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Pro Tip: How to Tackle a Backlog of Games

It is time we take a good look in the mirror and admit that we have a problem. We have all become video game hoarders and because of this we have a never-ending backlog of games. We purchase games all the time that unfortunately just end up sitting there for weeks, months, or even years. It is a symptom that has occurred because of something we call the “Water Cooler Effect”. No one wants to be left out of the conversation so when a new game is out and there is a lot of buzz behind it–whether good or bad–you want to be able to discuss the matter at hand. We are here to tell you, it is okay. Everyone lies to themselves and sometimes makes ill-advised purchases. To help you defeat that mountain of games and finally make a dent in your never ending backlog, we’ve compiled a list of handy tips.


Make a List

The first and most important thing you must do is create a list. This is the most tedious part of managing your backlog, but it is essential. It is simple. All you need to do is grab all of your games and lay them out in front of you. One by one, start logging them down. A spreadsheet is highly recommended here because it allows you to separate everything neatly and in order. If that is not a viable option for you, logging the game titles anywhere works, whether it is on a piece of paper, in a word processor, or even carved into stone. It doesn’t matter, as long as you can get a handle on what you are up against.

It is a lot more manageable when you are looking at game titles and not a huge stack of boxes upon boxes. This will also allow you cross games off the list when you complete them . Never, ever, erase a game title from the list. A simple slash across a title will suffice and give you the pleasure of knowing how many games have been completed.



This specific step is where a spreadsheet really comes into play. First, you must choose a way of ordering your list. There are plenty of ways to go about this, some of which include sorting physical and digital copies into different categories and probably the easiest way, by platform. Knowing where most of your backlog is coming from will show you where the most immediate work needs to be done. Also, it gives you a way of bouncing around between consoles so they all get the love they deserve.

Another useful manner of ordering is by game length. There are a handful of helpful websites that will give you the average time a game takes to complete. Adding the times will allow you to manage your play time a bit better. When there isn’t enough time in the day to tackle a game, it’s always best to go for the shorter games, whereas on the flip side if you want to get engrossed in a full life simulator, this is when you go for those hundred hour epics. You’ll become more efficient with your time before you know it.

The last part of this step is labeling. Go through your huge list and mark down the games you really want to play. This is your all-star team, the cream of the crop. There is no point in going in a certain order just for order sake because the last thing you need is to be playing a random game on your list while you really want to complete another game. Labeling these titles allows you to quickly go through the list to choose the ones you must play immediately–again, making the most of your valuable time.



Make sure to jump around in genres. We all have a favorite type of game and so it is natural to have multiple titles in the same genres. Do yourself a favor and jump around between genres. Don’t play 5 open world sand box games in a row because you’re more than likely to tire yourself out.

The best way to handle this is to never play the same genre back to back. Let the experience sink in and go from platformer to first-person shooter or something similar. Pacing and burn out are extremely important to manage if the list is ever going to be completed.

Do Not Purchase a Game You Won’t Play Right Away 

The “Water Cooler Effect” is very persuasive when a shiny new game comes out, but this is when you must learn to show restraint. If you are absolutely certain that you will play the game as soon as the shrink wrap comes off, then the purchase is justifiable. If this is not the case, just wait. There is absolutely no need to purchase every big title that releases. There may be some cool pre-order bonuses or whatever the cool kids are purchasing these days but those are there to make the consumer purchase something they may have not jumped into otherwise.

If you are interested in some games just make a new column on the list for future purchases. Playing the waiting game pays off most of the time, you may even be able to get a much better deal on a new game a few months down the line when you actually have time to play it. There is no need to increase the amount of games on your list. Your wallet will be much happier.


Give Up

This may be extremely difficult for some, but just give up. Not every game is meant for everyone. If you are not enjoying a game don’t be afraid to move on. By sticking to it, you will just move like molasses and prolong the painful process when you could be investing the time into a game that speaks to you much better. Make a special note of it on the list.

Your OCD may kick in at this time. Ignore it.

Reward Yourself

Just like Santa on Christmas, reward yourself for being good. Completing 5 games from the good ol’ backlog is a huge accomplishment so reward yourself by purchasing a new game from your side column of future purchases. It doesn’t necessarily need to be 5 games, but it needs to be at least a significant number. Trading five completions for one new addition is fair and will shrink your back log in no time.

Watching game titles get scratched off one by one is a reward on its own but adding an extra incentive will keep you chugging along.

These are simple tips that will help you deal with the bad habits you’ve developed as a gamer. If you want to talk more about these tips, follow us on Twitter: @NerdistDotCom and my own twitter account: @Collegescrubz and start a conversation with us. Now, climb down your backlog mountain and let us know if these tips are helpful to you and if you have any other suggestions for our fellow friends, leave a comment down below.



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  1. That’s surprisingly helpful…! 😀

  2. klue says:

    I’m not gonna lie, when I heard The Order was less then stellar, a part of me was happy cause that’s one less title to add to my pile.