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Back in the day, I could never have imagined having too many games to play. Most people who played video games, even seriously, had maybe a few dozen titles across platforms at any one time. Now we have a new problem: how to manage your gaming backlog.
Thanks to constant digital sales, bundles and subscription services such as Playstation Plus, having a flood of games is not something simply something that happens to a minority of gaming geeks.
I’m as guilty as anyone. My Steam account alone stands at 644 titles. That’s excluding GoG, Origin, PSN, iOS or any of the other million places you can play video games these days.
So how can you make it through the mountain of games you’ve collected? Let’s look at some ways to manage your game backlog.
The First Step
The first step in getting your gaming backlog under control is crossing all the games that you will never play off your list. For a lot of people, this may seem like a crazy step. After all, you paid good money for those games.
The thing is, we sometimes spend our money on stuff we end up not liking. With games especially, thanks to extreme sales and convenience, you may buy a lot of games that only mildly interested you.
Not to mention there are things like Humble Bundles where you may only care about one or two games in the pack.
That Sinking Feeling
The urge to do something just because you put time and money into it is something psychologists call the sunk cost fallacy. The fact is, you can’t get the money you’ve spent back. So whether you play the game or not, you’ll have spent the money regardless.
So it’s important that you go through your list of games and cross off the ones you aren’t 100% sure you want to play.
Time to Play
Now you should have a much shorter list of games to work through, but you need to know what order to play them in. Of course, you could simply rank them from the ones that you want to play most to least.
If you can do this that’s great, but what we want to do here is finish the games in our backlog in the most efficient way. The best way to do that is playing the games with the shortest playtimes first and the longest ones last.
That doesn’t change the total number of games that you have to play, but it will shorten the list itself more quickly.
Luckily there are a couple of websites that can help you figure out how long games take to beat. My favorite is the aptly named howlongtobeat.com
It has a massive database of user-reported playtimes that will help you figure out which games can be clocked in an evening and which will take hundreds of hours to finish.
It also means you can match games to the time you have available and plan accordingly.
Take it Easy
This tip might not be popular with some hardcore gamers, but you might want to consider dialing down the difficulty level on some of the games in your backlog list in order to finish them more quickly. This will help you manage your gaming backlog more easily.
The challenge that video games represent are a big part of their enjoyment and most games are a breeze on normal difficulty for experienced gamers. Nonetheless, sometimes there’s a difficulty spike that sets you back or otherwise destroys your motivation to keep playing.
Some games use difficulty as a way to pad out the playtime. Sometimes the story is more interesting than the gameplay itself.
Either way, don’t bang your head against the wall. Set the difficulty lower. Either temporarily if possible or for the whole run. Only dial up the challenge if you’re enjoying it, if you’re not having fun anymore there’s no point to the frustration.
Tools of the Trade to Manage Your Gaming Backlog
On a practical level, you’ll need a system to actually tick off each game as you finish it. You need to know how far from your goal you are and how much you still need to do.
There are a couple good websites that you can use to track your backlog, often across different platforms.
Grouvee is best described as a Goodreads for games. You can manage your own personal collection of games and rate them. You can keep track of your video game backlog with a few templates to organize them. Alternatively, you can create your own custom categories.
The really nice thing about Grouvee is the social integration. If you have friends on the site, you can follow them and see what they are playing too. You can read their reviews and see if they feel the same as you about certain titles.
Another great tool to manage your gaming backlog, the Backloggery might also be one of the best-known sites out there for this purpose.
The main downside of Backloggery is that you have to enter all your games manually, but if you’ve cut down the list to only games you actually want to play, that should not be too much work.
The styling of the site is very retro-cool and they have even gamified the completion system with badges. It’s not the most intuitive system to start with, but very rewarding once you have it set up.
Find the Fun
So let’s recap the main points:
- Don’t fall for the sunk cost fallacy
- Play shorter games first
- Lower difficulty levels
- Use a good management tool
The final tip I’ll give you is this: find the fun.
The point of a video game is that it should be fun in some way. If you are playing a game and it is no longer fun, don’t feel obligated to finish it. If you bought a box of apples and one was bad, you’d throw it away. After all, you wouldn’t eat it because you paid for the whole box.
Lead Image by Mike Mozart Via Flickr CC BY
All Other Images are Public Domain