It is a cliché, but the truth is that the most positive thing about Kajak was the people. I got to know many people, some cursorily, some in depth. Some taught me things about myself, some about the world at large.
In the first year, I mentioned that I was a Star Wars fan and an avid roleplayer. There were four people who heard me and were interested in the combination of the two. That meeting led to my Saga Edition campaign, which spanned about two years. At some point someone mentioned that there was only one person from the game development: Me. That was quite curious.
I found out that most of the people who applied for game development in our class were quite apathetic. There were plans for gaming evenings, when the people could come and play LAN games with the school computers and student lectures, where the students could talk about their own experiences. I offered a chance at trying out roleplaying. But in the end, only the same about seven people attended these happenings. Meanwhile, the system administrators played Saga Edition with me, played Magic the Gathering and generally were more active and ready to try out new things. These were the people I ended up hanging out with.
Confidence is one of the most important attributes of a person. I learned this from the few team projects that I was part of. There were a lot of skilled people around, but many lacked confidence. In our conference course this was extremely evident: Every time I was a part of a team, I was either selected or volunteered for the position of the chair. In every project I was the Project Manager. In almost every case, I had to force answers and opinions out of people, and it was not very glorious. But there were exceptions: A few people were confident and opinionated. Even when they saw things differently than I, it felt relieving. I got information. I could understand the situation. I could find solutions. I got feedback.
Even though the lessons themselves were crap, the fact remains that the school was about games. And that framework attracted a lot of guest lecturers, from who I learned much. Their own stories felt real and provided actual information on how to progress in both career and life. And some, like Autio, provided tangible benefits. I am very fortunate to have met the likes of him.
One of the most important lessons about people came from the final months, as I was working on my thesis. Most of the new students that had come in over the two years had been very uninteresting. I were a tutor for a brief time for the ’09 class, and even though I vehemently marketed tabletop games, from Magic to roleplaying, to them, none seemed interested. I had accepted that the Sturgeon’s Law applies to people, too. Then the latest class came in. There were at least 15 people attending a meeting about tabletop roleplaying, at least 8 played Magic the time I left and there was a small, core group of people who tried out every board game I brought to the brand-new tabletop evenings.
The Sturgeon’s Law is worded wrong. It should be: Everything has 90% chance of being crud. But sometimes you keep rolling twenties.