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Too Many Games, Too Little Time

Updated on February 1, 2014
Look familiar?
Look familiar?

Backlogs. Everybody has one. I have one and I didn’t even know there was a name for it until a few months ago. Here are a few basic definitions of a “backlog”:

  • Help! I have too many games!
  • I can’t play 30 games all at the same time…
  • I really wanted to keep playing game A, but then game B came out and I got really addicted to game B so I probably won’t go back to game A for at least a couple months.

Put simply, a backlog is all of the games you’ve been meaning to play. A backlog typically comes with goals like “earn all the achievements” or “beat these!” This sounds simple enough when your backlog consists of one or two games, but what about when it consists of ten games, or 20 games—or 50? Managing a backlog can be really difficult for many gamers and everyone has to find the tricks that work for them. I’m no expert, but I’m hoping some of my tricks can benefit you as well.

It Just Doesn't Matter!

The first trick to managing your backlog is to define it. Which games do you consider to be part of your backlog and what do you have to do to get them out of it? I know, that sounds really complicated, and it is.

Let’s start with the basics: When do you consider yourself to be “done” with a game? Not necessarily forever, but for now. What is “completion” to you? For me, it’s seeing the ending credits. So my backlog only has games in it that I haven’t seen credits in.

This screen says to me, "Good job, you beat it.  Now go play something else."
This screen says to me, "Good job, you beat it. Now go play something else."

If you use this method, be sure to exclude games like Animal Crossing from this category—they have no credits. It’s done when you’re done playing it. Also watch out for games that have multiple credits. For example, Pokemon Silver plays one set of credits when you beat the Johto league. Then you can keep playing all the way through the Kanto league, where you see another set of credits. When you hear a game has multiple credits like this, you have to decide which credits count and stick to that. I’m “done” after Johto. I might keep playing the game, but I consider it beaten, and no longer part of my backlog.

Trim the Excess Fat

You know how some recipes instruct you to “trim the excess fat” off a piece of meat? Same concept, but here it’s “trade that game into the store.” There are some games we are destined never to finish. It’s sad, but we have to learn to let those games go. I know that I have and will continue to struggle with this. In the end, though, I only have so much time and that time needs to be devoted to the games I truly want to play.

So decide right here and now: What do you want to play?

Set your favorites to the side—you know those aren’t going anywhere.

Now pull out the games you don’t know that well and test them. Play them for a couple hours, read some reviews online, whatever helps you know whether or not this is a game you truly want to play. Keep the ones that intrigue you and the ones you feel stubborn about giving up. Ditch the rest.

What you should be left with is that awkward pile of games that you know well enough to like, but don’t quite love. These are the hardest ones for me because of that weird in-between place where they reside. Pick up each game and ask it this question: “Is there another game that does this better that I would rather play?”

For example: Super Mario Galaxy is much better at platforming than Little Big Planet. Does that mean I’d rather play Super Mario Galaxy? Not necessarily. I like them both and I’d like to play them both.

After all, who could resist this face?
After all, who could resist this face?

I would, however, much rather play Super Mario Galaxy than play New Super Mario Bros. In that scenario, New Super Mario Bros. goes to the store and Super Mario Galaxy stays. Weeding through your games like this can help reduce a lot of stress. Also, when in doubt: keep it. You can always trade it in later, but you might not be able to buy it back.

And Finally...

Finally, don’t worry. Play the games you feel like playing today and let the others wait. They aren’t going anywhere and there’s always tomorrow. Just like you control what’s in your backlog, you can also control how it affects you. So long as you feel like you’re managing it, you’re in a good place. When you start to feel like your backlog is drowning you, strain it down to size.

There’s always tomorrow.

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