Looking Back And Forward On The Backlog

When I was a kid in the 80s and Nintendo became a thing, I knew I wanted to be part of that. Video games were cool. I first had an Atari 2600 and a small set of games that my Dad bought at a yard sale. I think the Atari cartridges sold for $0.25 each. They were arcade-style games — mostly without any real stories — and relied on quick reflexes. I didn’t play them to beat the game or finish a story. I played just to play. And show off a high score in Pac-Man.

One day, I got a Nintendo Entertainment System. Now I was playing with power! The games were a bit more advanced than Atari’s, but I still played for the gameplay experience and not so much to beat a game or finish one. That said, thanks to the Konami code, I managed to totally beat Contra. I think that was my first game I ever beat.

Since video games cost a lot of money and, as a kid, I had the opposite of a lot of money, I didn’t have many games. Back then, I would get one or two a year for Christmas or my birthday. The other games I had were temporary, rented from the local video store. Sometimes I’d play my friends’ games. True story: I pretended to be sick one day in middle school so I could stay home and play my friend’s GameBoy that I had borrowed. I played Tetris for hours.

In those days, there was no backlog. I had few games and a lot of time to play them several times over. I don’t know that backlogs were a thing for anyone back then, but I could be wrong.

Over the years, consoles and games grew in complexity. I got into RPGs with Final Fantasy III (SNES), finding for the first time a game that would last me months to play through. Having a huge story be front and center made finishing the game not just a cool way to brag to my buddies, but it was essential. You can’t NOT finish a sprawling narrative arc and leave the entire game’s world and characters hanging onto life by a thread. I had to save the world. So I did. Besides, those Espers were so dang cool. And Kefka was so bad.

Now that I’m an adult with full-time income (so grateful now after recently being furloughed), I can afford to buy my own video games for myself (and my kids). So these days, yes, I do have a backlog. It’s not huge, but it has hefty sized RPGs on it. In terms of gameplay hours, it’s…epic. I’ll likely be building up the backlog with new unplayed games indefinitely.

Before, there was no backlog. Now, there is always a backlog.

I don’t mind. There’s much gaming to eagerly anticipate. That’s fine as long as I don’t let it distract me from staying immersed in whatever game(s) I’m currently playing. On that note, I finally finished Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on Sunday. Final clock time was 71:11. I’m now also closer to completing Fantasian. I want to finish some other ongoing games too, like Link’s Awakening and Octopath Traveler. But I’ve got a new epic RPG to dive into soon, Tales of Vesperia.

I would feel better about my backlog since I’m moving the Tales game out of it, but yesterday I added yet another massive JRPG to it, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. The title alone is hours-long! Well, one game out, one game in. Fun times.

The Great Game Backlog

I was prompted to share the feels on this topic thanks to a Gaming Diaries post about what I’m calling the Great Game Backlog. We gamers usually have a number of games waiting to be played, started, or finished. It’s a good problem to have, yet it feels more bad than good. Or is it just me?


Surely it’s not just me. There are so many good video games out there to play. But even if we limit ourselves to only the greats, I think the total game-time exceeds our available play-time. So no matter how often we pick up a controller, the backlog of hit titles to enjoy just keeps growing, like the multi-form final boss that just won’t die. Dude!

This big backlog problem exists even if you restrict yourself to just one home console system. For me, it’s the Nintendo Switch. That might not be a fair example, though, because the Switch not only has its own games, it also has ports and remasters of many games from other consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3.

In any case, there are a ton of Switch games, especially if you add up the indie or casual mobile games.

I’ve got a list of games I’m eager to start playing. They live squarely on my backlog, jammed up by whatever current game I’m enjoying. The game backlog is so common, it’s a default list when you sign-up on Grouvee. You can see mine at this link. While my list is short, it feels really…jammed up.

The thing that makes me feel most bad is not that I’m playing an awesome game now and must wait to start the others. It’s that, for various reasons, I tend to stop playing my current game! So the backlog must wait even longer.

That’s my problem. I don’t really stop, but I pause in a game for weeks at a time. I’m a Dad with a family and career. I have many responsibilities. If gaming were one, I’d be almost failing at it. It just makes me have some grief. I should be enjoying this awesome game until I beat it. But life happens, parenting and work exist, so play and personal time get side-tracked. And, apparently, back-logged!

The other distraction from my current game is that when I pause, I sometimes end up starting a new one anyways. So now I’ve got TWO games I must finish, the current one and the previous one. Only then can I continue to the next game in the backlog queue.

Link’s Amiibo fits his game case.

Also, there are easier entertainment distractions! When I could be gaming, I often am watching a movie or surfing YouTube. Passive watching is less interactive than gaming. So it becomes a habit to neglect my paused game, stretching the hiatus longer.

An example: In February 2019, I “paused” my game-play in Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. I finally un-paused in November that same year, finishing it in December (woo-hoo)! Meanwhile, my games backlog didn’t get any smaller.

Anyways, I try to see the backlog as a good problem. I have the privilege of playing lots of games, both short simple ones and the 100+ hour JRPG grinds I love to get absorbed into during long late night sessions. Being in my 40’s means I don’t get many of those sessions. But when I do, I sometimes feel like a kid again!

I look forward to picking up the controller. I last paused on Ni No Kuni and am now enjoying Link’s Awakening. I must enjoy both until each are finished, then I can start enjoying Tales of Vesperia! I’ve been looking forward to that one.

And you know what? That’s one thing that pulls me through my current game(s) if I get bogged down. It’s the anticipation of the upcoming new cool game that spurs me on to keep plugging away, mashing the buttons. Enjoy it, don’t rush. Look forward briefly, but stay focused on the present game and soak it up for all its fun.

So do you struggle with getting your game on, whittling down the backlog? It shouldn’t feel like a slog, right? It should be fun! Do you ever feel lazy for NOT playing your video games?


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