accepted by the Henry Samueli School of Engineering to pursue my undergraduate degree in Computer Science. Of course, my plan was to learn programming skills so that I could use them to make my gaming dreams come true.
As I began college, I felt ready to conquer the world. However, by the end of my first quarter at UCLA, rather than having conquered, I had been utterly and completely defeated. Freedom vs. Discipline resulted in a complete knockout of Discipline 0-3, and at the end of that quarter, my G.P.A. was a whopping 1.0875! Needless to say, I was floored. Having graduated within the academic top ten of my high school, I had always thought school was something I could handle. Actuallyâ€”the only thing I could handle. Staring at my transcript now, however, I was forced to see myself without all the pedestals I had built my identity on. At the core, I was simply a lost, helpless, and broken child of God. I was petrified of my parents’ reaction, and my aspirations for bringing my dreams to life now seemed as unreachable as the sun. After the worst winter break of my life, my parents and I finally decided I would return to UCLA for another quarter, where I was to try my best to drag my miserable 1.0875 to at least a 2.0 before they kicked me out of the school completely…
Want to know what happens next? Head over toÂ Living with Purpose (Part 2)Â and find out!