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How To Beat Your Backlog

Marcus Estrada

Now that we've weathered various sales both retail and digital this year, it's safe to say that many gamers have loaded up on cheap, new titles. After all, it's fun to get a deal on games you've been wanting. However, with all these great new games comes the fact that you've probably bought a lot more than you'll be able to beat quickly. This is where the term "backlog" comes in.


What exactly is a backlog? It's basically the term given to the ever-growing collection of games you have that have yet to be completed, or even touched. Some gamers are able to finish every game they buy, but many of us aren't so skilled. Instead, we may focus attention on our favorite games and leave the rest to be played some other time. Buying and putting things away in an "eventually" group quickly builds up, though, and before you know it, you've got 10, 20, or even 100+ games on your plate to beat!


So how do you take care of this? If you've got a relatively small backlog then it probably won't seem like such a pressing task. Lucky you. But if you are someone who's far into the double digits or into triple digits it probably seems like a much tougher task. Even if you're currently at only 5 unfinished games you still should listen up, lest you become like the folks who have hundreds of untouched games. You paid for the games so you might as well take the time to play them.






How do you want to take care of your games? Do you know which one you want to play first or is it really up in the air? If you've got only a handful of games, it's easy enough to solve this problem by flipping a coin or random selection. If there's a larger amount of games then random choice is still probably your best bet if you really don't know what you want to play. If not that, you can always ask friends for suggestions. If you don't want to leave your gaming fate completely up to chance, though, you can do a little research too.


If research seems like too much work, don't worry, it's not. One method that I have found useful for choosing games is to look at the time required to beat them. While this isn't everyone's style, and doesn't tell you if a game is actually good, it does help if you have a busy schedule. If you know you'd like to beat a game in a certain timeframe and only have so much free time, then why not look at how long they are? You can use sites such as HowLongToBeat to see average times to play through games. Many forums also have posts about how long games are so you can just perform a quick search.


Another helpful tool may be to join a site such as The Backloggery to keep track of exactly what you need to beat. Many of us don't have our games all in one place, so keeping titles straight in your head might be a bit of a chore. With a site such as this, you are able to mark off the games you have beaten and which still require attention. The only downside is that if you have a lot of games it will take a while to enter them all in. If you can get over the hump, though, then you'll have a great asset to help with keeping tabs on the games left to beat.




When it comes time to actually play, there's not as much advice that can be given. Obviously, beating a game is based primarily on your own skill at the given game. If you do have trouble though then we all know of sites like GameFAQs or even Youtube which will help. Beyond that, there are also aids available for those who play to get full achievements/trophies.


If you are that type of player then hopefully you're already a member of Xbox 360 Achievements, TrueAchievements, PS3Trophies.org or PS3Trophies.com. Each of these sites is filled with lists of trophies/achievements for every game that you might own. They also include user-posted guides/help with getting them. Each site also syncs with your accounts so that you can keep tabs on what you've already earned. Let's just hope you're not attempting to max out trophies or achievements on hundreds of games or you'll be one busy person.




Possible Strategies


There are no rules to trimming your backlog down but there are many strategies which may be useful to you. Some people tend to make sure they're not playing more than three to five games at a time, while others will focus purely on one title. You know your gaming styles more than me, so choose what works best for you. Be warned though that if you attempt to take on too many at once, you might find yourself forgetting about others because one or two titles are especially good. Regardless, keeping your currently playing game amount down helps force you to concentrate on beating specific games rather well.


Another possible strategy applies mostly to games within a series. For example, perhaps you just picked up Mass Effect 3 on sale and would really like to play it... but you still need to play Mass Effect 2! Sure, you can just skip ahead to the newest game if you want but it might also be helpful to just play through 2 first. Playing games like this helps because it keeps you in the mood of something you want to play as well as gives you something to look forward to for beating it.


If you've got a fair bit of games across consoles or various genres then it might help to go with this strategy: play games in marathons. You might decide to have a Wii marathon to beat all those games you've yet to touch for a system. Or, if you've been slacking on playing certain kinds of games you could go with a genre marathon. Still need to play Amnesia, Silent Hill, or other scary games? Have a horror marathon! There's really no limit to the kinds of marathons you can create and they help make things a bit more entertaining.


One method that works really well is to limit future game purchases in regards to how much you have beaten. This one is a bit cruel but it does work if you really feel you need to beat more games. In order to make use of this you might institute a rule that you can only buy one game after beating three. Or perhaps you'll choose to buy one game for each beat, or really anything that works for you. The strategy is especially rough if you don't have much time to dedicate to games, but the desire to get new games helps fuel this strategy better than the rest.


At the end of the day, you can choose any way you want to tackle your backlog. If none of these suggestions work for you there's certainly a whole other way you can make it happen! There's nothing wrong with never beating games, especially if all you play is multiplayer, but it often feels good to see a game through to its resolution. It also helps make these purchases seem a bit more warranted once we get what we've payed for. Good luck with your backlogs and hopefully one day you'll be free of them!

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