I realize that I’m about 3 years behind with this one, but I think those who have seen Randy Pausch’s: The Last Lecture would agree his message is timeless. I can’t describe it any more eloquently than has already been done, so I’ll lead with an excerpt from his website:

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.

I’ve had a copy of this lecture for almost 2 years now and, for whatever reason, only sat down to watch it tonight. Randy’s message, his delivery and his spirit would have been more than enough to inspire me to pass his message along, regardless of its relevance to this site. Imagine my delight when Jesse Schell and other components of my game-related universe started cropping up in Randy’s talk.

I knew when I sat down to watch this that the lecture was going to be about life goals and personal reflection, about how you can impact others’ lives and maybe even about changing the world. These are all things I think about, and so I expected his words would have a great deal of meaning to me. I had no idea game design would be among the topics.

On a daily basis I wonder about what I’m doing with my life and whether it has meaning beyond meeting my day to day needs. When the theme of games turned up, I felt like I was cresting the first drop of a roller coaster that I hadn’t been told I was riding. My obsessive introspection cast into the same room with my love of play, of games, was a lot to take. It hit me in a way that I haven’t quite fully grasped yet. The thoughts it’s jarred loose are still a bit too tender (and maybe too incomplete) to even begin to share, but I can feel the approaching impact.

As I said earlier, I know I’m late to the party but I’m sure there are plenty who still have not seen this. If you haven’t, you can watch it below. You should watch it. It was so thought provoking that I’m certain I could ramble on for a few thousand more words without batting an eye (or dotting one, the computer does that automatically….har har). Instead I’ll leave you with this:

I don’t believe in luck, I never have. It’s how the lazy explain their misfortune and the shortsighted hope for success. My dad once told me, “There’s no such thing as right place, right time. Only right place, right time, right person.” I’ve discovered there’s a lot of truth to that. Toward the end of the lecture Randy shares a quote, “Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity”. As a result I’ve updated my feelings on luck, because I think that definition truly explains the phenomenon casual observers tend to describe as luck. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be equipped to take hold of the right opportunity when it comes along. I’ll admit that’s not the most insightful statement anyone’s ever made, in fact it’s well deserving of a “no shit Sherlock…”. But as a person who likes to make his own way, I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea of luck floating around if I can think of it simply as an opportunity landing on the right person. Randy’s lecture is filled with moments like that.

Whether you’re a fellow soul searcher, game designer or just a person with 70 minutes to spare, The Last Lecture is for you.

This lecture has changed me. I’m excited to find out how. Thank you, Randy.

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