Several years ago I became aware of a large list of games that I'd never played that were labelled as some of the all time greats. I started to note them down and over time this list grew and grew until it became a backlog of several hundred games that I never had any hope of playing.
At its peak, my list of "stuff I really want to play one day" was approaching 1,000 titles. It was overwhelming, an unachievable goal that rather than giving me a sense of progression just felt like a constant weight on my shoulders.
~5 years later I have a Wishlist of around 10 games, most of which came out in the last year, rather than the last decade. I feel like I have achievable goals and that I'm on top the backlog, its not even so much of a backlog now but more like an actual wishlist of new titles I'm going to play.
I know from looking online over the years that many people have the same or similar problems in terms of backlog management and so I wanted to share some of the tips that really helped me get on top of it and not feel like I'm missing out on great experiences that everyone else raves about.
Build a spreadsheet.
My Excel spreadsheet is the king of backlog management. It's basically a list of all the stuff I currently own, and all the stuff I want to buy/play. It is divided into platform, then broken down into game title, game genre and the game time to beat.
This gives you a great visual representation of what you have, and what you still have to play. Of course the ability to filter and sort your data makes this even easier.
Here is my (now quite barebones) one I've been using
This site, for anyone who doesn't know it already, contains good estimates for how long a given game takes to beat. Get this information for all your games and put it into the spreadsheet. Yes, it's boring and time consuming but the end result is more than worth it.
OK, so you now have a huge list of games nicely presented and sorted with the relevant data. But you still have a huge list of games and that combined time to beat them all is about 7 human lifetimes. Now is the time to prioritise.
There should be a first wave of prioritisation, which is splitting the list into two; Potential and Wishlist.
Potential is the list of games that you want to try some day, or think you may be interested in, or other people have told you is good. Wishlist is the list of games that you know you will love, you've been wanting to play for some time and for those 10/10 games.
Once done, you'll probably have about 51% in the Wishlist and the other 49% in the potential list. Do it again, and again, going back through the lists until you have an actually manageable number of games in the Wishlist, with a combined time to beat that you can realistically manage according to your gaming schedule.
Once this is achieved, depending how many games you have in the Potential list, you may want to revisit it and look at actually deleting some entirely.
Choose your path
Now you have a manageable list of titles to work through, you've thought about the time you have to game during the week and how many games that time will allow you to play. Now it comes time to decide how to tackle the list.
This is up to you, I generally preferred to sort the list by shortest time to beat and work through the shortest titles first. You may want to start with your favourite genre or games you've been looking forward to the most. Whatever works for you, but choose a path and start going down it, this removes choice paralysis as you always have whatever is next on the list to work on.
Don't worry about FOMO
You may get sidetracked whilst working on your list by new titles, obscure recommendations etc. This will happen and if the game looks promising, add it to either the Wishlist or the Potential and continue on the path. You don't have to play it right now, it will be there later.
It's OK to delete titles from your list. You can't play everything that's ever been released and you can't play everything that is still to be released. Truth is, 90% of what does actually get released is garbage anyway!
I had the hardest time deleting anything from the list in beginning as I had the nagging doubt of "but what if it's actually amazing and I never tried it?"
If you can't shake this feeling, then check a review or some gameplay on YouTube, a minute or two is usually enough to know whether you will find the game "amazing" or "meh"
Step 6 (optional):
If you don't have the luxury of time to complete a long list of games and maybe only have time for a handful of titles in a year, you will need to do more passes of the Wishlist. My rule for this is "does it look amazing, is it exactly my type of game, could it be one of the all time greats?"
If the answer is "no" then get it off the Wishlist, there will not be many that fulfill those requirements and that should ensure you are making the best use of the gaming time you have.
If anyone has any additional tips and strategies for managing extreme backlogs I'd be happy to hear them.
Hope this helps anyone who had the same situation as me!
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