Marche stepped up to the cave, sword in hand, peering into its dark depths. This was the supposed lair of the fiendish backlog, a horrific monster that lived eternal and only seemed to grow larger and stronger as time went on. Marche knew full well that he would have to face the monster, sometime. After all, it was borne of him and his purchases. He had put off slaying it for so long that something had to be done. Still, could he do it? His heart shouted at him to walk into the cave, but his mind said "no". What to do?
What manner of beast is this?! I shall slay it, henceforth!
Those of you who hang around the forums know that I've started facing down my backlog just this weekend. I'm embarking on a journey that will take months, even if I move along as quickly as I can. I want to take a step back and reflect on my backlog, how it took shape and became the monster it is today, and how I intend to fell it once and for all.
So, I guess I ought to start back at the beginning.
Why can't *we* have highways with loop-de-loops?
My current backlog started back when I was but 5 or 6 years old, although I wouldn't have known it. I had Sonic Adventure. Played the heck out of the first few levels, but I was at the age where I didn't understand the concept of saving/auto-saving, nor did I care, so I would start a new game time I picked the game up. Heck, at the time, I don't think I understood that you can switch between characters in Sonic Adventure, so of course I never beat it.
But Sonic Adventure is a special case. It was a gift, and I didn't ask for it specifically, as I was so young I knew nothing of what games existed beyond what I could see at Wal-Mart in the display cases. Almost every other game on my backlog is a game I've bought or asked for, myself. They are all games I enjoy, to various degrees, but have never found the motivation to finish.
Twelve years this backlog has been snowballing. Twelve years. 50 games, and I know for a fact that I could put many more on that backlog, but there are just some games that I will never find the drive to finish (like Yoshi's Island DS and Wario: Master of Disguise).
Stuck playing Paper Mario for the rest of my life. Send help.
So why haven't I been able to work on that backlog for so long? Well, first of all, I will say that I have made some dents here and there in the past. Just this past summer, I beat Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Zelda: Skyward Sword, two games that have been in my backlog for years, but randomly finding the drive to surge through games like those is rare, for me.
No, the reason I haven't been able to really work on my backlog all these years is my damn brain.
First of all, you have to understand how I work. If possible, I like playing games in a) chronological/sequential order, and b) in threes. Three is a magical number. Just a few months back I decided to hit up Paper Mario: TTYD and Super Paper Mario, but taking into account the rule of threes and sequential order, I just "had" to play the first Paper Mario again, despite the fact that I've beaten it before.
Don't ever think like I do on that point, if you're trying to work on your backlog. It's a recipe for disaster. I was bored by the second chapter of the game, and my plans to work on my backlog fell apart then and there.
My mind must look like the Milkman level in Psychonauts when it comes to my backlog.
But there are much more rational reasons that I don't work on my backlog, too, and they make sense to some degree. Whenever I look at a game in my backlog and think about whether or not I want to play it, questions start pouring into my mind. Do I really have time for the 100 hour Persona 4? Will I want to play it 50 hours in from now? Do I even want to play it, now?
This constant barrage of questioning just spirals into an endless loop that has me second guessing my decision to work on my backlog, in the first place, and I always end up not playing whatever game I was considering. My heart cries out "I JUST WANT TO GET THIS GAME OFF MY BACKLOG", but my brain laughs and says "no, you're an idiot for thinking that you'll play this".
I hate my brain.
RESTRAIN THE BRAIN.
So, I've been working on my backlog all weekend and making good progress. How did I do this? How on earth, after so many years, after so many failures of trying to get anything done with my backlog, have I been able to do anything about it? Simple, really.
I told myself: "Sit down, shut up, and play the damn game, whether you like it or not."
Sounds harsher than it really is. This is really just to get me started on playing the games in my backlog. Sometimes, the hardest part of playing a game is just putting the game into the system, as odd as that sounds, and that's exactly the case, here. Because of all my second guessing, I end up putting the game down right after I pluck it from my shelf. I never even get to start it up before I'm finished with it.
Once I actually force myself to start playing the game, despite what I may be thinking, I find myself enjoying it, and it makes sense that I do. I liked them enough, initially, to want to finish them, some day, so why shouldn't I like them when I get started, now? (I do still reserve the right to dislike them after I start playing, though, as was the case with Dark Souls, although I'm giving that one last chance.)
Right now, my backlog looks like this, but when I'm finished with it, it'll look like this...in corpse form.
This weekend, I beat Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, got halfway through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, nearly beat Sonic Adventure, and started Banjo Tooie. Decent progress. So, what's the major lesson, here? I don't know if there is one.
Everyone handles their backlog differently. For me, I just needed to really force myself to sit down and play, rather than over-think it. I know there are others that have a much easier time tackling their backlog, and there are those who have a hard time dealing with it, like I did. I guess you just have to find what works for you, even if it sounds absurd (like my method did to me, at first).
My monstrous backlog has been living for far too long. It's time to put it out of its misery, and now, I know that I have the capacity to do so. And so, I will dive into the depths of that cave where my backlog thrives, and I will carve out its heart.