I think this is a problem we all face: we’ve got too much stuff. And I don’t mean just games. I think we’ve been taught to want things, way more things than we actually need. Over the past year, I’ve moved into a new phase of my life which involves letting go of many preconceived notions and old habits. Have you guys heard of minimalism? I’ll talk more about this in future pieces, but I want to focus this feature on how I’m dealing with my rather large backlog of unplayed games. And I think the natural place to start is to figure out how I got here to begin with.
After being quite poor for most of my 20s, I started having a bit of what people term “disposable income” in my early 30s. The natural place to invest at the time, for me, was buying video games. And let me be clear about this: I knew I wouldn’t play some of them. I honestly think there are reasons behind buying video games, other than to play them. And they are just as valid. For example, it may be to help a charitable cause, like with Humble Bundle or some of itch.io’s initiatives. Or it may be to grab cheap Origin download CD keys because, to be fair, EA’s Battlefield series has been nailing historical first-person shooters. As a veteran of the Army Infantry and game developer, I’m always amazed at how this medium can mix storytelling with historical accuracy and interaction.
The result of this, however, is that I now own over 1,000 video games, across a plethora of platforms (mostly handhelds, as that’s where my passion truly lies). As an adult with bills to pay, you can see how owning this many games could result in some of them not being played. So, what to do about it, then?
THE CURRENT SOLUTION
The first thing that I started doing, as obvious as it may seem, was to start playing some games in my backlog. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but I was really just stuck playing the same games most of the time (Tetris, I’m looking at you!). Over the past 6 or 7 months, however, I’ve played some really great, unique and different experiences. Not all have been to my liking, but every single one has enriched my life in one way or another. Trying something new has never, ever been a bad thing in my life (as long as the thing I was trying wasn’t in itself bad). I’ve met wonderful people and experienced strong, life-changing feelings along the way.
Though I hope to tackle even more games in what remains of 2020, this is not the only thing I’m changing.
While most people would probably think to themselves “I should stop buying games! I have too many!”, I believe this to be a simplistic approach to a complex problem. While not buying any more games solves the issue from a financial and practical perspective, it leaves me with no room to further support game developers. Gamedevs are some of the most hard working artists in history, so I want to continue being a patron to them for as long as I can.
Therefore, instead of not buying games, I’ll simply be more careful in how I choose which games to buy. For example, I have recently made an effort to buy video games made by developers who are local to where I live (Paraguay doesn’t have too many devs, but I do my best). You would not believe the quality of the experiences being created under what can only be described as less-than-ideal conditions. And I’m proud to be a supporter or local artists.
I ask you, then, not to stop doing anything, or to do something from scratch. Rather, be mindful of what you do in all walks of life. How your actions affect those around you. I’ve been very fortunate to witness the amazing impact of investing in the cultural development in my region. Find whatever moves you, and make your daily actions be reflective of that.