I like video games. I really enjoy playing them. However, I have a lot of video games.
There’s a website called The Backloggery that is designed to help you keep track of your video game collection, how many games you’ve beaten, and how many you’ve set aside uncompleted (or never had a chance to pick up at all). According to my profile, I have over 400 games across various platforms I’ve bought, borrowed, or downloaded for free. Of those, 63% are unfinished. And of those unfinished games, half are games I haven’t even played one bit.
I could not buy another game and still be set for years.
But of course I continue to buy games. Steam Sales and Humble Bundles are my kryptonite. Once a game goes under $10, and especially under $5, that’s impulse buy territory for me. Now I try to remain a gamer on a budget; I am perfectly capable of waiting until a game drops below its $60 price point to pick it up (made easier by the aforementioned towering backlog), and my computer is not always capable of playing each New Hotness™ that comes out. But even though I try to avoid it, I find myself buying games for “when I have the system to run it” or some such nonsense.
This backlog used to be a source of anxiety for me. After all, why was I spending money on new games when I had several hundred I had never finished? But the price is so good, the voice in my head would say. It’s only a couple dollars. That’s the price of a movie, or a dinner out. And look: it’s a bundle! That means it’s even less per game! And with that, I would sigh and lay down my credit card number as a sacrifice to the Dread Lord Bak’laag.
But then I read this article by Shamus Young (his blog is awesome, and you should read it. At least read DM of the Rings; if you’ve done any tabletop roleplaying, you will find it hilarious), and I started to change my mind. Time, whether I like it or not, is a finite resource. Even though I’m (finally) out of school and am only working part time, I have multiple hobbies and things I love that require my attention. Plus, even if I wanted to play video games 24/7, I don’t think I could do it; I’d be an overstimulated lump of bloated flesh and protoplasm (à la “I have no Mouth, and I Must Scream”). It also reminded me why I play games: they’re fun. And playing games should be fun. You shouldn’t just do it because you feel obligated to make the stack marked “IN” smaller than the stack marked “OUT.” That’s what day jobs and homework are for.
So I submit to you readers a pledge: I will strive to not look on my backlog with dread. Instead, I will remember that I am supposed to be having fun, and will play whatever games are fun. If a game isn’t fun, I will not feel bad about setting it by the wayside and moving on to something that is; my free time is precious, and I am under no obligation to waste it trudging through a dull, uninspiring experience. Especially when there are so many other fun things to do (I’ve heard good things about this rumored “Outside” place). And I will remember that this principle applies to all my hobbies, not just video games. I don’t feel obligated to read every book on my shelves (most days), and I don’t need to watch all the movies on Netflix. If something doesn’t tickle my fancy after a reasonable amount of time, then I’ve got better things to do.
Like hitting my friends with sticks.