Don’t Play Your Backlog
Why are we wasting our time on games that don’t hold our interest?
Video games are supposed to be fun. That is one belief that I won’t be swayed on. If playing something gives me the urge to check my phone, it’s already over.
This sounds like common sense. But for those of us who have made a serious hobby out of the medium, it might not be. There are sites, subreddits, and even other Medium articles dedicated to conquering the infamous backlog — your potentially colossal catalog of perpetually unplayed games. Why are we so obsessed with it? The principle is simple: gamers, like most contemporary consumers, are obsessed with getting their money’s worth. “I payed $59.99 for Assassin’s Creed II three years ago,” they exclaim, “I can’t just let it sit there!”
Yes, actually, you can.
As the old adage goes, time is money — you should value your time as much as you value your pocketbook. Playing a video game that you genuinely enjoy is not a waste of your time. Playing a video game simply because you paid money for it is. When I think about the 300+ hours I’ve poured into Skyrim, I would much rather focus on my dragon-slaying memories than my guilt about ignoring Peggle 2.
So, instead of scrolling listlessly through your collection of unplayed titles, I encourage you to instead reflect on the games that you love, the games that you choose to come back to time and time again. It should be your adoration for those experiences, not your guilt, that fuels you to discover new titles. Foraging for new experiences should be a choice powered by a desire for more, not the appeasement of regret.
Playing your backlog is no different. Play it or don’t play it. It won’t matter to anyone but your inner gamer-conscience. But, hey, maybe there are some real gems buried there — an overlooked indie, a blood-pumping beat-em-up. It might just be worth the spelunking! Or maybe it won’t. You can always play another hour of Civilization instead.