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When I was a junior in high school outside of Milwaukee, I had just moved to the area in the middle of the school year. I didn’t have any friends except for my sister, who was on a different campus, and I didn’t know my way around the gigantic school. Having just moved from a small school in a secluded farm town, this situation was the polar opposite. I had a tendency to get close to my English teachers because they typically became my mentors, so the one day I sat down in my first AP English class, I knew I wanted to really impress this teacher.
Our first paper was on Shakespeare – some play I don’t really remember (when you move around so much, you tend to reread Shakespeare plays in different schools and they blend together after a while). I felt mine wasn’t incredible, but at least it was written well. I got the paper back the next day and it was a C. Next paper, I tried a little harder. Still a C. The day after we turned papers in, the teacher would go through papers on the overhead projector from another class as to not embarrass anyone from our class. This was done before handing them back. He would choose one incredible and one horrible paper. After the third paper, he pulled out the overhead projector and put the first paper up. “This person seemed to have really struggled…” he started. I read the title, the opening paragraph, and then I froze. It was my paper. How did it get in there? Should I say something? Being a new kid and not knowing anyone, I stayed quiet. I sat there mortified as they tore my paper apart.
I met with the teacher that day after lunch and he told me he had realized he accidentally put my paper on the overhead and apologized. He said I should’ve said something. Yeah, that’s easy for a timid, terrified new kid. He then sat back in his chair, letting out a small sigh with my C- paper in his hand on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. “Kayla…I know you want to be a writer, but…” and that was all I needed to hear. I don’t remember what he finished with or the rest of what we talked about. I remembered that phrase for the rest of my life. After that, I didn’t write anything for six months.
I sit here as an editorial intern at Game Informer in the heart of Minneapolis, and I think back to that teacher and wish he could see me now, how wrong he was about me. All of my life I have been told that I can do whatever I want as long as I work hard at it.
Attending an engineering university introduced me to the world of impossible math and computer and gaming nerds, a world I had never experienced before. On campus there was a League of Legends Club, Magic tournaments, and jokes about computer-science students who disappeared for days because of World of Warcraft. Suddenly, I was immersed in this heavy gaming culture and found my interest strengthening. I met people in class who knew what Team Fortress 2 was, and I watched as my Steam friends list grew.
I also became involved with the music scene on campus, and most of my friends were a part of the heavily alternative college-radio station. After playing around with campus publications, I pursued something greater and reached out to a posting on a website for WHOA Magazine as a music writer. I was hired as a freelancer and was introduced to a taste of the world of magazine journalism. And with that taste, I was hooked.
It wasn’t until last year I realized breaking into the world of video game journalism wasn’t impossible, and I had my eyes set on Game Informer. I began writing for entertainment website, Metal Arcade, and started up my own video games blog on Blogger. I found that talking about video games came so naturally, and I knew I wanted to pursue it.
You can find me reanalyzing the latest Silent Hill film or game to anyone who will listen or racing my boyfriend in Split/Second or setting a Heavy on fire from behind in Team Fortress 2 (take me on and I’ll beat you, if it’s a good day). I am particularly passionate about the horror genre and will never turn down a racing game.
So here I am, broke and moved in to the heart of the city, living for the thrill of the crème de la crème of video game journalism. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.