Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Years Resolution - Stop Playing, Start Making

Last year was all about learning lots of skills that my new job required.  Lets check out a brief bulleted list of what went down:
  • Learned a bunch of misc. XBOX360, Wii and PS3 platform tech
  • Worked on a game with an external publisher pulling the strings
  • Developed some applications/games utilizing AS3, PHP, Java EE, and other web buzz words
  • Did some Facebook app development (still doing some of this at work)
  • Worked on an iDevice game that got released
  • Participated in my first Global Game Jam
  • Started working on a secret project for a cool platform
From reviewing what I've done over the past year it is easy to come to the conclusion that everything really was driven by what needed to get done at my day job.  I put all my creative energy into my day job.  When I had free time I would use it on spending time with friends and family and/or playing video games... and researching tech for my day job :-D.

It was still very rewarded and I feel I've grown in my craft from it, but something has been missing.  I still plan on putting as much energy into my day job as last year, but something needs to change.  I really miss working on my own projects.  I haven't really created something that wasn't driven by a publisher, customer, or a boss in three years (since college).  I've started hobbyist projects, but they never make it past the early stages.  That's kind of sad and I'd like this year to be different.

I've been thinking about it for a long time and I'm going to try something that I still think is kind of crazy...

I will not play video games for a year.

It starts with games, but I would also like to cut out other things like idling in front of the TV and other non productive vices.  These are the things that I have used way to much to "wind down" and I'd like to replace them with other activities.  Reading tech blogs, designing a game concept for a hobby project, and actually following through with it. These are the sorts of things I'd like to incorporate into this year.

Why would I do that?  I program video games, isn't it important to stay in touch with current video games?  These are both good questions.  I used to always say to my wife, "Hey get of my back, this is research!",  jokingly of course.  That statement is not a complete lie, but I would say about 80-90% of my game playing is purely recreational. I still plan to keep up with what is happening in the game space, but I'm going to put a stop to the multi-hour gameplay sessions.

Now on my commute to work I write game designs/plans down in my iPhone and read my blog subscriptions instead of melting my brain with angry birds.  When I would usually unwind on the couch at the end of the day I now bring my laptop and develop ideas further and maybe even write some code (oh my god!).  On days off instead of doing a 4-8 hour gaming session I'll get a decent amount of actual hobbyist work done.

With little changes like these I'll be able to turn my personal ideas I want to develop into reality.  The reward of making games is higher for me then playing them at this point in my life so this is a change that I've been thinking about for a long time.  Now is the time to make the change and I feel it is for the better.  Over one week clean I think I can kill my game playing addiction and turn it into a game making addiction instead.  Here is to a year of productivity.


  1. I just wrote a nice long comment here only to accidentally click the wrong button and watch it all go up in digital smoke. Oh well. The gist of it was that not playing games for a year is a serious commitment, my hat's off to you for that one. Being productive in your "winding down" time is definitely something I agree with, though. Too many of us use the excuse of needing to wind-down to mean that we need to sit around and waste time for 4-5hrs at a time. Don't get me wrong, rest is vitally important, but it doesn't take marathon gaming sessions every day to accomplish that. Keep moving forward, man. Make awesomeness happen.

  2. I was going to comment and say that I could never do a 4 - 8 hour gameplay session, since I usually get an hour or two in tops. Then I remembered that last week, while Ange was away, I put in a major session to try and burn through the original God of War. I'm sure my facebook profile would have made me a liar as you could watch me getting trophies.

    Good luck, sir. I don't think I could cut games out for a year, especially not this year since I have been unable to play Ultimate for a few months with a knee injury.

  3. Haha, no games for a year, yea right Aaron :)

    Good luck man, but I have the opposite problem. I have a really hard time working or doing any programming when I get home. I just want to go home and stop thinking for the few hours I have before I need to hit the sack.

    It's worse now working on a game that I actually really like and want to play though. Now I spend a lot of my time criticizing design decisions.

    One of these days I might find the endurance to start a blog and really work on side projects, keep on keepin' on!