I’ve came to realize, the hardest thing about working with games is not to find a job, it’s not to make a really cool game, to get along with your colleagues or to keep a deadline. The hardest thing for me is to find a work/free time balance. It’s very easy to work too much when you really like what you are doing. You might not feel you need to take a break, and end up sitting hours in front of the computer without a break. You neglect sleep, friends or lovers. In the games industry there’s a word for working overtime in order to deliver a milestone/deadline. It’s called “to crunch”. Now luckily I haven’t had any monster crunches, but I know it’s way more common at some studios.
In Sweden (and the other Nordic countries), employees are protected by many laws, or at least if you compare them to some of the laws about employment in England or the US. A normal work week is around 40 hours, and people usually work from 8-17 or 9-18. If you get sick and can’t work you get money from the state, and the health care is almost free in the Nordics. You can’t be fired over nothing (like showing up late one single day or if your manager decides he just don’t want you anymore). If you get a full time contract, you are quite safe. You can’t get fired for becoming pregnant, and if you get laid off, usually you have between 1-3 months of time before you need to find a new job. All in all, many people are part of the Union (but not in the games industry), and once you got yourself a job it’s hard to just loose it, compared to standards in many other countries. However this also makes it hard to get hired in the first place, or to land your first job.
OK, let’s say you landed your first job in the games industry, you work really hard and want to see this awesome new game getting made. How do you relax when you are not at work? Scientist have found out it’s as dangerous for your health to smoke, as it is for you to just sit still all day long, so I try to so something physical in my spare time. Some of my best ideas ever came to me at the gym! Now, when it’s summer in Sweden, I try to be outside as much as possible before the waters freeze and the snow starts to fall. I try to spend my spare time by the Ocean in some way. It’s my way of trying to sustain a balance between work and free time. What’s yours?