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The Daily Grind – Staying Current

July 28, 2009

Wow, this industry. I don’t know that I can say it any more succinctly than that.

I am re-evaluating my morning grind in an effort to streamline my staying current. Falling behind is the sound of obsolescence. It is the speed by which you get left in the 1990’s. It is what deprives you of seeing that next amazing thing on the horizon. Falling behind also means that you fail to see the importance of your history, in terms of games, technology, trends and people, and likewise fail to recognize their tremendous value to you today. I do not understand people in this industry or in game education who fail to feel this anxiety about staying current.

So, several years ago, I developed a morning pattern in an effort to stay rigorously current. The percentile differential changes depending on where my interests lie. For instance, I had a bender on the possibility of the twitter gameplay space at the cost of my attention to other spaces. I went on a non-digital bender a couple years back at the expense of my Xbox 360 playing. Right now, I am on the Facebook bender to end all benders. Poor Civ Rev. It sits untouched, and it misses me.

In the last couple of years, though, my habits have greatly changed. I’ve gone from surfing on my laptop to scrolling on my iPhone. Much of my news comes pushed at me through twitter. I rely on the sites and journalists that I follow to push the critical stuff my way, and they largely do, all the really big stuff, anyway.

My revised grind involves:

On a more meta-level, I also regularly engage with the significant design community on facebook, twitter and on various mailing lists on a daily basis.

You?

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2009 8:26 am

    Mine is not actually that far off. If I don’t start my day scanning Google Reader (where I subscribe to roughly 2/3 the feeds you do), may day is somehow “off”.

    I am trying to engage Facebook – really I am – since we have been tasked with playing on it since our new game launched last week and the consensus at Casual Connect was “Facebook is it”.

    My work ethic is conflicted here, since I feel like playing = fooling around, even when it is a direct order!

  2. July 28, 2009 9:02 am

    I only follow German board game and general board and card game news. I use sites like Boardgamenews.com, boardgamegeek.com and read lots of gaming blogs with my RSS reader. Game nights occur once or twice per week, so I have fairly regular opportunities to try new titles.

  3. July 28, 2009 9:02 am

    I feel this same fear. Perhaps more so because I am working in a parallel industry now (simulation) and I have found it all too easy to rest on the laurels of older techniques and technology.

    As far as keeping of to date, so far I just scour a ton of RSS feeds through Google Reader. Besides the usual news outlets some feeds of note include: Above 49, Idle Thumbs, Wolfire Blog, Quel Solaar Blog and of course Applied Game Design.

  4. Bryan Cash permalink
    July 28, 2009 9:23 am

    For news I check Joystiq & Kotaku.

    For more directed news, I check JayisGames, Rock Paper Shotgun, Gamasutra, and GayGamer.net, and I have a number of veteran industry people’s blogs in my rss feed.

    Weekly visits to Gametrailers, Kongregate, and Newgrounds.

    One problem I’ve been running into is that I sometimes I have trouble reading through Kotaku and Joystiq because so many entries can posted everyday that I just find it an intimidating task, whereas the other sites tend not to post quite as often. I might just need to become better at scanning.

  5. Matthew Leach permalink
    July 28, 2009 9:52 am

    A long time ago, I realised that keeping up to date was an important part of being the best that I could be in whatever it was I was doing. Nowadays this is harder than ever with the rate at which technology changes, and the sheer volume of information created and broadcast.

    I could sit all day, every day, reading the various sites that I frequent – which I would happily do if someone would pay me to do that – but unfortunately, at some point, work has to get done in some form or other. So, like you, I rely on a select few important feeds, like yours, to drip vital information to me.

  6. golergka permalink
    July 28, 2009 12:14 pm

    Kotaku “top” feed for general news, a lot of various blogs (like this one), forum of the game I’m currently working (if it’s already live) on to keep the hand on pulse, new trailers from gametrailers podcast in my iphone, new F2P MMO (downloadable, browser-based or facebook-based) about every week, PSN and steam demos and downloadables. But often I don’t have time for all entries in this list…

  7. July 28, 2009 10:16 pm

    I definitly feel this urge to constantly be up to date but I personnaly try not to fall into a trap. I don’t want to end up reading every new post at the same site every day. I prefer keeping my mind fresh by exploring new grounds as much as possible. One day it’s a blog (like today) and another day it is trying to engage in a design discussion with a new persons. Playing games or playing with my kids can both provide interesting thoughts for my job as a designer and it is by having this multi-perspective approach that I keep a certain ballance… One thing is crucial no matter what our routine is, we must keep out mind active. There’s not only the various updates on our industry that can feed our brain and since our industry is so young, I always feel the best we can get is often outside of it…

    Sorry if there is too much typing mistakes, I am still new to typing on an Iphone…

    Jonathan

  8. July 29, 2009 2:40 am

    1-10 new games a day? I’m assuming a lot of this number is made up of little browser-based games (flash games, Facebook games and the like) but still… wow. How much time to you devote to each game, on average? And what percentage of these games are retail PC/console games? The thought of buying full-price retail games and not sinking a reasonable amount of time into them makes me cry inside.

    As for staying current myself, I rely on Google Reader to feed me. The most useful feeds on there are probably from IndieGames.com and Play This Thing (I’ve been really into the indie scene lately) and GameSetWatch, particularly their link round-up posts.

    • July 29, 2009 7:44 am

      Yes, 1-10 games every day. I guess you could say that I am sampling mechanics or looking for trends. Yesterday, I played four games, three on facebook, and a new (to me) browser based one called Push. When I play a game, I will generally play it for a short amount of time. Playing Push got me a new mechanic, so I was pleased about that.

      With large commercial games, yes, I make people cry. I generally play each for an hour or two. I probably finish one game a month.

    • golergka permalink
      July 29, 2009 7:48 am

      AppStore supplies plenty of interesting releases every day, 10 new games a day isn’t much if you try to really keep up.

  9. Jacek Wesołowski permalink
    July 29, 2009 3:57 pm

    Personally, I’ve always felt it’s more important to understand the princile behind a trend than to be aware of all of its incarnations. In fact, I prefer to have a “fuzzy” understanding of a given phenomenon, because it makes it easier for me to build my own interpretation thereof.

    In the current age of perpetual data flood, I feel it’s more important to be able to filter information out than to ingest it. I avoid the likes of Kotaku as a matter of principle. I read Gamasutra and Escapist, but I only read their featured items regularly. Generally, if something can’t get past my filters, then it hasn’t been relevant enough.

    On the other hand, I play about a dozen Flash games a week. Not just any dozen games, though (e.g. I try to avoid Tower Defense and Geometry Wars clones).

  10. August 4, 2009 1:03 pm

    Bring back the Wizardry Series and create Wizardry 9.

  11. August 6, 2009 7:18 am

    Seriously, how can you depend on twitter for news? When I read a news tweet my eyes tend to gloss over and wander away.

  12. August 9, 2009 10:05 am

    I’ve been challenged to discover efficient ways to keep up with game trends, changes within the computer subjects I’ve previously studied, and technology in general – especially Web 2.0.

    What got me to this point? I returned to work full-time as a school psychologist last year, due to the economy. With college expenses for two daughters, I figured the best thing to do was to take a break from classes for a while.

    I subscribe to Google Alerts based on the key-words that interest me. I set most topics so they are emailed to me just once a week. I also subscribe to GamaSutra, but only read the topics that interest me.

    I subscribe to feeds on a variety of topics, but I access them as widgets on my iGoogle home page, which I’ve organized into categories. Each category has a tab: Games/VR, Natural User Interface/Surface, EduBlogs, InfoViz, Programming, UbiComp, and UX/ID/HCI.

    Fortunately I’m a very fast reader. Even so, I can’t possibly read everything that interests me. There is just to much to absorb, and I’d rather be creating/doing than reading.

    I watch game action via YouTube videos, and when I visit my daughters, I play games or watch their friends play games. I was a little addicted to playing the drums on Rockband 2 Wii. I don’t get addicted to playing games very often, but it does happen from time-to-time. Years ago, it was Beat Mania, and before that, Tetris and Ms PacMan.

  13. August 11, 2009 1:09 pm

    I feel the same paranoia that I’m falling behind! It’s gratifying to hear that someone like you also feels that way. I can’t keep up with 10 games a day, though. I tend to either get sucked into a great game (my weekend was devoted to Fantastic Contraption over on Kongregate, a flawed masterpiece!) or an idea begins burning in my head that needs to be exorcised. I’m impressed with your regimen!

    Cheers!
    AndyA

  14. August 14, 2009 7:44 am

    This discussion brings to mind the conflict of becoming a specialist or a generalist. I admire everyone’s commitment to ingest / filter / read fresh material and experience new game mechanics every day. Very inspiring. I’m new to blogging — and struggle to apply balance to my “hunter / gatherer” instinct; it’s so easy to eat all the berries off the same tasty bush!

  15. August 14, 2009 9:44 am

    1-10 new games a day? I'm assuming a lot of this number is made up of little browser-based games (flash games, Facebook games and the like) but still… wow. How much time to you devote to each game, on average? And what percentage of these games are retail PC/console games? The thought of buying full-price retail games and not sinking a reasonable amount of time into them makes me cry inside.

    As for staying current myself, I rely on Google Reader to feed me. The most useful feeds on there are probably from IndieGames.com and Play This Thing (I've been really into the indie scene lately) and GameSetWatch, particularly their link round-up posts.; 1-10 new games a day? I'm assuming a lot of this number is made up of little browser-based games (flash games, Facebook games and the like) but still… wow. How much time to you devote to each game, on average? And what percentage of these games are retail PC/console games? The thought of buying full-price retail games and not sinking a reasonable amount of time into them makes me cry inside.

    As for staying current myself, I rely on Google Reader to feed me. The most useful feeds on there are probably from IndieGames.com and Play This Thing (I've been really into the indie scene lately) and GameSetWatch, particularly their link round-up posts.;;

  16. August 26, 2009 7:54 am

    Brenda,

    I’m curious your thought on what I’m doing at the moment – I don’t have very good game-sampling habits right now, but in at least part I’m avoiding stuff to stay focused on our upcoming deadline to get Heritage into the IGF. Do you find yourself ever purposefully scaling back all that research when the deadlines are looming, and the effects that has?

  17. August 27, 2009 9:04 am

    I research so much that I feel as though there isn’t any time left in a day… and I still feel out of the loop! >_<;

    My main news comes from RSS feeds from Gamasutra, Game Career Guide, and Twitter. I also follow blogs of many respectable writers to see what they are looking and and maybe discover more sites and articles.

    I play games in between reading sessions; downloading student/indie games to see how my generation is doing. There is a lot out there and it can be intimidating at times.

    I wish my phone could support RSS feeds.. so far I have to stick to twitter.

  18. August 30, 2009 12:27 pm

    Yeah, me the same.Getting up, making coffee, reading the most important sites, going to work, then its switching to most puplar sites and RSS feeds all day long…its important to stay with the flow, but I think it can also overwhelm you in a negative way.

  19. September 14, 2009 4:49 pm

    One thing is crucial no matter what our routine is, we must keep out mind active:D

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