Whispers

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/keyboard.jpg)

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?

Comments

I just don't have your willpower. I would succumb to the voices, every time.

Symbiotic wrote:

I want a piano.

Got 100 bucks ?

It's that easy. I own the previous iteration of this model. Its pretty much the cheapest you can find, but it has a piano feel, and although the ~100 additional voices sound like 11khz nightmare and the rest of the features are 100% useless, the main (piano) voice sounds like a real piano.

I can't play the piano but I bought this thing to give rest to my eyes. So far I've learned to imitate the partial Skywalker Theme from Star Wars, Schindler's List theme, Godfather theme, Doom 1 ending music, etc.

My only real mistake with this piano was that it doesn't have pressure-sensitive keys. I should've bought this one instead.

1Dgaf wrote:

Isn't working that environment bad for your eyes?

I don't know how the myth started in america but in the UK the myth that "watching the TV in the dark is bad for your eyes" was started around the time after WW2 to boost sales of light bulbs. Doing things in the dark with a lit device will not affect your eyesight unless you're trying to focus at a distance your eyes find naturally difficult. The only other thing could be if you're in a really dark room with a really bright, white screen... that hurts my eyes but i think that's down to contrast around the borders of the white light... It's why i always have my desktop set to a dark colour like dark angel green >:)

As for the article? Rabbit, you're on a role. These are great so keep 'em coming! It's like you've started a trashy celebrity magazine and i've become the brainless, "reality TV junky" celebrity news seeking woman who will buy any tosh that they print....**

But don't think that the comparion above means that i think your articles are rubbish... or that i like reality TV.

I'm strange in the sense that currently i straddle both working worlds. Mostly i'm supposed to be writing up my thesis (which i'm blatantly not) while at home, but i get distracted by games... so instead of playing games i make myself use the internet to (hopefully) reduce the time spent procrastinating... i fail. The internet is the biggest game ever invented... the largest non-subscribed MMOG. But i can't go on like this for much longer. Deadlines are pressing.
The other part of my current existence is that i work at a paper editing photographs and graphics. I'm always early, work through lunch and find extra work for myself to do when the work is slow (if i can)....

I'm a dichotomy?

[EDIT]
** I did not mean to be sexist in this remark...i just do not know of any men who have this behaviour... though i know plenty who buy "men's" magazines.... but that's a different comparison for another article.

It takes a lot of work ethic to do it, and I manage to on a daily basis. Well, except for GWJ, and some flash stuff.
I work from home, entirely telecommute.

I found it actually helps a lot to have my primary workstation not be capable of playing a lot of games - I use a Mac, and I don't keep any games loaded on here. If there's nothing to play, the temptation is a lot less, and I can focus on Getting Stuff Done.

On the flip side of that, it becomes a lot harder to disengage - I can't just flick over and open a game, I have to actively change everything over to my gaming tower, or set up the Wii to play Gamecube games, if I want to play something. A lot of the time, that barrier to entry keeps me from playing at all.

Sounds like me and AnimeJ lead the same lifestyle for a bit. I to was in the Airforce doing exactly the same schedule almost, I was F-15 avionics and worked first shift, never 9 hr days, more like 7 sometimes 6. But i wasnt playing WoW then, i was playing and oh so addicted to Everquest. So i would get home around 2 or 3pm and game till midnight mon thru thurs, and then game all weekend easily putting in 60 to 70 hours a week into that game. Hell thats way more time than i spent at work in almost 2 weeks! Oh those were the days.

Now im a Quality Assurance Auditor and travel alot for my company. I bought a very nice ASUS gaming laptop for the road, and i also carry my work laptop to get my work done at one of our vendors or in the hotel. I dont let the idea of being able to play WoW before i finish my work take me over though. When im done auditing, and all my info has been sent back to my company, then i log into WoW. Sometimes for hours at a time. On weekends if im in town i can play alot more with my girlfriend, got her hooked on WoW to.

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 was hoping, for his sake, that it was a euphemism.

As for the darkness, I'm the same way when I get all writey. This may be a learned thing, but it certainly gets worse when I drink too much coffee or get my sleep schedule more than usually distorted. Then again, there are also times when I get obsessive about needing more light.

This of course makes me go read more Goethe, which does not help things.

Oh how I miss those halcyon days.

...And I just realized that I typed all that in the wrong tense, because I had started daydreaming.

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.

Then consider us insane...

That screenshot looks very similar to my desk. Work laptop is on the left and my personal computer monitor is to the right. With a slight swivel of my chair or neck I can hop back and forth. It's a terrible temptation all day. I dont really buckle during the workday, maybe a quick login to WoW to check the auction house for a few minutes breather now and then.

A drawback is that if i decide to play WoW during lunch I really end up sitting all day, which is just plain unhealthy. The most frequent scenario is that while I'm working on my work laptop, I keep GWJ up on my personal monitor, so I can keep up to date on all the forum chatter. Now you know how I was able to earn a forum tag so fast..... : )

strader69 wrote:

Sounds like me and AnimeJ lead the same lifestyle for a bit. I to was in the Airforce doing exactly the same schedule almost, I was F-15 avionics and worked first shift, never 9 hr days, more like 7 sometimes 6. But i wasnt playing WoW then, i was playing and oh so addicted to Everquest. So i would get home around 2 or 3pm and game till midnight mon thru thurs, and then game all weekend easily putting in 60 to 70 hours a week into that game. Hell thats way more time than i spent at work in almost 2 weeks! Oh those were the days.

Now im a Quality Assurance Auditor and travel alot for my company. I bought a very nice ASUS gaming laptop for the road, and i also carry my work laptop to get my work done at one of our vendors or in the hotel. I dont let the idea of being able to play WoW before i finish my work take me over though. When im done auditing, and all my info has been sent back to my company, then i log into WoW. Sometimes for hours at a time. On weekends if im in town i can play alot more with my girlfriend, got her hooked on WoW to.

Right now I'm doing ~9 hours due to an upcoming release. Ordinarily, I'm there for 7 on average, due to all the various and sundry functions, like Director's calls, Commander's calls, Chief's calls, PT and the like.

Although, when I was in the dorms, it was far worse. Come home, FFXI from ~4pm till 12pm, and practically all weekend too, lol. When I finally quit that game, I had almost 300 days of /played. For those familiar with the game, that doesn't include so much as a second of bazaar time.

When I was in college I ended up in a few odd living situations. One was my frat house room that was roughly 9 x 11 and contained two 6' plus men. Second was my apartment later on, which was only zoned for three people. I was the fourth and, when being evicted by letter by the landlord, had to disperse my belongings in order to be seen as merely a guest upon inspection by the city. This led to me occupying entirely a back room, roughly 6 x 8, with a furnace and water heater. And my N64.

In the frat I got work and play done on the same computer. As smythe says, when I got all writey I dimmed the lights and got to it. When I came to I passed out or played a computer game. In the apartment I was only on my computer for work, and gamed mostly on the N64 and in the much smaller space. I kind of liked the smaller space, grew to like it almost too much, and became a sort of digital cave man. However, little or no actual school work occured there. It was not ideal.

Now, I live with my fiance and my gaming is done solely on my 360. My work is done solely at work, and my computer is not my own, it is hers and I can't conjoin the games and the work at home. I kind of like this scenario. I think I have much more interaction with people now. I can't wait to have my own 'den', but I don't want a cave. I want to be able to entertain another human being in the den, perhaps have a scotch and chat, then ask them to leave and game or write.

In short, I could never work at home. I would talk to the voices, invite them into my cave, they would build the walls for me and I would help them, and no work would be done. None.

TheWanderer wrote:

In short, I could never work at home. I would talk to the voices, invite them into my cave, they would build the walls for me and I would help them.

Ever think of being a writer? Very nice turn of phrase there my friend.

Who says I don't talk back.

I don't work at home, but the computer sure gets in the way of doing things around the house that need to get done. Laundry, yard work, vacuuming, dishes, disciplining the cats, disciplining the wife. You name it.

rabbit wrote:
TheWanderer wrote:

In short, I could never work at home. I would talk to the voices, invite them into my cave, they would build the walls for me and I would help them.

Ever think of being a writer? Very nice turn of phrase there my friend.

Who says I don't talk back.

Thanks rabbit! Huge ego boost there. May I refer you to my submission for the open call for writers?

I have, I was, and I'm not anymore. Sad story really. Retail wrings those happy eumors right out of you. I'm not in retail anymore, I'm not an English teacher either... It's been a busy week or two. More to come soon.

I can see it now: Wandy and I are going to build a cave in a "practice space" in some forgotten corner of the northwest side of Chicago and tell everyone that we're working second jobs.

Well, it counts as a job for Rabbit, at least :), the only real difference being that we might not get paid.

Smythe, when I become independently wealthy I'd be so up for that.

Some buddies of mine bit the bullet and bought a space in Aurora, right on the river, for their photo studio. I'll be danged if it hasn't worked out for them in the last year or two. Ah, delusions of grandeur... so nice when they come true.

And so it is written. And so it shall be.