Maybe it is running a start-up gaming company, which can feel like it is consuming my life, but I often find myself feeling like I am wasting time when I am not working - coding, marketing, meeting with artists, preparing pitches for funding, testing.
This weekend I spent two days with the students from Gompers Middle School judo program, from south Los Angeles. Yesterday, Ronda was on the mat teaching, along with Richard Elizalde from New Breed Jiujitsu and UCLA Judo, Josh Rodriguez from Mojica Judo and Mark Hidalgo.
When I start thinking I don't have time for this, I ask myself why I am so committed to making 7 Generation Games a success. I suppose venture capitalists want to hear that we want to make A LOT of money. (Our Chief Marketing Officer tells me, yes, we want to make A LOT of money.) Why, though? I'm not that into stuff.
For me, making a lot of money is necessary so that we can make more games, better games, that help people learn, and not just little kids, either. Millions of people are held back in this country because they are not good enough at math, reading or writing to get a job, or get a better job. You can't affect millions of people around the country on $312.86 .
Still, it's worth stopping some days and looking at the people right in front of me. Weekends like these, which we try to do two or three times a year, are an advantage for our Gompers kids, whether they realize it or not.
They get to just be kids for a few days and not worry about anything.
They get to meet people from lots of different clubs from all over Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, or, at some events, from all over the U.S.
We keep the program purposely small - currently 17 of 16 available spots are filled. Yes, the math does not work out, but José Gonzalez, our teacher supervisor from the school is a social studies teacher (-; Thank you to generous support from Dollamur Mats and Universal Studios, we have just been able to buy 10 more mats, which will let us expand to 22 of 20 spots.
Often, the "good kids" that are quiet, do their school work and stay out of trouble are overlooked while teachers deal with the students who are disruptive or failing. With a program like our judo class, there are usually four adults on the mat, giving us a ratio of 4 teachers to each student. Similarly, at the away events, we have a chaperone for every 3-4 students.
This gives each student a load of time to talk about what is going on in school, get nagged by me about any grade less than an A, get advised on charter or magnet high schools where they can apply, complain about anything that is on their minds.
While the budget is always being supplemented by me personally (that is where my book royalties are going) and by Ronda, between that and generous donations we are able to provide each student good experiences like a team dinner at Rainforest Cafe, a plane ticket to Kansas City. Of course, not every student can participate in everything, but keeping the program small provides more resources for each student.
It's like with parenting. You can talk all you want about quality time but what kids really benefit from is great, big heaps of quantity time. If a student goes to every practice and event during the year, they will spend over 200 hours with us.
As I have said before, the purpose of the Gompers Judo program is not to run through hundreds of kids so we can find one or two with a shot at the Olympic team. It is to give every kid in the room a better shot at life.
Speaking of games, if you are in a giving or learning spirit, for every game you buy this month, 7 Generation Games will donate one to a school. Or, you can donate two if you are feeling particularly generous. I'd suggest you download and play the game yourself, though. It's fun. It will give you a taste for what our next game coming out next month is like - it's three times as cool.
Or, if you want to buy Winning on the Ground, not only do the royalties go toward our team dinner every year, but you can also learn some matwork and get some good training ideas.