I was thinking about where to approach this topic from on my walk home, so I decided to simply start at the beginning. Or at least my beginning…
Backlog. It’s a very polarizing word among gamers. For some it’s a cringe worthy subject and for others it’s a near endless record of victory after victory. For me, it’s a bit of both. When I was kid and at mom and dad’s mercy for money to buy new video games, my backlog was very small and very manageable. No matter how bad the game was I eventually sucked it up and finished it.
As time passed and adulting happened (ugh, adulting) and I started earning my own money, nothing stopped me from buying whatever games I wanted. This was around the time of the first PlayStation. That’s probably when the backlog started to get completely out of control. Paycheck after paycheck went to fueling my collection and great games were being pumped out faster than I could finish them, yet I still bought more.
Years passed by, I changed jobs, life happened, so on and so forth. But the one and only constant in my life through it all was gaming. I’d say I’ve been following video games since about 6th grade. As time passed and the nature of gaming fundamentally changed from the solitary single player experience to what it is today, I’ve been there, and I’m still collecting more games as time goes on.
I used to wonder why it was I kept buying more and more games and not finishing the ones I already had, but then one day during contemplating the idea it finally came to me. I didn’t want to miss out on any of the experiences that were being offered. I didn’t want to miss out on the conversation surrounding a game or what was happening in gaming at the time. I’m pretty sure that a lot of gamers feel the same way. So let’s get back to that dirty word that started this post.
I keep buying more and more games because they interest me. The genre, the studio, the artists, the composer, the whatever. I don’t want to miss out on something that could be an amazing experience (like Hellblade) or something that can help me escape the day to day tedium (like Destiny.) That being said, I AM missing out on some gaming experiences whether I like it or not.
The Problem Is Choice
For the last 3 years, I’ve been a Destiny player. Someone very close to me describes my devotion to the game as ‘a testament to focus’ and while I won’t disagree with that I will say that my devotion to the game has definitely been a bane to my backlog. Sure every now and then I’ll take a hiatus from Destiny for one reason or another and play something else, but I keep coming back to the game mostly because of friends. This is a problem when you want to work your way through an ever expanding backlog of games.
Believe me I’d love for nothing more than to say that I’ve beaten every single game that I own. What gamer wouldn’t? But trying to balance free time between gaming and other things that you need to do in life, there simply is not enough time!
Part of the problem with trying to work through your backlog now days is online games such as Destiny or The Division. They never end. You’re always on the “infinite loot treadmill” trying to get better gear for your characters instead of moving on to a new game and ticking another title off that backlog checklist like a sane person would. But no, you don’t do that.
I keep buying more games that I think might interest me and contain experiences that I think I’ll enjoy. But there in lies the problem, what do you decide to play? A lot of the time, I end up playing whatever new hot AAA title was just released simply so I can join in on the conversation and hopefully save myself from having it spoiled by the internet. But sometimes, I end up skipping whatever game is most popular at the moment and paying more of whatever online game I’m addicted to at the time because I either miss it or there’s an expansion or an in game event is going on. But when I choose to do that, terrible things happen. What do I mean exactly? Well, for starters (and this is a serious pet peeve of mine as a gamer) there have been many and frequent times when there was a game I meant to go back to at some point only to find that the servers for it have been shut down or the community has packed up and moved on. That there is an experience that I’ve missed out on, and now there are trophies/achievements that I am no longer able to get because portions of these games (or in some cases the game in its entirety) are no longer accessible.
Take for example this photo. See that little box that says Rockband 3? Inside there are ALL the Rockband games that were released for the Xbox 360. And more specifically, Rockband 2 is in there. That game was two whole years of my life! That was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Did I miss out on any games that were released while Rockband was a major part of my life? Yes I did. In fact, most of the ones you see in that photo I’ve never gotten around to. But in this instance, it’s ok. They’re almost all single player games that I can go back to at any point and I don’t need to worry that I’ll be locked out of any of the content. I also like to fantasize that I’ll go back to one of these old games someday and give it a second wind in the gaming community, but I digress.
During the PS3/Xbox 360 era of gaming, I can only really recall one game that I meant to go back to and complete (or try to get the platinum for) and that game was Resistance 2. When news came down that the servers for that game were going to be shut down, the forum at playstationtrophies.org lit up like a Christmas tree with random strangers exchanging IDs in hopes of getting 10,000 PvP kills before the end came. This is but one example of an experience and a community that I’ve missed out on. The most recent instance of this (and the one that prompted me to write this post) was when it was revealed that Nintendo has decided to shut down Miiverse. (Source: https://www.polygon.com/2017/8/29/16222310/miiverse-wii-u-games-shutdown-2017) It made me start thinking about the one Wii U game I’ve meant to get to for a long time, but just couldn’t seem to find time to shoehorn it in my gaming schedule: Xenoblade Chronicles X. Sure I’m upset that every other game on that list, games that I own and have played and loved, is going to be missing something for the rest of my life, but here’s a game that seems right up my alley that I’ve never touched. And now, if I wait too long I feel like I’ll be missing out on something that was special and something that I could have enjoyed instead of only getting to play a partial game. I’ve been informed by a close friend that’s repeatedly played the game annually that I’m going to miss out on some special enemies, materials and a few other things. That really bums me out. I feel like if I don’t jump on it and start playing now, I’m going to miss out. But you know what is out in just a few days?
I’ve purposefully been avoiding sinking my teeth into anything that’s too meaty or that I can’t finish quickly because Bungie’s juggernaut is just around the corner and I’m interested in playing it. That being said, I’m trying to internally justify passing up Xenoblade yet again so that I can make more time for Destiny 2. But I don’t think I can justify it much longer without feeling a lot of guilt or remorse for not playing it.
But then again, the same can be said for a lot of the games in my backlog…
Like Sand Through An Hourglass
Some years back, I started giving serious thought to how I’d ever finish all the games that I own before I die, and I came across a couple of very interesting articles about that very thing.
The Lifehacker article was more about PC games, but its still relevant to the topic. Trying to reign in my ever growing backlog was also a major factor in me uninstalling Steam and unsubscribing from their emails (especially the pesky ones about games on my wishlist being on sale.)
The Kotaku article, however, was geared more for me. It lists a few resources and tips that I think that I can use to conquer my backlog in the long run, or at least put a sizable dent in it. I was already in the habit of tracking games on The Backloggery but the article also suggests the sites RF Generation and How Long To Beat both of which I’ve yet to use but might be persuaded to (not like I’m already tracking my backlog on The Backloggery and 2 mobile apps, but who’s counting?). The point is, if I’m ever going to experience all the games that I own and hopefully never have to deal with the loss of games’ components, I’m going to have to find the time somewhere or better manage the time I have.
What am I going to do? Worry about it until it kills me I suppose. But in all seriousness, if the loss of Xenoblade’s Miiverse component is happening very soon, then that might have to be the game that I play in between Destiny 2 sessions if I want to experience what the game has to offer before part of it is lost. But while I’m experiencing Xenoblade and the future of the Destinyverse, I hope I don’t miss out on any more experiences that I might enjoy.