Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Overtime burnout

When I got my new gig at FastPath Learning, I was HIGHLY suspicious that I might have to work overtime, no matter what was said during the interview process. So far, we've had a few days here and there, and who cares about that? Not me.

Even now, we have a big deadline coming up, and a little overtime is happening, but it is NOTHING compared to the craziness of doing everything you and everyone on the team can to release a Game of the Year title. Man, the work to do that is insanity.

Well, it's been 8.5 months since I jumped off the commercial game train and into this world of "gamification." I cannot believe how my life has changed for the better. Spending time with the wife, kids and family is fantastic. My friends that I knew and hung with before I entered the game industry (it'll be 20 years in November) have been put through the ringer as I entered one crunch project after another. Right now, I'm trying to find ways to get involved with them again. It's a slow road and I am sure that those friends that saw me go into the breach are pretty hesitant to trust me again.

Yes, a LOT of the crunch was me driving myself to so the best I could, whether it was to start a company or to make sure that we could feed some babies.

At some point it's workoholism. And on another level, it's trying to prove that you have what it takes. Trying to "save" the company and other people's jobs has been a part of it as well. I'm sure these are only a small fraction of the factors involved in creating this insanity that is the requirement of creating fantastic work in the game industry.

I think there must be stages of withdrawal from this amount of crunch. For me, I have a few highlights / plateaus that I can try to describe:
- Complete disbelief that there was a job outside the traditional game industry that would be interesting and fun. Not to mention that it's teaching reading skills to kids.
- Skepticism about whether the job was real.
- Trying to accept that I really COULD leave after 8 hours.
- Assuring the family that I would, indeed, be home after a reasonable hour. And that I would get to talk to the kids EVERY day, instead of coming home while they are asleep.
- Starting to realize that I would actually have free time
- Becoming really selfish with my free time
- Balancing out free time with time the family needed
- Getting to the point where everyone in the family wasn't "desperate" to spend time with me so I could start figuring out what I wanted to do with my free time.
- Realizing that I needed to do ALL of the things I had been "putting off." My honey-do list is about 10 years out of date.
- Taking the time to actually get some of that done.
- Soul searching to think about how this has all affected me.
- Sharing this experience with close friends and then... here.

Now, I'm feeling like normal life (at least as it applies to me) may be closer than ever.

There's still a long road to recovery. If you are / were in the game industry... What's YOUR story?

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