Posts Tagged pros and cons

Live Forever

Would living forever be a blessing or a curse?  I figured the simplest way for me to figure out how I felt about it would be to write out some pros and cons.  I am imagining the definition of “living forever” here is that you don’t die of natural causes, you stay at roughly the same physical body for all time (you don’t age, or you age very slowly) and nobody else is living forever with you.  Other possibilities (like you CAN’T die) are worth considering too, but I think of those three factors as the baseline.

The biggest reason that living forever would be great is that I would have all the time I want to do all the things I want.  Since I believe humans have basically unlimited potential – and that includes me! – having all the time in the universe to discover new things and make “progress” is pretty awesome.  There’s also no worrying about time being limited.  I think that all humans do things because of the impending deadline (pun intended), and more generally because they know they are aging and feel pressure to do certain things (leave a mark, propagate their genes and their ideas, achieve goals).  Living forever sidesteps the stress of needing to do a lot of that stuff, leaving you with just what you intellectually decide you want to do.

The biggest reason that living forever would be terrible is that you basically have nobody to share it with.  I don’t mean that you wouldn’t have people to share various experiences with – a big part of being human (even one who lives forever) is connecting with people in the short-term.  Although it is certainly possible to make new long-term friends and such, I think that a person living forever is going to be separated from humanity-at-large in a pretty big way.  I think most people who say they wouldn’t want to live forever are coming to terms with the fact that they would not be okay with living apart in this way.

I think, right now, if I had to choose, I would say yes, I want to live forever.  I am constantly worried that there’s so much I want to accomplish and so little time – living forever would remove the burden of that worry.  I have a sneaking suspicion that right now, I am underestimating the nature of the curse I describe above because I am not as emotionally close to my friends and family as say, many people are to their families (husbands, wives, children)… probably best to re-evaluate my opinion on living forever as I develop more close relationships.

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Lappy

Due to emergency preparedness scenarios at work, many people I know – including nearly all the people in my group – are receiving laptops in trade for their normal desktop machines.  I spent the better part of yesterday and today coordinating with our TS folks to setup said laptop.  I am not thrilled about this.

Pros of the Laptop

  • I have a work computer, with work stuff on it, that I can bring on work trips and into meetings in rooms without a computer.  So that’s nice… but I already had a laptop for bringing with me on work trips! 😛
  • It has a cool docking station, and is basically as good as my desktop – but those are just parity with the desktop I already have!

Cons of the Laptop

  • I don’t work as efficiently on a laptop.  The existence of the keyboard and mousepad, and the smaller size of the monitor, both conspire to make my workspace uncomfortable.  I do have a second monitor at work that I have plugged into it, which helps, but I need to investigate a way to put the laptop off to the side and just use two regular monitors, a regular keyboard and a regular mouse (i.e. remove the laptop from the equation – which sort of defeats the purpose)
  • I have to lug it back and forth each day, or else I am shortcircuiting the plan if and when there is an emergency.
  • I have a ton of resources and random files on the ol’ desktop machine that I either need to transfer or delete… and I don’t really have the time to spend doing those things!

As you can tell by my negative tone even in the Pros section, I am definitely not thrilled about this.  The new laptop case, which I was able to select from a catalog, is pretty sweet, but man, I find these interruptions in my normal workflow (to switch systems, etc.) to be frustrating even if they are determined necessary for the business as a whole.

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Pros and Cons: Game Designer

Doing game design has always been something I really enjoyed spending my free time on… so it must be a great thing to consider for a career, right?*  The role as I would like to pursue it is “Generate ideas and refine them into playable game experiences, for [a] given target audience(s).”  At Wizards, currently, I am spending a fair bit of time helping out with TCG Game Design, specifically for Magic, which has its own detail-driven and schedule-specific goals.  In the past, I have already done some indie board game design (and “development,” which for games means final game design –  iterating for fun and balance) and even some simple online game components.

* – The unspoken “gotcha!” here is that when you make something you enjoy as a hobby or free-time-escape into a full-blown job, it can lose the excitement and become mundane.

I’m going to try to identify the core phrases for pros and cons this time, with more detail when necessary:

Pros

  • Creative. Game design is, at its core, finding a way to give a great experience to the player.  Because there are so many different possible experiences in person-to-person and person-t0-game interaction, the sky is the limit (or maybe not even that!)
  • Problem Solving.
  • Hands-on.
  • Visible, positive impact on audience. When people have fun with a game I helped create, I am very happy.
  • Fun to do. Similarly, the day-to-day work involved in game design is both interesting (see: problem solving) and fun (see: hands-on).
  • Collaborative.

Cons

  • Everyone’s a critic. Although game design is a combination of science and art, unlike some more technical positions like web development, usually everyone (even non-designers) have opinions and will voice them [sometimes angrily!]  This can be frustrating.
  • Not grand scope. Unlike research into new and practical science, giving people fun game experiences won’t usually change the world.  It can certainly make the world a better place, but not the grand extent of change I can imagine myself being part of.
  • Not for it’s own sake. Being a game designer means not just making good games – it means making successful games.  Being judged by whether a product (e.g. a game that people buy) is monetarily successful is not really something I enjoy – tolerate, yes, but we’re talking about ideal career path here!
  • Lots of meetings.  Unlike writing code or doing work in a lab (although to some extent, those tasks are also collaborative), there’s a lot of game design that can only be done in collaboration with others.  If some of those others involved in the process are frustrating to work with, tough cookies.  Note that collaboration is both a pro and a con here!  Wacky!

I’m sure I’ll think of more, this is just a start.

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Pros and Cons: Web Developer

One of the possible career paths I could take (continue on, really) is that of a web developer – the role is “write code and implement design to create an integrated experience on the web.”  At Wizards, currently, my job is to implement other people’s designs (with some feedback from me) and to help guide the creation of the integrated experience… but mostly just to get it up and running.

I am going to consider my idealized web developer position as one that is more involved in design feedback and one that is also more involved in the planning of the experience.  So, for example, if there were an upcoming site design that I was a part of, I would want to sit in on (and provide useful suggestions) during planning phases and then join the designer and business owner in talking through the implementation of the UI for the site design.

Whew!  So, what are the pros and cons of this idealized (maybe hybridized) web developer position?  (This is probably not a complete list — I will be making a page that lists the career paths I might take that collects the below pros/cons and adds to them!)

Pros

  • Web development has an instant feedback component that is very enjoyable.  I write code and can immediately view the effects and synthesis with the graphic design in a web browser.
  • I like the problem solving aspect of web development – there is a very tight connection between solving problems and getting the job done.
  • Compared to game or application development, the turnaround is much quicker which means project adaptability is higher.  I appreciate being able to leverage my skills to tackle problems “on the fly” as it were, in response to seeing people use my solutions.
  • It’s mostly “make your own hours” in that the primary focus is “get the job done by this date,” not “get the job done in the office between 9 and 5.”  I like that flexibility.
  • I enjoy working with “cutting edge technology” because I find it challenging and exciting.  By its nature, work involving the Internet is often at that edge.

Cons

  • Most web development I have done *feels* trivial in the grand scheme of things.  By that, I mean I do not feel I am making a large positive impact on the world by doing web development.  This is in contrast to other things I could see myself doing that would feel more like making a large positive impact – things like teaching, research science, or law/political/nonprofit/charity work.  So, I don’t feel it is overall very rewarding personally.
  • I don’t like how often a web developer is forced to work on a project that is content-uninteresting.  I’m not sure how many jobs there are where you don’t have this component (forced to work on something you don’t like), but for example, a game designer is going to be making games – all of which more tightly share an aspect (in essence, designing fun) than the aspect that websites share (in essence, they exist on the web).
  • I don’t find it particularly challenging in the abstract; for me, the interesting challenges are in the specific content and not the specific implementations.  This ties back to the previous concern, since if I don’t get to choose my work, I will often be required to do work that I don’t find challenging.
  • I don’t like that oftentimes decisions are made upstream of development that impact developers’ ability to problem solve, without consulting developers.  The two ways this gets resolved (time is wasted changing those decisions, or the decision is upheld thus reducing the effective number of solutions) are both frustrating.

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