Ignoring the Backlog

Sorry about how dead its been around here lately. There were some changes to my work schedule and some rethinking of my writing priorities has left me with less time and drive to write. The time part of the problem was unfortunate and unavoidable and really shouldn’t be a problem anymore. The loss of motivation is harder to shake. Near the end of last year I realized that writing on this blog was feeling more like a chore and less like a hobby. SO I tried to shake thing s up at the start of the year. Unfortunately, my planned changes actually made writing seem more like a chore.

This whole thing has been part of a more general malaise I’ve been in for the last month and a half. I’ve felt no desire to read or play video games, let alone write about what I’ve been reading and playing. Finishing a book I wasn’t quite liking and starting one I do like, along with taking a short break period, has helped me get back into reading. My indifference to videos games has two root causes I think. The first and most easily fixed is that I didn’t like the games I was playing. Coming on the heels of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Donkey Kong Country Returns any game is going to seem weak. Going from those new classics to middling slogs like Glory of Heracles and Lost in Shadow is just asking to hate video games. (Its not that those 2 games are particularly bad games, just games that are much longer than they are interesting.) But I’ve since put those games aside, soon I’ll find something I actually like.

The second problem I’m having is one I’ve caused myself, a mindset that keeps me coming back to games that I have long since stopped liking. I caught myself up in what I am calling backlog syndrome. Backlog syndrome causes players to play crappy games just because they already paid money for them, and playing a game they’ve already beaten would be wasting their time. I got into that mentality with he help of the really cool website backloggery.com, which allows you to compile a list of all of your video games by system and my how much progress you’ve made in them. At fist this site was a big help to me. A few years ago, while I was buying games all the time, I found myself barely playing them and spending most of my time replaying a few favorites, like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 and Ocarina of Time. But once I saw how many games I had bought and played little if any, I decided to slow my purchasing until I had played most of the games I had already purchased. For a few years the goal of beating all the games I own kept me playing new and interesting games that I probably wouldn’t have had time for otherwise.

Now, however, I have all but run out of games to beat. The few that I have left are left because they are terrible. Or are fine but for some reason I just don’t like them. I do have a couple of supposed classics sitting untouched on my shelf, Super Mario Sunshine and SMT Nocturne for example, but I’ve found myself spending too much time lately trying to push through drek.

So I am trying to break out of this backlog eliminating mindset that I’ve been in for so long. I am no longer going to pay attention to what I “need” to beat. I have no more goals of cleaning out my backlog. In what is probably not a revelation to anyone else, I am going to play what I want to play just because I want to play. Since I’ve made this decision I have felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Not a particularly heavy weight, but there is a definite difference. Playing video games no longer feels like a chore. I’m still playing new games on my DS, games that I would be playing anyway but now the motivation is just to play games, not to tick off a mark on a checklist of games I’ve played. And I’ve stared replaying Chrono Cross, a favorite of mine from a decade ago that I’ve felt a hankering to revisit. Hopefully this keeps me playing happily for some time.

One thought on “Ignoring the Backlog

  1. When we made the switch to Gamefly a couple years ago, we got rid of a sizeable backlog of old games that we couldn’t figure out why we were keeping at all. Nostalgia, the hope of playing someday, the “it’s just just a great game!” all came into play, but the reality was that we really weren’t motivated enough to (a) hook up old game systems just for the sake of, say, Ridge Racer, and (b) there wasn’t enough time in the world for us to catch up in any way. The backlog was bound to always get bigger unless it was chopped…and it was. When I had my DS, I only kept a few old GBA games I had scoured up. Every new game was traded in for the next new game. It was the only was to prevent myself from becoming engulfed in old games that I knew I’d never really play again.

    Playing what you enjoy is the best way to move forward and should make for less slogging in the future. Good luck. (And I highly recommend Super Mario Sunshine if/when you have the time. Don’t know if it’s a “classic,” but it was certainly a lot of fun.)

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