Backlog Anxiety

The inspiration for this post hit me as I was doing dishes and getting ready for bed tonight. So while in theory I should be already asleep right now, instead I turned on my PC and felt like I needed to get this out of my system.
First off, I resisted the urge for about three days before jumping onto the Zelda remake bandwagon. I was interested in buying this game but the €60 price tag was pretty steep. Luckily I remembered that I could get this game with the special Nintendo Online membership vouchers, which would bring the price down to €50. I managed to snag the coupon for a reduced price thanks to some Gold points so I’ve paid €48 for this game now. I’m still not sure if it’s worth that price but it’s €12 less than what I would’ve paid otherwise so I can live with that.

This is not really the main topic of this post though but it does add to a growing problem I have. I have eluded multiple times to the pretty big backlog of single player games that I’ve been accumulating over the past few years. It started mostly with 3DS games and then PS4 games afterwards. Then I got a WiiU three years ago and started getting games for that. Fast forward to 2017 and I bought my Switch and am on already quite a collection for that console aswell. Yesterday as I was going through my WiiU games to enter them into a catalogue I realized that I’ve owned this console for pretty much 3.5 years and I’ve not finished a single game on it. Much to my own dismay the game I’ve played the most was Breath of the Wild, with 7.5 hours played, followed by Mario Kart 8 at 5.5 hours played. All my other games, and I have around 16 or so, have sat on my shelf or in my TV-cabinet as good as untouched for that time. This made me realize that even though I love to treat myself to new games, the latest Zelda and Oninaki last month being case in point, I somehow fail to actually play most of them. My regular pattern is to buy a new game, get around 2-5 hours of playtime in and then I put it down and never pick it back up. The fact that I managed to finish Oninaki within 3 weeks of buying it was actually a pretty uncommon thing for me. Picking up this Zelda game now.. I can only hope I like it enough to actually finish it before it goes onto the pile of “2 hours played”.

I’m not sure why I do this but it doesn’t really help to stop my backlog from growing. On top of that I realised that, when considering all the games that are there and waiting for me to be played, I’m actually feeling really overwhelmed and anxious. I have no idea where to start. I literally suffer from the inability to make a decision because there are just too many things to choose from. I have tried time and time again to pick a game and just sit down and finish it. Hell most games aren’t even that long, I could probably finish them, and with finish I mean defeat the endboss or final level, within a week or so. Yet somehow I look at my pile of games and I just freeze. I can’t seem to get myself to do what I want to be doing. And it’s not about the games themselves not being my preference. Hell when I just take the time and sit down and actually play I have a lot of fun no matter what I’m playing. That also explains the roughly two hours of my life I’ve already lost to Zelda tonight just getting through the first dungeon and into the second area.

So yeah. I feel guilty. I’ve added another game to an already huge pile and all I want is to be able to actually start taking a bite out of said pile. I’ve finished more solo player games this year than I have in a very long time, Kingdom Hearts 3/Yoshi’s Crafted World/Kirby Star Allies/Oninaki, so I know that I can do it if I just sit down and play. I think one of the only things that have helped me in the past was when I had no access to my MMO’s. I’ve made so much progress in games during vacations where I was away from my PC and PS4. I remember putting in quite a lot of time in Ever Oasis on my 3DS when I was on Mallorca and Octopath Traveler on my Switch when I was in Norway. When I don’t have the MMO distractions calling to me I find it much easier to sit down with a game of choice and just play it. And so I find myself logging into Final Fantasy XIV or the World of Warcraft instead of picking up a game from the pile which I’ve now easily spent over a thousand euro’s on. And it gnaws at me more and more to the point of just feeling anxious about it. Which is obviously a bad thing.

6 thoughts on “Backlog Anxiety”

  1. Don’t get me started on the (according to steam) 683/915 games that are unplayed. There are a ton of games amongst those 232 games that I’ve only played for at most three hours or games that I only installed and loaded up, only to find out that I can’t run it on my laptop. It sucks. I hate it.
    BUT there’s a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel: I’m saving up for a PC and want to get into streaming, too, so I may be able to work through that pile of games. Also, I’ve got my blog, which helps me work through those unplayed games, too. Thankfully I’ve been able to resist the last two steam sales quite easily – mostly due to the fact that the games on my wishlist rarely go on sale. Also, a ton of my games are from bundles or free game giveaways, so I don’t feel too bad for them being in there, but there’s also games like Darkest Dungeon or Sunless Sea that I bought, never played but really want to get to! And there’re also games like Enter The Gungeon, Spelunky or Nuclear Throne that I haven’t played enough of, yet. Hence, I also sometimes feel anxious when I look at my backlog and can’t decide what to play. We’ll see what the future brings and if there’s gonna be an app or something that helps you decide on those things. 🙂

  2. Same here. In my case I always blamed it on ADD. It goes more or less like this: I am happily playing a game, making good progress and then I suddenly get an urge to play a different kind of game. So I start the different game, with all the intention of playing sharing my time between both. But in the end I just keep playing the different game and forget about the previous one entirely.

    One thing that is helping me keep on track has been playing the same games as my friends. Since I want to be part of the conversation it keeps me focused on that game. The only problem is due to circumstances I get my games a bit later than them so by the time I am starting it they are already halfway through it. By the time I get to the middle of the game they already finished it and moved on to other games so that kills a bit of my motivation to keep going and tempted to start on whatever game they are playing now and talking about. It is a two-edged sword.

  3. You’ll need to see what works for you, but the obvious first step if you seriously want to hit your backlog is to simply stop buying games. I’m not saying “forever”. Say, from today till September 2020. One year of no new purchased games (you are still free to nab free ones though, always get those).

    Don’t be hit by “Fear of Missing Out” either, because you can easily go back and purchase any titles you really want after time is up.

    Step two: Make a list. If you have too many games then pick 10 at random and make a list from them. Ideally using HLTB as a guide (that is google “how long to beat x game”). Start with the ones with the smallest time and you’ll get some good momentum going. Once you hit the larger ones it becomes more of a slog.

    Step three: Play a game. A Game. Singular. Until you are done with it. If you feel stifled expand to two or three (including whatever MMO you play) but don’t do more than that without finishing or ditching (see step 4) one. Basically no going back once you move on!

    Step four: Most important one. If you dislike a game, then ditch it early and mark it off your backlog even if you didn’t finish it. You are already short on time so why waste it on a game you don’t enjoy? Especially since you have many to choose from.

    Anyway, these are the ones that work for me.

    1. Oh an one more thing that may help for physical games: get a bag or box or something and any game you aren’t playing goes in there. Out of sight out of mind. Might make your choices easier, if there are only 3 visible, and you less anxious.

      For online ones (like a steam library) if you are really, really stuck on what to play first and can’t make a list – go alphabetical, but follow the rules I made before. Stick to a few games until completion or until you tire of them then move on, but never move back!

      After you finish the end of the list, loop back to the top and you can replay ones you liked or hit new ones that were added.

      Good luck!

  4. Cut yourself some slack! The pleasure of buying these games lies as much in tha act of anticipating, then making, the purchase as it does in playing them. Enjoy and appreciate the pleasure the purchase gives you as a valid experience in its own right.

    For the most part, also, games have no “use by” date. It makes no difference at all whether you play them now, next month, next year or in twenty years. I have been buying DvDs for a couple of decades and most of them are stil in their sealed shrink-wraps. I like owning them and I like to look at the shelves and stacks and feel comfortable that, should I ever feel the need or the desire to watch them, they are there at hand.

    I was vaguely imagining I’d watch them when I retired (which is less than five years away now but more like fifteen or twenty when I bought some of the DvDs I own) but this year I’ve been at home for several months due to illness and I’ve unwrapped and watched quite a few. Time came and they were there.

    If in the end you never play some of these games, let alone finish them, so what? It’s nothing to worry about. It has no significance unless you attach some to it. You can sell them or give them to a charity to sell or give them to friends or relatives. Or you can just throw them away, knowing you had your money’s worth from the pleasure you received from the act of buying them.

  5. Thanks for all the comments everyone. It’s just a state of mind that comes up every now and then, especially when I feel particularly stressed out and can’t seem to really relax.

    I’ve always grown up with the mindset to spend my money wisely… But I also have a very nasty impulse buy finger. It happens.

    Maybe I will get to play all the stuff I bought and maybe I won’t. It’s something I will just have to come to terms with. As Bhagpuss said, the games won’t go away and maybe I will play them in 10 to 20 years. Thinking about it that way has actually given me some sort of piece of mind.

    All in all it was a post that I just really wanted to get out there because I know I’m not the only one dealing with this and getting the feedback was really nice to see.

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