Producing Day 23-29: A Week of Data

I somehow made it through the entire week without writing a blog post about the daily grind as I measure my production versus consumption ratio. I’m just about to wrap up the month of data monitoring, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the week as a whole:

Activity Week Days 23-29 The above diagram shows an increasingly-familiar pattern. On the left is the amount of time spent during the weekdays, and on the right are weekends. Green represents time that can be construed as producing creative works, while orange represents time spent consuming. As I’d feared, the majority of my time is spent consuming.

Here’s the same data, presented as a complete week:

Activity Week Totals Here, I’ve broken out the the totals of my main categories compared to the totals with game time separated out from the overall consuming time. You can see that it’s taken an enormous amount of my time out of the total 111.75 hours I was awake during the week, over a third of my time. I’ve mostly been playing it after hours, but have been staying up way too late (to 3AM-4AM). However, I wouldn’t characterize the amount of time spent as a complete waste for the following reasons:

  • I’ve been learning about a sub-genre of the online gaming community, the Role Players (RPers). You’d think the “RP” in “MMORPG” would have this subculture covered, but in practice a computer-based “role playing game” refers to the underlying computer game mechanics instead of the way one plays. A key difference is that the RPer plays the game “in character” (IC), developing a complex personal backstory and interacting with other RPers to improv through a collective storytelling. If it sounds incredibly geeky, that is because it is. And it’s fascinating to observe, and more than a little intimidating.
  • This has given me the opportunity to learn how to be more active in meeting other people. Normally I am not particularly good at meeting new people, in real life or otherwise, and tend to be in the background. As I’ve been observing the RP discussions both IC and out-of-character (OOC) in the chat channels, it has occurred to me that the only thing stopping me from being more social is the reluctance I have to just jump in and talk. I’ve found that this has stretched my comfort zone and I am actually being more talkative in the REAL world too.
  • Likewise, I am finding that developing my character (a blue cat-like being named Sri) has led to insights in my own life. I’ve been remixing my own experiences with imagined ones. Sri shares some of my proclivities, such as a rather optimistic view of life, but with FAR MORE more openness to new people. That imagined attitude has started to rub off on me in real life. She came about when I was playing with the character generator and I really liked the optimism I read in her facial expression. Also, I like blue cats. They make me happy!
  • The character backstory for Sri also has her starting a business in the game called GrindShare, but for it to take off I realized that she actually had to MENTION it to other RPers, who were more experienced and can be quite opinionated about what is “lame RP” and what is “good”. In practical terms, this meant I had to overcome my reluctance to make myself vulnerable to judgement and type this into chat, and after I did that it occurred to me that the first company I’ve tried to promote has been a virtual one for a made-up character in a game! This got me thinking about my OWN business activities, and that if an imaginary blue cat can have a business what is stopping me from expanding mine with the same zeal?
  • Since I a guy playing a female character (pretty common in these games), I have to consider points of view that I ordinarily haven’t had to, and this leads me to question my own gender biases. This is particularly interesting in context with recent increased discussion about gender biases in video games and the historical lack of inclusion of women in STEM due to such biases; my friends in the local Future Tech Women have kindly made me aware of it, as have powerful videos like the commercial encouraging parents to be aware of how their biases have an impact. Thus, I have been trying to play her as a real person that is free from sexualization and gender stereotypes, without being militant about it, and also maintaining a semblance of authenticity in the character without crossing the line into creepy territory. It makes me slightly uncomfortable and it’s challenging, but I take this as a sign that it’s worth exploring for whatever it’s worth.

So in general, the game is giving me an unexpected opportunity to explore the trinity of Identity, Community, and Inclusion, which are three themes that are very much part of my personal core. Learning how to join a community with a very diverse set of interests and motivations for being there has been a surprisingly good place to develop my own self awareness. Plus, I am enjoying the game itself as a bonus, and it’s a deductible business expense because as an interactive developer, I have to stay on top of trends. On the other hand, 44 hours a week is a LOT OF TIME, so I will be reducing the amount of time I spend on it. The challenging part will be that I’ve made some friends now, and it’s fun to hang out with my fellow geeks and nerds, and learn from them while playing in this giant virtual world. Geeky, fun, and surprisingly educational.

But I digress. What I’ve learned from the productivity/consuming challenge is DANG. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME CONSUMING. I’ll be summarizing my findings in the next few days, along with my plans for behavior changes.