What are your backlog management strategies?

I imagine everybody else has a digital library full of countless games they got for free or cheap and then never bothered to touch (hell, offering games on those terms has been the underlying strategy for digital platforms since the late 2000s). For me, it wasn‘t until last year (maybe late 2018) that I reflected on that: how many of these games I had burning a hole in my library, how many I’d never touched or had direct interest in, how many I never even got a chance to play because the platform I owned them on went under before I could. I wanted to change that, so over the course of several months, I downloaded every game I owned for every digital platform and then gave myself a rule of beating at least two games before I could add another to the pile. For that reason, I've also avoided free giveaways or stuff like the Racial Justice Bundle on Itch.io (1000+ games!?). Anyway, I was wondering if anybody else came up with their own strategies to reduce their backlog, or what their stance toward their backlog might be.

I‘m impressed that you want to try beating them!

Here’s my strategy:

  • - I'll give each game an hour
  • - unless it's abysmal in which case I'll stop even before that
  • - delete/archive the games I don't want to play. critically (for me anyway) I make sure any game I'm sure I won't play again is out of the library.
  • - delete games I got in bundles that I know I'll never play. the latest time bending puzzle platformer is definitely something somebody wants but I'm not going to get far with it so out it goes.
  • - if I wind up liking a game I start, I'll stick with it til I beat it or I feel done, but either way I keep it in my library
  • What I don't have is a method for going through them. Kris Ligman was going I think alphabetically through their backlog which seemed to work for them.

    Overall I'd say if you try to beat all the games, you'll never get anywhere, and should really stick with the ones that grab you if you've got a big backlog. I've been taking a much more mercenary approach to media lately and trying to cut my losses when I'm not enjoying something. I have an especially hard time with movies, I feel this obligation to see their vision through.

    but a lot of the time their vision was "I'm gonna plop out an aliens clone" and that's it, that's all they had. And if it's boring and there's nothing cool going on, I've seen the vision, there's nothing more for me to learn, and it's time to move along. with so much media out there, you've got to filter somehow!

    I also used to do the "two episode test" for anime - but you can tell within the first 5 minutes if it's gonna be something you want to stick with, so that's about as far as I get now!!

    @exodus#3993 I should mention that my backlog is more manageable than I may be giving it credit for. It‘s at 130-ish games, if memory serves, and (assuming the appropriate data’s available on How Long to Beat), I group them according to how long it would take to beat them. If anything, the bigger obstacle is my insistence on writing about and analyzing the shit out of every game I come across, including the ones I got in a Humble Bundle and forgot about eight years ago. Yet if my present experiences with Lucid9 are any indication, it absolutely can be worth it to stick through and see what a game‘s doing, even if the game in itself isn’t particularly interesting.

    Movies are a different beast I think because of the (reasonably) short time investment vs. our favorite forms of interactive entertainment.

    Something I've noticed over time is that the need to complete a game is mostly psychological. Insert Credit podcast hosts are thoughtful about this and it's something that I've come to appreciate more as I've gotten older.

    For example, I've played _Persona 5_ for about 20 hours. I absolutely feel like I understand what that game wants me to do in terms of its systems and its gameplay loops. I also feel like it is way way way too long. I'm reminded of [this comment I saw when it launched about how the game does not respect your time as a player](https://rashbandicoot.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/persona-5-is-a-great-jrpg-that-doesnt-respect-your-time-review/).

    If you tell someone, "Yeah, I did an activity that is a primary hobby for 20 hours" people would nod and say you gave something a fair shot. Only in the context of video games is that considered "not enough" or that you somehow failed to have a credible opinion because you didn't see it to the end. "Hey, I read 1/3rd of this 500 page book and it wasn't doing it for me." Nobody bats an eye. "I stopped playing P5 toward the end of the 2nd palace after enjoying some parts of it quite a bit while not liking these things" and your opinion is somehow not valid according to certain corners of our culture.

    I've been playing _The Messenger_ lately and I got to the end and it turns out there is a big twist and like... I wish the game was half as long now because I'm kind of tired of it even though it was a well-executed twist.

    Ultimately, it's OK to cut yourself some slack. You don't "need" to play anything! It's (for many of us) a hobby that we happen to really enjoy!

    For me what works is thinking about video games the way I used to think of albums, back when CDs were a thing.

    If you consider a game to be similar to a book or movie, then you might feel compelled to see it through, as if it's intended to be a linear, start-to-finish experience. But if you lived through or can imagine the time when people had shelves full of CDs (or vinyl, or tapes), I think it unlocks a new way of experiencing a media library.

    I've listened to my favourite albums for a combined total of, what? Hundreds, if not thousands of hours. But I also own(ed) a lot of albums that I'd just put on occasionally, and really only listen to a few songs, but never feel compelled to put on start to finish.

    Also, consider what Nassim Taleb said in his book, [The Black Swan](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan:_The_Impact_of_the_Highly_Improbable) (I'm paraphrasing): Your library should ideally be full of books you haven't read. It should be a resource you consult when you find an interest in something, or feel you don't know enough about a particular topic.

    I guess a backlog feels like a bummer to me because I want video games to be fun hangout times and not tasks to complete. But that's just me!

    I started cataloguing my backlog on The Backloggery this year. I really like it! I generally don‘t feel any pressure to complete a game I’m not enjoying, but what I do appreciate about The Backloggery is that it gives me a quick reference for what is currently on my slate as well as a visual clue for when I‘ve started spreading my attention too thin. This has also helped me rein in my game buying; it’s easier to not buy Xenoblade Definitive Edition when I have a note reminding me that I still need to get back to the second act of Dragon Quest XI. I also appreciate the intentionality of removing a game from my “Now Playing” list. For a while I was S-Ranking through Streets of Rage 4, and then at some point I decided I was going to stop doing that and knocked it off the slate. It felt good!

    one plan that helped me a lot was sitting down with my list of a backlog and sorting them by immediacy in which i want to play them. to use an example of tv shows, i‘ve had a lot of friends recommend me shows that they think i should watch, which i’ve kept a running list of on my phone. as time goes on, a lot of these shows are revealed to be “not THAT great, but my friends just wanted someone to talk about it in the moment with” and my desire to watch the show drops off the list. some games (like the new Paper Mario) i want to play now rather than add to a backlog because i don‘t think it’ll age particularly well over time and there wont be much to talk about in a few months. however, there are some games like Paper Mario TTYD, which i‘ve played about 10 hours of and really liked but know that there’s not really any rush to complete right now. it'll always be there and be good, and i feel no pressure to finish it.

    this is something i think about a lot: there's a vast sea of Content, whether it be music, movies, games, TV, or otherwise, that just seems to be exponentially growing! as time goes on, there will always be more things that people (including yourself) say you Have To Check Out, so it's alright to cut yourself loose at some point and say "i don't think i'm actually going to look into this." when i started playing music in my teens, countless people told me i HAD to listen to certain bands to "truly understand" the culture and influences of the bands i was listening to at the time. flash forward to now: i downloaded a bunch of those bands' full discographies that i still have on my hard drive to this day and will probably never listen to in my life, and i'm okay with that bc the other stuff i found at the time (instead of listening to old bands) was way more interesting to me!

    @willi#4019 I don’t know how you’re S-Ranking anything in that game. I love Streets of Rage 4 and I think I have gotten an A one time!! :sob:

    Ah, man, imagine if you could let a friend rifle through your collection like it was a box of CDs and assemble a “shelf” of 20 games? Maybe just pick some for aesthetic, or classic status, or the new-hotness. That way, you‘ll be removed from the emotional work of admitting, yeah, you should play more of YAKUZA 0, and you definitely don't need to feel guilty about having the PS4 version of BAYONETTA, despite never having played it. Inevitably, if you can remove the embarrassment from the equation (“You should definitely play RAGE 2,” instead of "Oh, god, you tell me you haven’t played your copy of UNCHARTED 4?"), you'll have a healthier relationship with your personal taste.

    Yeah, my answer is: Ask someone whose taste you trust (and who knows your taste) to curate your collection for you.

    @antillese#4041 S-Ranking requires a lot of repetitions but less memorization than you would expect! The game is extremely good and really learning the levels is completely worth it. I'd love chat about it in another thread, I think it should definitely come up in games of the year discussions.

    The beat at least one or two before getting another is the strategy I‘ve tried doing too, though it’s slipping again, recently. One thing I‘ve been trying that’s a little hard to get over is feeling guilty about playing an older game when I already have a newer one. Just go with it! Play that older game. It‘s kinda made me more comfortable with this idea of a library of games I haven’t really touched yet. Ooh do I have that one? Oh I do! Time to give it a shot. Like pulling a book off the shelf to just flip through and enjoy and take in a little before putting it back until I think about it again.

    I really do prefer the experience of browsing a physical library, not knowing what I want to play, and then stumbling upon something and thinking, ‘oh, this!!!’

    it's hard to recreate that in a digital library, and curation is definitely good (having friends send you lists) but it also comes with a bit of pressure, as well!

    there are a lot of video games it turns out

    I don't have enough games for this to be an issue, but I think splitting games into categories might help? One category may be “historically important games” or “games in the zeitgeist,” and another, “games I think I will like,” and another, “games my friend said I should play.” And then just sort of balance between them!

    I do this subconsciously for books. There are certain books that I am very sure I'll enjoy (either because of the type of book it is, or I've enjoyed other books by the author), which I will pick up when I am in a bad mood or just wanna have a good time. Other times, I will pick up a book that I see referenced all the time, just to see what it's about. And then if I'm feeling like I need something truly new, I'll pick up a recommendation. Knowing why I wanted to pick up the book in the first place helps me orient my brain towards thinking about it in a good way.

    Another idea might be to split games into groups thematically. If you think two games would be interesting to compare, play them one after the other and see what thinking about them together makes you feel like. You could say, "This month is for Games from Eastern Europe!" and then play all the games you own from that territory. Or something like that!

    I don't know if any of this will help if the objective is simply "play through the backlog" but maybe it would make it more fun? I don't know!

    @willi#4069 I made a thread on this forum about SoR4 shortly after it came out. Go resurrect it with your thoughts. It was general in terms of what makes a good modern reboot, but I'd love to discuss the game more.

    Maybe a steam library tool where it tallies up the hours spent by your friends and recommends games that way?

    I don’t think of libraries as a “back log”. they are a options you may explore whenever your interested. lots of things are like this.

    My encyclopedia is not on my “to read” pile

    >

    @Big-ol-dumbo#4264 My encyclopedia is not on my “to read” pile

    You and I were very different kids growing up! 😆

    I don‘t manage my backlog, I just accept it lol. I won’t play every game I want to, and I'm OK with that.

    I've been playing games long enough to know what I like, so I rarely every play something that I don't really enjoy. Also, my enjoyment from games comes from beating them, so in the unfortunate event I play a game that I don't like as much I still feel committed to finishing it, as long as doing so is feasible.

    Example, last game I played thru was Last Guardian. I didn't really like the game, but I kinda knew I wouldn't like it anyways since I didn't love SOTC; but I felt the experience would be worthwhile and the game wouldn't be too hard to finish.

    it seems listening to podcasts and reading forums that everybody just wants to play the latest and greatest thing that comes out, and they also wanna play as many games as they can, thus ppl tend not to finish games often anymore. Also with podcasts I always feel like the hosts feel pressured to play all these games so they have things to talk about. For me, I just want to enjoy games. If I have 100 hours to spend gaming, I do not care if I spent that 100 on a single game, as long as I enjoyed it. I could play thru like 8 popular AAA and indie games in the time it takes me to play one Persona or Monster Hunter game, but I'd rather play the Persona or MH game because I loved that Persona and MH game!

    The strategy I‘ve been implementing lately is making lists of games (and also movies, books, anime, comics, etc) that I’ve always wanted to play. I think of them as my “White Whale” games, it‘s not a perfect analogy, but it’s just what I call them. These are the games that I remember seeing my brothers play growing up, or mentioned by my favorite critics, or just have a box art that‘s always stuck with me. It’s mostly stuff like Skies of Arcadia, Chrono Cross, FF 8, The Last Story, PSO2 etc. They‘re almost always longer games, so I try to microdose random deep dives into retro platformers to mix it up a bit. I notice that I usually get really overwhelmed when I look at my steam library or something, so I just only try to prioritize games I can think of off the top of my head. If I can think of it like that, then it’s stuck with me enough that I should spend time with it, rather than whatever I bought in the last Steam sale. When I get through all my White Whale games, then maybe I'll move onto those other ones.

    So, I just got around to finishing Klonoa (like, the original 1997 Klonoa) for the first time. I have owned this game since 1997 or 98. I bought it from a friend who didn‘t like it before it even came out in the US. I played through like half of it right away, but something distracted me (like I even know what at this point). And I realized a little bit ago that I’d never actually beaten it! So suddenly I got it into my head that I wanted to remedy that and I did! And I enjoyed it a lot. It's a lovely game.

    I guess I am telling this story just to say:

  • - It is fun to play games, so do that!
  • - I have no backlog strategy, obviously.
  • - Yet somehow I get things done!
  • Concurrently with that I have been playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is at this point a year old but also clearly much more "new" and I think that's one way to handle things that works for me: playing something big and long but not letting it take over my life/playtime so it doesn't get daunting or cloying, and playing smaller/different in tone things in/around/between those. After Klonoa, I started Klonoa 2, which I am maybe 75% through now (and which is way way way less good than the original but I digress...) as I also continue to play Three Houses. I also played through A Short Hike which is Brand New (on Switch, at any rate) and that was lovely and kept my soul nourished!

    I just went through a short hike myself - it‘s nice!! I did find the writing a bit cutesy (short sentence fragments and all) but that’s the current style for a game that looks like that so I sort of forgive it. And either way it's nice that something so small can wind up getting such acclaim. Gives one hope for short games!! Putting “short” in the title probably helps.