I have never been good at doing challenges related to playing games, watching movies, or consuming any other types of media. My free time keeps shrinking as the responsibilities of life keep growing, especially when it comes to playing games. My pile of shame is so big that I’ve had to create spreadsheets and use tools to try to organize it. Looking at my list of backlogged games in Howlongtobeat.com, it would take 408 days and 2 hours to finish everything I want to play. That number is not counting ongoing games like Destiny 2 or Fortnite.
Having a backlog is emotionally taxing for me. It stresses me out to think about all the games I don’t have time to play and it stresses me out to say no to nearly anything. With new releases coming out all the time, my backlog grows larger every day.
Because of that stress, I fall into the games that feel the most comfortable for me. That means grinding out packs in Hearthstone or playing a game of Civilization 5. It’s hard for me to find the emotional energy to open my backlog spreadsheet.
Doing the Purposeful Gaming Challenge (PGC) this year was my first step in admitting that maybe I have a problem with enjoying the media I play and setting hard boundaries. The PGC gave me a toolset to view my backlog through and forced me to pick up a new game every week. This habit made me face the cold realization that I was never going to finish all the games on my list, and, as painful as it is to say, that is okay.
Learning To Let Go
I was extremely hopeful that I would have time to go back and finish the games that I started during this year’s PGC. I had 22 games that I marked as, “Unfinished, but will complete.” This category includes absolute bangers like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. With the current backlog that I have and the slew of 2019 releases I’ve yet to play, I don’t think these games are going to get finished anytime soon. I still haven’t updated my spreadsheet to say that I won’t finish these games. I’m working up to it, okay. Get off my back.
Currently, I have finished 13 of the games I put on my list, and I expect to finish a few more of those recent releases before the year ends. A few of these finished games include Control, Gorogoa, and another playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas. This relatively large number of games beaten is a serious accomplishment for me. I will strive to continue this greatness into next year.
I put 10 ongoing or live-service games on my list that cannot be beaten. This group includes Fallout 76 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL). ACNL stood out to me because can you actually finish an Animal Crossing game? I would posit maybe. I have an ongoing spreadsheet of all of the items in ANCL. Here is hoping I can either “beat” ANCL or figure out how to say goodbye to it before Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes out next year.
There were three games I chose not complete. These three games are Crackdown 3, Ducktales Remastered, and Crusader Kings II. Crackdown 3 was a boring game that couldn’t hold my attention, Ducktales was hard as hell, and Crusader Kings II required me to read an encyclopedia to play it efficiently. My hope for next year is that I can make this category grow the most.
I skipped one week of the year. This missed week is my eternal shame and stands empty in my spreadsheet. I pray that one day this failure will be forgotten in the annals of history.
Other Fun Graphs
Above is a breakdown of the platforms that I played my PGC games on. Here are a few takeaways:
- I played the majority of my games (14 titles) on the Nintendo Switch. I traveled a lot and share the TV with my partner, so the portability of the platform made it incredibly useful.
- The PC was my second most-played platform this year with 12 games. I played a mix of indie games and AAA titles on PC, both new and old. The oldest game I played on the platform was the 2010 Fallout: New Vegas and the newest was the 2018 Cultist Simulator.
- I played a few older games on Nintendo platforms, including the Game Boy Color and Nintendo DS,. with the oldest being the original The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening which was released in 1993. The other Game Boy Color game was a ROM hack of Pokémon: Crystal, called Pokémon: Crystal Clear.
- I was surprised that I played more games on the Xbox One (7) than the PlayStation 4 (5). Every game that I played on Xbox One was on Xbox Game Pass, which continues to be an amazing deal.
Above is a graph that shows the year that my PGC games released. A few interesting factoids:
- 2019 was my most popular year with 12 new releases. The majority of these new releases (5) were on the Switch.
- 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019 were the only years that had more than one of my PGC games released.
- I finished two games in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
You can see the spreadsheet of my 2019 PGC games by clicking here.
Moving Forward With The PGC
The PGC was my lifeline during some difficult times this year. The habit of pulling something out of my backlog and devoting a few hours to it gave me something to think about when things were dark.
Moving forward, I’m excited to put what I learned about letting go of games into practice next year. I can’t live with a backlog of 408 days. Maybe I can get it down to 407 days next year.