As this year draws to a close, I find myself hating what I let 2016 become. I’m not sure why I’m writing this blog post, aside from trying to get my thoughts out of my head.
I’m a game developer, and those in my profession are all too aware how deep we can get into our jobs. We do what we do because we have a passion for it, this isn’t a career path you often encounter someone who just fell into it. That tends to translate into long, long willful hours, weekend crunches, and our hobbies intertwined with our jobs.

I used to think it was okay to put your career first. I used to think there was nothing wrong with everything else in your life coming second to the title. (Fucked up, amirite?)

Over 2016 I had many challenges to overcome. It was a difficult year for quite a few things I can’t publicly discuss, but none of that makes how I handled myself and the things I did acceptable.
Over 2016 I treated anything that wasn’t DayZ as almost not worth my time. What’s worse than that is, anything and anyone that pushed against that behavior was treated as an enemy of sorts. In my twisted mind anything that didn’t understand that DayZ was the most important thing, anyone that tried to take my attention away from DayZ was pushed away, in some cases.. Hard.
My SO, my friends, my health, my family, even my living situation suffered. I mistreated people, I mistreated myself.

I lost sight of who I was, and what made me me in 2016 and in many cases I worry that the damage I did is irreversible. I lost what is most important to me in 2016 and I don’t know if I can ever get back what I lost.

For me the road ahead is making sure I never put myself in that position again. Making changes in my life to get me back to who I was, who I am. Things will need to change for me in 2017 to ensure I have a heathy life, and that I never again put myself in a position like this again.
So I urge you, if you are a game developer, or someone that loses themselves in their job. Don’t ever lose sight of what is important. It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, it doesn’t matter how great or successful it is. In the end it amounts for nothing if you don’t treasure those who care about you and want nothing more from you.. Than you.
So when you get that chance to work a long night, or put in an RC crunch over the weekend.. Please don’t ignore those who love you for who you are – with everything else stripped away – all they want is you.

Don’t ever push away those who love you, don’t ever let yourself believe that the work is more important.

None of it matters at all, without them.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Unbound

    Hey Brian, Its Unbound from your twitch strum. (From a not so distant past.) I just wanted to thank you for all the personal sacrifice you made to develop a game that made so many of us fall in love with the survival genre. Finding that perfect balance between work and personal life eludes even the best of us; but I hope that in the coming year you find peace and happiness.

    Best of luck to you and yours.

    – Stephen

  2. Jan

    Brian,

    we never met but when I read about your situation, I immediately wanted to write some hopefully uplifting things and to share a little bit of my perspective. Two points are important to me:

    1st)

    First off, all the best for 2017. Your work and that of your team is awe-inspiring. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers, trolls and bad people (referring to that awful Dec 19th tweet of someone wishing you a disease and other shocking things). Your job is very public and it automatically attracts those type of people. Not super uplifting to say, but other devs suffer from the same clientele, too, I think. As a first step, making these things public is important and will create some awareness. A second step could be to take legal actions. Most of these people are plainly stupid and won’t fake their IP via VPNs etc. That’s how one could catch them. That said, it shouldn’t be your job to do this. You are in this situation because you are working for a company in a very public position and you are taking shit as a scape goat, sort of. Your company should seek legal advice because such things affect the mental health of their employees and are detrimental to productivity as well as a battery of other things, eventually. If I had to guess, most of these bad people are living in a first world country. Shouldn’t be that of a problem to take legal actions against them (in that process their IP address will be resolved to the name of the person paying for the internet access). Even if you are living in a different country – the lawyer authorized by your company will know what to do. To give you one example, here in Germany we had quite some people who hate-speeched against politicians and other people who simply tried to stand up for refugees. Some of these haters are now in jail:

    http://www.dw.com/en/german-court-sentences-facebook-user-to-jail-for-xenophobic-comments/a-36069082

    2nd)

    From my very own situation, I know precisely what it means to be 200% devoted to a task. I’m a scientist and if I’m not working six days a week I won’t get things done. Projects are usually very complex and if I don’t focus on these, they won’t complete. In fact, I’m never near a regular 9am to 5pm job. That said, no one is forcing me to do extra hours, but I have high standards to myself and I do not want to disappoint anyone. I assume the same holds true for yourself. I’m in that business for many years now and I have neglected my health and my friends, too. I often asked myself whether or not it is worth it and whether or not there was an alternative to it. One answer to this is probably that my work aims at making the world a little bit better and that I should continue in doing so. Your work is making people like me (indeed a countless number of people) a little bit happier by providing some relief from a stressful day. That alone should IMO be justification enough to proceed with what you are doing. Thank you for that.

    Making oneself aware of these problems is however an important first step. Something is going in the wrong direction and needs to be corrected. In essence I found that I have to say “no” to potential collaborators and colleagues more often, because it would amount to a ridiculous number of side projects else, which cannot be handled by a single person in a reasonable amount of time. Instead I now try to focus on way fewer but more essential projects. This took a lot of extra burden from my mind and helped me to find more relief in my free time. I know that game development is a whole different story, but maybe you can similarly identify some opportunities to focus on the really important problems (e.g. via delegation of work to others).

    On a last note, I quickly learned who are my real friends and who aren’t. Those who were still interested in me and who cared for my situation, stayed in touch with me while others did not. I’m not blaming them. However, when I thought about it, the majority of these “lost friendships” have always been quite superficial. I didn’t recognize these friendships as superficial, back when I was younger, but today it is quite clear to me.

    All the best,
    Jan

    PS: Never underestimate the very positive effect sport can have on your health/mind. I’m out for jogging on a regular basis and this is IMHO the most flexible activity (no need for gym memberships). Can recommend …

  3. Bobyteal

    Keep pushing in the right direction, follow your intuition/heart and things will get better with time, trust me, I know this sound stupid but the few times I lost myself hard were also the times where I learned the most from me and others, you must keep pushing forward no matter what with thoses good reasons in your heart.

    I have a personal trick that I use when I try to chase away bad thoughts, is very efficient for me, everytime I have a bad thought I start counting from 1-100 in my head, rinse and repeat until you feel better. Soon you will able to discern your own intuition voice from bad thoughts in the mist of chaos.

    Hope it helps you.
    Good luck, everyone has thoses moments but you will get through stronger.

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