I was very fortunate to be able to travel to San Francisco to attend the annual Game Developer Conference. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some old friends as well as make some new ones.
One of the highlights was the “Comedy Roast” at the ODC Theater on Thursday, the 23rd of March. There, I got to pitch Ashta in front of a panel of angel investors and comedians, which was a lot of fun. After the show, there was some great networking followed by a fantastic Mexican dinner.
The networking continued at the speed dating sessions at the GDC the following day. It was intense but I met so many interesting people there that it was well worth the effort.
Earlier in the week, I already had an opportunity to present Ashta to a wonderful crowd at the European Games Showcase. In between meetings and sessions, I managed to catch up with my fellow delegates for a succession of breakfasts and lunches.
My deepest gratitude goes to the people behind Kreativ-Transfer, who, through their generous contribution, made this journey possible. Many thanks also to our funders from the Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg and the Federal Games Fund as well as Leonard and Harvey for being such awesome hosts and for making me feel welcome and comfortable.
I am very excited to announce that I will deliver my favourite talk “Meditation for Game Developers” at the wonderful Develop:Brighton conference this year. If you happen to be in Brighton at the end of October or are planning on going, it would be lovely to see you there. My talk is on Wednesday the 27th of October at 6pm.
I will talk about mental health, which is a topic that is rarely discussed but it has now become more important than ever, especially in the games industry.. I will share with you my experience of building a regular yoga and meditation practice whilst managing a busy game studio. I will talk about how it impacted my own life and how it helped me navigate my own project from financing through to release.
Running a business is risky and we face doubts on a daily basis. Will I get investment for my project? Will I be able to ship the game in time and will people like it? Yoga and meditation can help you stay positive and productive in the face of these challenges.
I will share my own journey with you and show you examples from my asana, meditation and breathing practices. I will also give simple, practical tips on how you can build your own practice. It’s a topic I am excited about and I love to share because it has worked for me and I hope it will work for you too.
You will learn how to:
Develop mental resilience to help you navigate tricky business challenges.
Build your own yoga and meditation routine that works for you.
Use short breathing exercises to help deal with stress and anxiety.
Who is this talk aimed at?
This talk is aimed at a general audience and entertaining for most people. I approach it from my own experience as a producer but in a way that’s easily relatable for others and anyone who has been through a crunch will be able to identify with the topic.
Recently, I was invited to Cologne as a delegate of the fabulous Game Mixer programme. At the previous edition, which took place in November 2017 in Johannesburg, I already talked a little bit about Ashta and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the topic of Yoga and meditation. Specifically, what exactly I do every morning at an ungodly hour.
So this year, I prepared a little presentation on my own meditation practice, which started ten years ago. In many ways, I am still at the beginning of what looks like a life-long journey but I have learned a few things along the way, which I love to share.
Many people experience stress for one reason or another. For example, I used to feel that nothing I did was ever enough. My accomplishments were quickly followed by a feeling that I still hadn’t arrived and that in spite of my successes, there was something lacking.
Of course, this begs a few questions like “what is a success” and “what is it I want” neither of which I was able to answer. Instead, I would simply pursue new goals. But achieving them always left an empty space, which was invariably filled with the next project.
I know this type of behaviour is not uncommon especially among people in the entertainment industry. For many years, it left me stranded in a hamster wheel, chasing a promise of fulfilment that never arrived but often led me into exhaustion and disillusionment.
Yoga, meditation and other little routines and exercises I practice throughout the day have helped me overcome these feelings. They might not work for everyone as they have for me but it may be helpful for some to share my process so they can build on it or find out what works best for them. Here is roughly what my typical day looks like right now:
3.15 – 3.20 am: rise and shine
3.20 – 3.50 am: shower and bathroom routine
3.50 – 4.15 am: get dressed and cycle to the gym
4.20 – 5.50 am: asana practice
5.50 – 6.10 am: cycle home
6.10 – 6.50 am: pranayama
6.50 – 7.05 am: meditation
7.05 – 8.00 am: breakfast
8.00 – 12.00 pm: creative work (if I’m lucky)
12.00 – 1.00 pm: lunch
1.00 – 4.00 pm: administrative work (and procrastination of the same)
4.00 – 5.00 pm: light creative work and exercise
5.00 – 6.00 pm: dinner
6.00 – 9.00 pm: leisure time
9.00 – 3.15 am: sleep –> REPEAT
Depending on my current circumstances, the timing of the routine might shift but the durations remain the same. The reason why I do what to some might appear an excessively lengthy routine because for me, it is the foundation of happiness which is one of my ongoing projects.
I realise that this is a tricky schedule to maintain and I sometimes deviate from it; especially when I am travelling or during time of illness or injury. Also, you have to keep in mind that I have been doing this practice in one form or another for over ten years and in the beginning, my schedule wasn’t anywhere near what it is today. If you want to start exploring your own practice, my advice to you would be to find a good teacher and not to rush it. The key to a successful and sustainable practice is consistency, not speed or acrobatic ability. I am happy to share what I have learned so please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.
Last week, we were invited by UKIE to present Ashta at the Games Funding Conference in Liverpool. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet people developing, financing and distributing games in the UK and also a wonderful chance to introduce the youngest member of our team to a vital aspect of game development: presenting ideas.
Carmen joined LUDINC for a work experience as part of her International Baccalaureate. She wanted to spend time with us because she especially loves working with children. I was happy to have Carmen with me not just because she did a fantastic job but also because I value her curiosity and unique point of view.
Most new titles that are released are a testament to the fact that a large number of games are still made for male consumers. Our industry needs fresh perspectives and diversity to continue to thrive which is why I would love to see more young women in games. If you are currently considering a career in games I would like to hear from you.
Last week I was in Sheffield for the Children’s Media Conference. I was invited to talk about Professor S. as part of a panel called “Innovation in Education”, of which there is a very nice summary report here.
The event was very well organised and it had a cosy and welcoming feel to it. It was encouraging to see how many great projects were presented there. I only stayed for a day but I saw plenty of interesting talks and also made some great contacts.
The keynote speech that evening by cartoonist Chris Riddell was very entertaining. He took us on a journey through his career, working method and his opinions about the recent referendum, which unsurprisingly also featured prominently in the talk about European financing the following morning.
Although Creative Europe says in a recent statement that there will be no substantial changes until 2017, the mood among UK producers was sombre. After all, it will be hard to finance future british stories without EU support.
As a UK citizen living in Germany, I am personally affected by the changes that may come out of the referendum. Moreover, I am sad to see the country I call my home now ever more distant.
In recent years my world has shrunk through affordable air travel, free video calls and freedom of movement. Communication is easier than ever in part because English has become a common global language. As a result, I have friends from all over the world who also socialise and do business globally.
In my mind, physical borders have already lost in importance and I doubt I would miss them if they disappeared tomorrow. After all, we all share one planet and would therefore benefit from sharing resources and growing understanding and tolerance more than we would stand to loose from distancing ourselves from our fellow human beings.
The film industry in particular benefits from the free movement of people and ideas and many projects would be difficult to realise without drawing on talent from other countries.
Time will tell how this decision will affect us in the long run but I have no doubt that interesting times lie ahead.