Posted by : Jameson Durall Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today's question comes from Andrew Meade who has heard a lot about the demands of game development and sometimes lack of free time. His question is: 

"How do you balance work, family, and "me" time in a way that works for everyone?"

This is a pretty common question in the industry, especially with things like EA Spouse happening in the past.  While the overtime philosophy is different at every company, I can say that I have seen an effort lately from studios to be more sympathetic to a proper work/life balance.

Demands are still going to be high, especially as a project gets near it's end. There is still a level of responsibility on you to get what free time you can and to use it effectively.  This sometimes means managing expectations at work and taking on the appropriate level of tasks so that you actually do get some free time. This isn't always your choice, but it's important to be conscious of the work load and stay in good communication with your superiors about the time it's taking you to complete your tasks.

That said, once you do have time at do you spend it?  That balance has evolved a lot for me over my career.  Early in my marriage and career, my wife and I spent a lot of time playing Dark Age of Camelot together.  This meant that I got to kill two birds by spending time with the wife and gaming at the same time.  In addition to this, my wife has always been super understanding and supportive of my need to play games and stay current with what's out there from the industry...I recommend having a spouse like this :)

Things changed quite a bit once our son was born seven years ago.  All of my spare time changed to doing the extra things that HAD to be done around the house and then spending time with my wife and son whenever possible.  Playing games and other personal activities took a back seat and only happened occasionally because of the new demands on my time.

Once my son got a little older, we started playing kids video games together and things started to change again.  Now I was able to get the same quality time with him that I did with my wife early on, though the game content wasn't always the most exciting for me.  Once we started playing the Lego series of games and things like the Disney movie co-op games we really started to hit our stride.  Today it's just a balance of finding games that have appropriate content as well as a decent difficulty level for him.

My days generally flow like this now:  Get home from work, have dinner, play games with son, watch TV with wife, play games on my own...go to bed.  Rinse and repeat.  Of course this schedule gets altered a bit once work demands start to increase, but at that point I try to come home early enough at least twice a week so that this day can at least happen frequently.

How do you handle your work/life balance when things start to get busy at work?  Join the conversation in the comments section, on Twitter or Facebook.  Please support the blog by doing your purchases through this link.

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