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4 Ways to Avoid Burnout as an IndieDev

In my previous career in the military, I burned out, hard. In the game development scene, people seem to be burning out as well, so I give 4 tips on how to avoid it, because I never plan on burning out again.

Game Developer, Staff

October 16, 2014

3 Min Read

4 Ways to Avoid IndieDev Burnout

I'm constantly increasing how much time I put into my IndieDev projects, but there comes a point when too much time invested can break you, like I was broken in my previous career.


Wanting to Succeed

I really want to do a great job in whatever profession I'm in.  Personally, it's not about the accolades, it's about the satisfaction of an excellent job.

My first and only unit was the most deployed unit in the Army (10th Mountain Division).  I worked hard for the unit, both deployed and at home.

However, when most units rotate personnel after deployment, I chose to stay so I could be with my wife (who was also in the military).  These fresh leaders came in, continually wanting to excel and achieve, and my rest escaped me.

The last year I was in the military, my body began to break down.  I forsook my Physical Exercise in the interest of getting more work done, and eventually developed some stress-induced medical issues.  The "essential" time I spent working eventually came back to bit me in decreased energy, lower morale, and bitterness.

When I finally got out in my final year, it took me a solid year to recover, and in some areas, I'm still struggling to recover from it.

4 Ways to Reduce Burnout

Burnout is scary, and a very real problem from what I've read about not only in the military, but in the AAA and Indie industry alike.  Here's what I should have done, and am doing now.

  • Eat Healthy - I'm a stress eater.  When I started to work late in the Army, I didn't have any time to cook healthy, so I ate Burger King and other types of fast food on the way home from work late at night, then would have 2 beers to relax when I got home.  I went to bed shortly after, then start up the next day.  My energy depleted.

  • Get Physical - Physical fitness reduces stress, and helps provides more energy in the day.  You are your greatest investment.  Invest in your body, your mind and your soul.

  • Spend time with Significant Others - I know the secrets to winning at whatever you do is hard work, but there comes a point when you also need to live your life.  If you over-identify with your work, (this post had a good quote about that) you'll lose out on life.  For me, my daughter is only going to be young once, and in the end, I'd rather be a better Dad / Husband, than a Game Developer.

  • Play Games - That first year of recovery, I played a lot of video games.  It's during that time I met The Binding of Isaac and became interested in using Procedural Dungeon Generation for my game, The Valley,  Honestly, gaming is my way to relax.  Whatever yours is, do it.

While I'm new and tiny to the scene of Indie Development, I want to see great games come from Game Developer Veterans and N00bs alike.  Take care of yourself and avoid burnout so we can keep making games together at a Game Jam sometime.

What do you do to avoid Burnout?  Leave a comment below and let others gain from what you do.

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