Clearing your backlog

One problem many of us gamers have is that we buy games faster than we can play through them.  It all begins with that first game that we start but never have the time to finish.  Then we move on to a different game, but it also falls by the wayside and we never finish it.  As new games keep coming out, our attention gets diverted from one game to the next and before long, we have a whole bunch of games that are unfinished or, even worse, unopened.  Since I tend to buy games whenever I can find a decent sale, I’m guilty of owning more than just a few games still sitting untouched inside their shrinkwrap.

Backlogs are unhealthy for a number of reasons.  Not only do they collect dust and clutter your collection, but they also tie up your financial resources so that you don’t have money to spend on other games that you’ll actually play (or other important things in life, such as food).  Even worse, video games depreciate fairly rapidly (see this article), so your backlog actually costs you money.

Not too long ago, my backlog was getting to be unwieldy.  I literally had more sealed games than opened games.  I finally decided that it was time to start trimming my collection and eliminating my backlog.  I’ve been pretty successful so far, and I thought I’d share some tips that I found to be incredibly helpful.

Admit that you have a backlog.  The first step to solving any problem is being able to recognize the problem, and backlogs are no different.  You can tell yourself until you’re blue in the face that you’ll eventually get around to beating that one game, but if you haven’t touched it in five years and probably won’t touch it again for at least another five years, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.  Once you can admit to yourself that you have a backlog, you can work on getting rid of it.

Identify the games you dislike.  This is an easy first step and might be all it takes to reduce your backlog to a more manageable level.  Go through all of your games and pick out the ones that you did not enjoy for whatever reason.  For each one, decide whether or not you’re willing to give it a second chance.  Did you just get stuck at one part and got so frustrated that you gave up?  If so, maybe leave the game in your collection for now.  Or did you find the entire story and gameplay unappealing?  If that’s the case, there’s no hope of you ever finishing the game, so get rid of it.  It has no place in your collection.

Determine your needs.  What is your priority – free space or money (or something else)?  If your primary concern is clearing up some space, then you’ll want to trim as much as you can from your collection.  If you’re short on cash, then you might only need to get rid of a couple high-valued items.  Or, if you have some other need, figure out the best way to achieve it.

Write and follow rules for getting rid of games.  No exceptions.  If you try to go through your games first without having a set of rules to follow, you’ll find a reason for each game to keep it in your collection, and you’ll have made absolutely no progress in eliminating your backlog.  Instead, before picking games to go, come up with a list of rules that will dictate whether a game stays or leaves.  For example, you may decide to get rid of any game that you haven’t played within the past year, or that sells for more than $10.  They’re your rules, so you can write them however you want.  The purpose of these rules is to allow you to be much more objective when deciding which games to sell.  If your rules say to get rid of a game, don’t try to formulate reasons for keeping the game – just get rid of it.

Change your habits.  Once you’ve made your backlog much more manageable, don’t go out and buy a bunch of games to fill it back up.  It’s like being on a diet – you can’t go back to your old habits and expect to keep the weight off.  Figure out what you need to do to keep your backlog from increasing again, whether it’s spending less money on new games or devoting more time to finish older games, or both.

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