How do you deal with a giant gaming backlog?

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#1 Posted by ravensword (4295 posts) -

So, here’s the thing. I probably have atleast 15 games i started playing or still wanted to play but haven’t had finished. Probably close to 20. So I’m wondering how I might tackle this problem, and how maybe you all deal with a gaming backlog? I think knowing I have so many game to finish effects my ability to play, if that makes sense. It’s like paralysis of analysis or something. Should I just write down all the games I wanna play? And narrow it down to a few? Or what should I do? I only have so much time in the day. Anyway, any advice would be helpful.

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#2 Edited by MattGiersoni (587 posts) -

Stop caring. Just play what you want at any given moment. This of it as a library, not something you're forced to play and potentially finish, it's fine to sometimes just drop games. It's the only way out. I have a backlog of 6 games, unplayed on PS4 and I'll just play something from it if I have the need. I did that with Dishonored GOTY. Suddenly I had the urge to play an immersive-sim. So I started it on tuesday, got very into it, finished it on saturday. Now i'm doing the DLC. But there were also other games in my backlog. There may be times where I decide I wanna play something out of a backlog but I end up not liking it. I have about 470 games on steam, probably 60% of them were never touched. I recently started Satellite Reign, played a few hours, didn't seem fun and I just dropped it, guilt free. Added it to a category in my steam library I call "DDL" (did not like). Maybe I will give it another chance, probably not, but it's ok to just drop a game and play something else instead, until you find something you're really into and finish it. It is absolutely fine to just not care, you don't have to finish or feel like your force to play every game.

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#3 Posted by imhungry (1139 posts) -

For me, I'd say just pick one and start playing. Whether you make a list and start from the top or just pick whatever, the important thing is to just start playing a game. Presumably these games are all in your 'backlog' because you have some desire to play them so you can't really lose out by picking any one of them. You're right that there's only so much time in the day but assuming that you aren't like, 100 years old you probably still have a ton of time in your life ahead of you so you'll get around to finishing them all eventually, you just have to start.

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#4 Edited by mrcheese (7 posts) -

I managed to finish almost my entire backlog last year by using a Trello board and the "play only one game at the time" method. I simply made a list of all the games I wanted to play and then I picked first game on the list and played that until completion. Keep doing that until the list is empty. I also mercilessly tossed the game the second I didn't enjoy it anymore. Mostly because I tend to buy games that I shouldn't buy like Dishonored 2 even though I didn't enjoy the first Dishonored all that much.

Of course, this means that I can't play a simulator if I feel like playing a simulator today. I have to finish Wolfenstein 2 instead because that's what is on the list. This is inflexible but since my goal is to finish the backlog this is IMHO worth it. I totally understand that this method is not for everyone.

Here's an example of my board:

Trello board

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#5 Posted by ajamafalous (13820 posts) -

Stop caring. Just play what you want at any given moment. Think of it as a library, not something you're forced to play and potentially finish, it's fine to sometimes just drop games.

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#6 Edited by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

I use this site that adds all of your Steam games to its database, analyze everything I've started, finished, or haven't started. I make a soft commitment to finish at least five games a month on that list, which has worked out pretty great for me the last couple years or so. I've always reached or exceed that goal, compared to the sort of flailing, scattershot gaming I was doing before that. I had only finished 30% of the games on my list when I started using it. I'm currently at 55%.

Right now I'm juggling the original Deus Ex (I'm at the end right now), Dark Souls 3 DLC (near the end), Dear Esther (just finished), and AC: Origins ('bout 14 hours in). I try to have a mix of games with varying lengths. So, I'll tackle one big, open-world game a month (or a big RPG/CRPG), chipping away at it an hour a day. One or two smaller games (maybe a walking simulator or other indie title). One average-length game (a TPS/FPS). Puzzle games are ones you can nicely dip into whenever you want.

If you want to get back into a game you stopped playing a year ago or something, don't panic. You really don't need to start from the beginning (a lot of people do that). Just read the plot on a Wiki up to where you are in the game, or watch cutscenes on YouTube (or both), and carry on from your save. I've done this with a dozen games I fell off hard on by no fault of their own, and still had great experiences with them.

Good luck. It should be fun to expand your gaming knowledge and experience all those gems, so stop as soon as it gets stressful and play the simplest game on your list without even second-guessing yourself. Once you get into your new rhythm like I did, I suspect you'll be finishing games left and right.

Edit: I would say, "Play what you want whenever," and I appreciate that advice, but it seems that's not working for your mind (same as me). My new way of playing has relieved a lot of ridiculous pressure.

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#7 Posted by nutter (2287 posts) -

I’ve stopped buying most games while I work on my backlog.

I have kids, my wife, my career, a volunteering schedule, property to’s a lot.

If I can get to a backlog game every couple of months, great. I really only buy a small number of games these days, but my backlog is still easily 30+ games. I still try to play whatever feels right in the moment. I don’t want my stuff to own me.

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#8 Edited by Rondier (3 posts) -

There's some pretty awesome advice in this thread. I'd also recommend scheduling your 'time for recreation' to a clinical degree. Allow yourself a day off from time to time if you can. Also, don't be afraid of saying goodbye to old games that you simply don't have the time for anymore. If you really wanted to play some of the titles you own, you might have already made the time. After all, gaming should always be a fun hobby, and unless you make your income through the act should never feel like work!

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#9 Posted by Captain_Insano (3531 posts) -

By playing XCOM 2 again instead.

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#10 Edited by Dispossession (159 posts) -

I’m in a fortune position that allows me to play games on a daily basis in combination with working a stressful retail job, so games really help close the night out for me. I try not to tackle multiple games either because I have tendency to forget mechanics if I get wrapped up into another. My back catalog has also trimmed down a lot since I force myself to wait for sales on the digital stores for games I’m not 100% sold on when it comes out. So my method is playing my back catalog whenever I take vacations. I just started my vacation a few days ago and I’ve managed to finish CoD: WWII, Battlefront 2, the story for Dragonball FighterZ, Wolfenstein 2 dlc, finishes NG++ on Bloodborne (trying to help my friends since they’re new to the game) and currently tackling the Nioh dlc. Tomorrow, I’m doing an Extra Life stream with a friend with us tackling A Way Out, Far Cry 5, and Sea of Thieves. But like another poster stated, I don’t force myself to play something I don’t enjoy, like Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. It’s a system that lets me get to games at some point.

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#11 Posted by ravensword (4295 posts) -

Some great advice in here, thanks everyone. But what do I do about new games that come out that I want to play? Ignore them?

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#12 Edited by nicksmi56 (850 posts) -

I personally just stopped myself from buying games. Besides two presents and one case where if I didn't pick the game up now it would literally be gone forever, I haven't gotten anything this year. Yeah, I won't be playing and talking about games at the same time as everyone else, but I realized those games will always be around with very rare exceptions. For the most part, I can pick them up whenever I please, and probably for cheaper too.

I also put the newer games in the "Do not touch" category (basically everything on my Switch). Again, they'll be around when I get to them. I still let myself play newer stuff every once in a while (Sonic Mania, Overcooked, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), but for the most part, I'm trying to focus on that old games pile I've got going on. The good news is that pile has a lot of variety, so I can just go "What am I in the mood for?" and pick one.

Finally, playing smaller games like Castlevania 3 and Mega Man 2 helps break up the big ones like Far Cry 3 and Persona 4 if you're getting tired of them, and you're still checking a game off the list in the process :)

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#13 Posted by Quipido (1572 posts) -

@ravensword: I am also very to prone to hype so buying a new game can be exciting for me, but last year I made a list of my backlog and decided not to buy games and instead focus on the list. I find it only takes a couple of days post releas for the hype to go away. Be smart, let it pass, you'll buy the game later, it will be cheaper and patched (or even finished!), it's satysfying to be smart about your purchases this way.

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#15 Posted by peacebrother (757 posts) -

I don't and I play what I want to at the moment. Last thing I want is for the things I love to become a checklist to "work through". Don't buy into hype.

If I miss things, then I miss them.

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#16 Posted by cikame (2909 posts) -

I now have 800 games in my Steam library, i've never bought a humble bundle or anything like that, these are all games i've hand picked that i want to play.
For games like MMO's, survival, casual shooters, fighting games or other genres that don't have an active exciting story to pay attention to, i usually play these games while watching or listening to Giant Bomb content, so those genres are reserved for that part of my schedule. When i've finished watching everything i resume whatever game i'm currently playing through, as for how i pick those games i think about it with the logic of trying not to burn out on demanding genres, i don't play many RPG's because they take so long, but if i decide i really want to try and play through Final Fantasy 8 or something i'll play some smaller games before and after so i don't burn out on long slogs.

...But what do I do about new games that come out that I want to play? Ignore them?

Nope, if Half Life 3 came out and was good it would jump to the top of my list, but it's important to finish whatever it is you are currently playing as you probably won't want to return to it after.
I just finished Shadow Warrior 2, it was 14 hours but took me 2-3 weeks due to life stuff and an overload of GB content, i played 37 hours of Subnautica before that so i want to play something short and sweet, the DMC HD Collection FINALLY came out on PC so that's what i'm playing now. As they are games i've played before i should be able to blast through it, i'll probably play DMC4 after as it's my favourite then i can say i replayed the whole series.
Then who knows, while playing DMC i might remember a game i really want to play, been thinking about Max Payne 3 a lot but i don't want to start replaying everything, Watch_Dogs 2 or Way of the Samurai 3 maybe.

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#17 Posted by WillyOD (353 posts) -

We don't speak of the backlog. Let it rest... Stop worrying about them, there's already too many games and the list will just continue to grow.

Enjoy playing whatever YOU feel like at the moment.

Get lost in the moment.

Maybe some day an old game from the backlog will come along and entertain you.

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#18 Posted by MeierTheRed (5974 posts) -

Stop thinking of games as something that you have to finish. If they are in your backlog there is probably a reason as to why they are there. Play what you want don't force anything upon yourself.

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#19 Edited by Justin258 (15687 posts) -

Only 15?

Anyway, I have a lot of games I've never finished. Sometimes this does give me a bit of stress, but I try not to worry about it. I'll never have enough time or patience to get through them all.

If you're really interested in not having a backlog, I would suggest simply not buying another game until you've finished the last one you bought. Forget about finishing everything you already have, that's too much, video games are too long to finish every single one you've ever owned. Just finish the last thing you bought before buying another thing.

Also, another point - know when you've made enough effort. Sometimes you're going to buy a game and you find that you don't want to play it anymore, whether because you've gotten bored of it or because there's a frustrating section you can't pass or whatever. Look up a guide, see if one of those will help you get through the rough patch, and if not, move on to something else.

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#20 Posted by ATastySlurpee (679 posts) -

I tend to buy news games when they come and I always try to prioritize newer games first. Once I hit a gap like the recent one I've been on where I've got nothing new to play, that's when I jump in a chip away at the backlog

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#21 Edited by OurSin_360 (6197 posts) -

I watch 90% of my content on my tablet while going to bed, so i usually end up catching up at some point when content starts getting thinner. Probably closer to e3. I also watch some stuff when i game if i can, but i don't game as much as i used to. I used to put on stuff while i worked but now i work mostly in audio so i can't.

Lol, i read this as giant bomb backlog. For gaming i just decided i will probably not play any of it and try not to buy anything on steam sales anymore. Sorry i am tired.

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#22 Posted by JoeDangerous (607 posts) -

@mattgiersoni said:

Stop caring. Just play what you want at any given moment. Think of it as a library, not something you're forced to play and potentially finish, it's fine to sometimes just drop games.

This is great advice. As someone who's staring at a gigantic backlog thanks to spring sales and Humble Bundles: I've learned that it's ok to take it slow and take your time to delve into games as you approach them. Dip your toe into the pool and wade as far as you like, but don't fee like you need to swim to the other end. You know where you're comfortable and, if you need to, just keep moving on as you sample games. You can always re-install as you watch LPers or streamers approach titles to reinvigorate interest.

Remember you're never obligated to complete games like it's some second job. Enjoy your time off.

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#23 Posted by chaz934 (48 posts) -

1) Accept that you're not going to complete everything. I've learned its at least better to play something for a couple hours and quit rather than not play it at all and agonize over it.

2) Forcing yourself to play something you don't want to is an additional cost. You already bought the game; there's no changing that. Playing a game because you feel obligated to and not because you want to is another "cost" you are sinking.

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#24 Posted by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

For me it's not like a job, it's more that I want to play, enjoy, and finish a lot of games. Thousands. All the classics, all the hidden gems, all the B games. It's an obsessive mindset, but one that my new play method has successfully tamed. If you don't have those obsessive tendencies, fuck it, that's a pointless box to put yourself in, but for crazy people like me, it not only makes those goals attainable in a more controlled way, it keeps my dumb anxious feelings in check.

If I get halfway through a game and I'm having a bad time, I'll chuck it and skim through a Let's Play out of curiosity. No shame in that; time is too precious to waste on mediocre media.

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#25 Posted by shivermetimbers (1721 posts) -

Limit yourself to one game purchase a month and plan ahead.

A month is enough time to finish most any game. Alternatively, stop obsessing and start enjoying. Life is too're going to miss experiences. Learn to live in the moment.

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#26 Posted by BallsLeon (566 posts) -

I do not.

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#27 Posted by berniesbc (252 posts) -

Definitely agree with the folks that say you should chill and play what you want. This isn't homework. Playing games isn't your job. You don't have to play or finish everything. Get past that mental block and playing games will become more enjoyable

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#28 Posted by clush (707 posts) -
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#29 Posted by mrcheese (7 posts) -

@clush said:
@mrcheese said:

Here's an example of my board:

Trello board

You played Cuphead with mouse and keyboard? I did not. That must be a typo!

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#30 Edited by Rigas (848 posts) -

Stop buying games every 15 minutes and not every games needs to be 100%'d sometimes you are done with it in and hour, sometimes it's 100 hours. Try to enjoy the game you are playing instead of worry about games you haven't.

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#31 Posted by Slag (8159 posts) -

@ravensword: I wish I only had 15

fwiw I think going cold turkey on buying any new games probably is asking too much of your willpower. Like others said you got into gaming because it's something you enjoy. If you are too hard on yourself, it turns it into work.

Buying too many games is only a problem if it's causing you to spend beyond your means or if just the presence of a backlog causes you stress. If either of those is true, slow your intake of purchasing and the problem will resolve itself in time, especially if you are only talking about 20 games.

Some ideas worth considering

  • If they are physical games, you could give away or resell the ones you don't think you'll actually play. E.g. I usually giveaway most keys I get from Humble Bundles and such.
  • Next game you play, pick a short one. That will help take shrink your list quickly.
  • Then after that rotate game lengths and styles to help stave off burnout
  • Don't feel obligated to finish everything. As long as you enjoyed what you played and feel satisfied with it, who cares if you don't see the credit roll? Ask yourself this, is dropping 100hrs into an RPG and loving it despite not finishing somehow worse than smashing through a short game you didn't like?
  • Don't be afraid to set some light goals to reward yourself, You might try something like beat/play 2, get to buy 1, etc. Buying fewer games imo is a lot more realistic than buying zero.
  • Track your accomplishments, not what is left undone. It's subtle, but you'll feel more positive about it.
  • If you can't decide what to play next, throw some titles names into a randomizer and let it pick. If you aren't happy with what it picked, it's probably a sign you actually want to play something else.

Good luck! I know you can do this!

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#32 Edited by whitegreyblack (1976 posts) -

Embrace it! I’ve learned to be ok about my massive backlog because I like the collecting aspect and like to support the industry. It is now over 1000 titles. I’ll give you a minute to process that...

Three of us from our local Extra Life guild are starting a backlog based podcast and start recording next week. It’s exciting and I do think that will help give me the motivation to play more games, it’s been a big help already.

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#33 Posted by CrazyBagMan (1670 posts) -

I don't. I don't finish anything. I don't care. It's fun!

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#35 Posted by chuck_schwarz (117 posts) -

@mrcheese: Love the Trello board! As an obsessive list maker this looks like a great way to keep track of games/backlog.

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#36 Posted by CaLe (4799 posts) -

I've never had a backlog. I don't consider games I own and haven't played a backlog. I just play whatever I feel like in the moment and that is always changing.

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#37 Posted by mrcheese (7 posts) -

@mrcheese: Love the Trello board! As an obsessive list maker this looks like a great way to keep track of games/backlog.

Yeah it's been working out quite well. I figured since I use Trello for organizing most of my life then why not games as well.

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#38 Posted by Atlas (2739 posts) -

I have come to terms with the fact that I'm never going to "deal" with my backlog. There are loads of games over the years that I promised myself I'd get to, but never did, and that's okay because I was probably having fun playing other games instead. I'm well past the point in my life where I feel any sort of need to be "well-read" in games, and play games to be part of the conversation or to widen my experiences - I know what kinds of games I like, and am pretty much happy to stick with them. There are dozens of games in my Steam account that I bought on sale that I now realise I'm never going to play, and I'm okay with that, because I don't NEED to play them.

That said, there are a few games that I still really want to play and for whatever reason keep putting off, the biggest one being Witcher 3 (never finished 2 as well).

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#39 Edited by fledeye (263 posts) -

@ravensword said:

So I’m wondering how I might tackle this problem

I’m not sure how it’s a problem unless someone is holding a gun to your head forcing you to 100% every game you’ve ever owned.

Unless you’re a video game “professional“ (writer, developer, Jeff Getstmann), games are a hobby and you should feel you can do as much or as little as you want.

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#40 Posted by SSully (5635 posts) -

I have stopped buying games I know I don't have time or the will to play. This has helped me focus on stuff I will play and getting more out of those experiences. Part of this has me revisiting games in my backlog that I normally wouldn't go back to.

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#41 Posted by Kaneis (61 posts) -

@imhungry: I do this. Just pretend you don't have a backlog and that you own this game -- and this game only. If you play any 'live games' that require your daily attention (Destiny, Overwatch, WoW), try to drop them for a week until you finish the game you want to complete. Then, go back to your live games and return to your backlog when you feel like it.

Right now my backend is with SuperHot, Shadow Tactics, Thumper, and Dishonored 2; just finished my 2nd playthrough of Bayonetta on Switch, and gonna finish Shadow Tactics. My live games that are on pause are Destiny 2 (I know, I'm terrible), Dragon Ball FighterZ, and SFV (this game has been on pause for a while).

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#42 Posted by gamer_152 (14776 posts) -
  1. You can't be obsessively focusing on the end goal of finishing a game or finishing your whole backlog. This might be the hardest piece of advice to follow, but with any activity, if you become too fixated on the destination, you stop yourself enjoying the journey. In fact, you probably need to stop thinking of your backlog as a "backlog", i.e. Something that needs to be cleared, and start thinking of it as a pool of games that you can dip into how and when you want. Along similar lines, you'll probably enjoy individual games more and so have more motivation to finish them if you think of them as something that's just happening rather than a race you have to finish.
  2. Feel free to drop games if you're not finding them fulfilling. If a game begins to feel like a job then you should probably stop playing because what good is it really doing you? You're probably looking for your games to feel entertaining, productive, insightful, or bring about some other positive emotion or viewpoint in you. If you're not feeling that, find a game that will get you that.
  3. Sometimes you need to put games down altogether and that might be for a few minutes or it might be for a few weeks. This may not be the case with you, but some gamers have backlogs because they feel unmotivated about playing games in general. If this is you, again, find something else which will bring some sort of positivity to your life. Engage with other media, hang out with friends, find creative projects, learn something, whatever. The games will be there for you and feel better to play when you get back.
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#43 Posted by Sombre (474 posts) -

I had the same situation recently. I've just been playing them through one at a time, and not being weird about quitting when I get bored.

If you look at my "Lists", you'll see the games I've played this year from my backlog. I stopped playing Owlboy, The Mummy Demastered and Steamworld Dig 2, because their core mechanic got boring to me.

Once you realise you don't have to finish every game, you'll do a lot better.

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#44 Posted by TobbRobb (6588 posts) -

I just play whatever I feel like when I feel like it. And I buy pretty much whatever looks interesting and throw it on the pile so it'll be ready when I get the itch. My "Backlog" is quite massive probably spanning a hundred games or so. But you know, that's ok. One day some of them will get their shine, some might never. But I'll always be having a good time with what I'm playing!

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#45 Posted by cmblasko (2946 posts) -

Stopping myself from buying Humble Bundles and buying tons of cheap games during Steam sales has helped greatly with this. Not buying a game just because it is a good deal. Adhere to the rule of not allowing myself to buy a new game until I finish what I am currently playing. For games that I am pretty sure that I will never actually play, I either sell them, give them away or delete/hide it in Steam. You're never going to completely knock off your list, though, so it is mentally important to not think of it as a checklist.

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#46 Posted by CupOfDoom (95 posts) -

You should never play games for the sake of "clearing the backlog". If you play a game to just to check it off some list you made then you are missing the point. The point is to have fun. I also think that mentality leads people to not play games without a defined end point/ ones you theoretically play forever. Games like Factorio, Stellaris or, DOTA 2. However, being more focused in the games you are playing is never a bad thing and exercising a little bit of discipline in finishing games can go a long way. A fact I only recently discovered. However, everyone enjoys games differently and there is no shame in having a long list of games that you never finished/ played much of. My list for example is in the hundreds.

Also, the advise given by @gamer_152 is really good

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#47 Posted by SeanFoster (985 posts) -

By buying more games I will never have time to play.

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#48 Edited by Fisco (222 posts) -

I have this same issue with books as I have a growing library but find myself buying & reading new books before I finish anything I already own. I find that I feel happiest when I give a game a good solid try (time depends on the type of game) and if I like it I keep going until I finish it or I just put it away.

I do the same thing with books, if i read 100-200 pages and get bored or have a hard time reading it, why keep pushing through? I used to be obsessed with playing and finishing every game I bought but with a so many open-world games with hundreds of quests and activities that goal is just not achievable.

Play what you want to play when you want to play it and if that means moving from game to game and playing a bit of each here and there than that's fine. As long as you're enjoying yourself, you're doing it right.

(Even if that means playing Uno on the Switch because BotW is never-ending and just jumping in for an hour means you'll be busy for half a day)

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#49 Edited by Chummy8 (3878 posts) -

I collected steam games long before I actually had a computer to play them. So my backlog became massive. I started an annual list in 2014 to focus my attention on at least playing 1 game a month from my backlog. And, my method works for me. Humble bundles and steam sales definitely don't help however. Getting more games almost obsessively through Steamsales and Humble created a new problem as I was actually increasing my backlog as I was working my way through it. So, I broke up my backlog into games I'd like to play eventually and games I am hyped to play; a "Hypelist".

And since I have a bunch of epic RPGs I want to play, I try to keep my active games no more than 2 at a time. Right now I'm playing through Witcher 3 and when I feel like I just want to blow shit up and mess around, I am also playing Just Cause 3. So it's 1 RPG and 1 action/open world game at a time.



Here is my current Hypelist

No Caption Provided

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#50 Posted by Rorie (5867 posts) -

@ravensword: I tend to kind of agree with the "stop caring" part of the first response. I have at least a dozen games in various states of half-playedness, going all the way back to Dishonored 2, and at some point I'm just reconciled to not being able to finish all of them. These days, if I get the sense that I've gotten most of the gameplay experiences out of the way, I'm less likely to be concerned about getting through the story. But maybe I'll take a vacation from my job at a video game website to play some videogames someday!