FIFTY FUCKING YEARS This blog post isn’t about democracy 4. I live, breath, sleep and think Democracy 4 all the time, so I need to escape from it and talk about life stuff for a bit. Don’t worry, I’m still working on it (including weekends!) and jeffs back next week… I turned fifty years old last year. That means I’m very likely half way to death, even being optimistic. I’m not *unhealthy* but I’m not super-fit either, but frankly I think I’m WAY more likely to be killed by climate change than old age. BTW so are you. You really should do something about that. Like now, super urgently. The world is literally burning. Anyway… So fifty is a weird age to be. Its not really old enough to think about retirement, but you are definitely old enough to be bored with a lot of young people’s concerns and things. I’m married, my career has gone very very well, and I have paid off the house and car. These are things that people fight to achieve their whole life, and I seem to have done them. Normally, someone my age would have kids at university or starting their career, and would obsess about that, but we don’t have kids. I see a lot of people around me, a similar age or older, who seem to ease very comfortably into this position, and spend their time getting involved in the minutiae of local politics, or stuff like the best village competition (yes its not a hot fuzz joke, its REAL), or they take up golf, or more likely where I live, shooting pheasants or going horse riding etc… None of this is for me. I spend an hour a day playing Battlefield V with friends, chatting about politics and TV and games and work/code as we gun down the enemy. I’m am definitely the oldest in the group, and am aware that I am basically straddling two social circles. Relatively young game developers, and retired countryfolk who are drawing their pensions. This is strange, and makes me feel ‘disconnected’, which is something I feel in general anyway, for long tedious medical reasons I wont bore you with. I am in a the bizarre position of being more of a workaholic than anybody I know, despite being quite capable of retiring, thanks not least to the amazing performance of my stock-market picks. When I wrote this just over a year ago: The case for buying tesla stock. Tesla stock was about $220. Its currently $2,080. Thats just amazing. And other stocks I like (nvidia, paypal, square, microsoft, amazon) have all done well too (not AS well but…). Combine being very lucky on the stock market with being a workaholic who loves making indie games, and has been around the industry for over 20 years, and most people assume I would spend my days like this: Which to an extent… I do, but frankly covid has really torpedoed that. Even though I’m happy to go to restaurants now, many of my friends are not. I wouldn’t go to the cinema, there are no plays or outdoor events happening (although we did go to see 2 drive-in movies), and foreign travel is pretty much on hold right now. (not a bad thing, given climate change) Something all this makes me realize is that the benefits of various parts of life are valued very badly, and it takes a long time (50 years!) for me to really re-evaluate them. A lot of people value financial success very highly, but beyond a certain point, its impact on your actual quality of life is negligible. If positechs income doubled tomorrow, it likely wouldn’t make any impact on me at all. I love where I live, and have no real need for a *bigger* house. I already have my dream car, and I’m not one for luxury watches or bespoke suits or whatever the fuck people spend money on. I suspect the real equation is like this: Once you are not in poverty, and you are not thinking about how to pay the bills… your happiness races up, but once you get to be a fifty year old guy running his own company with some decent savings… what more is there? Global domination? a super-yacht? why? When I look at the things I’ve done in my life that I’m really happy about, or remember fondly, or proudly, very few of them are related to any form of conventional ‘success’. I was very pleased with a talk I gave at GDC once, mostly because it went well by the standards I had set for it (people laughed), I have no idea if it helped me sell any games or made money. The charity stuff I’ve done has given me a huge amount of happiness, disproportionate to the money spent. I do miss going to games events in the US, mostly because I miss some friends I have made over there, not really because of any business reasons. Realizing you are at least half way to death is a strange experience. You start thinking in concrete terms about what else you really have time for. You also think about your youth and how wasted a lot of it seems. I spent a CRAZY amount of time in pubs getting very drunk and talking about…god knows what. Certainly nothing interesting. I have spent a phenomenal amount of hours just playing scales to a metronome on my guitar. I have come to the realisation that one of the best things in life is to be good at a thing, and to do that thing. Whether or not that leads to huge success, critically or financially, is almost irrelevant as long as you can pay the bills. There is a sense of calm, happiness and ‘flow’ that comes from being skilled, and using that skill, that gives you a zen-like experience of inner-joy that no rolex watch of ferrari can replicate. …which is kind of why I am working on Democracy 4. I am good at this. In theory, I don’t have to do it. Unless the stock market suddenly crumbles, I could just take a few years off, play golf, and argue about thing on the local village council. I could mow the lawn, very often (god it needs it…). I could sunbathe in the garden, and read novels. But, this is just not me. This is also a year in which I’ve come to realize that yeah, I’m definitely on the autistic spectrum. Thats cool, I don’t mind. I was once told that I was ‘probably a high functioning autistic’, and I think thats true. Rather than let it bother me, I’m happy to lean into it a bit. If I want to spend time optimizing the rendering code in a game where 99% of player-votes say ‘the framerate is fine’, then thats fine. I can write C++ to relax, no point in fighting that, or denying it. It seems crazy that it takes 50 years to learn to just be yourself, but we are surrounded by so much social pressure to behave/act/desire one thing or another, that it can be really hard top just sit and think about what you actually want. Its definitely worth doing.