Sometimes my coworkers make fun of me for how little time I spend playing games, specifically MMOs. Or, they’ll jest when they notice that I show up early in the morning (around 8:00 AM, which is like dawn to a game developer), then head out after I’ve been at work for a mere 9 hours (including an hour of lunch). “This guy isn’t very dedicated to his craft!” Nobody has ever said that to me, but I’m sure someone’s thought it.
What those people don’t realize is that it’s intentional, and I think it’s healthy. It’s a balance I’ve created between my family life with my wife, my work life at 38 Studios, and my play (video games being one of several activities). In my world, my family comes first, work comes next, and my entertainment comes last.
A lot of people assume that someone dedicated to their work will spend double-digit hours there every day, working through lunch and taking no breaks. That’s certainly a sign that such a person is dedicated to work, but it doesn’t mean they lead a balanced life or that someone who doesn’t do that isn’t dedicated to their job.
The truth is, I love my job. I get to wake up every weekday and take on new, intellectually stimulating challenges as a game designer at 38 Studios. I get to work closely with people of every discipline, socializing with them while we work, playing ping pong, or getting in a game of ultimate frisbee at lunch (hooray I can play again after many months of wrist problems!). I get to be creative and solve problems. I get to be on time, bust my ass, and make it not suck (that’s for you, Curt).
But work comes second for me. I love my wife, Deanna, even more than I love my work. So, I’ve made a very intentional, conscious effort to ensure that she stays first. No, I don’t wake up early by nature; I’d rather sleep until noon. But, my wife gets home early (she’s a special education teacher), and I want to spend as much time with her as possible. So, I come in as early as I can, and I leave work as early as I can as well.
That said, I’m not imbalanced toward my wife. I take providing for my family very seriously, and think of working hard as part of the family equation. I bust my ass and work very efficiently while at the office in part because I really care about Copernicus and in part because I want to ensure that I can provide for my family in the future.
Finally, we come to play. It’s the last thing on my list, but it’s a necessary one. My play consists of hockey (when my wrist is fully healed), reading, watching TV/movies, listening to music, video games (duh!), and a random assortment of other activities. I get a little bit of playtime every day by myself. It’s usually video games or reading a book on the average day, but all play helps me to achieve balance in my daily life.
All work and no play makes Ryan a dull boy. All play and no work makes Ryan a dull boy. Without a balance of all three things in my life–Family, Work, and Play–I eventually start to notice that imbalance and its side effects.
Note that I also worked pretty hard on this even when I wasn’t married, and even when my wife was still in school in Colorado and I was in San Diego. Back then, “Family” was good friends. My family in San Diego consisted of people like Marlon, aka BBQ, and other good friends I hung out with. I did work a little too hard sometimes (or play a little hard, as the case may have been), but it lead me down the right path to find the proper balance of Life, Work, and Play.