This is a reprint of the feature essay from Issue #59 of Exploits, our collaborative cultural diary in magazine form. If you like what you see, buy it now for $2, or subscribe to never miss an issue (note: Exploits is always free for subscribers of Unwinnable Monthly).
Speak to most gamers, and they’ll probably tell you the same thing: Backlogs are annoying. They’re stressful to work through and overwhelmingly irritating to keep up with. I felt the same way for a long time, I must admit, but after months of working through my own messy backlog, my outlook changed.
Regarding my own personal backlog, our story begins on the 18th of May 2015. For me, this was my 19th birthday; the rest of the world, however, will know it as the day The Witcher 3 was released. Given the overlapping of these events, I was lucky enough to receive The Witcher 3 as a birthday present and promptly jumped into its world. I did some quests, killed some monsters, found some treasures… and then completely dropped the game. In short, I clearly had no taste when I was younger.
And on my shelf The Witcher 3 stayed for many years, slowly collecting dust. Well, except for the rare attempts I would make to actually get through it – none of which were successful. That is, until my most recent attempt!
That’s right! As of right now, I am just over 50 hours into a brand-new play-through of The Witcher 3, and I don’t plan on stopping! But how did I manage such a huge turnaround? Well, it all comes down to slowly building a more loving and intimate relationship with my backlog.
I began by playing the shorter games in my backlog, such as Concrete Genie, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Journey, making notes on each as I went. This act of noting down my thoughts mid-playthrough not only ensured that I spent more time with each game, but also gave me something to look back on once I completed them all. Concrete Genie, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Journey all had their own pages worth of thoughts, notes and analysis, making the journey of playing through them feel truly special, as if it was something utterly unique to me.
Following this, I made my way through several more classics, in the form of God of War (2018), Outlast and Bayonetta. This time, however, I added pictures to my notes on each game, slowly building out my “personal scrapbook of gameplay.” Making my way through these wonderful games, I made sure to take photographs at interesting moments throughout. I did this mostly to keep as personal reminders of events I considered truly beautiful but also for showing to friends when discussing my favorite parts of each game.
And, as I sat down to show my many notes and photos to my friends, I finally realized: I now love my backlog. No longer was I saying, “Oh god, I still have all these to play,” but rather I found myself scrolling through my backlog wondering, “What do I want to write about, discuss and enjoy next?”
My backlog has truly become something I relish digging into, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!