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Working Through Your Games Backlog

Article posted on 7/8/2021

I just looked at my Steam Library because I wanted to see how many games I have saved in it. 

The answer? 260. Two hundred and sixty. That’s absurd.

I suppose owning that many games isn’t absurd (or even unheard of - I am sure that number is small compared to some other game enthusiasts!). What’s really ridiculous (shameful, really!) is just how many of those games I haven’t actually played yet. 

Of those 260 games, I have maybe played a quarter of them (and to be honest, I think that’s probably a very generous estimate). I think I joined Steam back in 2006 or so, which means this is over 15 years of accumulation. This isn’t even taking into account all of the physical copies of games that I own for various consoles, all the way from a Nintendo Entertainment System to a Playstation 4. 

One of the things that sucks about getting older are the responsibilities that come with it. I have these things called “bills” to pay, and unfortunately sitting around playing video games all day won’t get that done (I realize how ironic this statement is, considering what I do for a living). I squeeze a game into my busy schedule whenever possible, but it just feels like it will never be enough.

One of the other problems I frequently face - and I suspect I’m not alone here - is playing the same game over and over. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, although usually it’s because it’s a game like Final Fantasy XIV or League of Legends or Stardew Valley, the types of things I can play multiplayer with friends. I do still find myself drawn to old favorites, too, I admit - right now I’m actually playing through Breath of the Wild for a second time because the Nintendo direct a few weeks ago had me feeling the urge.

None of this does anything to help me crack into that massive backlog of games, though!

No one wants their hobby to be a chore, but sometimes we might need a little extra motivation to get through all of that stuff that’s been sitting there waiting for us for who knows how long. I like to craft - jewelry, specifically - and sometimes I have to specifically carve out time to go into my craft room and make a few bracelets. 

I have to be in a specific sort of mood to start a new game. A lot of it comes down to focus - as in, do I have the energy to focus on something new tonight, or do I just want to settle into something familiar and comfortable? I could wait for that feeling of exploration to come around, or I can try to create it for myself.

The first step is trying to stop feeling overwhelmed by your backlog, and instead excited about it. View all those games as an opportunity! Make a list of the top 10 games (or if 10 is too many, just cut it to 5!) that you’d like to play the next chance you get. Pin it up on a board, or leave it on a note near your desk - anywhere that it’s easily accessible and viewed. 

Make some time for yourself where you can brew your favorite hot beverage - my personal drink of choice is usually some kind of jasmine tea - and settle into your gaming chair. Create a sense of focus by being deliberate about which game you pick! And then you get the satisfaction of putting a checkmark by that game on your list. 

Sometimes, it helps me to arrange time with friends online so that we can hang out virtually while I play and stream it in Discord. This might not work for you, and it might not work depending on the game - sometimes, you want to give all of your focus and emotional investment to a game without having to worry about juggling extra variables, and that's ok too!

Every once in a while, I will watch videos on YouTube or streams on Twitch of a game that I've had in my backlog. Sometimes this nudges me into a mood of feeling inspired to try it out for myself. There is, of course, always a concern for spoilers, but honestly when you've been sitting on a game for like five years I think the statute of limitations on that are about up, lol.

Confession time: How many games do you have in YOUR Steam library? How many of them are still waiting to be played? Hope you get around to tackling that backlog soon!