When I was 11 years old, I couldn’t imagine a cooler job than getting to make games all day. Why that would hardly be like work at all, I thought. Well, funny story, it is in fact hard work and it can be just as frustrating as anything else. When your hobby becomes your job, things do change. You stop looking at your hobby as “that thing I do for fun” and start realizing it has become “that thing I do for money.” If you take it at all seriously, you have to learn to act like a professional (which often means doing things you don’t want to or NOT doing things you want to) and you have to treat it like work.
When I was working at WotC by day and doing Green Ronin nights and weekends, my two primary hobbies (roleplaying and miniatures games) had both become jobs. And that was not good. I remember when my boss asked me to stop playing Mordheim at lunch, reasoning that if I wanted to play a skirmish minis game I should be doing more Chainmail testing. And at home I was working every day on roleplaying stuff. So not only did I work seven days a week, but I had also professionalized two of my favorite leisure activities. Most of my game time revolved around various playtests, in which fun takes a back seat to analysis.
One way that leaving WotC was really good for me was that miniatures once again became my hobby. Sure, I still work every day for Green Ronin, but after ten hours of writing I can turn my mind to something else, or do minis busy work (cleaning, gluing, mounting, etc.) to distract me from the pitfalls of financial planning. So now, even though I am totally consumed by Warhammer Fantasy, I can still get together with Rick on Thursday nights and enjoy a game of Epic Armageddon (the smaller scale version of Warhammer 40K). And that’s nice.
I am considering going to Fall In, which is a historical miniatures convention in Gettysburg in November. Not to sell anything or do anything work related, but to go play minis games for a few days and tour the Civil War battlefield. By this point the Warhammer core book should be put to bed, so I could rightfully claim a few days off my myself. We’ll see how things look in October, but it’d be nice to get away.
You can’t let work totally overwhelm your life or you’ll burn out or go nuts. In short, it’s good to have a hobby.