Maintaining A Balance

Serious post/conversation following. You’ve been warned.

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“Um, Hi. My name is Daniel and I’m an Escapeoholic.”

Seriously, I am. Let me backtrack a bit.

During Gen Con, some stuff happened that made me face this fact face-against-the-wall-on. It’s not something I did not know, to whatever extent; it’s been a trait of mine for as long as I can remember. I am the kind of person that retreats into his own little, mental world and stays there for extended visits. I am an escapist, and my escape is my hobby (gaming).

Well, to call it a hobby right now would be a misnomer; I let it take over to the point where it began to dominate a huge chunk of my life, with all the repercussions that brings in regards to real-world dealings. I’ve tried to escape my escape at times in the past, but I end up slipping back into bad habits very easily.

To provide a little context: I had this dream of being a professional in the hobby gaming industry. Not a bad dream to have, per se. To this end I applied all that I’d learned in years of gaming towards creating a name for myself: I did some freelancing, formed my own company, networked, created a couple of blogs, wrote for free, created a couple of podcasts, spent time forging that persona that Daniel M. Perez would be in the industry. This in and of itself was a full-time job effort for little to no reward; I saw it as paying my dues, as laying the groundwork. But the truth is that after almost 10 years after deciding to purse that dream I am nowhere near it. Yeah, I have some amount of recognition, but I haven’t capitalized on it, either because I have not gotten the opportunity or because I didn’t pursue them hard enough.

I did what I did because I saw it as part of a master plan, and that’s fine. But last year my life changed drastically. The loss of my mother was a slap in the face by Reality, and I made a decision to change my life and pursue a new goal, thus why I am now pursuing a Nursing degree. That day my dream changed, my goal changed, but deep enough I did not grasp that this change needed to include a revision of the previous one, and all the work that it entailed.

Now, I haven’t done bad in my studies so far, but I have continued to retreat into my fantasy world where I am a relevant part of the hobby gaming industry/scene, which is total bullshit. Don’t get me wrong: I value what I have created, and the connections I have made along the way, but I had not faced a simple truth which I was now forced to stare in the face – all that was not important anymore, not in the same way.

I continued to delve into my escape, almost with the same amount of effort as before except for whatever I was using for my studies. But it really should be the other way around. I need to turn my hobby back into my hobby, not my (not-leading-anywhere-significant) life.

It’s a struggle, I won’t lie. I have an addictive personality and escaping into gaming became my addiction (and not even the actual act of playing a game, but just the actions related to gaming, which is probably the saddest part). Thus my introduction.

I am working on relegating gaming (and all it’s satellite activities) back to the proper place a hobby should have. As a friend told me over a beer at Gen Con, “This is all fluff. And fluff is nice, but it’s still fluff.”

Maybe I’m revealing a bit much here, but I cannot be the only one who has fallen down the rabbit hole. Maybe there are others who’ll derive some benefit from my experience as well.

I’d love to hear from others out there on how they maintain the balance between real life and the hobby, between reality and fantasy. My peer-models for too long have been guys whom I love a lot but have gotten into holes deeper than mine, and that has affected me. I’m looking for new points of view from those who have maintained this balance. I know you’re out there, so help a fellow gamer out remain a gamer but in the proper context in relation to Life.

In the meantime, I continue to work at my 12 steps back up from escapeoholism.

30 comments

  1. At the end of the day, there’s only one person you have to justify yourself to: yourself (and, well maybe you’re wife… “You spent HOW MUCH AT GENCON?” 😉 )

    I can’t ever begrudge anyone for following their passions, but I have to wonder this aloud, and assume no accusatory tone here, why the melancholy attitude about it? It seems you were so sure about the gaming thing but have the doubts when it comes to nursing. May be worth a sit-down think about why that may be.

    Or am I just reading that wrong?

    Now I’ll answer your ACTUAL question:

    Maintaining a balance is the single worst challenge in my life. It is only made possible by an excellent group of supporting people who keep me grounded. My recommendation is to find a support group. They help. A lot.

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  2. @David Pinilla
    This post is mostly me being accountable to myself (and also my wife, but mostly myself).
    It sounds melancholic because it’s Deep Thoughts ™ and it’s hard to do those without that tone. I am very sure about my decision to go into Nursing; if I could already be done with it and start doing I’d be right there. But it takes time, and at 35 I am eager to start doing that which I want to do. I was sure about the gaming thing, but as I said, things changed, and in ways that I could not ignore. There’s also details I’m leaving out, both for space and privacy, but suffice to say that as sure as I was about the gaming thing, I don’t know that I ever believed in myself strongly enough to go balls-to-the-walls into pursuing it. But that’s another therapy session. 😉

    Thanks for the answer. That helps a lot.

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  3. I can somewhat identify with of what you are saying here. I had the dream, too, but didn’t put near as much effort into it as you did. (I was always a planner rather than a do-er. I have stacks and stacks of unfulfilled plans that I was of course certain would revolutionize gaming. Yeah, sure.)

    Blurring the line between being a fan of a hobby and a professional within that industry can be a challenge. Between the internet and then the d20 boom, it was all too easy for those of us to dance along that line, and I would certainly argue that you are one of the major players in that region of the industry. Unfortunately, the major companies all play in an entirely different league, and guide the industry as they see fit, not as we semi-pro’s dream.

    But, in my case, even more of a problem was that I lost the fun. I became too caught up in the publishing side that it stopped being a hobby. It hit me the most one time I was playtesting an adventure with my friends that I thought was going to be great, but was completely wrong for them. They hated it and I realized that I had to stop trying to think about what could be publishable and instead just focus on having fun with my friends again. It was a hard realization, but necessary.

    Definitely follow your dreams, but only when they are fun and add to your quality of life. If they just drag you down, then it’s time to reconsider. If nursing is your calling, then throw your heart into that, and feel the freedom to just let gaming be a hobby again. Personally, I found forgetting about publish-ability and just enjoying the game as a game again has been wonderful.

    Speaking of Gen Con, I have never gone as a fan. Always as a hopeful freelancer trying to find work and get known by publishers (which I usually failed at, or when I managed something, it would typically fall through as empty plans by the publisher who was just someone else chasing a dream).

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  4. You’re story could be my story, or maybe is my story off and on; I’m not for sure. I’m going to muse (read: ramble) about this since I don’t have a clear direction on how to respond, but feel the need to pipe in regardless. So I apologize now if my comments are no help what-so-ever.

    I love the hobby and I enjoy everything I do with it (blogging, writing, networking, and even the actual gaming), but I’m not sure I escape into it. “Escape” says I’m trying to get away from some other factors in my life. The hobby is there to enhance my free time, an opportunity to be creative for myself. I seriously love my career (which I got a late start on because my enlistment and not a little procrastination), but I don’t love my either as much as I do my wife and daughter. I do have a tendency to get “lost” in something. I can sharpen my focus to laser-like precision and it becomes easy to lose track of things like time (“Oh shit! I was supposed to do X an hour ago!”).

    I can get lost in the hobby, in work, or in activities with my family. What I’ve found is useful is using an organizational tool in conjunction with my smartphone (I use Outlook which syncs with my BlackBerry). If I need to place limits on certain activities I actually schedule times and set warnings to go XX minutes before I need to move on. It keeps my wife from needing to become a taskmaster and makes sure I’m not cooking dinner too late, or flaking out of whatever I need to be doing.

    In the end, you have to decide where you want to be, figuring out what behavior/actions will get you there, and following through. Write these things down (physically). Let your wife, family, and friends know what you need to do and ask them for guidance when they can see you’re off course. Terminate your internet connection if necessary (most people I know who can’t seem to get shit done spend a LOT of time online).

    Anyways, that’s the end of my rambling.

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  5. I identify with much of what you have said here. I am 37 and came to the point last year when I had to make some tough choices about my life. I have the opposite story as you, though. My father passed away last October after a relatively short, yet completely horrific illness that took the family by surprise.

    His death made me think about what really matters to me and convinced me that I needed to make changes with respect to allowing myself to devote time to things that would make me happy. That included becoming more a part of the “gaming community.” In other words, I had talked about really being involved for years (e.g. writing adventures and really developing my homebrew world to get ready to give it to the community, not to mention blogging and podcasting) but had never truly done more than play and DM lots of games. I set about contributing to the community with a quickness and worked hard to get myself launched into the rpg-universe.

    Even though I have been playing for many years (25!?!) I am, in actuality, a newb to the community of not-just-players-and-DMs. I am all new to the production side of the equation. I am just getting my feet on the ground and have made large strides in the past 8 months. It is scary and exciting at the same time. And I am very happy.

    The things that keeps me balanced? Mostly it’s a mindset…

    1) I don’t expect to make a living in this industry. This is freeing because it means I will never have to rely on my hobby to earn a living.

    2) I always have to make my “real job” a priority, as well as my family. I am at the end of a PhD program and will be launching that post-dissertation career within the next year as well. This is important to me and I will not fail at this – when in doubt, it takes priority. No matter what.

    3) I treat gaming like its my one true hobby. I spend as much time as possible planning games, playing games, writing, reading, setting up, chatting about games, etc. I allow myself to do that without guilt or pressure. Plenty of people spend time and lots of money doing hobbies that I find uninteresting (or they just watch 30 hours of TV per week) and I am no different than them. I allow myself to spend time and money on the hobby because it brings me a great deal of joy. It is a bright light in my life and I work to keep it that way.

    4) When I feel overwhelmed and that I can’t play or devote time to something, I let my players know as far in advance as possible. I may cancel a game now and then, but I don’t let guilt creep in. I also do not allow the feelings of “letting my players down” stay around for too long. This is supposed to be fun – no room for guilt, guilt isn’t fun.

    All of this really comes down to not relying on the gaming industry for my bread-and-butter. Once upon a time I had a hobby and got a job in that industry (electronics) and absolutely loved it for about 5 years. Then one day I realized that I didn’t find electronics very fun anymore. It wasn’t a hobby for me. It was a job. My job ruined the hobby for me. I don’t want that to happen to gaming, so I won’t let myself rely on it to pay my bills. I am choosing to keep it as a hobby – one that I love and in which I will continue to contribute, but still… it’s just a hobby for me.

    I wish you luck in finding your balance. Remember – it’s a game and its purpose is to provide the possibility of fun times. If it isn’t fun anymore, it isn’t doing its job and you need to scale back. Learn where that limit is for you and adhere to it – you will be better for it.

    Good Luck

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  6. Balance is a hard to find and it is an endless battle. I’m right there with ya. In losing sight of that I lost connection with my family. I’m trying to rebuild that now but I’ve severed some ties that I’m not sure I’ll get back. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but each day we get a new chance to try again and do better.

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  7. I had a similar wake up call at Gencon, although mine wasn’t necessarily about working in the RPG industry, it had more to do with the fan side of things and running a blog.

    I don’t know if I have ever come to the point where my blog is taking over my life and encroaching on the things that are truly important (although I type this as I sit at my desk at work), but I did feel a sense of “this has gone beyond the realm of hobby and feels like work”.

    You have a choice to make, but you know that already, so you’ve crossed an important point. Like, eh… that.. friend said… this is indeed all fluff. The blogging, the gaming, the whole damn thing is fluff and at some point it’s time to wake up and realize that it isn’t putting food on your table and probably won’t. But you know this already too.

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  8. Thank you for sharing the revelation. Family is the most important thing. Seeing to their needs should always come first. I’m reminded of that as my son yells for me to come watch TV with him because the show has gotten to a scary point.

    I feel like my creative life is a thief. It steals time from the other, more important aspects of life. But I continue with it because I’ve driven to write the words, run the games, and tell the stories that run around in my head. For me, the letting an idea get lost and go untold is shame.

    My personality is that of a creator. Maintaining isn’t my forte. I truly wish it was but it’s just not the way I’m put together. So I steal 30 minutes every few days to write and create. I steal three hours once every two weeks for a RPG online with my friends of 35 years. It keeps the creative juices flowing. True, it’s a gaming half-life but its all I can afford.

    But in the end, I think your phrase will stick in my head. “It’s all fluff.”

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  9. I found it helps to find an external, countable thing to control those internal, unaccountable urges. Don’t know when to stop drinking? Limit yourself to exactly two beers at a party. Don’t know when to stop gaming? Don’t spend Saturday on any gaming related activities. Add to the list of no-gaming days if that’s not enough. In my case I have decided that gaming on three out of four Sundays is enough weekend gaming. I quit the Song of Ice And Fire Campaign and the Heroes Of Middle Earth Campaign as these two were Saturday games. I might still go and play if my wife is busy going to workshops or a Ren Fair. But if she’s around on a Saturday, I’m not gaming.

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  10. I think it boils down to this simple fact: it’s difficult to stop doing what’s fun and start doing what’s necessary. I suffer from this problem too. So do a lot of other people. It’s not unusual and not something to beat yourself up over.

    That, by the way, is not to suggest that you’re not honestly dedicated to becoming a nurse or meeting family obligations. Still, they may not be as much fun on an immediate basis.

    So what do you do when there’s too much fun stuff to do and not enough time to do them, while still taking care of other things you care about? You prioritize. You shouldn’t need to drop everything, just pick which aspect of gaming you care about most. Is it the publishing, the blogging or podcasting, the networking, or the actual playing. Decide what you have time for and cut the rest.

    Also, recognize that to be happy, you need to do at least some of this. So prioritize the other things as well. Say, just for example, that spending relaxing evenings with your wife, nursing, and gaming are the most important. Then maybe, you’ll need to drop the travel or the bicycling. Again, I’m not telling you what to do. However, I am suggesting that you recognize what makes you happy and accept that some of the things that you feel are supposed to get done will not.

    And let me make one more argument for spending time on a smaller set of priorities. I think you may find that you will be happier with what you are able to achieve in those areas by focusing.

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  11. I find that my escapism gets worse when I don’t have an actual game I’m regularly in. When I miss that, all that energy gets diverted and multiplied into all kinds of other projects. It doesn’t help that lots of these distractions tap into my other un-realized dreams: to be a writer, to be an editor and so on.

    The key for me, when I remember it, is to make sure that I am doing each thing for it’s own sake – not for the sake of someday entering the august company of those who never have to pay for drinks at GenCon (though that would be awesome), but because it brings me joy and satisfaction.

    So far, I’ve found that this is a terrible way to make a name for myself, but a tolerable way to remain sane in the meantime.

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  12. Something to keep in mind.

    There is nothing you need to do to support gaming except for game as much or as little as you want to.

    You owe gaming nothing.

    Or as Tylder Durden said, “You decide your own level of involvement in Project Mayhem.”

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  13. Man, it’s hard. It’s one of the reasons I almost closed up shop on RPG Blog 2.

    I’m in deep, but the day I see hurt in the eyes of one of my kids because I blew them off for gaming, I’m calling it a day.

    It’s an addictive hobby. I made a priorities list, and stick to it. Family and gaming won out. Work placed ok. Sleep didn’t make the cut. 🙂

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  14. It is definitely tough. I’m at a tier lower than you where I’m purposefully trying to put the GM hat down and be a player for a while. There’s a certain freedom to having my character sheet, showing up at the game and just playing. Sometimes you just have to let things go on without you. It’ll be there when you’re ready to go back to it.

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  15. This year was the first year since GenCon came to Indy that I didn’t wander the convention like a hopeful newbie trying to break into the industry, and it’s the best GenCon I’ve had for a long time. This despite the fact that I was working a booth and demoing my game, but my motivations were different. I was working the booth because I wanted to hang out with and help people that I liked, and I demoed my game because I wanted to make it available for people to enjoy. I socialized with people to have fun instead of trying to make connections to escape my dayjob into the fantastic gaming hobby job I’ve dreamed of for, I dunno, 25 years?

    I still struggle with finding balance. My family comes first, but I incorporate them into my hobby as much as I can. (My son is one of my best playtesters.) My job isn’t what I always hoped for, but the analysis and design and user testing I do exercises a lot of the same skills that I love applying to game design, and when I’m caught up in those activities I genuinely enjoy it. I do still dream that when my wife finishes school I’ll be able to go into semi-retirement and devote more time to game design, but by now I’ve learned enough about people who are already in the industry to know that generating a reasonable income from that activity involves more work and dedication than I’m willing to provide. (I love and envy Matt Forbeck, but I’m not working through my vacations like he does.)

    So for now I try to make sure I spend some time with each member of my family every day, enjoy my job for what it is instead of resenting it for what it’s not, game some or read some every day (because what business do I have creating adventures if I’m not enjoying them?), and work on games I’m passionate about instead of what I think will earn me money or recogniton. It’s not ideal, but it’s pretty damn good.

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  16. This rang true for me.
    You’ve been chasing the Gaming Professional dream longer and harder than me. But, lately, I’ve had a similar thought.

    Like you, I’ve got other goals (also career related) I want and need to pursue.
    Building an online presence and writing rpg products (even just to the moderate degree I have been) is not simply compatible with getting those accomplished.

    Kind of reminds me of musician or actor friends who at some point realized they weren’t going to break out. (or weren’t going to break out with sacrificing things they didn’t want to give up by moving to LA or New York)

    At that point, they usually decide they could make due with doing the occasional community theater performance while they put most of their focus on the vocation that would actually allow them to build a future with their family.

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  17. Wow Daniel. I see I’m not even the first person with whom your post has resonated. I wonder if it’s a sign of our age, a predictable milestone after having been a “pro-hobbiest” for so many years, or some combination thereof. We as a company hit “the wall” nearly two years ago. The things that we could do as a team got harder and harder as fewer of us kept at it. This is turn put even more stress and strain on those of us left. Ed & I kept going long after most of the others had simply stopped pulling their weight because we had a project to finish and we were going to finish writing that book if it killed us… which it nearly did.

    It’s sad, because a few years ago thing things were really looking like we were on a good trajectory. Eventually though, we just couldn’t keep up the pace of having day jobs, families, and a second RPG job at night. We stumbled and the upward trajectory turned into a downward spiral. Fortunately, we were able to partner with long-time friends to offload a lot of the heavy-lifting and let us focus on writing. Ed & I turned in our masterpiece last Spring and I’ve been studiously enjoying NOT thinking about RPGs all summer. At night after the kids are in bed, instead of jumping back on the computer for another two or three hours of writing or layout, I’ve been enjoying reading or playing on my Xbox– pleasures I’d hitherto felt too guilty to enjoy when I had publishing work waiting in the wings. I’ve enjoyed more time being a dad and a husband, I’m more involved in church and my local Masonic lodge, and since I have less stress I’m sleeping better than I have in years. To be honest, it has been a pretty glorious vacation.

    Now though, I’m starting to get the itch. Not exactly for gaming, but for writing. I’ve got an idea for short, serialized fiction that I’m trying out. I figure if I can write six installments (that are worth reading), then I’ve got something worth doing.

    We’ve both been in this biz for about the same length of time, Daniel. I know where you’re coming from and I hope you find that balance you’re looking for. For you it took a major loss, for me it was being driven into the ground by work and having all the fun sucked out of what I was doing. If you ever want to comiserate–or just shoot the breeze–drop me an e-mail.

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  18. I think at one time or another we have all been there. I was there myself about five years ago and almost left the hobby. Then it dawned on me, the reason I was so jaded and burned out was that I lost touch with what got me into this — fun.

    James and I formed Rogue Games for fun, and it is a hobby for us. In the end I had to realize that I do this for fun and for the passion. I enjoy games, both playing and writing, and I came to terms a long time ago I would never become wealthy because of games. And you know what? I am cool with it.

    Rogue Games is a lot of work, more so than I thought, but my attitude is simple: this is my hobby. With that thought I strike a balance with what I need to do and what I want to do.

    The other thing that has helped was the simple fact that this past October I was diagnosed with Depression, and seeking help for it, cleared a lot of things for me.

    So my advice? Change your perspective.

    My hobby is that I design games for people to play as a hobby. I work at what interests me, I remind myself that what I do is fun, and that in the end I am not going to save the world or cure cancer. I will, however, design games that people will have fun playing.

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  19. First of all, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to comment. Seems that this touched a raw nerve out there, and I’m glad that it allows us to talk about this issue openly.

    I will be replying to the comments little by little, but know I’ve read them all and I have drawn both inspiration and practical counsel from your contributions.

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  20. With all the comments I have read, I have to say that I am surprised how many people who have or are RPG publishers that still consider this as a “hobby”. My hobby was reading comics and playing RPGs. My business was creating material for people to use in their games. I have noticed a lot of people attempt to turn their hobby into a business without actually taking it a serious as a business. A hobby is when I pay some one or thing to entertain me. A business is when people pay me to entertain them. It is important to have a balance between work and fun; you also need to know the difference between them. When my son Lucas was born I shifted my priorities over to him, but I also had to change my business to adapt to this new change in my personal life. Too much of anything can be a bad thing.

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  21. I struggle with this all the time. “Hobby Games” may only be a hobby to me, but “escapism” in all its forms (video games, fantasy/sci-fi novels, gaming podcasts, even sitting around browsing the web, and the fantasy art I create to sell) – collectively eats up a lot of my free time. As a Christian it makes me pause and reconsider the balance of my life a lot. I don’t think games/fantasy are entirely evil or worthless, but as you did say, they are “fluff” and not “focus”. The good that we would we don’t do, and the evil we don’t want to do, we do (to badly paraphrase Paul). Human nature is such that we gravitate to the fun stuff. And in the end, fun isn’t the goal of life.

    I struggle with this. I chew on it, reorder my priorites, and then do it all again when fantasy creeps in to take too big a chunk of my mental landscape and time. It’s an honest struggle, to try to curve my “want-to” to more constructive things.

    To use a metaphor relevant to this dumpy 30-something woman : Exercising is never going to be as fun as eating ice cream, but in the end it can be more rewarding. And you still get ice cream sometimes.

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  22. “But the truth is that after almost 10 years after deciding to purse that dream I am nowhere near it. Yeah, I have some amount of recognition, but I haven’t capitalized on it, either because I have not gotten the opportunity or because I didn’t pursue them hard enough.”

    I think the problem is that you set up a company. Generally speaking, if somebody has their own company, my assumption is that they want to run that, rather than getting “break in” work with some other company. I mean, hell — I’d certainly hire you to do work for Adamant, but I assumed that you were more interested in doing Highmoon work.

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  23. @Louis Porter Jr.
    And that’s one of the things I had to come to realize, as much as I liked the business part, I honestly fooled myself into thinking I was running one to the fullness of my abilities. To me the biggest example has always been thinking of you and Gareth. We all started more or less around the same time (I know Gareth has extensive prior experience, but I’m talking about our companies). LPJ and Adamant each became a powerhouse of products, pumping them out regularly, truly being a business; HMP was very slow in releases, mainly because I used it as a vanity imprint for my own stuff, and then failed to deliver there. It may seem silly it took me so long to realize what my company was and why I had not gotten to where I thought I should be, but there it is. It’s been a good experience, but now I fully know that things have to change in accordance to where I am now and what my future plans and expectations are.

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  24. @Gareth-Michael Skarka
    And your assumption is correct. I mean, for a while I did enjoy running HMP, but I kind of blinded myself to the underlying reason why I started it, which was to establish myself as a writer in order to move up the ladder. As much as I enjoy the process of development and writing and layout and publication and promotion, it ended up halting creation of projects because of the work that would come along. So yeah, a matter of realization and honest acceptance of what I want and was not doing correctly.

    That’s gonna change. I like the little extra money I get from HMP products, but I’m not really developing new things anymore. I have a couple of ideas for stuff I’d like to do, but it may well be that I simply move into writing for others, doing what I enjoy and letting others more proficient than me do the extra parts that are needed to get it out there.

    What was that old advice, know if you want to publish or be published? 😉

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  25. “I am working on relegating gaming (and all it’s satellite activities) back to the proper place a hobby should have. As a friend told me over a beer at Gen Con, ‘This is all fluff. And fluff is nice, but it’s still fluff.'”

    This statement has been niggling at the back of my head for a week now, and to some extent, I think it’s the crux of the problem.

    1. So what if it is fluff? Lots of things that people dedicate their lives to are fluff: sports, TV, movies, fashion, art. These don’t solve the world’s problems, but they arguably improve the quality of people’s lives. Lots of people make a living working with these fluffy things, and there’s no reason they should feel quilty about that. My day job isn’t going to end world hunger or solve our need for energy, but that’s not all that life is about.

    2. It’s not just fluff. The interactivity of games helps people develop useful skills: statistical analysis, problem solving, diplomacy, and resource management come immediately to mind. Those have real world applicability. More importantly, games provide a venue for building relationships, in the same way as the other aforementioned categories of fluff. My day job colleagues bond over beer and sports: I bond over a games. Most of my strongest relationships are with people I play games with (including my family). And relationships like that may be the most important and valuable thing in life.

    So, whether it’s fluff or escapism or not, gaming has value. And we each have to prioritize that value against our other values.

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  26. Judd :
    You owe gaming nothing.

    You know, Judd. This has stayed with me ever since you posted it. And I think it sums it up very nicely. I may give freely, but I don’t owe. And for a long time I felt like I owed – falsely, but still felt it. Giving is much more liberating.

    Thanks for that.

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  27. @Carl Klutzke
    To respond to your two points:
    1. Per se, there’s nothing wrong with this being fluff. I like fluff. Fluff is good, especially on top of ice cream. But you can’t eat fluff and expect to have a balanced diet, if I may run with the food allegory a bit longer. My problem is not that gaming is fluff, but that I was hell-bent, to a level that had become a major issue, on making fluff my main dietary staple. I was pursuing an idea of what I was that was not correct, and furthermore, discarding everything else around me that I still had a responsibility to. So right there it did become a problem, a huge problem, to the point where I had to be slapped in the face by Reality to realize, hey, yeah, it is fluff, and it needs to go back to the proper place that fluff occupies, especially in my life. Whether it is fluff or not is relative, I guess. To me, it needed to go back to being just that.

    2. And in the way that you describe it, gaming isn’t fluff. Except it is. It is games we are talking about. Games. I don’t dismiss them, and I am one of the strongest supporters of their use in more than just mindless entertainment, but I am also of the belief that we must always remember we are talking about games. The person who escapes into football or basketball or baseball has no lesser a problem than the one I am dealing with.

    Ultimately, however, I need to be very specific that this whole post, this whole conversation, isn’t really about the games themselves, but about my attitude towards them, my behavior towards and surrounding them. It is about me (and those who have shared they face a similar situation), not about the game itself. I could be talking about Foosball or bocce and it would all remain the same.

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