On the Verge of A New Life
August 2015: end of a 3-year-long workaholic binge, which was an intense struggle between four professions: Teacher (at two degrees simultaneously), Researcher, Manager and Designer. I would rarely sleep longer than 5 h a day, sometimes no more than 3 h. Nearly all my activities, including social events, were work-related. But the four professions were ill-balanced, with Teacher and Manager constantly beating the other two. Now is the time for change. I decided to take a 1-semester sabbatical and switch gears back to the Researcher. For the next 6 months, including the summer break, I will have no teaching and no organisational duties. Except for some that I want. It feels like the beginning of a new life!
Obligatory workload for Assistant Professor at UKW is 240 contact hours / year (120 / semester). But nearly everyone at English Studies has a lot of overtime: 300 h minimum, and it's not uncommon to teach 450 h / year or even more. (When we talk to academic teachers from foreign coutries, they barely believe that: "How is that even possible? Don't you have trade unions there?") So, with my full-time employment at English Studies, I had the full 300+ h of teaching (plus my duties as Head of Programme Committee in the Quality Assessment system for the whole Institute, which I gave up only last year). If I also wanted to teach at Gamedec, this could only count as extra overtime. So, the total number of my teaching hours was 650 in one academic year and 570 in another. Insane amount in itself – and it's just part of the deal. Anyway, if I am free from teaching for half a year, that's a lot of saved time!
My most important academic child: a BA programme in Game Studies & Design, has grown. For the last three years, it took most of my time: curriculum design, gamification design, quality assessment, fundraising, grant writing, grant management, industry contacts, international contacts, event organisation, marketing, web administration, and supervision of team projects. Plus regular teaching of labs and lectures. Beside the teaching, everything else was done by two people, myself and Mikołaj Sobociński – sometimes with help from students (and all this work, except for grant management, was unpaid – but that's another story). Now he is flying off to Kuwait and I'm off for the 1-semester sabbatical, but the system we've built is now strong enough to go on without constant care. I am not completely giving up the managerial duties or supervision of student projects, but I am significantly scaling it down. Main point: I won't teach regular classes until February 2016.
I finally have time for a family holiday. Not much, as both me and my wife need to use the summer holiday for research, as the teaching overload doesn't leave enough time in the academic year. But we will have a week-long family holiday with medieval castles and lakesides as main themes. And I'll spend another week at Hardkon Larpers Retreat; that's again work-related, but holiday-like nonetheless.
Health & Sport
I practiced historical fencing for 5 years. I quit because of a sport injury some three years ago, and didn't return to any physical sport ever since. First, I needed to recover. Then, I just didn't have time. I've put on too much weight and faced the risk of serious health problems if it went on like that. So, this is another aspect of my new life: back to sport and healthier diet. I was happy to discover I still can run 10 km in the forest, with my wife nordic walking beside me, or take a 1-hour deadly-intense drill with my friend who is a professional coach. After a week or so of regular exercise, I am still far from the condition from before the injury, but getting better. Hopefully, I'll restart fencing practice after the summer. And for the time being, I'm making a good use of the opportunities at hand.
|Enjoying the views|
|Enjoying the views 2|
|Enjoying more than just the views|
|Wondering if this was a WW2 artillery station guarding the road|
|Looking at dinosaur bones buried in the sand|
|Discovering Cthulhu-warped plant life|
|Nearly stepping on a living monstrous monstrosity|
|Getting back fairly exhausted and ready to delve back into the books|
I started to update my online profiles, a thing long overdue. I could find time to post news on Gamedec.UKW website, but not to take care of my own personal portfolio. Now I took down my permanently-under-construction website and redirected michal-mochocki.pl to my updated UKW Staff page. This, the blog and social networks will do. Updates on the way. And chances are I'll finally be able to get active in Facebook and LinkedIn professional groups.
At the end of July, we filed the final reports after the completion of "Internships for 2nd Gen Humanities" grant project from the National Center for Research and Development, which I coordinated for the last year. I am very happy to see the paperwork gone. However, there are also two E+ grant proposals I'm still working on. It seems that I'm not giving up on the Manager duties as much as I'd like to think.
I made a list of well-rounded game concepts I came up with and would like to develop:
- 3 tabletop RPGs
- 2 larps
- 4 board games
- 2 card games
- 1 urban game
- 1 ARG
- 2 gamifications
I'm sure I've forgotten some on the way, but it's not a problem. The problem is I still won't have time for most of these: during the sabbatical, Researcher trumps Designer mercilessly. I set my hopes at developing three of the above.
For the next 6 months, and perhaps more, research is king. The primary track I focus on is the activation of cultural heritage in tabletop RPG, larp and historical reenactment, as seen through the lenses of cultural studies, heritage studies and participatory culture, and of course (roleplaying) game studies. Another is education+games: edu-games (especially edu-larp), games-in-education and edu-gamification. I have tons of great books to read, papers to write, conferences to attend or co-organise, and first and foremost, research projects to complete. I don't have to show up at my university until February 2016, so I'm free to take on research assignments and study visits anywhere in Poland or abroad.
It will be a very productive and rewarding time. New life awaits.