Here's another false dichotomy for you. There are two kinds of gamers. Those that come home from a hard day breaking rocks with sledgehammers (be it at school, the office, or the chain gang) and unwind with little WoW/Halo 2/Peggle. And then there are those who sit within striking distance of games all day long.

I am, unfortunately, the latter.

Here's a typical work day in the Rabbit household. Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head. Well, see, I diverge from The Beatles there already. I have no hair to speak of. Depending on the morning, I either descend to the kitchen, fill my coffee, and go to the gym, or I descend to the kitchen and start making breakfast and lunch for the kids.

By 8 O'clock I descend one level further into the basement.

The basement is my sanctuary, my cage, my temple and my prison. It's as self sufficient as a space station -- it contains a bed, a bathroom, weeks of food stores, and importantly, a supply of cheese whiz and gin. It is a museum of my life, holding treasures such as my game collection, posters from my youth, aeronautical charts, framed artwork from my children (all original), cartoons (some original) and the declaration of independence (not the original). It's where I store things of importance and recreation, holding bookshelves full of games, comics, miniatures, kites, crossbows, basketballs, bicycles and model airplanes.

It is also where I live. There is no single place I spend more time, including my bed. For twelve hours a day (sometimes more, rarely less) I sit, pace, and wander the 180 square feet that is my "office." 15 faux wood linoleum tiles by 12. I long ago recognized that this space was far to large and distracting to work in. And thus, I created a smaller one. A 7 foot square corner of the room, blocked in by two desks and wire shelves. To get in to my cockpit, I must slide past a cherry wood lectern holding the Oxford English Dictionary. It is lit, whenever I am in the office, by a college-era clip-light. It is the sole light in the windowless room.

In order to read anything not on a computer screen, I must stand and carry the paper to the lectern, and place the offending document on the lectern, resting on the 27,000 9-up micro-type pages of the OED. The ritual, repeated several times a day, brings me closer to the 300,000 words contained in my most prized possession, the focal point of my working life.

Inside the seven by seven corral, my chair has precisely enough room to spin in a circle without binding against another object. I'm surrounded. A wall of bookshelves containing mostly painting supplies, miniatures, game boxes and junk. Desk #1 houses the phone, the rarely used laptop, pencils, pens, paper, manilla folders and other archaic turn of the century desk objects. A white board with an endless combinations of deadlines, to-do items, passwords, ID numbers, and "stuff to think about." But mostly, there's the small desk and the tower of wire shelving around it.

Most of my time is spent, head bowed as if in prayer, facing this desk. It's where the "big computer" is, where all real work occurs. Connected by transient ones and zeros, every useful interaction I have with the outside world occurs through the LCD panels and the keyboard. Most of the time, this little temple is where the purgation of my hypergraphia occurs. But no matter how intent my eyes are on the screens, the only real illumination in the room, there are others with me. The TV. The Xbox. The PS2. The joystick and pedals and flight yoke. The real guitar, wedged on its stand against the wall. The plastic guitar on the shelf.

And of course, the endless distractions of the computer itself. Not just the barrage of IMs, e-mails, YouTube links and RSS feeds -- I've long learned how to manage the inherent ADD of working on the Internet. But on my virtual desktop the icons for distraction are ever present: the games.

I am not a strong person. I am far from perfect. Countless times do I turn to these myriad distractions, blocked, tired, angry at the words for not coming, desperate for the ones that came to go away, or simply annoyed that I'm writing what I am.

"I'll just play for a few minutes until the words come back."

"It's almost lunchtime anyway, I can't get started on something new."

"I'll just see if someone's on."

Most of the time, these justifications and promises bear fruit. I do just play for a few minutes. I do just check to see who's on. Most of the time, the moments delay will actually work, and the words do come back. Or perhaps it's simply that by eating away time, the deadline comes closer, and thus, when I turn back to the blank page, deadline-adrenaline kicks in at a higher volume, and the work gets done. and I don't waste half a day. Sometimes, more often than I admit to myself, I burn hours away. Hours that I will inevitably have to recapture at 2AM, resorting to the Gin-and-Cheese-Whiz solution to writers cramps.

This constant temptation puts me in a no-win pinch of guilt.

If I give in and play games during the day, I feel guilty because these are supposed to be my "work hours." And given the nature of my "work," defining what is and is not on the clock is tricky enough as it is.

But if I resist all day long, I feel guilty because -- well -- they're just sitting there. The guitar is holding the sustain -- Nigel Tufnel-esque -- of a note played days ago. The cases of games and the dull plastic of the controllers reflect just enough light to assert their presence. Constantly.

Watching me.

Their whispering is incessant. Demonic.

You can hear it too, right?


I can hear it, although in my case, it's the incessant whisperings of my oft ignored, much loved DS.

However, by and large, I'm in the former category. I get up, slap snooze once, twice, three times. Shower, shave, face then head. BDUs or Blues, then it's off to work I go, 1010. ~9 hours later, drive home, dinner, WoW.

In a lot of ways, it's a mundane existance, with the same old, same old, day in and day out, bringing a desire for change. What kind, I know not. But I do know that when I see it, I'll know.

Lastly, as always, a pleasure to bask in the tales you spin so wonderfully, Rabbit.

You're bald?

Me or Rabbit?

edit- although, I suppose the answer is 'yes' in any case.

Not totally, I buzz my head. Let's just say I don't pay for haircuts anymore.

I have had similar impulses in college. I wasn't very productive in the library, and I did all my work at the computer in my room. All my games surrounded me there.

When the place I live and play is the same as the place I work, I end up feeling guilty whenever I'm playing. I couldn't schedule myself appropriately, and I looked forward to the day when my required attendance at the office separated my work and my play.

Also, is that keyboard a G11 or a G15?

I just bought a G11 on impulse, I haven't plugged it in yet. What's your take on it?

I got a wonderful taste of this kind of life when writing my dissertation. Get up, make some coffee, sit at the computer for a while catching up on email, edit some pages from the day before, get distracted, realize I'm distracted, sigh, give up, and play a game to distract me from getting distracted. Then go grab lunch, come back, make more coffee, reread what I edited in the morning, write a few pages, get distracted, read some GWJ, realize I'm distracted, sigh, give up, and write a few posting to cheer up. Then go make some more coffee, write a few more pages, draw some diagrams, and not even notice the sun setting.

Good times? Perhaps in the future they're going to have been. Nostalgia takes time. Now I'm very happy to be able to physically separate my work hours from my play hours.

A G11? What are you some kind of a cretin? (it's a G15, although to be honest, I only use like half the macro keys, and rerely for games, I just use the Nostromo now.)

As for doihaveto -- I'd love to say that it's sooooo different when you make a living at it, but it's not. Writing is writing. Distraction is distraction. Pages are pages.

doihaveto's past is my present. When are we gonna get some early afternoon Catan in, Rabbit?

Well, Rabbit, that explains our foray into the Great Barrows this afternoon. I am blessed with a situation where the gaming is important to what I do, so they let me play whenever I want, as long as it doesn't interfere with my actual contracted duties. Hence the afternoon foray into the Great Barrows.

Man, that was fun!

Add to that a genuine ambivalence toward what you're writing, and you have a recipe for disaster. Me, in other words.

Nice article, Rabbit. Really hits home...er, cave.

I don't face the challenge of 'gaming' in the same space where I work, per se. Well, it is confusing...rather...

See, I make games. Or I make noises for games. So, I guess you could say that games could be a distraction from work, but I rarely play games when working, unless I'm testing changes. The Net is my biggest work distraction at work...

At home, I don't have a cave - it is more of a shared hovel. So the distractions in that space (which is also my music studio) are not all of my own design.

But I ramble...my biggest 'distraction' from working in my 'home' 'workspace' is, in fact, the tools themselves. After sitting in front of a PC for 9 or 10 hours making noise at 'work', I come home and rarely want to sit in front of a PC for another few hours making more noise. It is a conundrum...I want a piano. But I'm on the top floor of a building with no elevator and no means of getting one up here...

So I want a house so I can have a piano. And a studio to call my own...

Thanks for the great read, Rabbit.

Given that I was just whining about this problem thirty minutes ago, its an incredibly odd feeling to come here and read this.

Not that actually give in all that much -- I'd have to look around to find the CDs, and that would make it feel too much like actually giving in, as if I'm still working as long as the distraction doesn't take any effort.

Anyway, another great article.

It's about the opposite of my day. My wife is due (!) in a week. I go work for the man where I look like I am the man. Most importantly, on Wednesdays, I look forward to hearing Rabbit on the GWJ Conference Call (too FanB0i?). When Rabbit is not there, eh....when he is, I wonder to myself, "Why is he SO opinionated....and apathetic...and PASSIONATE about what he does for a living-which I do for a hobby." Meh. My life is good. In the meantime, I am waiting on a new gamer to welcome in to the world. Thanks Rabbit.

I thought turning my monitor off would help. No, no it didn't. I just end up turning it back on.

bjlightnin wrote:

My wife is due (!) in a week.

The Baby Bjorn/Headphones/Earplugs. These will let you keep the gaming going strong.

Can I be apathetic and passionate at the same time? (runs for the dictionary).

doihaveto wrote:

I got a wonderful taste of this kind of life when writing my dissertation. Get up, make some coffee, sit at the computer for a while catching up on email, edit some pages from the day before, get distracted...

My life.

Feel better that I ain't alone. Nice read, Rabbit; you've a way with them sets of letters.

Gah, got distracted...

In hopes that I don't get virtually stoned for being blessed with such a job as I have, here is what I do.

I work nights, from 12 midnight to 8am, 5 days a week. My commute is a whole 2 miles to Texas A&M University where I sit in an enclosed 72 degree temp. room in front of a computer with a TV not more than 10 feet away from me. I then sit here and babysit network connections throughout campus and the Wide Area Network connecting us to the backbone. I also sit here and babysit mainframe jobs that are going on and get to wake people up if they should bomb. If anything goes wrong I discover why as far as I can and then call the necessary group on call to actually fix the problem. In the interim, depending on if school is in session or not, I answer phone calls that get rolled over to my area when Help Desk is closed. Hence I get to answer Tech support calls for usually mindless brain dead students and faculty. Now there is a whole lot of dead time here hence I get to spend quite a bit of my night surfing the web and reading newgroups and forums. I even on occasion get to play video games cuz well I'm bored and until something happens I can pretty much multitask it.

Honestly it's a really easy job and what I like to say is I have a lot of "potential" stress. Since it's rather important to keep systems online and networks up and all that sort of thing, when something breaks I do have to drop everything and make certain all things are looked into. Being a major university there are people all over the world that use our various systems.

Outside the work portion of my day, I get up do the normal wake up stuff around 6pm, I eat dinner with my fiancee, spend time with her (our quality time) be it watching TV together or just talking. Then she goes to bed and I go to work or sit on my computer at home on my days off and screw off.

That's my life. And I am fat because of it.

What an eerily timed article. I was wondering just yesterday: "I wonder how much different is my day-to-day gaming life than other 'gamers'?" I'm certainly part of the former group -- get up at 5:45, get to work around 7:30, get home around 3:30 (always have a working lunch), gym, and then kids. Usually by the time I am home, my wife is exhausted from taking care of a 3.5 year and a 9 month old all day. I then get to spend quality time with them for about two hours, and then the bed routine begins. After an hour or so of that, it's usually between 8 and 9 o'clock, and that leaves me with just about an hour to play something. Most nights I am too tired to really even consider it. I mostly spend my time lazily reading the day's news (gaming and otherwise) on the computer, and then I head to bed to start it all over.

Some day -- maybe when the bed dance becomes less time consuming -- I hope to have more time and energy for gaming. I also look forward to the time when my son becomes interested in gaming (all attempts so far to introduce him have been pretty much unsuccessful). Until that time comes, though, I mostly live vicariously through the conversations I read about gaming here and through the five or six gaming podcasts I listen to (devour) each week. At least when I do get more seriously back into gaming, I won't be completely out of the loop -- I will have one heck of a gaming backlog, though!

The other day my colleague and I were talking about another female colleague. She mentioned to me that the other "has that glow". I assumed that she meant having a room lit by LCDs like the one described by Rabbit. I was wrong... stupid euphemism.

rabbit wrote:

Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.

Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late

Ah the bedtime dance. I'm firmly convinced that parental sanity is inversely proportional to how short you can make the bedtime routine.


There is a great deal of these previous posts that sum up struggles that I currently have as well.

As a new father there was a expected (but still shocking) decline in overall gaming time. I find now that during those long days at work that I am being sucked into temptation more than ever.

Having a office with a door doesn't help either. The sweet call of the GWJ forums, the ever-so-embattled WoW forums, the new love of LOTRO and wanting to read all the wiki info that I can on it.... the temptation never ends!

Of course having McChuck come in and discuss that "gaming update" from the previous evening doesn't help either

I have a feeling that my productivity will never again be the same.

Having lived the life of being ensconced in a home office I agree it is tough to turn work off and it is tough to stay focused and not game all day, but the really scary thing is what you miss in the outside world. I remember my wife coming home from work. We lived in downtown Boston and she walked to and from her office a ten minute stroll away. I made the ten second stroll from bed to desk. The joys of living and working in a loft. But she would come in and say "Wasn't it a beautiful day today?" To which I would say yes, but then realize that a. I hadn't been outside, nor b. even looked out the window to see. The big city spread at my feet and it was all work,work, work or I can squeeze a quick game in and jump back to work. Its tough to fight, but if you live in a home office or a little cave, you need to get out and come up for air. Gaming satisfies some of that need, but going out really rejuvenates you to be more productive at work, and more succesful in the games you can manage to take time to play.

In a totally disconnected way, I was reminded of Ray Bradbury's office.

Isn't working that environment bad for your eyes?

rabbit wrote:

Ah the bedtime dance. I'm firmly convinced that parental sanity is inversely proportional to how short you can make the bedtime routine.

I am so hosed.

1Dgaf wrote:

Isn't working that environment bad for your eyes?

Haha I was going to say while CRTs are typically pretty good for low light settings, LCDs I believe are pretty bad for your eyes sitting in the dark.

Back on topic I find myself stuck somewhere in between on working from home or at the office. I can definitely get more done at home IF I can stay focused on work. I don't have people coming in to bug me for help for ridiculous things all day long and I can focus on one thing and just knock it out quickly. Of course then there is my gaming box calling to me as I sit next to it typing on the smaller screen of the box I have set up to VPN into work. I see it in my peripheral vision and I have to fight the urge to log into whatever game I am playing currently... Even if it's "just for a minute". Unfortunately I am weak willed and typically give in after a few hours of actually accomplishing something and then the rest of the day is pretty much wasted.

Then again when I am actually in the office I have similar problems with forum posts. I try to leave my laptop at home most of the week so that I am not tempted to actually game at the office which used to be a regular occurence during better days when our IT dept had 3 times the folks it has now. Then again I think the problem may just be the fact that I am a slacker...!

For whatever reason, I find working in the dark the easiest thing on my eyes. I'm REALLY light sensitive for some reason. I keep the screens turned pretty dim.

I work in a dark room all day in front of 4 lcds, much better than the CRT days. No more headaches:)

This article made me realize that i could never work from home. Thanks for the jolt back to reality.

Its got its pros and cons to be sure.