Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Life/Work (im)Balance

In the past couple of weeks I've read a couple of very interesting articles which have got me thinking a lot about how we work and the future.

Becoming Super Mom

First up I read this article from the Selfish Mom blogzine.  Having it all, living the dream, being a super mom.

Now most days I don't have the energy to get dressed in the morning let alone spend all day playing, feeding, looking after Willow, feeding Alex and myself, general chores AND all evening working on Super GQ, but it looks like the trick to having it all is working your butt off.  It makes sense really.  And it's not about the short term, this is all about paying it forward because in the short term you're going to be tired, irritable and to busy to notice that it will all be worth it.

Of course things will get easier as she gets less dependent on us, and it's really in my best interests to make sure I've 'feathered by nest with more than just fluffy chicks'.  I'm already dreading the moment we have to send her to a nursery and then school, and before we know it she'll be off and carving her own path...  OK the last two are a long way off, but there is the prospect of day care.  One of the awesome things about the both of us working from home is all the time we spend with her, it's also the single reason why it's taken us so long to get to this point with Super GQ.

me, not working...

If Alex and I can keep making games, I'm sure the 'empty nest' feeling will be less of a blow, as I'll have my other 'babies' in development. I think that's one of the best things about being in a creative industry and getting to make things you love.  And I don't think I need to worry so much about 'having it all', I'll be happy enough keeping what I have.  I could just use a few more hours in the day...

We are not alone.

And then I read the second article that got me thinking a lot.

It was doing the rounds on my facebook so I had a read and saw a very familiar story.

Another couple choosing to take the plunge and go indie, working from home and balancing bringing up their daughters and working on  a new game.  It's slightly different in that their kids are significantly older than Willow is now, raising different issues to what we have on a day to day basis, but the thing I was really interested in was how they planned to make the work/home life happen.

In the article the couple talk about how they wanted to keep work and home life separate, even though their stations where now in the kitchen.  Working their normal work hours and not spending all their work time talking about family and all their family time talking shop.  This failed spectacularly though as life gets in the way, not to mention that their girls are into gaming and so are naturally curious and wanted to be involved.

Alex and I didn't plan.  Sometimes I think we really should have planned what we were going to do, but you know what?  I'm glad we didn't.  At the time we just rolled with the punches.  I couldn't get a job so we started a little side project then Alex got fired so we up-scaled the side project.  If we had sat down and made a 'sensible' plan where we get 'proper' jobs to give us some security* for our soon to be family, we wouldn't have gone indie and released Glyph Quest.

In the end they include their second daughter in the development of their upcoming game Ninja Pizza Girl, a game about much more than delivering pizza! I think it's awesome that they are working with her to make this game.  It seems they were fighting to keep the two worlds apart and really it was better to let them combine.  In the future I hope that we will get to include Willow in game making (if of course she wants to be involved in making games).

Now this is Agile development!

the living room walls are covered.

We've never tried to separate work and family.  In reality it would be almost impossible.  Instead we work around Willow.  When she sleeps we work, when she's with me Alex works, when she's with Alex I work.  We have lists of all the things that need doing on post-it notes, spread sheets, and note pads.  It has taken over our living room.  It means some days more gets done than others and some days one of our lists won't get ticked off at all.  But when you're working all day everyday it's OK to sacrifice an hour to play practicing sitting up or experimenting with eating pear, or having a really long nap.

We've set ourselves a mid September deadline, so now more than ever we need to be on top of this family/work balance.  Despite not having a 'plan' or really much of a balance I don't think we're doing half bad.  I guess we'll just have to see if we make this deadline or not.    

*Not that there's ever much security in the games industry, small companies live and die by their games, medium companies close all the time and even the industry giants cull staff when they need to cut costs.

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