I’m the kind of person that stays motivated with rewards. Some people find better motivation through more nebulous rewards like “knowing I did a good job” or “getting it done is its own reward”, stuff like that. Me, I need something. A new lipstick. A fancy coffee with all the whipped cream and whatever-syrup on top. That pair of shoes I’ve been eyeing for the past month. Or… a nice long session with the game I’ve been craving all day.
In college, I would frequently use games as a reward for myself, or as a way to soften the blow of long paper-writing sessions. Studied for an hour? Do a skirmish in LOTRO as a reward. Wrote a page for your next essay? Play a few turns of Civ V. It was a great way to keep me motivated and get stuff done quickly. However with my freelance work and YouTube channel, this approach doesn’t work so well. Just finished recording 3 LOTRO LM episodes in a row? Reward yourself with… more games? Hm. Finished that 1000 word review on a puzzle game? Reward yourself with… more games? Okay, I guess.
For my YouTube channel I play a lot of games. Torchlight II, Sang-froid, a variety of roguelikes, and oodles of LOTRO. On top of all that I also get paid to write game reviews and news articles, which means playing a whole bunch more games – some that are good and some that… aren’t. Because of all this, it’s gotten rare for me to play games as a reward or as a way to relax. It always has to have a purpose, whether I’m recording it or writing about it. Don’t get me wrong – I still have fun when I play those games. But it’s definitely a very different experience than just vegging out for a whole Saturday on a new game you’ve fallen in love with.
It just doesn’t feel as motivating to reward gameplay-related work with more gameplay. Here’s a specific example of the kind of thing I’m talking about: lately I’ve been really enjoying Guild Wars 2 and have been using it to keep me feeling motivated during the day, but I can already feel the inner push to make a video series about some aspect of the game. A Let’s Play style playthrough like my Lore-master videos? A GW2 Outfits series? A series covering how to get map completion? Try as I might, I can never just have a game “for me”. It always turns into a project.
So then the question: what can I use to reward myself so I can stay motivated with these projects? I’m trying to stay away from food-based rewards because I feel like that will develop into an unhealthy relationship with food. Not to mention it costs money. Which is the reason I’m staying away from purchase-related rewards, too.