By Valeisha Jackson
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved to read and write my own stories. I loved creative writing. It brings a different type of warmth that’s such a good feeling. When I’m sad or mad, I would write out the way I felt and use it to construct a short story. Writing out the way I felt and constructing it into stories helped me resonate with my emotions and cheered me up a lot. Writing has always been my escape from reality.
As I started to get older, I got busier with school and extracurricular activities. I never had enough time to write any stories. School became very time consuming but I didn’t have a problem with it since getting my education is really important to me. I like to get what I need to do out of the way so I can enjoy having fun in my own way without worrying about something else that could possibly need to be done. Time passed by very quickly and before I knew it, I was in high school.
The beginning of high school was fun but what I really loved the most was when the global pandemic of COVID-19 began and quarantine interfered with my freshman year of high school. I’ve always wanted to be homeschooled since I was a kid. As soon as quarantine began, it did get boring very quickly with being home all the time. But I used that free time to start doing what I love most, writing. During the entire quarantine, all I did was write short stories, monologues, and a few chapters of my own books. I was always inspired by horror movies and shows such as Halloween, Scream, American Horror Story, Chucky, It and Truth or Dare. In 2021, for my junior year of high school, I had to go back to in person learning. I wasn’t really too excited about it since all of my free time, time for writing, would be taken.
I really disliked school in person until one of my teachers pulled me aside after class one day and told me about a program called the Bronx Critic Circle, part of the New York Videogame Critics Circle. At first, I wasn’t too sure about joining the class because I never considered myself as a journalist and I believed I was already fine with reading and writing my own stories on my own. I’ve always referred to myself as a teenage girl who really loves writing and reading. Once my teacher brought up how there would be a competition with me and any other student in the class, I was immediately interested. I love competing with other people so I decided to join the class.
I loved going to the class every week. It was so fun to continue to write new stories about games and social justice with my peers and my teachers Rudy, Harold and Isaac, in the class. In each meeting, we were all working on writing a poem, our own game storyline, and a game review. All of these things were required to compete in the competition to win a scholarship. For my own game storyline, I wrote about a horror survival game. The main character, Vanessa, struggles on a day-to-day basis, trying to find the difference between what is real and what is not. Everyone portrays Vanessa as a lunatic. One day, she approached a spirit in her house that gave her a warning. Vanessa was only given 72 hours to save herself and every other citizen from the government. Vanessa was, in fact, not crazy at all. She has to expose the horrible truth to the world before billions of innocent people get killed.
Writing that story was so enjoyable to me since I combined it together with my old horror stories and with some parts of my dreams. I have a lot of nightmares and I put them all into writing. When the submission date came, I was really confident about sharing my game review and my other two assignments. Eventually, in the course of time, the results of who won the scholarship came out. I won first place and received a $3,000 college scholarship and I was also offered to continue working with the Critics Circle as a paid intern.
I have a good bond with everyone at The Circle and I really had a good time for the past few months taking the class so I continued to work there. As of right now, I am currently working on a Twine Game which some of the group’s interns and senior interns are working on. My Twine game is about a teenage girl, Chloe, who is a runaway and is also pregnant. I decided to write this because I know many young teenagers can relate. Ever since quarantine began, many teens have been participating in sexual activity due to boredom and have been facing consequences similar to Chloe. I feel this topic is timely and important, not only in a social justice way, but in a human way.
Valeisha Jackson is one of two new paid Bronx interns that NYVGCC has hired this year. You’ll hear from another awesome intern tomorrow. We hope to hire more interns this summer as well.