Dealing with the Backlog

Image by Flickr user: KniBaron
Image by Flickr user: KniBaron

Ah the gaming backlog, ever-present and never diminished. For those of us who like to keep current, and especially those who enjoy a good steam sale, the ol’ backlog is something that we never seem to completely escape is it (not to mention those time sinks we call “multiplayer games”)? It sounds like a bad thing, and many gamer has found themselves complaining about having to many games to play and not enough time to play them in. If it is a losing battle anyway, then how does a gamer deal with it? There’s no sure fire way of course, but here’s what I’ve discovered in my dealings with the backlog.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that the straight-forward method of progressing from game to game upon the completion of each doesn’t work very well. It all has to do with the will to play. Some games are flashes in the pan that you’re satisfied with leaving behind, but others leave one wanting to linger; to find every secret and get every scrap of story that there is. If the goal is to eventually defeat the backlog, then this simply won’t do. It only works if one keeps moving, but where’s the fun in that? There’s also the listing method, skipping around withing your backlog instead of steadily marching from game to game in the order they were bought. Indeed it does work better, but I’ve found that using this method carries with it the risk of having games get left behind. When you give yourself the freedom to skip around, the tendency is to play only those games which sound most appealing. So by the time those are finished, new games will have been released and those games that fell outside the usual sphere of interest get left behind. Due to using this method for a time, I to this day still have copies of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Megaman Legends 2, and Zack and Wiki because I missed the window to play them and now am unwilling to take time from newer games to go back and finish them. They’re just “somedays” now (in that I hope to work up the will to go back and play them someday). It’s really just a trade-off when either of these methods are used: fun vs. completion. They work in their own regard, but don’t quite solve the problem of the backlog.

Finally there’s the last method, which is arguably the simplest of those listed here, but is perhaps the most difficult: buy fewer games. It’s really that straightforward: fewer games to play, less backlog. Unfortunately, it takes a degree of patience that I simply don’t possess. I’m one of those that loves to play the new games and talking about them when friends are still working through them too. It’s actually made this dry spell we’ve gotten in the wake of the new console releases quite nice; I finally have time to work through some of that backlog!

How do you deal with your backlog? Have you made steady progress or does it continue to grow despite your best efforts? My approaches haven’t worked all that well, so I’d really like to hear what you do!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. fminuzzi says:

    Those look like fun games to go through (I would point out specific games I enjoyed, but since they made it to the list, it doesn’t seem necessary)
    My backlog is around 10 games at any given time. I’m always playing a few at the same time, either because they’re on different consoles or they’re different kinds of games. I replace a game I’ve finished with a new one from the backlog (probably for the same console), and by that point have probably added some new game to my list. It can feel like I’m not making much progress because I’m hopping around (depending on whether the TV is free, whether I’m in the mood for something active or not), but I always have something to do.
    Of course, there’s always a bit of pokemon happening on the side…

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      Hmm…I like the way you think! I’m still doing the list and skip method I mentioned, am still only really playing one game at a time. Having multiple games going at once would definitely keep games from slipping through the cracks. Maybe It’ll allow me to get Megaman Legends 2 back into the mix. (I’ve been wanting to finish that one for awhile)

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    I do have a backlog (7 games un-played and 1 started, but not finished), but I prefer it to the times I have absolutely no new games to play, and I must either play games I’ve already done or just not play at all. I used to always find myself in this position, with no new games and none on the horizon, and no games that I feel like playing over, so for me, having this backlog over the last few years has been a welcome change.

    Anyway, I manage to be fairly patient with my backlog, and I only play the games I want to play first because, if I play a game that I’ve had longer, but looks less fun, I’ll end up rushing through and not enjoying it because I want to get to the fun games. There are games that take me a year or two to get to, but I do it eventually. Nevertheless, I have this long list of seven PS1 games I bought recently to get to that looks rather overwhelming, especially when they’re all Square Enix RPG’s. I may need to take a break from them periodically….

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      Yeah, one can only take so much Square in one go. They’re fun but can be tiring. What games did you get?

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      1. duckofindeed says:

        I got “Chrono Cross”, “FF8”, “FF9”, “Final Fantasy Chronicles” (which includes “FF4” and “Chrono Trigger”), and “Final Fantasy Anthology” (which includes “FF5” and “FF6”). I’m thinking of taking breaks from them here and there to play other games. Otherwise, it may be a bit too much. Way too much…

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      2. Hatm0nster says:

        That IS a lot of Square to get through…good luck :).

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  3. cary says:

    This year I’m trying the whole “don’t buy (or rent) a lot of games” thing. But I honestly don’t know how long that will last, especially since I finally, finally, finally, started using Steam over the holidays (and, oh man, do I now understand the draw), and especially since we’ll probably have a next gen system in the house in the coming months.

    Like the other commenters, I’m also pretty tolerant of having a backlog, and I generally take my time with the games in it. I try to deal with only one game at a time (or one game per system, at least), though certainly my curiosity about new titles does get the best of me sometimes.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I usually try to take my time in my games, too, though there are times when I started a game, then I get another one that looks far more interesting. In the past, this often caused me to rush through my current game, ruining my enjoyment of it just so I could get to the new one. It was a silly thing to do, so now, if I really want to play a different game, I just take a break from the one I’m on so I can return to it and enjoy it later. Most of the time, though, I don’t play a new game until I’ve finished my current one.

      My system for getting through games is by console. I plug in the console with the most games I either haven’t played or want to play again, then play all the games I want before switching to another console. I’m currently playing all my new PS3 games, and soon, I think I’ll be switching to the PS2 to play some new (well, new to me) PS1 games I recently got.

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  4. Well like everyone else I have a backlog (about 15 games or so). I keep a list of what games I play and everyday I play a different game from that list starting from the bottom. So I’m constantly playing a new game everyday. However there are 2 exemptions to this method; I’m a heavy fighting game player so every other game I play a fighter and then a PS4 game. So my method looks like this: PS3 game, fighting game, PS4 game, repeat.

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      That’s a cool way of going about it. That way you miss out on any of the games you’ve bought!

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