I Have 660 Games Left

This post will reveal no great truth and make no great claims. I am simply here to share one way I count my remaining days: in games.

I am 23 and expect to live until the age of 78 making an average of 1 game a month. With that I’ve arrived at the entitled total. Now that my elementary math skills have been demonstrated let’s look at how this perspective has helped me.

Firstly, it allows me to see my time as a resource which in a way it has always been. However this abstraction lets me conceptually hold the entirety of my life in my mind. A task far harder to do when thinking about days/weeks (of which there are too many) and months/years which represent such diverse spans of experiences. Even if I’m estimating a game and a month to be equivalent I have a far easier time picturing what 660 games would look like.

In a way I’ve made a meta-game out of the rest of my life. I can look for optimizations and try to make games at a faster rate, thereby “gaining” more time, more life, more opportunities for unique expression. After all I did read an article on how to prototype a game in 7 days. I have agency over the amount of stuff I get to make and the amount of things I get to say, and more importantly I have feedback on how well I am doing that! I have found this to be incredibly motivating, and it puts an added level of importance in the decision of what games to spend my time on while pushing me ever forward.

When I say 660 games, I mean 660 thorough games that explore and express something important to me. I expect to make games all the time. In the past month I’ve made 5 and it hasn’t been due to any unusual productivity; I’d say only one of these games was really representative of one of the 660 that will catalog my life. This helps me ride the line between respecting the time I have while not becoming too attached to any singular idea or becoming fearful of spending my time on projects that initially seem silly or trivial.

I don’t expect a constant rate of production over the next 55 years; life will throw me into different roles and some of those might not allow me to be making as many games as I do now. Sometimes I think on all the places I’ll go and whether or not I’d still be making games. If I became a father I’d have an awesome little playtester running around and games would abound. If I became a business owner, games would become mandatory workplace activities and improving our culture through internal game creation would be a wonderful outlet to keep those 660 coming. One of the worst case scenarios is that I end up in jail. I have no idea what I would go to jail for, but it’s a possible future and one that I was terrified of for the longest time. Now if I were in jail, I would absolutely design games. There would be all sorts of unique restrictions and tons of time for development. They would likely be analog games and they would not lead to success in many of the ways we like to define it. I would not make money, or become well known, or become a teacher or established academic, I would not start a foundation, and I might not even make friends, but I would make games.

I challenge you to consider how many games you have left, how fast will you make them and why. Then I’d recommend you get started. You’ve already spent a great deal of time reading my silly article.

3 Comments

  1. Abhishek Singh

    I really like this perspective on life. I remember watching a video about the time you have in terms of jelly-beans and while that just served as a motivational video, this is definitely a more productive approach. I gave some thought to applying the same ideology to my life but the plan doesn’t seem very promising. For one, I tend to work in bursts and sustaining such an endeavour seems really challenging. I also tend to fixate on things so I would just end up working on one game per month rather than multiple ones. Which makes me wonder if your uneven rate accounts for such slumps and how you plan to deal with them. Developing games at a faster rate might also mean that you get less time to refine them enough to be meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a naysayer. I guess I still can’t wrap my head around counting my remaining years in this fashion. It’s definitely a great attitude towards life as a designer and I wish you luck on your journey!

    And somehow, I feel that if you ever serve jail time (hopefully not), that will be your most productive period!

  2. Jerry T. John

    Woah. That suddenly put things into a whole different perspective. I never thought of how finite the time I have left is in terms of the number of games I can still make in them is. I feel more mortal. More limited. And feel a much greater sense of urgency for it. I know that it will not last, but I thank you for bringing it up. It seriously gave me a lot to think about how I’m spending my time.

  3. Ivan

    660 is a daunting number, but I applaud the goal of a game a month. Thinking of it as time and opportunity rather than a goal to hit isn’t a bad motivator. I agree that designing games is a fantastic way for creative expression, just as others might funnel their creativity into art or writing. I would recommend against going for quantity over quality, though! The number doesn’t matter so much as what imprint you leave in it. But thanks for the advice– should I ever go to jail, I’ll borrow your idea of designing there. It sounds like you’ll have all the time in the world to focus!

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