Five Steps to Tackling Your Backlog

Five Steps to Tackling Your Backlog
 
 

2016 has been a good year. Really, it’s been too good; my backlog is 19 games and counting on PS4 alone. And with big IPs like Skyrim, Dishonored 2, and Pokemon Sun and Moon all dropping, not to mention personal milestones like Obsidian’s Tyranny, I need to clear that backlog.

So, since I don’t intend to buy a new console anytime soon, nor do I trust myself to replace the hard drive without burning the house down, I decided to plough my way through the pile of unfinished games. Complete and delete is the name of the game.

“But Brian“, I hear you say, “it's not that hard to work your way through a game or two. I knocked one out over the weekend.”

Well hey there, hypothetical reader – we're not all magical pixies from the land of productivity, and some people benefit from structure and methodology. You do your laissez-faire thing, you anarchist, we’ll be over here making progress. And that's the last I want to hear from you, Mr. or Ms. Smartmouth.

Anywho…

1 - Make a List

This part is so easy it’s almost impossible to mess up. Write down every game you own that you’re not totally done with. Whether you’ve completed it or not, unless you are wholly satisfied that you’ll never play it again, it’s on this list. Mine looks like this.

Feeling accomplished already? Well, don’t. Remember how I said this was the easy part? That’s because:

2 – The Hard Part is the Cull

C’mon guys, that list is hella long. You’re not gonna play them all without quitting your job and sequestering yourself away for a year. It’s time to cull.

Everyone has different reasons for playing games. Personally, I love trophies; if I can see a Platinum within reach, I will ruin my life trying to get it. But what I’ve realised recently is that I don’t actually enjoy doing that. So first off my list were games I was only playing for bragging rights.

If you’re anything like me, this will hurt. I’m three bosses away from my Bloodborne Platinum, literally a single trophy away, but I’m just not enjoying playing it anymore. If it’s work, it’s not play, and unless you game because you literally hate yourself, don’t keep going once it stops being fun.

This next one cut relates to peer pressure. You know those games that people insist you simply have to play? Yeah, don’t do that. This calls back to not playing stuff you don’t want to because, yeah, everyone’s saying it’s great, but it’s not your thing so you won’t enjoy it. You know what? YouTube is full of Let’s Plays so you can watch other people play those games, and Wikipedia summarises the plot if even that’s too much. You’re not missing anything if you wouldn’t get enjoyment from playing yourself. Scrap them.

Next on the purge list: anything where you’re only playing end game or multiplayer. These never end until you make them, so you’ve gotta be strong if you want to get through the others. Out they go; no Overwatch, CoD, Fallout, or Pokemon Go for you. You’ve got work to do.

Hey, you know what? Just cut out any game you’re not genuinely excited to play. Doesn’t matter how much you spent, or how little time you actually spent with it; if you do not want to play that game, do not play that game.

So now we’re faced with an actual, workable list. These are games you want to play, are excited to play, but just haven’t been able to find the time for. After the behemoth of the original list, this one is probably about five to seven games long.

But hey, don’t throw away the original list. Maybe there are a few you can go back to when you clear out the primary backlog. Backup your saves to the cloud or a USB, and then it’s time to ditch.

3 - Dump the Rest

Yeah, you read that right. Anything not on that list, delete it immediately. If you’re like me, half the problem of an excessive backlog is lack of space on the hard drive, so deleting these bad boys will be very helpful. It’s tough to let go, sure, but also liberating; you’re free of the hold those titles had over you. They’d stare at you from the dashboard, mocking you, but no more.

Anything you’re really not gonna play again, dump it. Or sell it, or whatever, but get it out of your sight. It’s just clutter, and it does you no good to have it around. I did this recently, and while I can’t seem to move some of the games, having them up for sale has been cathartic. If they’re not gone in another week or two I’ll trade them in for pennies when I buy a new one, because they only have value if you think they do. If you’ll never play them again, what’s the point?

This was hard for me, but it removed the distraction of my old staples. I can’t just go play Fallout 4 with ease anymore; now I have to press on through Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry until they’re done. And hey, remember that you can always reinstall a game; the worst you’ll probably face here is re-downloading DLC and a patch or two. And now you can focus on what’s really important; actually facing the behemoth of your backlog.

4 - Make the Time

I’m of the opinion that if your backlog is bothering you, you should be playing nothing but that; stop sinking hours into Overwatch if you haven’t finished Deus Ex. But, hey, you’re not me. So if you can’t face going cold turkey (like you should) maybe put an hour or two aside from your regular gaming time to power through some dust collectors. Hey, you might even enjoy it, and end up completing it in a night!

I mean, you won’t, but you might. I’m being positive.

The MMOs are great and all, don’t get me wrong, but remember why you’re doing this: the goal is no longer having a big pile of games to get through.

5 - Play What You Want To

Look, I really can’t stress enough that if you don’t want to play a game, don’t play it. Gaming is just a hobby for most people, and it’s supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing. If what you’re doing isn’t checking those little boxes in your head that add up to “Yes, I am having a good time”, you should stop doing whatever you’re doing and go do something else immediately.

Once you’ve started here, it’s good to have goals. Make a list of upcoming games you’re excited about; these are your rewards. When you complete two games in your backlog, you can get a new one. And so on. That way you’re still making steady progress and feeling rewarded.

Another thing I found helpful is boasting. When I get a good trophy I will spam Facebook and Twitter with a prideful cacophony, and that’s how I track my progress; I’m just not trying to Platinum everything anymore. Find your motivator. Tell your Facebook friends you’ve completed something. Do a countdown of your backlog for your Twitter followers. Stream your final battle on YouTube or Twitch. Get an ill-advised tattoo; really, whatever works for you. The point is to create a public audience, because nothing motivates us better than knowing we’ll be judged by our peers if we fail.


And that’s really it. Keep on going with this and you’ll start seeing measurable progress. I'm personally trying to get through my top three so I have space for Skyrim. Will it work? Hell no. But I'll make a damn good try of it.

Do you have a better way? Well, we'd like to hear it! Comment below with your own tips and tricks for beating your backlog.




 

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Comments Comments (40)

 
Posted by 163Battery
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 3:17 PM
7
I like this. A while ago I had spare cash for games so I was buying a heap of mainly digital games for my Xbox 360. When I got my Xbox One I decided to work my way through all the games I had on the Xbox 360 hard drive. It got to the point where I would play games simply because I had paid money for them, not because I enjoyed them. After a while I realised that was stupid and stopped doing that. Having said that, having a backlog of unplayed games is good if you find you no longer have spare cash for games.
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 3:22 PM
9
Neat article. It's quiet relevant to me as I'm going through a lot of this thinking at the moment due to KonMari and minimalism. I was even just talking about it on the forums today about how you get that peer pressure to play something even when it's not really your thing.

If I could add one thing to this article is would be: don't lie to yourself. It's so easy to do in so many ways.

"Oh, I'll make time for this."

"It's not really that bad. I shouldn't be so harsh on it."

"Maybe if I just practice and get better..."

You'll know in your heart if you are actually enjoying playing a game. You'll know in your heart if you would rather be playing something else. And if you get rid of all the weird guilt over critical acclaim or the money you spent or whatever it is and face the truth, you'll find the decision is a lot easier.
 
 
 
Posted by Bank
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 3:32 PM
6
Hahah good good, enjoyable.

Dude I've already applied this cleanup algorithm. My fully refactored backlog is still some ~20 titles!
THEY'RE ALL GRIND J/RPGS which I base me life on, and all of them are special editions.

And I'm back with competitive fighters BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, KoF14. Keeping up with Dirt Rally to not stay crap forever.

And gotta contribute to the NZ Rocket League competitive.

And FFXV. And The Last Guardian.

h31p

// Please tell me you finished The Last of Us and it's just on the initial list for trophy purposes.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 3:33 PM
-9
Only 79? f**king casuals, i have about 500.
 
This comment has been down-voted by the community.  
 
Posted by Xaphriel
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 3:45 PM
4
21 November 2016, 03:32 PM Reply to Bank
Hahah good good, enjoyable.

Dude I've already applied this cleanup algorithm. My fully refactored backlog is still some ~20 titles!
THEY'RE ALL GRIND J/RPGS which I base me life on, and all of them are special editions.

And I'm back with competitive fighters BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, KoF14. Keeping up with Dirt Rally to not stay crap forever.

And gotta contribute to the NZ Rocket League competitive.

And FFXV. And The Last Guardian.

h31p

// Please tell me you finished The Last of Us and it's just on the initial list for trophy purposes.
Gotta be more ruthless, man.

I could tell you that, but it would be a lie. I always want to go back, and I never do. Which is weird, because I love survival horror, I just couldn't get into The Last of Us.
 
 
 
Posted by CloudAxel16
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:04 PM
4
The best way to deal with your backlog is to accept you're just not going to finish most of them ever.
 
 
 
Posted by Dvst8u
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:23 PM
1
how does one stop adding games to ones backlog though? :(
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:23 PM
2
21 November 2016, 03:22 PM Reply to oconnomiyaki
Neat article. It's quiet relevant to me as I'm going through a lot of this thinking at the moment due to KonMari and minimalism. I was even just talking about it on the forums today about how you get that peer pressure to play something even when it's not really your thing.

If I could add one thing to this article is would be: don't lie to yourself. It's so easy to do in so many ways.

"Oh, I'll make time for this."

"It's not really that bad. I shouldn't be so harsh on it."

"Maybe if I just practice and get better..."

You'll know in your heart if you are actually enjoying playing a game. You'll know in your heart if you would rather be playing something else. And if you get rid of all the weird guilt over critical acclaim or the money you spent or whatever it is and face the truth, you'll find the decision is a lot easier.
I keep raising these points internally when I play DOTA, and yet I keep playing.

Save me.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:24 PM
6
Fun article to read, but if you took Tomb Raider off the list in the process, your process is flawed.

Source: my love for the reboot series. I don't make the facts, I just report em.
 
 
 
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:30 PM
8
1. Don't have kids
lol
 
 
 
Posted by Coddfish
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:43 PM
-
The Backloggery (backloggery.com) can either be a great help or your worst nightmare, depending on how you use it.
 
 
 
Posted by Xaphriel
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 4:43 PM
2
21 November 2016, 04:24 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Fun article to read, but if you took Tomb Raider off the list in the process, your process is flawed.

Source: my love for the reboot series. I don't make the facts, I just report em.
Nah man, I played Tomb Raider, enjoyed it, I just don't want to grind the multiplayer for that Platinum like I was going to. When you see people recommending you watch a movie while you do something in a game, it's probably not a fun thing to do :P
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 5:14 PM
2
Interesting read, I've actually been thinking about my backlog quite a lot recently as it just seems to be getting bigger, too many awesome games coming out are part of my problem and I just can't resist the urge to buy them. Which in itself is ridiculous because I know I won't get around to playing them for a long time, and I'm just making things worse. The other thing is, I'm a completionist, there's no way I could ever just cull a game from my list, if it's unfinished, or not even started, it irks me to no end.

#neverendingbacklog
 
 
 
Posted by Syn-Ryn
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 5:27 PM
2
21 November 2016, 03:33 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Only 79? f**king casuals, i have about 500.
My Steam library alone is 900+ games, step up it scrub.

My backlog is massive to the point where there's no point to trying to cull it, I'll add things to my backlog faster than I can take them off, and I'm someone who buys like one AAA new release a year. Out of curiousity I kept track of how many games I beat this year, currently sitting at 21, god knows how many I bought though. Video games are fun, don't stress about beating them.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 5:27 PM
3
21 November 2016, 04:43 PM Reply to Xaphriel
Nah man, I played Tomb Raider, enjoyed it, I just don't want to grind the multiplayer for that Platinum like I was going to. When you see people recommending you watch a movie while you do something in a game, it's probably not a fun thing to do :P
Oh right sorry, Yea I was going to grind the multiplayer for that, enjoyed it for a couple of hours, got bored for a couple of hours, then said f**k it because it was going to ruin the single player game for me.

When I think back log I forget about multiplayer, I just think games I haven't started or gone too far in to yet. Thanks to humble bundles, GWG and PS+ that's a long list.
 
 
 
Posted by Coddfish
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 5:30 PM
2
21 November 2016, 04:43 PM Reply to Xaphriel
Nah man, I played Tomb Raider, enjoyed it, I just don't want to grind the multiplayer for that Platinum like I was going to. When you see people recommending you watch a movie while you do something in a game, it's probably not a fun thing to do :P
I started trying to do that, lasted about an hour.
Great game, but that multiplayer was a disaster and the trophies for it were horrible.
 
 
 
Posted by predatorhunter
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 5:40 PM
-
This would work best in pc/xbox but maybe transfer your games to separate external HD rather than Uninstall so when you want to revisit justhe plug that HD back in and away you go.
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 6:54 PM
1
It's refreshing to find that it's not just me. I'm particularly bad at making the time- and when I have it, I sink it into GTA Online pretty consistently. I've recently let some other games creep into the my life.

I also WANT to get into Neverwinter, but I'd have to cull GTA to give that a good crack.
 
 
 
Posted by trun39
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 7:31 PM
2
Really nice article! It is so easy to get obsessed with trophies, it's about finding that sweet balance where the stress/sweatiness is worth it :) My backlog is small but the problem I have is that I like to replay my favourite games instead
 
 
 
Posted by Mafivee
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 7:53 PM
3
Excellent read there and my backlog has been concerning me for sometime now. And after a post by oconno this morning made me think of my backlog again and wondering whether the size of it was necessary and whether I'd actually enjoy playing them while not feeling a little guilty for discarding them.

At the moment I'm stuck in a rotation of the same 4 games that I can't seem to break away from even though I've got several there begging to be fired up. Hopefully with these tips in hand I can make some progress, have fun and clear up some space on the HDD to no longer seem like a game hoarder.
 
 
 
Posted by atipuss
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 8:04 PM
4
Great read. Play what you want..what you really, really want.
I know I spend too much time playing mp or mmo and keep restarting new characters in long as games like skyrim and fallout but I am happy. And yes I have cleared my backlog recently to just eight games (on ps4) :D yayyyyy
 
 
 
Posted by maxnaughty
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 8:06 PM
4
Ha... I just worked out there are 37 games on my backlog! Too much time spent on Destiny!
 
 
 
Posted by dr_zox
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 9:19 PM
4
Additional Tip:

Don't buy games on a steam sale...

I stopped ages ago and only buy games that I want to play, it may be a tad more expensive, but my backlog is now 1 game that I am currently playing.

It also helps but things in perspective...

(currently playing through the first witcher because I actually want to play through the series)
 
 
 
Posted by ironfist92
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 9:49 PM
4
I personally create a list on HowLongToBeat.com

Its great to see how long in hours each of the games I have in my backlog are, and I tend to play the shorter games first before having time and space for the longer games.

Highly recommend it.
 
 
 
Posted by TenguNZ
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 10:08 PM
-
I like hoarding though! 3TB worth of games and it gives me so much satisfaction seeing a vast library of games despite the fact I never finish any of them. Constant updates suck though :)
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Monday 21 Nov 2016 11:31 PM
-
I like my Huge backlog... I never have nothing to play lol. Im quite happy to never get to play some of them, just means there was better games to be played.
 
 
 
Posted by polarbear
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 4:10 AM
-
Yeah, I don't mind having a backlog. I do have an issue with buying games, playing it but not completing it, thinking its not that great, but then holding on to it anyway, with a 95% chance I wont play it again. When is a game part of your backlog, and just something you shouldn't even have purchased in the first place? I did this exact thing with MGSV Phantom Pain. Held onto it, but I'll never play it again. I think I only got part way through - yet I still would consider it in my backlog.
 
 
 
Posted by drstu
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 6:50 AM
2
Haha, a fun read.
Guess if you're a collector, the only way you'll ever clear that backlog is to stop buying every new game that comes out! Or, even every one that vaguely appeals.
My plan is to not buy a new game until I've finished playing the one I'm on! That doesn't mean clocking it, just get to the point where it's just not as much fun and I'd rather be doing something else.
Hell, this plan might even work!
If I can stick to it :-)
 
 
 
Posted by ChieftaiNZ
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 7:14 AM
-
Step 1.. Realise you have games to play.
Step2. Don't buy more games.
Step 3. Finish old games.
Step 4. Buy new games.
Repeat.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 7:42 AM
-
22 November 2016, 07:14 AM Reply to ChieftaiNZ
Step 1.. Realise you have games to play.
Step2. Don't buy more games.
Step 3. Finish old games.
Step 4. Buy new games.
Repeat.
when games sell 75% - 90% off no way in hell am i going to ignore them.
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 7:45 AM
-
22 November 2016, 07:14 AM Reply to ChieftaiNZ
Step 1.. Realise you have games to play.
Step2. Don't buy more games.
Step 3. Finish old games.
Step 4. Buy new games.
Repeat.
This plan assumes you actually like all those games, as well as liking all those games more than things that coming out in the future.
 
 
 
Posted by sassydot
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 9:03 AM
3
Good article. I'm currently working my way through the I'm-the-only-one-who's-going-to-play-them-and-they-have-no-replay-value games I own - things like The Park, Telltales, Beyond Eyes, Pneuma, and so on. Then will be all my Assassin's Creed titles (all except Syndicate, cos I promised myself I wouldn't buy it til I had finished all the others), and of course my Forzas at the same time. There's no multiplayer games that I am excited about until Sea of Thieves comes out, and singleplayer games will always be there, so no need to buy them until I'm ready for them, and ready for them means finished everything else! I do agree on ditching the ones you're not enjoying. I can't quite do it with FH3 yet, but once I'm done with the championships, I will be saying screw it to those last few PR stunt achievements.
 
 
 
Posted by jtbthatsme
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 9:21 AM
2
I hate to think hiw many games are on my backlog and I'll probably never play a lot of them goid article & some good advice on how to tackle the issue. I do try playing a little here & there of the games in my backlog but don't seem to make a lot of progress.
 
 
 
Posted by iLythium
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 11:59 AM
2
Nice article! However I don't consider games where I'm still occasionally playing end game or multiplayer as being "in my backlog". To me a backlog is games that you never completed satisfactorily. Either you didn't finish the main story line or you wanted to complete more of the side content.

Games like Rocket League, Overwatch or Fifa don't have an actual defined end point like you said so if you consider them part of your backlog they would never get removed. I just wouldn't consider adding them to the list in the first place.
 
 
 
Posted by jmduknz
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 12:06 PM
2
Nice article.

For me it's less the number of games and more the conflict between time and trophy OCD. There are some games I played because I 'must' that didn't really grab me (last of us) that I was ok just dropping although that 4% on the list still irks me a little. Most of the games that hang on my system are there to pull me back in to doing that one or two irritating trophy's that either make my hand-eye brain hurt (watchdogs drinking game) or need a grind. One day...
 
 
 
Posted by RSNZ64
On Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 7:47 PM
2
21 November 2016, 03:17 PM Reply to 163Battery
I like this. A while ago I had spare cash for games so I was buying a heap of mainly digital games for my Xbox 360. When I got my Xbox One I decided to work my way through all the games I had on the Xbox 360 hard drive. It got to the point where I would play games simply because I had paid money for them, not because I enjoyed them. After a while I realised that was stupid and stopped doing that. Having said that, having a backlog of unplayed games is good if you find you no longer have spare cash for games.
I have done the same! I am terrible at buying games from older generations just because they are cheap... but it i can never choose what to play then I miss out on all the new stuff.
 
 
 
thc4108
Posted by thc4108
On Thursday 24 Nov 2016 7:53 PM
1
I download all the games you get free on x box live gold will play them one day hopefully.
 
 
 
Posted by Xaphriel
On Friday 25 Nov 2016 2:54 PM
-
24 November 2016, 07:53 PM Reply to thc4108
I download all the games you get free on x box live gold will play them one day hopefully.
I do the same with PS Plus. I know I'll never play them, but they're free.
 
 
 
Posted by Vicx
On Friday 25 Nov 2016 10:21 PM
-
I don't know if it's just me but I've thought about taking 6-12 months off work just to play all my games. Has anyone ever done that?
 
 
 
Tzeit
Posted by Tzeit
On Wednesday 30 Nov 2016 11:00 PM
-
It's rather easy when you have stringent requirements for games, only buying games you want to play and not what others tell you you should play.