Feeling Burnt Out In Game Dev – And How To Overcome It
What’s going on everybody I’m Tim Ruswick from Game Dev Underground gdu.io and today I want to make a quick video that’s a little bit different than some my normal videos. But I want to really talk about burnout, because I know it’s a big issue for a lot of game developers. And me myself I’ve experienced one form of burnout or another countless times throughout my lifetime. So I started in hardware, I build robots and stuff then I got into software, I built platforms like the websites that build apps about games i’ve got all kinds of stuff.
And for me I was always really obsessive, I’ve been obsessed with since I was a little kid. And when it came to building things I would have sets over my creations for days and weeks and months on end sometimes. And then I would get to a point where I didn’t want to look at that look at it anymore I didn’t want to touch it I didn’t want to go near it. And I realized over time that this is burnout this thing that happens after obsessing over something for too long, seemed to kind of be a cycle.
So I did a lot of research into it and I kind of analyzed myself because I really wanted to fix this thing, like it was affecting my my ability to finish things. I would create all these things I would start all these projects and I would never finish any of them and it when you do that over time it’s a pattern and it can be really damaging like especially in the creative field. So I I wanted to fix what I felt was like something broken with inside me I guess.
And when I started reading it reading about it and researching it and looking up all these topics one of the things that I found was that burnout can’t really be fixed by anything but time and distance from your project after you get there. So if you’re burned out and you’re at that point, the only thing to really fix that is time and distance from your project . And I’ve gotten through a lot of a lot of my burned out phases just using the time and distance tried-and-true methodology.
But the good news is if you’ve been there before, and you understand the symptoms of it you know how it makes you feel, and you you’re starting to get there again you feel like you might be getting burned out in in one of your projects. And so there is something that you can do. And I tried this multiple multiple times and one of the things that I found was that downtime is productive.
That sounds kind of like counter-intuitive right? Like you think okay like you have to get things done you have a deadline you have to do this you have to you have to get you done you feel guilty if you don’t work on the project and it that’s what causes burnout—- is the the obsessiveness and the nonstop and the the constant never letting it leave your conscious brain. I found that with me, if I treat downtime as productive— so in other words I might go to the beach I might hang out I might take whole days off of my project I’m going to take whole weeks off my project and I don’t feel guilty about it, I don’t feel like I need to get back to my project, I need to do it because that’s not my brain that it doesn’t really count as a break.
You have to schedule this downtime as part of your project. When I started doing that I saw a significant increase in the ability in the length of time that I was able to continue with projects. And for me that was a big deal. Like being able to see the fact that I could now finish some of these projects just by taking time off and conscious time off, that’s important.
Because if you’re supposed to work on your project one day and you don’t and you get home and it’s really late you’re really tired and you feel guilty for not working on it that’s still bad for your for your brain. You got to take schedule time off you got to say okay this Wednesday is my day off I’m not going to work on a project or go to the beach and I go hang out with friends do whatever going to do, if you take that time off it really helps. And you you you’ve got to do it in a way where it removes you from thinking about your project.
Because I know for me when I’m obsessing about a project when I’m in that intro phase of obsession where I just want to work on it work on and work on it, that’s the hardest time for me to get away from the computer, because I want to work on it so much I’m motivated and I’m inspired and I want to get and just do the shit. But that’s dangerous. That’s one of the most dangerous places to be when you’re talking about burnout because that’s where it starts. You may feel that inspiration in that motivation but your body still has limits, and if you obsess on something so long your brain is just going to get tired of it.
So one of the things that I did like for example I went I went camping with my friends, and that was a really cool getaway for me, because I know I remember like trying to get my mind off of a project that I was working on and I just you know I would go to Starbucks I would hang out with friends whatever but I would constantly be thinking about it.
But like camping freeze I have really helped me out because when I’m floating down a river in like a you know a floatable and my friends trying to dunk me and we’re all trying to you know dunk each other and this alligator on the shore and stuff like there’s not much that I could do to think about my project in that moment like I’m stuck in that moment it pulls me out of whatever I’m at in here.
You got to find things that do that to you. I don’t know what your hobbies are I don’t know what kind of things you like to do but you got to find those things that pull you out of your head right? There there are things that will just get you there. One of my favorite things to do honestly is go see movies. I go see movies alone a lot because I like I like the experience.
I like going to a movie theater and I like the fact that when I’m alone you just sit in like one of the first front rows or the first three rows and usually I go on like Tuesdays or Wednesdays when nobody’s there and i’ll sit in there and I feel like I’m in a theater alone and and I can like join into the movie I can let my conscious mind escape into the movie world, that really helps me, and ever since I started doing that like it’s a significant significant to my ability to continue on the projects and finish things.
That specifically like at one point in time I was probably going to see a movie once or twice a week because it helped so much and not everybody can do that I get that and and not everybody has the ability to just go camping every you know whenever they want or all that stuff, but I recommend that you look into yourself and find things that pull you out of your head, because those are really good indicators of the things that will help recharge you.
And and you know rural introverts or extroverts and it may require people it may not require people but finding things that pull you out of your head because those are the things that are going to recharge you to prevent burnout. And if you schedule downtime if you just remember that downtime is productive, if you just think about it like hey I have to schedule downtime in my project, even though I feel super inspired I feel super motivated I got a schedule some downtime and go do your thing, you will get so much farther in life I guarantee you.
It has helped me tremendously so that’s all of my thoughts on burnout. There’s a lot more to it but for me personally in my experience I’ve had that that philosophy in me for a while and I wanted to kind of share it because I thought it might be helpful. If you found this helpful please hit the subscribe button hit the bell so you get notifications when I posting videos.
If you’ve ever struggled from burnout and you’ve come through it or you haven’t either way post a comment below because I want to hear your experience, I want to have to do anything that helped you or or what you’re struggling with specifically, because you know we all can learn from each other. So until next time once again I’m Tim Ruswick, Game Dev Underground and I will see you guys in the next video.