Trying to keep the direct player experience at the forefront of my mind often feels like falling asleep while driving. It's so easy to get lulled into a meta-design space where the systems and abstractions take precedence. And that's not to say that the systemic design isn't important, but it tends to suck up all the oxygen in the room because it's familiar, safe, and above all, clean. Comparatively, the player experience is dirty, filthy business, all wrapped up in interface and challenge and learning and boredom.
So I end up with a lot of marks on my arm from pinching myself. Stay awake, man!