Well, Week 18 didn’t go so well.
Once I was all rested up after Train Jam, I naïvely believed that even with GDC, I would still be able to find some spare moments to make this week’s game. Determined to never fail at Game a Week again, I spent the week doing all of the typical GDC activities – which in itself is more than enough to completely overload a person – as well as continually worrying about what game I should make. The ultimate result of all of this was merely an mentally/emotionally drained Adriel and no game.
I think that since I obviously can’t do a retrospective of what went right/wrong this week, let’s just skip straight to what I learned!
What I learned
This week was a good lesson in over-exerting oneself. Coming off of the high of running a successful event, I felt that I could accomplish anything. I was a machine – a superhuman – I was unstoppable. For the first few days of GDC, I was reveling in the outpouring of praise for this silly little event I ran. Everywhere I went, it felt like people were approaching me to either lament over the fact that they weren’t there or regale me with tales of how others were jealous of their wonderful experiences. Hell, I was even told by some that being on Train Jam was life changing. Over a week later, and I’m still amazed and humbled that something I created could affect anyone in such a way.
So yeah, there I was – on top of the world and ready for the craziness of GDC. Then, the inevitable happened – the high wore off and the emotional crash came. I proceeded to spend my free time worrying about the fact that people were noticing me and being afraid that they would ask me what I do/what games I’ve released. I became extra-sensitive towards being at the “wrong” party or not being able to confide in friends or feeling excluded or simply feeling like I just didn’t belong. Yes, I was worried both about the fact that people were noticing me and also that people weren’t. I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of this, but all I know is that I felt both over-appreciated and under-appreciated all at the same time.
As much as GDC 2013 was about me figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do with myself, GDC 2014 was about me losing myself, breaking down, and building myself back up again.
From what I understand, this isn’t an isolated experience. There are many out there who feel confused, inspired, dejected, included, excluded, elated, lost, and accepted at every moment of GDC. It’s an intense week full of expectations, inspiration, disappointment and hope.
When you’re in an environment where there are so many people who all have a shared history of not entirely fitting in (to varying degrees), who are pouring large portions on their life into their business/game/message, and who are (9 times out of 10) in waaaaay over their heads both socially and professionally, you’re bound to get a wide range of simultaneous emotions. I wasn’t quite prepared for this and thus, wasn’t entirely aware of what was happening to me.
All in all, GDC was wonderful. Train Jam went better than I ever thought it could have and affected me in so many ways that I wasn’t expecting and/or prepared for. I met amazing people throughout the week, demoed some stuff I was working on (receiving great feedback/reactions), and became inspired/motivated to work on my stuff more than ever.
However, in retrospect I should have 100% focused on the event, my mental well-being, and sleeping during my limited spare time instead of adding one more thing onto an already loaded plate.
Lesson learned – sometimes you need to take care of yourself <3