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Hey everyone, since the new year is upon us, I think you should consider volunteering in your local community.
As an indie, I have openly struggled with the feeling that I am not accomplishing anything with my work, I sometimes get lost in unclear progress, in monetary struggles, I had slight depression at one point from lack of social interactions.
Volunteering (at anything) once a week will not completely fix these feelings, but it can seriously improve your outlook (even if just a day or two at a time). And if you're an indie, there is nothing better than volunteering, because you have the time. You can spare a few hours each week, and the break is good for you!
A few points to encourage you to check out volunteering in your town/city:
- Volunteering doesn't take that much time each week, most places looking for volunteers would love any time at all that you can give, even an hour can help an organization immensely. I only volunteer 2 hours on Thursday mornings, but it noticeably improves my life/mood and, as important, it helps improve others' lives as well.
- Committing to volunteering once a week adds some semblance of a schedule to your life, and as an indie, it's useful to add structure to my life.
- There are a ton of opportunities available to volunteer at anything you can imagine. They can use help at schools, homeless shelters, gardens, community bike shops. You can find people who want to teach programming or art to kids, though I personally like non-game related volunteering because the rest of my life is already about games.
- You can be social, but if you are an introvert, in my experience there's usually no pressure to say more than you feel like. You can talk while washing dishes or tending a garden, but no one thinks anything if you work quietly.
- You can do physical work. (I know I'm not the only one who likes to get away from the desk/couch.)
- You don't have to be an expert at anything to volunteer. Any time and effort goes a long way, most organizations just need people to get basic work done.
- You are helping others!
Go to www.volunteermatch.org and search your area now for opportunities! Really, try it!
Randy O'Connor is an indie currently working on Escape Goat 2 and an iPhone game and a boardgame. He worked on Waking Mars, Spider, Dead End HD, Distractions.
He volunteers during the winter months, once a week, cooking a super simple breakfast (usually instant pancakes) at a youth shelter in Berkeley, and it is rewarding.