This is my personal gaming backlog. I keep it taped to my bedroom wall. When I buy or receive a title, I add it to the list. Many things on this list I obtained with the excited intention to play. Some things I did not, with the feeling I should try them to widen my gaming experiences. But as bundles have grown in popularity, increasingly more of those unintentional games I own end up not making the list at all. I am very good at amassing games at an efficient value. Sometimes I feel bad about that.

A game gets scratched off the list when I feel it is completed. What are my conditions for that? It depends. If the entirety of a game’s achievements can be completed with a reasonable amount of time and effort, I feel the urge to do so. I give myself a pass for Steam/Origin achievements because they personally feel less urgent (even though that judgment is based on nothing) and a pass for achievements I simply cannot do given my available time or skill. I’ve recently started giving myself a pass for achievements which I could acquire through force of will, but for which doing so would effectively ruin my final, lasting experience with a game. I need to give myself permission to fit more things into this category, because the list grows faster than I can clear it, and totally ‘finishing’ one game comes at the cost of possibly never experiencing another. Sometimes I feel bad about that.

All of this is to get the most value out of each individual game as possible.

Games with unlimited value have shattered my backlog. Open-ended games, multiplayer, daily quests, online leveling, roguelikes, etc. make it so that games can never be scratched off the list, partly because they are experiences that can never be beaten and partly because they crowd out those that can. These are games that I like – that I like returning to and feeling good at. Sometimes I just want to play a round or two of a MOBA or shooter or card game, and before I know it, the weekend is already over, with no progress on the backlog achieved. Sometimes I want to replay a finite game I’ve already beaten – I’m hopeless.

I am getting an astounding amount of value out of nearly everything I play. But in doing so, I worry I am destroying the lasting value gaming as a whole has to offer. It’s a privileged problem to have, to be sure – but it feels bad.