Twitter is brilliant. Sometimes it feels as though it was specifically designed to connect game developers. I definitely wouldn’t feel part of the indie game scene if it weren’t for twitter and, for the most part, it helps to drive me to produce.
There is a flip side to it though. Its full of opinion and a constant stream of the successes and failures of others. Just as this information is valuable, it can also have a devastating effect on your own productivity, especially if you find yourself easily swayed by opinion.
I also think that this affect is compounded over time. That is to say, the more exposure you have to multiple opinions, the less you are able to move forward with your game – paralysed by the fear of producing your game the “wrong” way or with the “wrong” features.
Add to that a constant and palpable tension regarding monetisation and it takes a strong character to remain focussed.
Indeed, sometimes that Twitter stream really does feel like a stream (with very strong currents).
With all of the above in mind, I finally cracked a few weeks ago (Friday 11th May), and decided to take a few weeks break from Twitter to see what impact it had.
You’d think it would be easy to just stop using a social networking platform, right? Wrong! Disconnecting is a pain in the proverbial backside.
Hour 1; My phone made a pleasant ping to alert me to a new mention. I went into settings and disabled twitter alerts. But wait, what’s this, a big red splodge on my iPhone screen, I disabled badges too. I also took the opportunity to remove twitter from the first page on my iPhone – less temptation.
Later, upon checking my emails, I had a stream (okay, that’s an exaggeration) of emails from twitter alerting me to mentions. I visited the main twitter website to disable email alerts but, alas, you can’t disabled email notifications from the mobile website and I couldn’t see a way to force the classic view. So I popped onto my desktop pc, visited twitter (careful not to read anything :), and disabled email notifications.
Finally I was disconnected from Twitter.
The first few days were tough. Fighting the compulsion to read twitter in those snippets of free time scattered throughout the day proved more difficult than I imagined. Whilst working on my game I found it eerily quiet with nobody to chat to or garner opinion from.
But then, after a few days, it felt liberating.
With no “noise” I just continued developing my game in my original vision. I wasn’t reading about monetisation, plagiarism, or game failures. I wasn’t being swayed. I was just developing my game, my way.
I’d sit on the bus and, where I’d usually have my head down reading Twitter, I found myself looking out of the window. Staring at the miserable people that make up the slum that is London. I looked around the bus, everyone had their face in a phone or electronic device of some kind.
My iPhone battery lasted for days. I suddenly realised that Twitter reading makes up about 50% of my phone usage. Someone should create a single device that just displays your twitter stream – that would eat into Apples market share.
Then I entered the second week.
I was definitely missing Twitter. I don’t have a game development peer group who I can meet in person and I was feeling starved of peer contact.
My game development has continued unabated but I’ve definitely suffered from a lack of the more positive side of Twitter. The conversations about game mechanics and design, the latest indie game that everyone is raving about, the successes of others that keeps you motivated.
So, after 2 short weeks, its time to return to Twitter. What have I learned? I don’t know, not much really. I do feel better for it though.
A 2 week break from Twitter. I encourage you to try it!