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  • Writer's pictureJosh Simons

2023: A Year in Review

Around the end of every year, I like to reflect on the themes of the year, the lessons I've learned, and the new friendships I've made. This year, I decided there were enough things to reflect on from my professional life to warrant a post here.

For starters, it was a busy year, with lots of significant milestones at work, which also meant I attended quite a few conventions to speak on panels, work booths, and take meetings. A highlight from PAX East, earlier this year, was meeting the lamb from Devolver's Cult of the Lamb. We won our tag-team wrestling match, which was pretty exciting!

Pushing the Limits

I spent a lot of time learning where my limits were this year, and tried to set better work-life boundaries as I figured that out. It didn't always go as planned, especially not at first, but I do feel like I'm doing a slightly better job than at the start of the year. The challenge with loving what you do is that sometimes it's hard to stop working when you know how much there is left to do - and I've found that doesn't get easier over time.

It's still been very busy, and as we've been hustling to get things done these last few months, I've had some pretty long work weeks, but I've also made it a point to sneak in half days and take deliberate time away from technology in the midst of that busyness.

Silence First

Another lesson I learned this year (or perhaps better put, I'm continuing to learn, year after year) is the value of being silent and listening. In the never ending turmoil of online discourse, people who take a stance loudly and proudly are often rewarded by the algorithm. This is great when you're trying to build an audience, but very rarely does it lead to constructive conversation. When complex issues are involved, I've been working to get better at listening for understanding first, and then taking a stance once I have a better picture of what's happening and what's at stake.

I've chosen to very deliberately practice the skill of listening and asking questions for understanding before sharing my opinion. When I do this, I've found that I feel more confident in what I'm saying, and can speak from a basis of facts, rather than instinctive reactions and feelings. Especially in work settings, I think this has helped me bring valuable insight to the projects I'm working on.

Industry Shifts

This year has been an exciting one in the tabletop and gaming spaces, but it has also included some major layoffs and frustrating incidents which have sparked new rounds of discussions about not just how things are, but also how they should be.

Unions have been a major topic in some of my circles, given the successful strikes from both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions this year in Hollywood, and the desire for similarly beneficial improvements in compensation and stability in the gaming world. I'm hopeful that as time goes on, those conversations will materialize into something concrete, as I think that would be beneficial for many of the folks who work in these industries, especially freelancers.

We have also seen triumphant successes from small companies and indie games that give me hope that the future of the gaming industry will continue to nurture innovation and healthier business practices across the board. Particularly in the tabletop games space, I think there is a lot to look forward to in terms of new companies, new games, and better opportunities for creators across the board.

Future Projects I have found that making time for my own creative work has taken a back seat this year amidst other priorities (as some of you may know, I'm planning a wedding), but I do have an early manuscript for a tabletop RPG system I've been noodling on for a few months now. I'm hoping to do a little more in the way of streaming in 2024, and I even have a few potential video/podcast projects in the works that I'm looking forward to revealing in the future.

It's been a good 2023 for me, both personally and professionally, and I look forward to what I hope will be an even better 2024! Thanks all!

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