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11 Feb 2014

Find Time to Play Video Games (Grow as an Indie Dev)

While you undoubtedly spends hours upon hours every day developing your indie games and striving to make them as perfect as possible, are you taking time out of your busy schedule to actually play video games? Some of you probably cannot find the time during the day to just sit back and play games after you get off work. It’s understandable: we have families to spend time with, sleep to catch up on, friends to hang with, and an outside world begging us to explore.

Yet you need to play games on a regular basis – and it’s vital to your indie career. You need to know what your peers are doing and you need to experience new ideas/concepts that will influence your current and future indie games. Just like the best authors read regularly and the most talented musicians listen to music on a regular basis, the best indie developers on the planet game regularly. Easier said than done when you have a busy schedule I know – heck, I’ve been trying to find time to play Rune Factory 4 the last few days – but it’s vital that you make time to experience other developer’s games.

So how can you fit time into your busy schedule to play games? There are a few ways, but it all starts with this first tip:

Manage your time wisely 

And the best way to do this? Create a detailed schedule every day so you can find time to fit an hour (or a few) into your schedule. Avoid wasting time and getting interrupted by the likes of Reddit, Facebook, etc. Focus on your work, take breaks often if you must, but most of all use your time wisely.   Remember: the less interruptions and time wasting you allow to seep into your work, the faster you will be finished with work and the sooner you can get your game on.

Of course, things happen. Some days you may find yourself about to finish work for the day when suddenly an emergency occurs and you have to go through your work and make corrections until the late hours of the night. Stuff happens, and when you have been managing your time properly all day, it definitely sucks to fail. Hopefully this won’t happen regularly (and if it does, maybe you need to manage your time further to avoid mistakes happening), so good luck.

However, what if you commute to work via public transportation every day? Then you’re in luck.

Portability is your friend

If you commute to work using public transportation, one of the best ways to game regularly is via a portable device such as your smartphone, your tablet, a Vita, 3DS, a laptop, etc. There are a ton of awesome games available for you on the go – and the best part? You will be able to play the majority of indie titles no matter where you are located! If you have an hour to kill during your commute, you’re going to meet your gaming quota in a hurry, allowing you to discover what makes the industry’s latest and best games ‘tick.’

Play with your family

If you have a family that is remotely interested in gaming, include them in some of your game time. Not only will you be getting your regular fill in playing games, but you will also be spending time with your family. Believe me: this definitely works, and if your family isn’t too keen on playing games to begin with? Wean them into trying to play with you by starting with casual games and transitioning to more advanced games.

Personally, the longest play session I’ve had in about a year was with my wife about a month ago. We were playing Civilization IV over LAN, and no joke, we played for about nine hours straight. Now, my wife enjoys playing games as much as the next person and she loves strategy games just like I do, but she doesn’t play games on a regular basis – maybe an hour or two a week tops.

Yet, we wanted to do something one afternoon, didn’t feel like going out of the home because it was cold and snowing, so we ordered a pizza, threw on some Civilization IV, and had an awesome day. I’m not in the minority either: you too can find some games to play with your family. Let them pick a game that sounds find to them, buy it, and have a game night with your family. Believe me, even the person that hasn’t played a game in years can’t help but smile when playing Lego Marvel Superheroes. Not only will you be spending quality time with your family, but you will be experiencing new ideas and concepts that will hopefully help you to improve your current and future games.

At the end of the day, ensure you manage your life properly

For those that have a screaming one-year old or kids running around the home and getting into mischief, you are going to find these plans are easier said than done. Ensure you manage the most important things in your life first: family, your job, etc. Because let’s face it: if you really need to get your gaming fix to broaden your horizons, you can stay up a bit later than usual and get your game on after the family has went to sleep. Whatever it takes right? After all, isn’t that what coffee is for?

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