How Should Gamers Deal With Their Ever-Growing Backlogs?
Metroid: Other M is a game I've been planning on playing for about seven years. Tales of Symphonia has sat in my backlog for roughly fifteen years. The list extends longer than a fat man's cholesterol, but you get the idea.
Every summer I have a similar goal: chisel away at that daunting backlog. I usually get very little or nothing at all complete. For many gamers the question comes up a lot, how will we ever get around to playing the games in our backlog. For me it seems that for every game I complete, a dozen more are added to the backlog.
We live in a time where more games are coming out than ever before. We are truly blessed to have so many great options, but the choice can be overwhelming. The key is to manage your time and be realistic about what you can do.
At the end of the day, the our most valuable resource as gamers isn't our money, it's our time. As we grow up our responsibilities increase and our free time gets cut. It's just a fact of life, however, you don't have to beat yourself up over not getting around to a couple of video games.
Even if you never make it around to playing a handful of games, take solace in the excitement of knowing that there is always something new to experience. For some, knowing that they haven't "completed" their list is irking to the point of mental instability. If that is the case consider this, your time is more valuable than any video game. If you haven't had the chance to play a game that's been out for years, perhaps it is time to simply move on. It doesn't mean that the game isn't as good as some others, but maybe it isn't worth your time.
Consider playing more small games, and fewer big games. Today there are tons of two hour indie games that can be completed in one or two sittings. These are a great way to experience full games without having to dedicate too much of your time.
Better yet, balance the big games with the small ones. Perhaps complete one or two smaller games, and then play one bigger game. This will keep the "completionist" feeling satisfied since you will be able to complete a larger number of games at a faster rate. So maybe space out Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 by playing Gone Home or Inside in-between.
Another, slightly unusual way to complete games is to keep your interest in the game heightened. For example, when I finally got around to playing Super Metroid I first listened to a episode of IGN's Nintendo podcast where they had a discussion on the Metroid franchise. Listening to a group of people talk about the game made it seem exciting and new, like a recently released game. This created that water cooler effect that made playing the game much more interesting for me. Perhaps it won't work for everyone, but I recommend giving it a shot. Read some Reddit threads on a game, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video. Chances are, you'll be more engaged and interested to play that backlog game. Not only that but it can also create a better appreciation for the game overall.
Backlogs are both a blessing and a curse. There's never enough time to play all the games we want, and there is always something new to distract us from what we were focused on. For me, I've found the solution to be the prefect balance of the aforementioned techniques and not giving a crap. Master that, and you just might feel a little bit better about the never-ending list that is your backlog.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and finish Star Fox Zero (backlog game number 2,268).