Dead Time

Posted: 19 November 2009 in Reflections

If you’re serious about keeping gaming in your schedule, you need to be alert to dead time. Those little 10 or 15 minute chunks of time that you can use to set things up for later.

Your daily commute is a good example. If you’re not controlling the vehicle (say it’s a train), you can use it for reading (dead tree or PDF editions) and maybe writing, depending on how crowded and bumpy it is, and how much you care what other people think about your hobby. If you’re (say) driving the car, you can still listen to podcasts – I learned a lot about D&D 4E from the podcasts on the WotC site, burned to CD and played while driving to work.

Your lunch hour is another, if your job still allows you that luxury; same comments apply. Due to my job, lunch now generally consists of a short period with a phone in one ear, typing one-handed while taking occasional bites from a sandwich – but I wrote about half of GURPS Traveller Alien Races 2 on a Psion 3c during my train journey to work and lunch hours, a few years ago. Be warned; you will need somewhere to hide and concentrate, otherwise you will be dragged out of your reverie to work on today’s crisis.

If your work takes you away from home overnight, you probably have some time available in the evening, or before breakfast, depending on your timetable. About 20% of my Warhammer 40,000 army was painted in hotels while staying overnight on business, and this is also good for solo games or Play By Email (PBEM). (Personally, I find playing on a forum relies too much on my having regular, predictable slots of free time, and internet access during those slots, so it doesn’t work for me. Your Mileage May Vary.)

Much of this blog is actually written the same way; except for game write-ups, I tend to write each post in chunks a few minutes long, edit it, email it to the blog, and then log in to set up categories and so forth. So what you read in a few minutes can be the result of several days’ work in short chunks of dead time.

Now, I was going on to talk about PDF games and laptops specifically, but I think they deserve their own post. More of this later.

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