“How to Manage your Backlog: The Definitive Guide (Cry For Help)”


EarthMage.png “The following is a contributor post by the Off-Centered Earth Mage.”

I’m going to start this one with the utmost honesty. We’re drowning. We’re all drowning. Game cartridges, boxes, discs, manuals and guides strewn all over our respective houses. (That means you, Melissa. Clean up! – Apologies to all of the Melissas out there.) But that’s the beauty of gaming, isn’t it? There has never been a better time for gaming. So many amazing games have come out in the past couple of years. So many huge AAA titles, so many wondrous open-worlds, so many indie gems. Where does that leave us? Where does that leave the gamer? More importantly, where does it leave our already-full-to-the-brim backlogs? Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hard at work in the lab (my room, or Fortress of Solitude, if you will) researching how best to manage your backlog. I’ve asked countless people, fellow gamers, architects, even a priest “How exactly do you manage your backlog?” and after much deliberation, I think I’ve finally figured it out. So why don’t you sit down, tea at the ready, something soft to wipe your tears with and let’s get this show on the road.

The Architect

I envy this type of gamer, I truly do. Don’t lie to me, we all do. We all know one. This gamer is the type of person who writes every single game they have down on a spreadsheet or in their favourite note-taking app. Then comes the cross-referencing. I dabbled with this idea myself for a little while. I started with writing down each game I was currently playing and/or wanted to play by console and then by genre. This type of backlog is great for getting everything visually in the same place, although I found it quite intimidating once I realized just how many games I actually had. If I could take one thing from this method of organisation, it would be to allow yourself to have more than one game on the go and maybe even more than one console if you think it’s something that you can manage. For example, I would organize the games I wanted to play per console, and then I would try to have one game in each genre. Right now, I have The Lord of The Rings The Two Towers as my main action game on the PS2, Spyro Reignited Trilogy as my collectathon/platformer on the PS4 and on the Switch I have Caveblazers as my roguelike and Octopath Traveller as my nightly RPG fix. I’m not going to lie to you, this method has its flaws. For example, focusing on so many different games at once, no matter how easy it is to organize them, can be such a daunting task that you may find yourself taking huge breaks from gaming. It happens to the best of us. (Stop crying, Melissa.)

The Socialite

Every friend group has one: “Game of Fifa tonight, lads?”, “Game of Apex tomorrow night, lads?”, “Game of Anthem all weekend, lads?”. The type of gamer who appears to never be playing solo, the type of gamer who steers primarily towards multiplayer gaming. And you know what? I think all of us can learn something from this gamer. I think, myself, that it allows you to take gaming as it comes and move on to the next best thing – whether that thing be Multiplayer Bread-Slicing Simulator 2019 (that’s not a real thing but if it happens after this article gets published, remember your loyalty!) or the next best looter-shooter. The downfall of this, however, is that you may lose out on those glorious single player experiences. Don’t get me wrong, we’d all love God of War: Battle Royale to happen, but let’s be honest, that’s never going to happen. (Please don’t let it happen, Melissa.)

The Oh-My-God-I-Haven’t-Slept In Years

We’ve all been there, friends. We’ve all said to ourselves, “You know what, one more game, one more hour, one more go”. I remember doing this a lot more when I was still in school. During my final year, I remember staying up till around three or four o’clock every single night playing through variations of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Horizon Zero Dawn and – don’t judge me for this one, but – most of those nights were spent tormenting myself on Rocket League . Somehow, every morning, I would then get up from my three or four hours of sleep, shower, get my breakfast eaten, get my lunch ready and head off to school, only to do the same thing the very next day. Maybe that’s why I unnervingly whisper gaming quotes to myself in the shower now. This type of gamer has absolutely no issue completing games. They stand valiantly before the next enormous beast, coffee at the ready. What brave and courageous souls they are. Highly sleep-deprived and possibly in need of a long, long holiday in the woods, a million miles from any technology. (Your average Thursday night for Melissa.)

The Anarchist

Ah, the Anarchist. The type of gamer who can pick up and play any game at literally any time, paying absolutely no attention to the mountain that is their backlog slowly encroaching on their bedroom door. This is more or less where I’m at with gaming right now. In the past week alone, I’ve started a new playthrough of at least ten different games. Don’t believe me?

Day one: I decided it would be great to go back and play Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence on the PS2.

Day two: I looked at my to-play pile and pulled out Marvel’s Spider-Man . I had actually finished the main game only days after launch but I still had to get through each DLC.

Day three: I was talked into giving Red Dead Redemption 2 a go. I’m now more than thirty hours into it but let’s not mention that to my doctor.

(I bet you’re wondering if I would have taken a break at this point and focused my efforts on just one thing. You are, aren’t you? Well, you’d be wrong.)

Day four: I booted up The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers on my trusty PS2. I then finished the game after only a few hours and I was pleasantly surprised. Last time I finished a game, well… I can’t even remember.

Day five: I played a couple of levels of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy .

Day six: I started my fourth or fifth playthrough of Bayonetta on the Switch.

Day seven: I deleted my save data of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in the efforts of getting three stars on every course on every speed. That one may have been a mistake.

Day eight: I spent the entire day playing Dead Cells from beginning to end.

Day nine: I booted up Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (I haven’t played it since I was very young, stop judging me).

(I bet you’re wondering if this will ever stop. For the sake of transparency, it doesn’t.)

On day ten, I’m happy to announce that I finally, after a very long time, finished Horizon Zero Dawn.

Day eleven was promptly spent crying my heart out but we won’t mention that to my wife.

What do we take away from this, ladies and gentlemen? For the love of God, don’t be me. (Help me, Melissa!)

Where does this leave us?

Here we are. At the end of it all. We’ve gone on this organizational themed spiritual journey together. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve cried some more, we’ve tripped over our backlog pile… And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The definitive answer to the age-long, generation-spanning question “How exactly do I organize my backlog?”

I have absolutely no idea. I’ve been beaten. The mighty beast has felled me. In truth, the best thing to do is to play what you want, when you want. In the mood to spend twenty minutes farming on Stardew Valley? Do it. Feel like taking on that boss you’ve been trying to beat for longer than you’re willing to admit? (Look forward to a rant about Bloodborne‘s Blood-starved Beast in my next feature.) You do it and you be proud of yourself when you get there! At the end of the day, we’re all gamers, we all have our own way of doing things. I think a lot of the time we forget that. We forget that the most important thing to do is to just play games.

Thank you all for listening and bearing with me, especially you Melissa. You really are the real MVP.


The Off-Centred Earth Mage, known as Thomas Kearns-Horan in some parts of the world, or The Vague Maker of References in even darker places,  can be found in any second-hand bookshop, game store, and occasionally the odd forest. Check in on his escapades here @thomasK_H for a bit of a laugh, and the odd dog photo.


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3 replies »

  1. There’s the gamer who tries to do all of those things at the same time missing from your list. That’s me lol.

    I’ve found that stopping myself from buying new games is a good start, not starting too many at once and just having a few to pick from… Ditching the multiplayer games almost entirely, or anything without an “ending” in the tradition sense. I have now started finishing games on my backlog, after years of them being there in some cases. You also need to define what you consider “done” for each game too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nice post.

    I am not ashamed to admit my backlog is coming close to 600 games.

    What I do is right them down in a list as I acquire them, and simply play them in the order I got them. I play only one game until I beat it, then delete it off the list and move on to the next one.

    The trouble is…I don’t have enough time to play games, as I’m sure most people can relate.

    Liked by 1 person

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