In some of my previous videos I’ve spoken about my growing list of games that I either want to play, am in the process of playing, and have played previously. I wanted to dive deeper into one of the main reasons I leave so many games unfinished: choice. Essentially, I’m spoiled for choice.
At the point of recording this I’ve got over 250 games in my Steam library. Add to that a handful of consoles and some Origin titles and I’m swimming in games. Far too many to play through completely. Sure, a lot of those I’ve finished already or played once and will never play again. But the vast majority of these I still plan on playing sometime. With so many games to choose from, how do I choose one to play?
Making a decision has never been my strong suit. I’m always the last to order in a restaurant and I can spend hours deliberating on what film to watch. If given too many options I often struggle to decide. This quirk manifests itself clearly when I’m trying to choose a game to play. Give me a choice between two games and I’ll usually decide quickly. Give me a dozen games to choose from and I’ll sit there like a chimp staring at a monolith.
When I was a kid the situation was a lot different, mainly because I had no choice. I was usually stuck with one or two games for Gameboy or NES. Oh, you wanted to play something else? Too bad, games are expensive. You’ve only had that one for a year. Maybe it’s because of this game austerity in my past that I’ve dived headlong into growing my collection.
Nowadays, with the explosion of indie bundles and Steam sales I’ve slowly amassed a huge collection of games. But for me, paradoxically, more choice means less choice. Right now I’ve got half a dozen games on the go, and dozens more that I still plan on playing at some point in the near future. I don’t think it’s so much that my attention span has gotten worse but the selection and accessibility of games has gotten that much better.
I jump from one game to another depending on my mood or how frustrated I become or for a dozen other reasons. Because I can move so easily to a new game I don’t necessarily feel the need to properly invest the time into a game I’d otherwise love playing. Sometimes I think there’s definitely something to be said for a less is more approach to a game collection.
Now I’m definitely not complaining: “poor me, I can’t decide which one of my games to play.” This is decidedly a first world problem, but I see it less as “I’m bored because I’ve got nothing to play” and something closer to “I can’t decide because I’ve got everything to play.” Even though there’s a shelf (virtual or otherwise) full of games, I can’t choose just one.
I don’t want to waste time playing something I don’t really want to play but this means I waste time deciding what to play. More choice has turned into less time to focus on each game. I’ve been trying to play one game at a time but then I feel I’m neglecting my other games. Sure, I could play another few hours of Dark Souls, but Wolfenstein: New Order is sitting there waiting to be played. There’s also Fez waiting to batter my head some more. And don’t get me started on the fact I still haven’t finished Bioshock.
I don’t know what the solution is; should I just pick a game at random from a predefined list? Or just play whatever I feel like at the time and ignore the feelings of neglect? How long should I give a game before moving on to the next one? There’s a tension between feeling like I’ve gotten my money’s worth and respecting the time and effort the developers have put into the game. Oh, and also how much fun I’m having playing the game.
Ultimately, the fact we’ve got so many great and innovative games to play these days is only a positive. Being spoiled for choice is an indicator of how strong the games industry is at the moment but doesn’t help me work through my growing list of Unfinished. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a stack of games staring at me with plaintive eyes.