Posted in General

Dealing with our game gluttony

collectionYesterday Murf touched on a subject that a lot of bloggers have grappled with over the past couple of years: The guilt and struggle of what to do with the truckloads of games that we buy.

Games are cheap, so very, very cheap these days. They’re cable channels five years ago. They’re video rentals twenty years ago. They’re libraries… uh, two thousand years ago? We have access to thousands for free and even more for ridiculously low prices. And because we love good deals and compulsively collecting things, we hit sales from sites like Steam and GOG like a glutton after a two-week fast.

Then our game library fills up with more titles than we can ever handle, particularly with diminishing game time as one ages. So what to do with that? You could stop buying so much, even when it’s a really good deal, unless you’re willing to play it on the spot. You could — as I’ve been doing — committing yourself to playing through the library you purchased. You could sample them. You could engage in the fantasy that you will one day play them, but not today and realistically not ever.

Another option — one that I’m considering — is devoting a session or night per week to getting out of one’s normal gaming routine and simply trying other titles. I think it’s easier to play games that you’re familiar with than figuring out new systems, downloading the files, etc.

I’ve been intentionally slowing down my purchasing habits of both new and older, cheaper games. I’m probably missing out on a few classics, but it’s started to rub me wrong to buy titles that I’ve done nothing with for years. GOG is running its summer sale and despite a few really good deals, I haven’t touched it save for grabbing one free game from the pile. I don’t want to buy Witcher 3 until I actually play and beat 1 and 2, and who knows when that will be?

Plus, there is the economics of it. Money in the pocket is more useful than a couple of bucks saved somewhere in the future. So if I get a game for half-off now (say, $5 instead of $10) but don’t play it until 2017, I’m not really enjoying that discount and getting that extra $5 worth until three years from now.

Maybe we need to be more okay with not paying until we’re ready to play, even if that means paying a few bucks more down the road.

Just chewing on all of this. I don’t know.

8 thoughts on “Dealing with our game gluttony

  1. I have almost completely eradicated preordering and day one purchases from my vocabulary. Not only do I already have games to play, but a single month wait can get you a new game at a solid discount or give you a reason to skip it since you’ve done just fine without it.

    I do have a couple of exceptions, like Fallout or new Civilization games. Not every series can be a Fallout or Civilization though!

  2. A lot of this has to do with the type of gamer one is, imo.

    Some people are social gamers, they like to play games that their friends are also playing, and lose interest once no one they know is playing the same game. They don’t need to accumulate a massive backlog, or feel guilty if they don’t complete the game once their friends leave. They just need to acknowledge it’s ok to leave when they’re no longer having fun and move on to another game where their friends are and have fun there. If that eventually builds up to a pile of unfinished games, so be it.

    Some people are high achiever gamers, they like to dig down deep into one game and uncover every last checkpoint and 100% the entire thing. These are the folks that should be adopting the buy one game, play it all the way before buying another rule.

    Some people are explorer gamers that like to go broad and try a whole bunch of games, but they maybe need to stop listening to the achievers that imply that not 100%ing a game is somehow bad.

    We don’t have to stop at Bartle archetypes. If we decide that different folks play games for different reasons, maybe to experience certain feelings they’re craving, that can suggest purchasing decisions.

    If someone is looking for excitement and adrenaline, they should be narrowing down their list to games (like maybe first-person shooters, speed games, etc.) that can elicit that feeling, thus shrinking the backlog of games they thought they might like, but didn’t, and take any “wrongly” bought games as a “I learned that I didn’t like this type of game” lesson. Ditto immersion-seekers, story-seekers, or what-have-you.

    Novelty and variety-seekers, on the other hand, have to go broad to get the feelings they’re craving and be ok with a longer list.

  3. I have a system that’s been working out splendidly for me. Whenever I find myself in a gaming lull and the want to try something new, I roll dice. I make a list of the Top 20 games that I would try, and then I roll a d20 to determine my gaming future. OR if I’m in a real random mood, I’ll take a list of every game I have, and then keep rolling dice until fate has determined one for me to play.

    Then, I play that game until I get tired of it, might be a day, might be a few more. Might be till the game’s done, or might just be a part of the way through until I feel that itch to move on again, at which point I’ll evaluate the game I’m playing to A) stay on the list, so I will possibly come back to it if I found it interesting or B) take it off the list, and most likely never play it again.

    But having this list has led to some pretty spectacular results. I finished an Ultima game I never thought I’d ever finish, Ultima Underworld, and then got a shout-out from Garriott himself on completion. I started playing Euro Truck Simulator, a game that very quickly found it’s way into my “must play often” pile, and I never would’ve even thought of giving the game a shot if not for this system. Of course, the dice have also treated me to some not-so-great games, like Kingdoms of Amalur, but they certainly can’t all be winners. Using this system, I’ve also finished Telltale’s Walking Dead series, and also completed all the episodes released so far in Life Is Strange.

    I highly suggest it as a backlog trimmer.

  4. I’ve certainly been in this boat for awhile now. My Steam library is up near 1000 games, of which I’ve probably played fifty more than a couple of hours (and hundreds of them I’ve never touched). I’ve put in a basic rule… if I’m not going to play it, I don’t need it.

    I’ve started to do something similar on consoles, where I do most of my social gaming. Even if I have friends that are going to play a game, if it doesn’t have lasting replay value, I’ll wait for a sale or skip it entirely.

    Sadly, life can be frustrating to a gamer on one hand… there are more and more titles that I would really love to play and simply don’t have time. But that time I don’t have is going to things like providing for my family, playing with my kid, or generally just being an adult. And ultimately… I wouldn’t give that stuff up for a bit more game time.

  5. Two thousand years ago a library of any size (to say nothing of the literacy required to make use of it) was a cherished and highly expensive proposition. Hell, that was still true for most of the developed-for-the-time world two *hundred* years ago.

  6. I’ll respectfully disagree with this. If I’d waited until I beat all of the previous Assassin’s Creed games I’d have never experienced AC: Black Flag, which is an absolute gem. Same with the Witcher. TW3 is just so much more enjoyable than the first [and I haven’t played TW2 since I haven’t beaten the Witcher]. Same with Deus Ex: Human Revolution for that matter.

  7. I agree. I’ve also stopped buying discounted games unless I intend to play them right away.

    But Justin, I’d recommend to *not* postpone Witcher 3 until you’ve completed 1 and 2. Witcher 3 is a great RPG and who knows if you will ever get to it if you have to complete the other two first. It’s perfectly enjoyable without having played 1 and 2. Just read one of the summary articles before starting (Google for “polygon witcher primer” and “kotaku witcher beginner’s guide”). They also link to excellent youtube videos summarizing the story of 1 and 2.

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