When Dan Golding told people he wanted to pursue a career in videogames, some of them laughed at him. If he’d taken their reactions to heart, he wouldn’t have become the much-respected videogames expert and broadcaster he is today. In this letter to his younger self, he reflects on navigating your way through uncertainty – and the importance of paying close attention to your inner voice.
You’re now 35, and you’ve got a PhD in videogames.
You’re now an Associate Professor and you teach students about videogames (and film and television and media) at Swinburne University of Technology.
You’ve written a book about videogames, and you’ve made a radio show for the ABC – the national broadcaster – about videogames.
"When you tell people that, some of them look at you like you eat crayons for a living."
That you’ve written a PhD on eating crayons.
At about age 26, you tell a family friend at a party about your research, and she has to be politely restrained by her husband and virtually dragged away because she’s laughing so hard.
Other people think what you do is important. But it’s certainly different from what you’re imagining today.
Now, as you know, you’re living in rural Victoria and attending a public high school where most people won’t apply for university at all.
"When you go along to your careers advice night, one teacher there will take a look at what subjects you’re doing and tell you that you “look like an arts degree.”
He’s right. You know maths isn’t yet your thing. It’s okay.
When you get to Melbourne, and start that arts degree, you’ll be there on an Access scholarship for a regional relocation, because as much as you like your teachers, let’s face it – your high school isn’t the most academic around.
You’ll find that the kind of high school you went to makes you unusual by the time you get to postgraduate studies, but it’s okay – university is what you make of it, and not about anyone else.
That’s good, too, because it turns out that you love university.
You love learning about new ideas and new perspectives on the world. It turns out you can write, too. Words come more easily to you than to most people.
"But most of all, what you love the most is learning about things that other people think aren’t worth learning about. Where some see all surface, you see depth."