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How Overworking Affects Game Developers

by Antonio Torres on 11/28/18 09:22:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Ask any programmer and they'll say the same thing: When you're developing a game that you love, hours seem to fly by, minutes get lost in a second and days become nights. Maintaining a balance between work and play? Get lost! We have a level to design! Many individuals within the world of technology drive themselves into the ground without noticing that their self-destructive behaviors are causing anxiety, hypertension, poor eating habits and a general sense of dread during the day. If you feel as though you may be suffering from one of the many symptoms of overworking, this article is for you. Maybe,just maybe, these points will encourage you to set a concrete time frame in which to create your gaming manifestations moving into the future! 


Your Relationships Dwindle and Work Becomes Your Home

Regardless if you're a freelancer or work for an actual development studio, one thing is for sure: Your coworkers will soon become like family to you. While having healthy relationships has been shown to improve workflow, increase productivity and improve your sense of well being, trading your friends at work for real-life relationships is the first warning sign you may be working too hard. 

Are you guilty of neglecting a significant other so you can write some code for a few more hours, beta test something that your company is putting out or contacting another client when you should be relaxing? We've all been there and this type of behavior is OK when performed infrequently. When you start to notice that you communicate with potential clients more than your parents or loved ones, time to unplug! Similarly, if you've traded nights at home, curled next to the television and relaxing for sleeping under your desk like Bill Gates, it may be time to take a look into the mirror. 


Look, we understand that your life is going to be busy and you work within a world where technology seems to change every week, but there's a solution. Our recommendation is that you become hyper focused on becoming a workhorse of efficiency. In simple terms, cut down the amount of time you spend on projects and proposals by using every minute available to maximize productivity. The difference between you and Elon Musk, besides the billions of dollars and mega mansions, is that Musk has learned to squeeze every part of his day for all its worth. 

Want a simple solution? Try the Pomodoro Method. Although this approach might sound short and sweet, it's effectiveness is insane. In general terms, users are advised to break up a task into 25-minute chunks of focused intent where no distractions may occur. Once this block of work is completed, the user can perform a five or ten-minute break to cool off -- rinse and repeat until the job is done. Although it's that simple in its implementation, it's highly effective and allows billion-dollar corporations to stay focused on their goals without sacrificing employee morale. 

Crunch Time -- Let's Go!

At some point during your development career you will enter crunch time. No, not the delicious candy bar, but a time where you must focus all of your mental energy on creating a product or meeting a deadline. These moments are inevitable and are one of the reasons why mega corporations stay in business. If you're in the crunch right now, here's a list of ideas to toss around before getting lost in the work for the next several months: 

  • Set up auto reply to thwart off distractions and pointless emails that fill the floodgates.
  • Communicate with friends, family and relatives that your time is meant to be taken seriously. Set specific time frames in which to contact you or socialize.
  • Although watching another playlist of motivational talks on YouTube might help you become a production machine, chances are it won't. Close the tabs and burn the ships to ensure maximum productivity.
  • When you play, play. When you work, work. Seriously -- this may sound simple, but most of us have the tendency to overflow work and real life into one seamless wreck. Take these restrictions seriously!

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