The backlog is a dangerous beast, one that haunts players far and wide. You can see all of the new games upon the horizon that you’re itching to get your hands on, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Doom Eternal and someday even Metroid Prime 4. But what about the pile of games waiting for you at home? You know, those digital titles you had to buy because they were on sale for less than a burrito at Taco Bell? What about that game your buddy loaned you for the SNES almost two years ago that he can’t stop ranting and raving about? Oh, you’re too lazy to find the cords for your system and hook it up? What's that? Tom Nook called and he’s demanding your rent? We doubt it, Tom Nook never calls to collect.
But fear not, while the backlog may a relentless, undying entity, we feel it can be tamed. We here at Nintendo Life towers have come together and brainstormed a list of steps you can take to get your backlog back in order.
1) Assess Your Games And Make A List
Your first step to getting your backlog in order should be to assess your backlog. Take a look at your games and figure out what you actually care to play in the near future and which ones you have just to fill space on your shelf. Not everything has to be considered backlog worthy material.
Once you have that figured out, go ahead and make yourself a list. You can make a note on your phone, use pen and paper or even use a website to help keep track of your list. We personally really like to use the website HowLongToBeat.com as it allows you to log specifics on when you beat a game, how much time you’ve spent on a game and how much of the game you actually played. Then you can take all that information and compare it to others online to see how long it took them. They even have a specific backlog tab, playing tab and completed tab that you can sort your games into as well. A list like this can come in handy when and if you ever decide to look back at your year and decide what your favourites were.
If most of the games on your backlog are physical, try making a stack of your games somewhere near your play area to help illustrate the challenge you have in front of you. Then as you complete them, put them on their own separate shelf and think of them as your own physical achievement system.
If you’re playing digital games on anything besides a Switch, try making a folder for the games you want to play and a folder for the ones you’ve beaten. It can feel nice to look at the list of games you’ve beaten and might help push you to finish more.
2) Schedule A Time To Play
It can be hard to squeeze in time to play games when work, school and other things are sort of ruling your life, but try to think of your game time as a scheduled event, like if you were in a sports league or had choir practice. For many of us, gaming is a hobby and we should all have time for our hobbies.
Figure out a time that works best for you each week and set up a plan. Maybe you’ll play each Tuesday and Thursday after your kids go to bed, or when you’re finished with work on the weekends. If your schedule is inconsistent, try to frame game time around a certain activity or maybe even just sneak in some time before bed.
And when life gets in the way of your scheduled “game time” don’t let it deter you. Try to find more time to play later in the week to make up for the time you missed out on. Much like any goal, just try to make a plan that works for you and stick to it
3) Keep Distractions Away
In this digital/modern era that we’re currently in, distractions are at an all-time high. Whether you’re at work, watching Netflix, or even spending time with friends or family, your phone will usually be there trying to bother you, and it most likely has some of your attention when you’re playing games too. So try to keep it out of arms reach if you can. Maybe plug it in and leave it on the shelf away from you. Give the characters in your game your undivided attention. Then when you’re done with a session, you’re likely to remember a lot more of it’s finer details since you were entirely present for its events.
If you’re using your phone for an online walkthrough, try setting it to do not disturb mode. And if you still catch yourself accidentally browsing Instagram and the like, try using a different device like a tablet or laptop (one that doesn’t have a million tabs open and all your contacts saved.) If that doesn’t do the trick, see if you can get your hands on an old fashioned strategy guide. It’ll definitely help you stay disconnected and it can be a lot more fun to flip through an actual book than to have your eyes glued to another screen.
4) Stop Unnecessarily Buying Games
Seriously, the deals aren’t helping you.
Unless you’re collecting games, try to not add more games to your "I'll play it eventually" stack. You can always make a list of games you want to purchase as you start to knock a few out.
Oh, and try to ignore the sales, too. We know it’s especially hard when it feels like every publisher under the sun has a hot deal for the weekend. Unless there is a game you’ve been extremely excited about and it goes on sale for the low price of “I absolutely cannot ignore this deal or I’ll be ashamed of myself for paying a higher price later,” you probably can do without adding more to your stack.
5) Stick With One Game, But Leave Yourself Options
Just like juggling multiple TV shows or books, jumping back and forth between multiple video games isn’t always a good idea. It can be easy to forget character names, lose track of the narrative and or current progress if you spend too much time away from one game, and you’ll be more focused and dedicated if you stick to just one.
However, don’t be afraid to give yourself some options. If your current game is a 50-to-100 hour RPG, try keeping a few shorter games of other genres in your back pocket. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out on a game you’re really enjoying, only to set it down and never pick it back up.
6) Consider Your 'Live Service' Game Time
Live Service games like Fortnite and most of Nintendo's mobile offerings are designed to reward you for logging in and knocking out your daily tasks and the more time you spend playing, the more content you're treated to. Games like these can heavily get in the way of your story based ventures as by design, they're easy to get sucked into.
Limiting yourself to one could give you back a real chunk of free time and it may be worth putting down Warframe or Rocket League for a season or so to see how much you can accomplish with that time off.
7) Know When It's Time To Move On
Once you’ve started a game and made a few hours in (at least,) if you’ve realized it just isn’t clicking with you, don’t force yourself to push through it. You can always come back to it if you ever feel like giving it another shot. If you’re worried about getting back the return you invested into the game, maybe you can try selling it or trading it with a friend for something else you’re interested in. Your friend may absolutely love the Dark Souls series for its difficulty level, but maybe you don't have time to commit to learning its mechanics or you just find it drab and too unforgiving. Not every game is going to be your cup of tea, and that’s quite alright.
If you happen to get stuck and have searched every nook and cranny or are having trouble taking down a major boss encounter. Don't feel ashamed to look up a walkthrough online or even reach out to a friend who you know has also played the game. That little bit of help could propel you all the way to the final chapter! Speaking of friends...
8) Enlist A Friend
A major factor almost anyone can blame for the size of their backlog is that we’re all partially influenced by the games other people are playing and the games our friends are talking about. So with that, there’s a good chance that your friends have some of the same games on their backlog as you do.
So why not try and hit up a friend (internet friends count too) to see if you can agree on a game to play together in your own separate time. Then you two can chat about your experiences, your struggles and share the crazy moments throughout the weeks it takes to complete.
This doesn't mean you necessarily have to schedule a time or place to meet to chat, but it could help make your game a bit more fun and might encourage you to play more efficiently knowing that you have someone else playing along with you. Then if this goes well, maybe you can invite more friends into your group for the next game and before you know it, you'll have your own private video game club.
Have any methods that have helped you catch up on your seemingly neverending to-do list of games? What are some of the games you'd say are still on your backlog? Drop your thoughts down below!