6 MIN READ
Opinion: Convergence, And Maintaining A Work-Life Balance
In this reprinted #altdevblogaday-opinion piece, Hogrocket's Ben Ward discusses how always being connected online on smartphones can create problems in one's work-life balance.
If I try to play a game, I'm often distracted by work-based things, and it makes it difficult to lose myself in the entertainment. This is something that's made even worse with notifications and pop-ups (the iPhone e-mail and Twitter clients are notoriously effective at pulling you back in). The temptation is always there to get pulled back into work, and it's happened to me hundreds of times. Usually I don't even realise I'm doing it. I guess my particular situation is a little worse than most, as I also create games for these devices. Sometimes when I'm playing games for pleasure on the iPhone it feels a bit like I'm debugging, or doing some research on competitors, or being motivated by something other than pure enjoyment. This nagging feeling makes me feel guilty for trying to relax and unwind with a game. The bad side of my brain says it's a waste of time, and unproductive. This is completely untrue though – if there's no disconnect from work then there is no downtime, and no rest period. If we don't rest then there's a good chance we'll get stressed, and then lose objectivity, and ultimately make poorer decisions when it matters. All of these things aren't a deficiency of the device – the iPhone is one of the greatest things ever invented – but it's more a deficiency of our thinking. As the world converges and our work/play times become intertwined it's going to be harder for our generation to make that separation in our heads. Mentally we need to compartmentalize our thinking, and put a firm barrier between work and play. Of course working is important, and of course we need these tools to be better connected and more agile as we work. However, we need to remember that play is important too, and trying to work 100 percent of the time will only lead to stress and burnout. Having a constantly connected Internet device is a powerful tool, but (as Spiderman's granddaddy says) with great power comes great responsibility. We had better start getting this balance right, because new generations won't have this problem. It will always have been like this for them, and they'll grow up in a world where being connected has always been the norm. They'll learn to balance their own lives in spite of the looming menace of infinite distraction: the Internet. And they won't even think of it as a thing, because it'll be completely normal. Looking toward the future, wouldn't it be interesting if we discovered that the human race was more productive doing it this way? What if the next generation (or the one after that) actually gets more done by dipping in and out of work as and when they need to, rather than sticking to rigid working hours? In a world of instant communication and instant feedback, wouldn't it be better to work when you need to, and play whenever you see fit? In one hundred years will technology enable some of us to be more agile in our working hours, and be better off for it? It's an interesting idea, and food for thought… [This piece was reprinted from #AltDevBlogADay, a shared blog initiative started by @mike_acton devoted to giving game developers of all disciplines a place to motivate each other to write regularly about their personal game development passions.]