Gaming Advice: The Surprising Habit that Makes Me a Better Gamer, Publisher and Designer

I’ve a surprising habit that makes me a better gamer, publisher and designer. It’s not illegal or deviant and almost anyone can do it.

By William  McAusland
By William McAusland


A couple of years ago, I discovered running.

My sister had been bugging me to have a go for a year or so, but it was when my then 8-year-old ran away from me during a game of chase and I only just caught him that I realised I had to get fit.

Previously, I thought I didn’t have time for running. I was a busy chap, after all. However, I’m not a big fan of that excuse — it’s a bit like saying the dog ate my homework — so I moved my schedule around and had a go.

The first month or so was hell, as I was somewhat unfit. I downloaded the free Couch – 5K app and bravely (even heroically) soldiered on.

And then something strange happened. When I could get through a 5k run without dying, I got more productive! On the face of it, that seemed odd. After all, I was/am actually spending less time at my computer, but I’m doing more (and better) work than I was before.


Well besides the obvious advantages of running (losing weight, getting fitter, herds of Endorphins coursing through my body and so on) it turns out running was doing something else: it was resting my brain. Previously, I’d been spending so much time concentrating on work that my brain never really had time to rest.

Running puts my brain in neutral and gives my subconscious time to chew over problems or come up with ideas. For example, when I’m running down a hill in the woods in the pouring rain I’m not thinking about my latest project or the workday. I’m simply trying to get down the hill without falling over and hurting myself or looking like an idiot. (You’d be surprise how often I fail at this task…)

I also often listen to podcasts when I run—particularly when I’m not out trying to get personal bests—and these often give me great ideas for adventures, advice articles and more. (Hell, I’ve had ideas for entire product lines while running!) As an example, I went for a run today and came up with the titles and concepts for four articles (including this one) and a character build. It’s got so “bad” I’m stopping several times in every run to make notes in Evernote (another reason I find Evernote indispensable). How cool is that?

I’d highly recommend you have a go at running. Fair warning: it’s going to be really hard to start, but if you persevere you’ll be fitter, slimmer and more productive.

(Also, when the zombies come you’ll have a better chance of survival…)

Help Fellow Gamers

Have you had a similar experience? Have you taken up a hobby that makes you better at your job or gaming and gets you fitter and healthier at the same time? Share what it is in the comments below and help your fellow gamers have more fun while gaming!


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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

10 thoughts on “Gaming Advice: The Surprising Habit that Makes Me a Better Gamer, Publisher and Designer”

  1. I really, really love this. I have been wanting to run, but have said that I don’t have enough time. I didn’t even think about how it rests your brain. I think I may have to start now.

  2. I’ve had several “moments of clarity” when out for a run (or ride). Either an idea for fixing a system glitch, or a neat story hook.

  3. I much prefer cycling as it is easier on the joints and I can “destination ride” to a Starbucks, store, or a park.

    I do a lot of creative thinking out there on the bike, some of my best ideas for work have happened out there as well.

    And seeing wildlife, the river and the trees is very relaxing. It is very hard to be in a negative mood out there.

    1. My tastes change but Freakanomics and Lore have been in my listening list for a long time. I also like Dan Snow’s History Hits and the TED Radio Hour is always a good listen.

  4. Good article. I want to start something like that but I avoid running, as I have a history of asthma (which has been dormant going on 30 years and I don’t want it to start up again) and I’m 60 with arthritis in my knees and feet so I’ll probably do the next best thing – walking. I live in a community with a lot of trees and landscaping which is perfect to go on a nice long walk (with the dog) at least daily. Plus we have a gym membership that’s going to waste so time to haul out the gym shorts and get to it.

    Thanks for the suggestions – this’ll help me to sort out GMing ideas.

    -Ol’ Man Grognard

  5. I find that running is more like meditation as you get to the point where it isn’t painful. Long runs are always amazing for this. Hint for newbies: slow down! Try and keep that heart rate down to the point where you could talk if you had someone with you. By going slower you can go longer, and longer is better! Speed will come with time.

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