How two (almost) full-time game designers spend their time

Last year was our first full year as (almost) full-time game designers, and we learned a lot from the experience. One thing we learned was how hard it is as game designers running their own publishing house to actually find time to make games.

This year, we’ve decided to track the way we spend our work hours in an effort to be more intentional about how we spend our time. The goal isn’t to count our hours – we’re not trying to increase our “time on the clock” – we’re just aiming to understand where our hours go. We have a goal to spend at least 60% of our time on our games in some capacity – whether that be designing, writing, layout, organising shipping, or something else.

We’ve been tracking the way we spend our work hours since the 2nd of Jan, so we now have 54 days of data. And some interesting patterns have emerged. This is how Vee and I have (collectively) spent our time:

We’ve spent 27% of our time on freelance work – most of that is Vee’s graphic design freelance work (you can find her portfolio here).

Without the freelance work, the division looks like this:

Woo, we just made it.

The games category includes absolutely everything required to make games, from designing, to writing, to layout, to commissioning artists and organising shipping. In total this year, we’ve spent less than half our time on our games – or slightly more than half if you remove our freelance work.

Community includes conventions, our mentorship program, and the games we run on our discord (which are always a good time).

Social media mostly consisted of the ridiculous video we made to celebrate our 3rd birthday.

Let’s dive down a little further into the games category – exactly what was it comprised of?

As you can see, we spent only 25% of the time in our games category actually designing games. That equates to 15.75% of our total time (excluding freelancing). This actually lines up fairly well with what I would have expected.

We spent 29% of our time writing game text. In this case, we’re working on the text of Good Society: Expanded Acquaintance, a book of expansions for Good Society.

We spent 18% of our time making video how-tos. These take a lot of time, but we’re very fastidious about having high quality video assets to make it as easy as possible for people to learn our games.

And, among other things, we spend a further 5% of our time on admin directly related to making games such as organising distribution.

My Thoughts

I’m so glad we decided to log our hours so we can understand where our time is going. I’m feeling very positive about how we’ve spent our time in 2020 so far – believe it or not it’s a big improvement from 2019!

This really does show the full reality of being a self-published game designer. There are so many things you need to think about and accomplish, the time to actually make games always seems to fade away. This means a long time between releases, especially when you’re very meticulous about your end product like us. Fortunately, I’ve cultivated a passion for the randomness that has helped me enjoy the journey!

The important thing for us is to be mindful of our priorities (which are not always just designing games), and make sure that’s where our time is spent. For example, we spent quite a lot of hours creating in-depth how to play videos – but for us, it’s worth it! We really want people to be able to learn our games as easily as possible.

Based on these initial results, I’d like to continue logging our time for a few more months, and gain more insights about where our time goes. We’ll update you then!

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