Everyone has games they haven’t finished. Games that are being neglected and collecting dust, while you play other games that you may or may not complete. Games that you told yourself, “I’ll get back to it. I just have to play this new game right now,” then never do. Games where you made it all the way to the end but you didn’t want to beat it before doing all of the optional content; you never did the optional content, so you never beat the game.

We’re an easily distracted bunch, us gamers. Our backlogs be wreckin’ our shit.

It’s not a new problem, though it has been made easier to nurture and raise your backlog like a Chia Pet. Way back when, we had to actually go to stores to buy games. These “stores” were places you had to actually travel to, sometimes taking upwards of 15 minutes to arrive at, and then browse their selection. It was also entirely possible that they wouldn’t have a game you were looking for.

Primitive, I know!

Nowadays, we have all of this digital ballyhoo to satiate our deepest desires for extending that massive log and just having the greatest, most glorious log of all time.

Ew, don’t read too far into that.

As soon as I was in a position in my life where I had a disposable income, I started buying games at an alarming rate. I’d buy a PS1 RPG one week, play it, buy another one the next week, start playing that, ignore the old game, buy another one, ignore the medium old game, REALLY ignore the older game, and continue the cycle. It was a dreaded rabbit hole of game-gorging debauchery. An orgy that, admittedly, made me feel awfully good and pretty at the time, but brought later shames.

“Hey, you played ‘Xenogears’, right?”

“Yeah, I sure have played that!” … some.

Alright, Tyler, just be vague, if someone talks about something that happens later in the game, just smile and nod. Act like you know what they’re talking about.

“Wha? Id? Yeah, he… sure was a… guy. What a guy. Man, those things, those things he did. They sure were some things!”

Don’t worry, dear readers, I’ve rectified this mistake. The game has been completed by this point in my life. Settle down.

Though, come to think of it, I don’t have a PS1 backlog anymore. I actually HAVE gone back and finished those things up. Really, I don’t have a PS2 backlog either. Well, there is that sealed copy of “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. King Abaddon” that I never got around to playing. But, I really just wanted to type that name out.

Was I buying fewer games back then? Certainly. I may have had a modest backlog at the time, but I eventually caught up. However, digital distribution has destroyed the ability for an adult with a modest amount of free time to ever catch up.

I find I’m still buying the same amount of PHYSICAL games, but I’m also throwing digital ones into the mix. All those juicy deals on Steam, the fantastic indie titles coming out on consoles and handhelds, then all of those free games on PS Plus cohering into an overwhelming amount of content that I didn’t even spend that much money on.

But, I’m still spending money on them, even if it’s $5 or $10 at a time. I’m amassing this huge throng of games. Games where I’m like, “Yes, I definitely want to play that, I’ll buy it now” or, “Oh, it’s dirt cheap and it looks interesting, I may as well pick it up!” It’s dangerous and those games end up sitting there, waiting for their neglectful dad to come back home from the bar and throw the ball around for a bit.

Wait, what am I talking about, again? How digital has put a direct pipeline of delicious, fatty, and flavorful games directly into our wanting gullets, trying to overfeed us and engorge our liver into a scrumptious foie gras? Yes, that’s what I’m trying to talk about.

Before, in the “Way Back When”, there was less of an ability for games to be an impulse purchase and that was good. Even if you picked up a game in a store, there is still a chance you may put it back. You may come to your senses and realize that you didn’t want it as bad as you thought you did as you meander about, browsing at other items.

There is less of a chance of that happening with digital purchases since you can buy it the instant you get that tickle in your brain that says, “Yes, this is a thing you should do!” Thanks, brain tickle, I can always count on you to have me buy a game I won’t play very much or at all.

These kinds of things are supposed to have a point, aren’t they?

Well… I don’t have one. Except that when I mentioned backlogs “be wrecking our shit”, I may have spoken too soon.

It’s not that I think our gigantic backlogs are a good thing but, I also don’t think they’re doing all that much harm. Here, let me explain.

It’s not that we should run around, wantonly buying everything our gamer souls desire, but most of us try to make the best decisions we can in any given circumstance. We always buy games with the best intentions, it’s just that life happens, other games happen, and boredom happens. We WANT to play the games we buy, it’s that we don’t always know if or when we’re going to be able to play them.

Also, it doesn’t necessarily hurt to have some extra games on hand during those times when you get bored. Bored of a certain genre, bored of a game you might be currently playing through, or bored of being…bored. You may think, “Oh, I’ll take a break from this game now but I’ll get back to it later.” Though, if you’re willing to step away from it, you’re most likely finished with it. If the game were going to keep you glued to it and interested until the end, you wouldn’t have put it down to go play something else.

Ultimately – and I know I say this a lot – video games are about having fun. I’ve been starting to look at my backlog not as a collection of games that I’ve failed to start or complete; rather, I see it as a wall of possibilities. A near limitless amount of potential fun I could have right now or in the future. If I want to replay a game I love, then I should just replay it. If I want to finally start “Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom” (And I should), then I can do that whenever I want. It’s always there, waiting for me, just like all of my other games.

Of course, some of you out there probably are addicted like crack-addled street sleepers and compulsively buy games. That’s probably unnecessary, but maybe you’re rich or have more free time or have a sugar daddy/mommy that takes care of you. I’m not judging.

Basically, we should stop feeling less guilty about our backlogs. We’re going to have them, it’s natural, but once we start trying to organize our hobby into a checklist of to-dos and try to rationalize every purchase based on whether or not we’ve finished certain games… I don’t think that’s very fun. That sounds like work. Like going on vacation with a line-item itinerary and your days are planned down to the minute. That sucks!

Play the games you want to play and buy the games you want to buy. If you’re not irresponsible and you aren’t destitute, you probably don’t have anything to feel bad about. Unless you’re one of those people who is only happy when you’re guilty and miserable. In that case, spend a little less on games, take those savings, and get some help. When you get back, I’ll play some “Windjammers” with you.

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