Category: Management

Being Healthy – A MUST

Mind-and-Body-Balancing

BEING HEALTHY – A MUST

– Premise –

Not so long ago, I wrote about teaching (or not) level design. In that post I said that I was going to give a workshop in Ireland. A really awesome trip for sure. But I had to cancel it.

I sadly canceled (read reported) it for the sake of my health.

I’m starting to get older it seems.

You know, there are stuff that I can’t do anymore like getting shitfaced one day and being perfectly fine the day after for example. I can’t eat a whole pound of poutine before going to sleep either. I’ll throw up for sure.

I almost passed out when I was at PAX in Boston. Probably a mix of not enough sleep, ending of a cold and the fact that adrenaline and redbull went out at the same time. Well at least, this is what I was thinking back then.

I canceled my trip to Ireland because I had A LOT of vertigo/dizziness for a couple of weeks. I didn’t felt great about it and I went to pass a lot of tests. Blood samples, electrocardiogram, ears, you name it. What I realized is that everything was A1. Heart is good, ears are good, blood is good, etc.

So? You guessed it. It was all due to stress and mostly anxiety. I had a hard time believing this, as a really down to earth guy myself but after thinking a lot about it I realized that it was probably true.

– Anxiety – The Cancer of the Century –

Funny enough (it isn’t really) I realized that a bunch of close friends of mine are all having anxiety to a certain degree. All of them consulted related to this. Lots of ex-colleagues also have the same problem.

I’m writing about this because this is probably the crap that affect most game developer. Anxiety is a nasty stress related problem and stress, you know it, leads to nothing good at all. Stress is the most evil thing these days and depression is more than often caused by it.

I know 5 people working in the industry who are not working right now because of this and know probably as much who had to stop working for a long period of time in the past for the same reason.

Luckily enough, I was able to figure that out before it was too late. Seeing how broken my friends are, I didn’t really wanted to end up like them.

The thing about a problem in the mind compared to a problem on your body is that it takes so much time to fix and that there’s no magical formula. When you break a leg, there is a specific solution to that and it works. When you are chemically unbalanced in your head only time and proper behavior will fix that. For some people it takes a month, for other it takes years.

– The Three Eights –

This is how I called them. The Three Eights. You have 24 hours in a day separated in three parts.

In a perfect world, your days should look like this:

  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 8 hours of work
  • 8 hours of something else (and it should be FUN)

Most humans, like myself, can’t really cut the working part. Some people work 7 hours a day but most people work 8.

Since you have to go to work and come back to work. Most of the time, you can easily add one more hour to that. You either cut on the sleep part or the fun part. I myself, for years, was cutting on the sleep part.

Getting back on the part that I’m getting older means that I need sleep to be able to work properly. We all know that not enough sleeps leads also to a lot of bad things and mostly to stress.

The thing that I realized when I was talking to my doc’ is that she really emphasized on the 8 hours of something else fun. I also discovered that my vertigo/dizziness was never happening when I was doing activities that I liked.

When I was coming back from work, I was thinking about work. I was reading stuff about work on the internet, going on forums and such. It was still strongly related to work. A big chunk of my something else was still work.

I had to cut that out and that’s what I made. I’m really trying hard to make sure that the 8 hours of fun I have each day is really 8 hours of fun and enjoyable activities.

You should do the same for sure.

– Don’t Wait Before it’s to Late –

So, to be short here. Listen to your body.

Your body is talking to you every day so is your brain.

As the saying,

“Being in a depression is not being weak, it’s because one was strong for too long”

People I know that are mind sick all told me that their body were sending them messages but they were not listening. We all know that in the industry, we’ll do, at some point, crunches. Seriously, don’t kill yourself for someone who doesn’t even know your name so he/she can make millions of bucks. Even if that person know your name.

Do overtime when it’s needed and that’s it. And even if it’s needed, you should not stick to it. I’ve had weeks of 70-80 hours of work in the past. I was young. I was fool and passionate. I’m still passionate but I don’t do this anymore. No one should do this. It’s plain bad.

Don’t push your body and especially your mind to a state you won’t be able to recover.

– Ending Notes –

The video game industry is one of a kind. It’s a competitive industry no doubt about it and what I mean by this is that you are always needed to push yourself to the limit. If also happen a lot of time that the limit needed is over your personal limits. Short deadlines, under-staffing, crazy mandate, etc, lead to bad planning and overtime, crazy overtime.

It saddens me to see so many cool people around me being mentally sick right now. All because some crazy producers pushed them way over their limits but they were too kind and said yes every single time without listening to their body.

Remember, work 8 hours, sleep well and enjoy the rest of your day with a happy mindset. Killing yourself at work gives you nothing.

“Oh it gives me bonuses” you may say.

Well, sorry to tell you that a few thousands buck won’t do any good if you can’t even go out without crying for no reason.

Peace.

 


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Team Building

Team Building

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– Premise –

Allright, that’s been a pretty long time since I blogged anything. Obviously, my goal is not to force myself to write anything anyway but when you don’t have any idea… I was in a three weeks trip to Belgium, in Gent actually, to work closer with my colleagues at Larian.

I’m leaving Belgium and then it just reminded me all the different trips I had in my career to meet the people I was working with from a distance. Every time was a super great experience and even if that was never really the goal, it all came to the same thing for me: Team Building.

– The Importance of Chemistry –

Like I said in my article about how Ubisoft was great, I traveled a few in my career. I’ve travelled for a lot of different reasons like having a training, a workshop, a course, getting involved in the tech creation, teaching people something and other things. Every time though, I really felt like it was more than that.

It was more than that because I was building stronger bonds with the people I used to write to on different chat software or people I used to call during work without knowing them.

Like I use to say a lot, “You never know someone until you get drunk with him/her”.

Every time I travelled I built chemistry with people. Not all of them, obviously. I didn’t had the opportunity to have a drink or go out with everyone I met but still, I have met and had fun with a lot of people around the world.

I find strong bonds or chemistry between people really important because, when you know someone, when you’ve speak with that person a lot, it helps a lot regarding communication. Speaking to someone you don’t know at all, someone you never saw in your life can be awkward at first. You don’t know how a person will react or whatever. It’s even worse when you have to write to them, there’s no emotion in a text. It’s totally different when you’ve met that person in real life. It’s even better if you were able to meet that person outside of work!

We all judge people of first impression. But you never know if you wrote to a person during he/she had a bad day. Maybe a person wrote to you when you had a bad day and you acted like an idiot because you were not feeling well.

I met a lot of people in my career that I was sure were complete retards at first but then, after meeting them in real life I realized that it was the total opposite!

– Do Something –

Yeah.

Do something! Go out with people. Have a drink with them. Go eat somewhere. Do whatever that can fit your and their tastes.

When I was a lead at Ubisoft, I really loved planning activities with my team. I knew it would help a lot during those crazy crunch days at some point. I knew that since people had fun with each other, that they became friends, that they shared stories and what not that it would help to do and say things right when the time would come.

You will always have these people who don’t want to get along. These people who will never go out. Maybe they can’t because they have kids for example, or maybe they just don’t want to. That’s ok. You may be able to get them out once and they’ll have a great time. But still, the important thing here is to create strong bonds with your team. Create stories that you’ll be able to share a few years later.

“You remember that time we got shitfaced at that bar and you were so drunk you got woke up by the janitor at 4 am in the toilet?”

That kind of story.

You’ll laugh. You’ll remember the good times you had with the people you’re spending SO much hours with.

You spend 8 hours a day with the same people every day during years. You should probably know them a bit more than just their name right?

– Ending Notes –

I’m an extrovert person. I like to go out a lot and meet people. It’s not for everyone I know that. But I also met a lot of introvert people in my career that are super awesome and even if that took them every single drop of energy they had to come out, I was able to know more about them and I was able to communicate with them better after.

Like I said, there are also the people who just don’t want to make friends. They just want to work 8 hours a day and go home. That’s ok. Do what you can with the people who wants to.

When you can put a face and memories on a name it’s always better. When you have a problem at work and you have to poke that guy on the other side of the world you had a pretty nice party with the other day I can assure you everything will get along really faster.