Chipping Away At Game Backlogs

With the post-E3 lull before the September/October/November blockbuster window, I thought I could chip away at my game backlog. But with the steady flow of re-released indies hitting the Switch and older games getting massive updates, my pile of shame grows bigger every day.

It’s easy for me to tell how big my backlog has gotten, because I’ve cooked up a simple spreadsheet that helps me keep track of all of the games I’m playing. It helps me keep track of the various digital games spread across various platforms, but it is also a constant reminder of the little time I have and the fact that my list keeps growing with no sign of stopping. But why do I feel so guilty about that?

I sat down with Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo and Seung Park to talk about how they approach their own backlogs and why it might be OK to let certain games go. Yeah, even the ones I love and might give other people the side-eye for not finishing.

Check out the video above to see how we tackle our own backlogs. Here’s an excerpt:

Stephen: The best books in the world do not waste your time. And even some of the best games in the world waste your time. On top of an added level of challenge that a game presents to a player—where by design a great game may be difficult to play through, so it may be challenging, but you don’t hate the game for that.

That’s not relevant when you’re getting to the end of a book. Unless it’s like Ulysses or something where you’re like “I can barely get myself to the end because it’s so hard to parse what’s happening.”

But for the most part, great books do not waste your time, great albums do not waste your time – there are maybe some bad tracks on the album but maybe it doesn’t last that long. I really do think at a point, it should be like loving books or loving music where it’s not stressful if you haven’t listened to every great song ever. Instead it’s exciting to know there’s more great music to discover.

Seung: So, the idea of looking at video games through this lens of value exists. There are a lot of discussion about, “Oh, is this game worth 10 dollars if it provides me with 15 hours of value?” and then people do this division to come to this set number that is either bad or good.

That might contribute to this idea that backlogs are something stressful. So if you only play a video game for three hours, have you really gotten all of the “value” out of that video game? Don’t you need to play it for eight hours at least?

Paul: I get that. You see it often in comments like “is it worth this amount?” and I can’t determine that for somebody. For me it’s less of that and it’s more of the shelf life of a game from a cultural perspective.

Like I need to be on No Man’s Sky NEXT right now because everyone’s talking about it. I love discussing culture when it’s happening, as it’s happening, and I don’t like missing out on that moment. That FOMO thing is real for me.

Watch the full episode to hear more. Be sure to check out Viewpoints every Tuesday. If you want to watch it on YouTube, here’s a playlist.

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