2021 - A Review

I know it’s not quite the end of 2021 - but realistically I’m not going to finish any more projects before the end of the year. And since I’m trying to take it a bit easier to catch up on business admin - this seemed the right time for this post!

Am I a Workaholic?

I’ve been very fortunate to mostly keep working during COVID. In fact, despite a small blip at the beginning of COVID - where a bunch of projects were cancelled - I’ve had too much work.

This is one of the challenges of being a freelancer. Generally, the freedom is amazing - but balancing projects from different clients to maintain a constant work-life balance is really hard. This extra time from being stuck at home has meant that I’ve made the mistake of optimising more work into my life. We’re not going out in the evenings and weekends so there’s more opportunity to work. It was not a deliberate decision, it’s just difficult to turn down projects (particularly as most of the opportunities I get are enjoyable to work on). Sorry if you were someone I had to turn down. It’s very likely that I was disappointed to do so.

I’ve tried to take a couple of weeks off (honestly, I keep promising myself a big chunk of time off - but it hasn’t really happened). But this is a good chance to at least take it a bit easier to get on top of business admin e.g., accounts, website. Before I go charging forward at my next two projects across November –> January.

Projects I’ve launched this year:

Click on the links for more details…

Fame Game

  • some of the planning for this happened last year but 90% was in 2021

Who Killed Cynthia Conner?

  • an online / zoom based murder mystery set at the Newark Museum of Art.

Lost and Found

  • this started summer of last year - so really, it’s a 2020 project that launched in 2021.

A Moment of Madness Online

  • this was an online iteration of a real-world game that needed to be adapted for COVID


  • this has been ongoing for a number of years

A did a bunch of smaller things too but very little in the way of conferences. And I’m not quite ready to return to them yet. I don’t get the same buzz from attending the online ones. And the thought of going back to very large conferences still feels daunting.

Improvements for Next Year

Work less! This is something I promise myself every year. One way I achieve this is to book holidays well in advance. This means that I do get some time away with the family and it’s easier for the project to understand as it’s in the calendar right from the beginning. I need to get better at leaving the laptop at home though - instead of optimising work into every spare minute during the holiday :(

Re-Use my Existing Technology

What I’d really like to do is revisit some of the technology that I’ve built for previous projects and use them in new ones.

It would be nice to not start from ground zero technology-wise each time. That’s what most smart companies do - work on a piece of technology and then resell it to different customers. Each time extending and improving the technology as new customer requests appear. Eventually, they have the option to build the company around technology. Not being much of an entrepreneur is not something I’ve ever given much thought to. As a developer I get distracted and excited by new, shiny things. However, whenever I finish a project, I have many more ideas that I’d like to add. So, using something as a starting point is a way of pushing the idea further as well as maybe getting back to a better work-life balance.

Adapt for future projects

I guess this post is a long-winded way of saying - if you think one of my existing projects could be adapted / expanded for something you have in mind then get in touch. It will be much more work than just dropping some new content into an existing experience (as they will be somewhat custom) - but we will have something that has already been tested with the public (and the learnings around that) and so is a great starting point.

John Sear
Real-world Game Designer

My interests are creating games for real-spaces at the intersection of game design, theatre and technology.