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Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Laziness

I’m very lazy.

There’s a bit of a qualification in order here, however — I say I’m lazy because I hate work and love play, and spend a fair amount of energy avoiding or procrastinating work in order to play more. In fact, my love of play, and desire to share this with others, is part of what drives me to make things that others can play with. But I’m also perfectionist. That means I tend to avoid starting new projects, but while I’m working on something, I work hard to make it good. Then, if nobody is lighting a fire under my ass, I tend to get bored and wander away leaving it half-finished. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does things like this, because questions about this sort of behavior pattern is all over personality tests.

Recently, Mike Pondsmith, the instructor teaching our game mechanics class, assigned us to play Cafe World on Facebook for five days. Now, I avoid games like this. I avoid persistent online games in general because they are work-ish to me, requiring an ongoing commitment. But like reading books, having someone order me to do it is a fairly decent way of getting me to make that commitment. So I played Cafe World. And I made a nice, pretty cafe, and built a spreadsheet analyzing the economy of the game and determining optimal strategies, and downloaded apps to help me schedule my time, and ended up with the highest score in the class. Because even though I wouldn’t normally play a game like that — and I quit playing immediately after the next class — once I got into it, I was in it to win it and my perfectionism kicked in.

In another example, I recently started a Let’s Play and Tutorial video series to teach new players how to play Liberal Crime Squad, an open source game by the guys behind Dwarf Fortress that I serve as the de facto maintainer for. Now, once I committed to doing that, I went the whole nine yards, getting the right software, multiple test runs, experimenting to find the best file format to maximize picture quality without clogging my hard drive, prewriting to plan out what I wanted to cover, and so on. For the first ten minute video, I spent a good five or six hours getting everything right. Feedback was strongly positive, and I’ve made fifty minutes of video total. But the playthrough isn’t finished, there’s more to cover, and I haven’t worked on it in weeks. Do I have time? Sure! I’m just lazy about it.

I worry about this. One way to describe my version of laziness is a lack of initiative. I do what is expected of me, and I do it as well as I possibly can, because I take pride in my work, but beyond that, I do very little. I don’t usually attend conventions, I avoid the unknown, I don’t network proactively, and I dread applying for things (colleges, scholarships, internships, jobs) for no other reason than because self-promotion is a LOT of unsatisfying work. Unfortunately, those are the types of things I’m afraid I have to do if I’m going to end up where I want to be. I’m not incredibly ambitious, but I do want to spend my life doing what I love while surrounded by brilliant people, and to do that I have to attend conventions, embrace new experiences, network, and apply aggressively.

The interesting counterpoint to this is that when left without obligations of a creative nature, I become discontent. I feel like I’m wasting my time, wasting my life, wasting my abilities. I become driven to do productive things. I become proactive because nobody is pushing me do things. This is how I worked through homeschooling, this is how I got into developing Liberal Crime Squad, and this is how I started this blog — I abhor work, but I am driven to do things, and to do them extremely well if at all possible.

I’m sure there’s plenty of people like me in the industry. I just worry I’ll have trouble getting a job at a studio that will satisfy my perfectionism and surround me with brilliant people.

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