Harsh Realities: Indie Without Healthcare

3D and UX Design for Games, VR and Animation

Harsh Realities: Indie Without Healthcare

January 18, 2013 Uncategorized 12


What would happen if you were bed ridden for three months?

Could your team finish the game without you?

Will your family be able to pay rent?

(And who is going to feed your cat?!?)

If you got seriously sick or injured, right now, would your career survive it?

No? Then you’ve got some work to do buddy – because if Murphy’s Law strikes, and you get ill at the worst possible time, then you’re fucked.


Here’s the harsh realities:


If you’re seriously ill or injured, you can’t work.

It won’t happen.

You will be so distracted by pain, and bone-tired from healing, that you won’t be capable of doing much more than fantasizing about how much more comfortable things would be if you were dead.

I don’t care how tough you are, how much willpower you have or how badly you need to get these projects done on time so you don’t piss off your clients.

It aint gonna happen. Once your health goes, your career goes with it.


Still Alive?


If you’ve been following this blog since it started, way back in the day, you would have seen me posting articles pretty much every week (sometimes 2 or 3 in a week!).

Then, shortly after Thanksgiving 2012, everything got real quiet around here.

No articles. Facebook and Twitter followers were spared my constant linking of things that I find interesting.

I started getting emails from readers asking where I was (You guys are amazing by the way!)

Murphy’s Law got me. I got seriously ill and I wasn’t prepared for it.

Now that I can move about without needing to lay down and whimper, and can think about something OTHER than “OMG OMG OMG make the pain go away!”, it’s time to work out a few strategies for surviving as an indie without healthcare.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a country with medical care freely available to citizens – goodie for you. Go get an antibiotic or something.

For the rest of us, here’s Five Tips for Living Without Healthcare:



If you’re allergic to something – don’t eat it! Don’t roll in it. Don’t hang out with it and its sketchy friends.

Don’t jump off really tall objects or be otherwise daredevilry to impress anybody.

Don’t walk around the city at night with your purse open and your jewels out (either kind).

And don’t go swallowing/smoking/drinking substances that EVERY INTELLIGENT HUMAN knows is fucking poisonous and bad for you!

(I don’t care if its fun, relieves stress, it’s your right as a Red Blooded American or whatever. Is it seriously worth sacrificing your entire fucking career for? No? THEN DON’T DO IT!)



Do you have any idea what happens to your body when you don’t sleep?

It starts to EAT ITSELF!

Okay, that’s not technically the way scientists say it, but that’s basically what’s happening.

Organs don’t have a chance to repair, so they start shutting down (say goodbye to nutrients and hello to malabsorbtion!! )

Brain cells die off and you don’t get any new ones – you are quite actually getting dumber by the hour (just ask anyone who’s pulled all-nighters only to end up spending the next day fixing all the bugs they created when dumb with sleep deprivation!).



What the hell do you think you have these arms and legs and tentacles for anyways?

(I don’t know, don’t judge, who says you can’t have tentacles? It’s the future, damnit!)

Your body was built to move. There are all kinds of important physiological things that happen when your body is moving around and stuff.

I don’t care what you do to move around. Your body doesn’t care what you do. SO LONG AS YOU MOVE!

Go for a walk! Swim, bike, dance, boogie, get down wit it…

It doesn’t matter, just get out and MOVE EVERY SINGLE DAY!

What, you’re tired? Your busy? You don’t feel like it?

Remember you said that..when you go bankrupt and have to get a full time job in advertising or something to pay for your medical bills because you were too lazy to GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE A WALK!

For fucks sake.



Seriously, are you getting paid to be a guinea pig?

No? Then why test all the potential health claims that processed food may or may not lead to a whole range of interesting life threatening diseases.


You learned how to make games for crying out loud. COOKING IS NOT THAT HARD!

No, it is not more expensive.

No, it is not more time consuming (by the time you went out, got drive-thru and came back I would be eating cheap tasty healthy home cooked delicious things).

Real food = the kind of stuff your great-great-great grandmothers cooked with. You know. Farmed. Butchered. Baked. That sort of thing.

Not stuff laced with Soy Lecithin, injected with all kinds of factory baked “vitamins” and injected with corn syrup!!

Fine. Don’t want to cook? Move in with someone who does. Oh shit! That means you have to be nice and treat people well and stuff!

DING! You just got better at Being a Nice Person…(115)!



Stress will kill you.

So go play a game or something.


12 Responses

  1. <.< I would like to get paid to be a pet guinea pig. ^_^

    …… I mean… what else are guinea pigs for? *Death Glare* *Pumps shotgun*

  2. I was there a few years ago. Stress/no sleep-> Health problems -> Loss of productivity -> Missed deadlines/obligations -> LOTS MORE STRESS.

    I pulled through it ok but I’m still trying to fix all the (business/financial) damage from it. Having a balanced schedule seems like a waste of time at the moment (who needs sleep? bah!) but it pays off in the long run.

    • Epona says:

      Ah man you nailed the worst part of it – stress makes everything worse, but then you stress out because you can’t work, so you get more sick – it’s a recursive stress loop!

      And yes, the biggest danger is that silly voice in the back of our head taunting us to keep working, stay up later, do more, burn the midnight oil etc etc

      Man, when I was younger I remember playing games for like..three days straight! Surely I can pull an all nighter now and be fine, right?

      Obstinate bullshit is what that is.

      We need to get over this “Mind over Matter” bullshit and start taking care of our bodies – what the hell do we think the mind is connected to anyways?!?

      • Kel says:

        Even if we take absolute best care of the ol’bod, eat super healthy, exercise effectively, stay away from nasty environments….we can’t control the unexpected, completely external things; like some random person in the grocery store sneezing dead center into our breathing space, or some distracted/high/whatever driver driving off the road and right into us, or drive-by shootings, or something big falling on us during an earthquake, or getting bit by the first zombie to rize from the chemical soup that is some city’s air and water.

        Being bed-ridden, or rushed via crazy-expensive ambulance to outrageously-expensive emergency room, or even just slowed down significantly by a strained wrist can be seriously impactful if uninsured.

        I’m curious to what this community thinks about Mr. Obama’s soon-to-be-law requirement for univeral health care coverage.

        But also, yes, the “mind over matter” thing is primarily bullshit for 99.999999999% of us.

  3. racarate says:

    Is there going to be anything about this at IGF/GDC this year? Either IGDA organized or otherwise?

    • Epona says:

      I have no idea – what kind of thing would you be hoping to see/attend?

      • racarate says:

        Well, I know the IGDA has a partnership with a company that offers disaster insurance… but they are notoriously unresponsive (didn’t ever get back to me or a few friends of mine).

        It just seems like GDC is going to be full of people with this same issue… maybe just chatting people up and asking individual approaches is the best I can hope for.

  4. metamythril says:

    “Remember you said that..when you go bankrupt and have to get a full time job in advertising or something to pay for your medical bills because you were too lazy to GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE A WALK!

    For fucks sake.”

    I love the intensity of your writing. 🙂

    I would say my main issue is making sure I get all my Z’s. The most common reason is when I’m working through a problem and look at the clock to see that hours have passed because I was so zoned into it.

    Getting daily exercise has not been a problem for me as of late. Getting a nice 60 to 90 minute walk in gives me a chance to clear my head and think about how to solve some of my game development programming tasks. So it’s good for many things all at once. 🙂

  5. Julie Heyde says:

    Move to Denmark. It can be hard to get in for non-EU citizens, but all healthcare is free here (except for half of your dentist bill) + you’re getting 1-2K€ a month, if you cannot work or are unemployed (this system has been said to finance quite a few devs). Only downside is that you pay a hell lot of taxes, if you earn real money one day and that everything is freaking expensive, but hey, -you don’t have to worry about much else than bad weather. Rest of Scandinavia is pretty much the same, but colder. And the indie scene in the Nordics is fabulous.
    No wonder we’re the happiest people on earth: http://denmark.dk/en/meet-the-danes/work-life-balance-the-danish-way/happy-danes/

    • kjkippKel says:

      Denmark rocks. Would LOVE to move there. You are blessed Ms. Heyde, blessed.

    • That actually sounds really enticing. I’ve always considered my home, Australia, to be a paradise, both climatically (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I was recently notified that Australians are allowed bad grammer as concession for the deadly animals and weather we live with) and politically. There are plenty of things that could be done better, but our health system does support us. But I visited Europe for the first time recently (Amsterdam) and the one thing that Aus doesn’t have, is the sense of history. The almost heavy feeling a city gets when it’s been walked by a scary number of people over a scary amount of years. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
      Epona, that bloody Murphey screwed you, you were just living here! Surely had this struck a little earlier you’d have been able to take advantage of the health system I was just talking about.

Comments are closed.