1000 Months

Ready to go on a journey of existential dread with me? cw: middle aged thoughts, mortality.

Okay let’s goooo!

You were warned.

I realized when I was young that we get about 1000 months to live. That’s it. 1000 months, and that might even be generous: it’s about 83 years. The likely number of quality months is 900, or about 75 years. And ya gotta take out those first 120 months, ain’t nobody doing much except growing up. So let’s say 780 months to do whatever we’re gonna do with the intentionality and agency of adulthood.

Some folks have figured out how to play “a campaign” over many years. If that’s the only game you’re playing, how many months of your 780-or-so allotted months did you spend on it? 18? 24? More? At least in my mind, that number is big enough to feel the bite out of the total. And the total is small enough to imagine: the months are going by faster all the time, too, as each month becomes a smaller portion of the total.

As you probably know, I’m not a multi-year campaign kind of guy. I’d say a “typical” run for me is 6 sessions or so, up to 10 if it’s been great but also a goodly number of 1s and 2s. It probably averages out, taking into account vacations and schedule fuckups, to about 2 months per game. And I love exploring new games (acknowledging that not everyone does).

Tick-tock emmer effer

As of right this minute, I’ve cashed in 617 of my 900 quality months. I’ve got 283 months left. That’s 23 summers, 23 winters, 23 springs and 23 falls. That’s small enough to be countable in your head. You can probably remember 23 summers you’ve already enjoyed.

But what I’m really thinking about is the 140 long(ish) campaign-style games I’ve got left to play. What will they be? What will I have to leave out? What’s really on my bucket list, and what was just blue-sky aspiration?

Nice snack. What’s for dinner?

Now…none of this takes into account convention play. I’ll get in a good 8 games per con, and I go to 3 cons a year. That’s 24 bonus games. But they’re all one-shots and they’re usually with strangers. They’re a flight of beers, a charcuterie board, a buffet lunch. They’re not the dinner party of in-depth play connecting with friends. (And for many of you, you might never connect that way over gameplay. Maybe it’s just the thing you do a night a week to blow off steam, get away from your family, not think about work.)

So what should my 140 games be?

What won’t make the list? What hasn’t even been made yet that’s gonna get on that list, probably displacing something? If 140 games sounds like a lot to you, I can assure you it is not. At this point I estimate I have played 240 multi-session campaign type games in the past 40 years. I’ve only got about a third of all the campaigns I’ll ever play left to play.

Kind of hoping for a burning longship tbh
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4 thoughts on “1000 Months”

  1. Goddammit, Paul. I didn’t need to think about this tonight….

    But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?

  2. We’re about the same age, Paul, and have been playing games for about the same amount of time. Whether you’re a short campaign kind of player or a longer campaign kind of player, we all know that some games are better than others, live longer in the memory, or hit more of the right notes. Here’s the thing then, just like the days of our lives or the length of our lives, not all experiences are created equal; simple arithmetic doesn’t work here. I’d count a certain Torchbearer campaign with friends, a Labyrinth Lord campaign with a full table of novices at a club, a couple of Burning Wheel campaigns, including one I’m playing in now, as amazing times which outshine and outweigh so much other gaming over the years, as entertaining as it might have been on any given evening. Your very best game ever might be the last one you play; your last day might be the best one you ever live.
    There’s an old farmers’ saying which runs “live every day like it’s your last, farm every day as if you farm forever.” It’s a bit broken in these days of industrial ecocide, but it might easily be adapted to gaming. It’s not how many days you live or games you play that matters.

  3. We’re about the same age, Paul, and have been playing games for about the same amount of time. Whether you’re a short campaign kind of player or a longer campaign kind of player, we all know that some games are better than others, live longer in the memory, or hit more of the right notes. Here’s the thing then, just like the days of our lives or the length of our lives, not all experiences are created equal; simple arithmetic doesn’t work. I’d count a certain Torchbearer campaign with friends, a Labyrinth Lord campaign with a full table of novices at a club, a couple of Burning Wheel campaigns, including one I’m playing in now, as amazing times which outshine and outweigh so much other gaming over the years, as entertaining as it might have been on any given evening. Your very best game ever might be the last one you play; your last day might be the best one you ever live.
    There’s an old farmers’ saying which runs “live every day like it’s your last, farm every day as if you farm forever.” It’s a bit broken in these days of industrial ecocide, but it might easily be adapted to gaming. It’s not how many days you live or games you play that matters.

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