A personal diatribe. Please indulge me.
I’ve been working since i was 15 years old. I’ve always worked. I started paying rent at the age of 17. I once owned a house, but that’s an old story.
When I entered the gaming industry, it was a fluke. I’d always done real, honest work. Lifting boxes. Sales. Customer service. Whatever. I’d never taken on a creative job before. And while I was creative, I never thought i’d do work in that manner. Call it a self-confidence thing. I don’t know.
Since 1997, i’ve been working in gaming. That’s nearly 20 years. People generally have a perception about themselves that they are hard workers. And lazy people generally don’t like to be called out on it, because they tend to believe and/or convince themselves that they work hard.
I could tell 100s of stories of seeing this in the industry, but I won’t.
In 20 years, I’ve taken maybe 6 real vacations. I’ve never been one of those people who could afford one, or thought I could take them time off.
Side note. I wrote/managed the world’s largest dungeon (840 pages, 1 million words), including doing the layout and typography for the book in 11 months. I even broke my hand half-way through the process and was down for six weeks.
And I still finished with a week to spare before my deadline.
I’m not bragging here. Just setting up a story. Bear with me.
In 2005, I thought I’d left the gaming industry for good. I went and got a job doing something else, because the stress of doing what I loved was making me not love it anymore. You’ve probably read some of my stories about the past, dealing with a particular company. Let’s try to forget that and move on.
In late 2007, I foolishly returned and by mid 2010 I was gone again. This time, however, I immediately started working on stuff I loved for myself. I started writing, planning, etc. I was in a funk for a long time, though. I really didn’t want to work. Which was weird for me. It has never happened before. I didn’t analyze it then, because I was stuck in it. Angry. Resentful. Exhausted. Resentful. Er. You get the point.
Then I finished King for a Day — probably the best thing I’ve ever written. In my opinion. My energy was back. I was working again. And I felt like I was really in love with it. By the end of 2014, I’d produced over 100 products, plus over a dozen for other companies. Not to mention graphics and so on.
But the end of 2014 was weird for me. I could feel my energy being sapped again. I knew what it was, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it or deal with it. It just didn’t feel like something I wanted to address. But something was dragging me down, the way the crap of 2005 was dragging me down.
I took two weeks off at the beginning of the year, but they really weren’t a break. I didn’t do anything with the time and in fact, I was angrier AFTERWARDS.
Work has been slow going during these first six weeks of 2015.
But something happened this weekend. I had an epiphany about all of it. And today, my energy is through the roof.
For starters, I realized I’ve probably spent thousands of hours making games, but I never really know if anyone is spending thousands of hours enjoying the games I make. I also never really took time to slow down and rest. I’ve literally allowed my health to suffer over the years, making game after game after game.
And i”m not a success story, so even with over 200 products to my name, I’m still not well-known or rich.
This past weekend, I attended a local game convention (150 people, so more like a gathering) in which I played non-stop for 3 days. I played Orleans three times, Dominare four times, Dice Crawl over a dozen times, Diamonds, Shadow Throne, Tragedy Looper. The list goes on. I cam home exhausted, but energized. I came up with ideas for making Dominare better. I got excited about the upcoming 100 A.D. that I’m making with Souljar games. I fixed a rules problem in Dice Crawl. When I got home I immediately made 105 new characters for Dominare (which only I will ever see). I made a prettier deck of cards for Diamonds (because I can). I cranked out some notes for future games and I started working on a new roleplaying game that hacks Apocalypse World.
It’s nearly 6pm on Monday and I’m still typing away with a fervor about what’s to come.
I can’t say I’ve married my personal life and game design as well as I would have hoped, but I light went off today.
Sometimes, it’s okay to take a break.
Thanks for following.