The fascination with backlogs

I've been trying to figure out what's the deal with backlogs and why gamers are so obsessed with them. As we all know, gaming is a very time consuming hobbty, so it's not uncommon to have of bunch of unplayed games that we struggle to find the time for.  
 
Some people have more untouched games than others (thank you, Steam sales!), but one thing I've noticed that almost everyone have in common is their obligation to share their backlog woes with everyone. It's impossible to visit the Giant Bomb forums and not see someone sigh about having a huge backlog or how they don't have time to play all the cool games they purchased 6 months ago. I know I'm guilty of it myself. Hell, there's even a website dedicated purely to help you catalogue and keep track of your gaming backlog. I thought about signing up for it but apparently they don't accept new registrations at the moment because the site got overloaded from too much activity. So yeah, I'd say it's a pretty common phenomena within the gaming world.  

 So many games, so little time.
What is it about backlogs that's so fascinating to gamers that we feel that we must share it with friends and strangers? I understand that it's nice to have an eternal meta-goal to strive for (i.e., play/beat all games in your backlog) but I can't help but feel like there must be something more to it. It it because backlogs are a thing so unique but common to gamers that it unites us? Is talking about our backlogs our weird way of "bonding" with each other? I don't know, I'm just rambling now. Somebody needs to study this.
 
-Tordah
24 Comments
25 Comments
Posted by Tordah

I've been trying to figure out what's the deal with backlogs and why gamers are so obsessed with them. As we all know, gaming is a very time consuming hobbty, so it's not uncommon to have of bunch of unplayed games that we struggle to find the time for.  
 
Some people have more untouched games than others (thank you, Steam sales!), but one thing I've noticed that almost everyone have in common is their obligation to share their backlog woes with everyone. It's impossible to visit the Giant Bomb forums and not see someone sigh about having a huge backlog or how they don't have time to play all the cool games they purchased 6 months ago. I know I'm guilty of it myself. Hell, there's even a website dedicated purely to help you catalogue and keep track of your gaming backlog. I thought about signing up for it but apparently they don't accept new registrations at the moment because the site got overloaded from too much activity. So yeah, I'd say it's a pretty common phenomena within the gaming world.  

 So many games, so little time.
What is it about backlogs that's so fascinating to gamers that we feel that we must share it with friends and strangers? I understand that it's nice to have an eternal meta-goal to strive for (i.e., play/beat all games in your backlog) but I can't help but feel like there must be something more to it. It it because backlogs are a thing so unique but common to gamers that it unites us? Is talking about our backlogs our weird way of "bonding" with each other? I don't know, I'm just rambling now. Somebody needs to study this.
 
-Tordah
Posted by Lunar_Aura

Sharing my backlog usually serves two purposes. One is I'm more than willing to talk about the game with you. Two is a warning not to spoil the game for me.
Edited by Jeust

Keeping track of a backlog, is the act of admiring one's possessions, and thinking of how much fun it will be to play those games. It's intoxicating in itself. 

Online
Posted by jorbear

I keep a backlog written down to help me schedule my weekends. I used to wander from game to game before I began doing this, and now I know exactly what each weekend is going to be like. I also find it to be something that I can brag to my friends about, and that is always a good thing.

Posted by supermike6

Yeah, I've never really understood the fascination of backlogs. If I like a game, I play it until it's finished before putting it on the shelf and buying new things. I feel like sometimes people just act like they are all game reviewers, saying things like "Oh, I wish I could play this game, but there are so many games from my backlog I have to play first." That's just a bit ridiculous. If you're a busy person with not enough time to play games, maybe you should buy less games? It's like in Starcraft, if you queue up a bunch of probes or something, you're just wasting money that could be spent on other things while you're waiting for the first probe to finish.

Online
Edited by LordAndrew
This site? Yeah, that's right. I linked to my own profile so you can see how terrible I am at beating games. And opening games. I am a terrible person.
Posted by nickux

I once went through the whole "I've got to get through my backlog" phase and I think the purpose behind discussing it was to keep me motivated. I think by talking it out and listing the games in one's unplayed pile it lets you take stock of the catalogue and prioritize how best to get through it. Mainly though, I think a lot of people just like to share a common problem. I think a lot of gamers are completionists and enjoy that feeling of finishing a game and so it bugs us when a growing list of games go into the pile of shame.

Posted by Tordah
@LunarAura: I've never thought about the spoilers things. Good point.  

@Jeust: Damn right, it is! 
 
@supermike6: Yeah, it can be pretty ridiculous. It always weirds me out when someone says they're "gonna start working on beating game X next". Gaming is supposed to be a hobby, not a job. If gaming feels like working to you, then you're doing it wrong.
Posted by Tordah
@LordAndrew: Yep, that's the one. Holy crap, 406 unfinished games! You are indeed a terrible person. Remind me to add you once I'm able to sign up for it.  
 
@nickux: Good points through and through. I imagine keeping yourself motivated is definitely one of the key reasons for keeping track of your backlog. I can relate to the completionist nature, so I fully understand how not finishing a game might bug someone. In a sense, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Posted by melcene
@Tordah said:
" What is it about backlogs that's so fascinating to gamers that we feel that we must share it with friends and strangers? I understand that it's nice to have an eternal meta-goal to strive for (i.e., play/beat all games in your backlog) but I can't help but feel like there must be something more to it. It it because backlogs are a thing so unique but common to gamers that it unites us? Is talking about our backlogs our weird way of "bonding" with each other? I don't know, I'm just rambling now. Somebody needs to study this. -Tordah "
I think perhaps a big part of it is also that we've spent money on those games - we need to feel justified in that money we spent.
Posted by Rattle618

Well my backlog exists only cause I can't just erase from my brain the need to play really cool game (not some meta-goal, but the sense that Im missing out on a good gaming experience) and that thought stays at the back of my mind like an unfinished task torturing me. Im not inclined to participate much in forums and even less so to blog, but I imagine that for people that are it would make a lot of sense to vocalize this in some way or another, so there you go, that's my analisis.

Posted by kalmis

Thanks for the reminder mate. Need to a new backlog blog up, heh
 
One thing I like about posting those list here is that. If you do a blog you can attach it to the game's page. Which is good for the indie games (that i play a lot) since its often the only content there is for that game.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor
@supermike6 said:
" Yeah, I've never really understood the fascination of backlogs. If I like a game, I play it until it's finished before putting it on the shelf and buying new things. I feel like sometimes people just act like they are all game reviewers, saying things like "Oh, I wish I could play this game, but there are so many games from my backlog I have to play first." That's just a bit ridiculous. If you're a busy person with not enough time to play games, maybe you should buy less games? It's like in Starcraft, if you queue up a bunch of probes or something, you're just wasting money that could be spent on other things while you're waiting for the first probe to finish. "
LOL. I think I just mentioned in 3 other posts about my need for
a backlog on x game related to that post.  I'm very bad about
this.
 
Right now, my fuckin' backlog pile is as large as my completed
pile.  The backlog pile consists of games never played or popped
in, looked at, & put back on the shelf.  I also have a middling pile
of games where I played about half way through or so & did not
complete & put away for one reason or another.
 
If I combine the backlog pile + middling pile, it is twice the size
of my completed pile!!
 
As for new games, well shit.  I just had to buy Darkspore Limited
Edition preorder & Duke Nukem Balls of Steel preorder.  When I
get those games I'll be dropping whatever I'm playing to play them.
 
One thing I'm proud of is completing Dawn of War 2 standard
release!  I started but didn't finish in 2009, just finished last weekend.
But it still has a ton of achievements & another expansion to dig into
it.
 
Man, & don't even think about getting into my Steam backlog!  I
buy on every sale & now it is fully rotten with games I've never
played.  I have both Fallen Earth & Global Agenda...When?!
When can I play these?  I want to someday.  Maybe I'll need
to put DoW 2 back on the shelf.
 
But there you go, I can't stop thinking about it & fixating on it
& next thing you know, I've bought more games.  And I still need
to get DA2, but want to S-rank DA 1 & ME 2 first.
 
...I got problems...Serious problems with backlog.
 
To the backloggery!  (when it opens).
Posted by GreggD
@LunarAura said:
" Sharing my backlog usually serves two purposes. One is I'm more than willing to talk about the game with you. Two is a warning not to spoil the game for me. "
You know, about this. I actually played Bioshock from start to end knowing full-well the major plot twist. And it didn't really mess up the experience for me all that much.
Posted by Video_Game_King

I simply don't like leaving games uncompleted for a major amount of time.

Posted by smokemare

I suppose you have to raise an eyebrow when people talk about playing games as being something of a chore.  I do get this though, something comes along you've been really looking forward to - you move on to it, then, get bored and start to look at your unfinished games, and pick one to play until something you want comes out.
 
I have a huge backlog, I'm playing FFXIII at the moment, and it's not even mine!  I borrowed it off my cousin a few months ago - I am starting to enjoy it now, but I start playing it mainly because the shine had worn off Left 4 Dead 2, I'd completed Sonic 4 Ep 1 and didn't want to return it unplayed.  i want to S- rank some games that have fallen by the wayside, only ones I like though.  I won't be going back to S-rank Hydrophobia for example, because I found it really chorseome to play.
 
I might do Altered Beast, because I like it and apart from the play an online multiplayer game it should be pretty easy.  Having said that I'll probably drop back on Tropico 3 or Red Dead Redemption.  I might even DL the Undead Redemption expansion - sounds funny.

Posted by CptChiken

You still havent played the darkness?  
 
that came out 4 years ago! I thought my back log was bad becxause i hadnt played a game from 2 years ok, way to knock me out the park.

Posted by vidiot

What territory do you live in? Your copy of The Darkness looks like it has a way cooler cover than mine.
 
BTW: Play The Darkness.

Edited by fortis

Sometimes talking about a backlog gives someone direction on what game to play next. I know if I wander into a backlog discussion and a bunch of people start talking about their good experiences with a game I haven't played, I'm more likely to play that next if it's on my shelf. 
 
Ex. - The Darkness!

Posted by Tordah
@smokemare: Yeah, I suppose you're right. Still, it sounds pretty messed up when someone says they have to "start working" on their backlog.
 
@CptChiken: I know, right? To be honest, I only bought it like last year or so. I have tons of much older games than that that I still haven't played though. 
 
@vidiot: You mean the Europe cover art? Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

Posted by el_tajij
@Tordah: Wow, hadn't seen that site before - gonna sign up for that as soon as it's open to registration! Also, this thread has offered some nice reassurance to all the guilt of a huge backlog of games!
 
The comfort I always take is even if I'm super behind in my backlog (which I have been since approximately...........1997?) It's gonna be a lot of fun getting through it! ;)
Posted by JJWeatherman

 I thought about signing up for it but apparently they don't accept new registrations at the moment because the site got overloaded from too much activity.    

Are you being serious right now? What kind of website are they running over there?
Posted by Tordah
@el_tajij: That's the right attitude. Getting through your games should be a fun project, not a chore! 
 
@JJWeatherman: Seems like it's only one dude running the website (on his free time, obviously), so I guess it's not too surprising.  http://backloggery.com/
Posted by el_tajij
@JJWeatherman:  If you read the blog he's also currently ill from hypothyroidism - so fair play to the guy!
Posted by King_Bonzo

It's not just games for me. 
 
I have books I've got to read, Albums I've got to listen to, films I've got to watch. I like having a backlog, it gives a sense of security that basically means I won't ever have nothing to do. It's a nice feeling :)