Firewatch, video game, box art, sky, mountains, watch tower, trees, birds, cables

So many games, so little time

My New Year’s resolution to play more video games is so far not going too badly. Since the start of 2017 I’ve played The Last Guardian, began The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker with my stepson, and recently completed Firewatch (thanks to a tip from cripleh from Howling In the Dark) despite writing that I was going to lay off the walking simulators for a while.

Before Firewatch however there was another title that I attempted. It’s a very-well-known adventure: one of those titles that everybody is aware of even if they haven’t played, and those who have usually rave about it. It currently has a metascore of 84 on Metacritic so you can understand how popular it is – and I seem to recall that it’s one of Ben’s favourite video games.

Over the course of a week or so, my other half and I managed to get in around give hours of gaming. According to HowLongToBeat.com that means we may it through over half of this game so you’d have thought we’d have had a pretty good grip on it by then. The puzzles weren’t particularly difficult and the humour wasn’t necessarily to our taste, but it was something not-too-taxing to zone out with after being at work all day.

One evening after dinner though, I asked Pete if he wanted to turn on the PlayStation so we could continue and he said: “I’m not fussed.” It was then that I admitted to myself… neither was I. This adventure wasn’t a terrible one, but it wasn’t capturing my attention and giving me that got-to-rush-home-so-I-can-play-it-again feeling either. After five hours of playtime, I couldn’t see what all the hype was about.

As gamers, we have this horrible habit of feeling guilty about either our backlogs or lack of completion. We all have our own ‘pile of shame’ that sits there patiently in the corner, eyeing us up critically as we reach for our wallets to purchase yet another release that we won’t play.

As we get older, more of our time is taken up by adult responsibilities so there are fewer available hours for gaming. It’s one of the reasons why Ben and I moved to Later Levels: our grown-up commitments meant we couldn’t achieve the goal set for our previous site, so we had to make the decision to start over with a new objective that was more compatible. If that was the right choice, and one that’s working out well for us, then surely the same can be true for the video games we choose to play too.

I mean, why should we spend our free time on titles we’re not enjoying when it’s so limited and therefore precious? Yes, the result may be that some titles I never complete and my backlog will never reduce as much as I’d like it to. But surely it’s better to actually take pleasure in the games I do finish? We’re meant to look forward to our hobbies – that’s what makes them ‘hobbies’ rather than ‘work’ – so that guilt we all feel as gamers seems a bit self-defeating.

A title receiving high-ratings from critics doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should buy it, will enjoy it, or will see it through to the end. As long as we’re open to new experiences and give them a decent chance when they come along, there shouldn’t be any guilt felt at putting them down in favour or something else more fulfilling of our spare time.

Pete and I didn’t finish that adventure I mentioned above but does it bother me? Not at all. Deciding to put it away and move onto something new meant that we found Firewatch, and that was an experience we enjoyed a whole lot more.

42 thoughts on “So many games, so little time

  1. My backlog is huge, too big, and I just keep adding to it. I just bought the Freedom bundle from Humble, that’s another 20+ games to the collection. I’ve still got RoTTR, Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 to name a few to complete.

    I just get distracted by multiplayer games way too easily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same: I get distracted by new adventure games all the time. I made a list of the releases I want to play this year so I’m hoping I’m going to be able to stick to it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I consider myself the king of starting games with the intention if finishing them, and getting distracted by other games and hardly ever completing what I play. I’ve found joy in being a dabbler though. Conversations flow easily regardless of what gamer I’m talking with thanks to my rounded play style.

    Back log used to haunt me. Now I’m free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Backlogs come with silver-linings: you always have something to play. There’s likely to be something in there to cater for every mood. And as you say, they can give you the opportunity to develop a more rounded play-style.

      No longer should we be ashamed of them!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. After reading your post and the comments, I’m glad I’m not the one one who starts a bunch of games that I never finish. I always plan on sitting down and putting hours into them, but after my job and school, I just need rest! What were your thoughts on The Last Guardian? I have it sitting by my ps4 but have yet to start it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand why some people weren’t keen on The Last Guardian and yes, the controls are a bit… iffy. But I loved it! The best thing about it for me was the relationship between the Boy and Trico, as the developers managed to create such a believable bond between the two.

      I wrote about that here: https://laterlevels.com/2017/01/20/the-last-guardian-a-lesson-in-trust/. Just avoid the last couple of paragraphs if you haven’t played it yet. Let us know what you think once you do! 😉

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  4. Definitely in the same boat with regards to feeling guilty about backlogs! I always get that pang when I catch myself sinking hours into a game (Overwatch in my case) that doesn’t offer anything new, just scratches the itch to be playing something without the commitment to something new.

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    1. I think that’s a symptom of how busy our lives can be. It’s hard to find time for gaming in between jobs, looking after families and other commitments – so when we do have an hour or so to spare, we often want a game we’re familiar with and can dive straight into! As long as you’re still enjoying it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s old or new.

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  5. I’ve come to the conclusion that if a game is in my ‘to-do’ pile for longer than 6 months, I’m not going to play that game. And you know what? Life is slightly less stressful.

    *If* I decide to start up a game and it doesn’t grab me in half an hour to an hour, I’m very happy to put it down and pretend it doesn’t exists. Games are supposed to be an escape; a place to retreat or have fun (or learn something). If a game isn’t giving me anything in that regard, I’m happy to discard it.

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    1. I’ve come to learn that that’s the best attitude to have: sounds as if you have it sorted! Why worry about all the games in your backlog that you haven’t played, when you could be focusing on enjoying those that you are?

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  6. I recently wrote about my own backlog and pile of shame, and having done so, I find that I am more accepting of the idea of not finishing games I’m not enjoying. Life is too short for bad books and games. Not that they’re necessarily bad, but they stop being interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not terribly troubled by my backlog. There are days when I look at my game collection and lament that I still haven’t finished Bloodborne or Sunset Overdrive, but then I remember that I’m having fun with games like The Long Dark, Alien: Isolation, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    You’re right. It’s about having fun. I have trouble sometimes when I’m considering things to write about, or games to review, because I’m trying to keep up with the rest of the gaming world while still keeping my job, attending my college courses, and spending time with my wife. It’s definitely tough to do that, but I can’t imagine doing that AND raising a family at the same time.

    If only I could figure out a way to do this but still not starve to death 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a pressure to keep up with the latest games – especially when you blog about gaming – but real life can make that extremely difficult! If you ever manage to figure out what the solution is, please do let me know. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ever do that thing when you buy games in the sale on Live or PSN because they’re only going to be that price for a short while but you’re not sure if you’re ever going to play them?

    In non related news I’ve bought PS4 Project Cars for £12.

    I’m wonderfully crap at driving games.

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  9. My technique is to think of Games in the same way I think of food. It’s better to have more options, because sometimes you really want a specific som’thin-som’thin, and if you don’t have it, everything else just seems unappealing. Sure, it’s possible I might not get around to playing x, y, or z, but it’s also possible that one day I’ll have an unbearable craving for it too, so it’s good to have the option there, just in case.

    That’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it…..

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think there’s the feeling of “I spent money on this so I have to play it” with some people, and I fully understand that mentality. But I’m very much of the opinion that you shouldn’t continue with something you’re not enjoying just because you have a small financial investment. Admit you made the wrong choice and move onto something you do enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I firmly believe there are too many great games to waste time playing mediocre ones, never mind bad ones. Of course, great, mediocre, and bad are subjective, but you get the idea. In fact, you mentioned how a game can have a great rating, but that doesn’t mean you’ll like it. That’s one the reasons I don’t do ratings in game reviews. I feel like without context, the number doesn’t have value.

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    1. I completely agree: without the context behind it, a number is completely meaningless. I’d much rather hear about the ‘journey’ a game took the player on and how it made them feel.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. If anything, I need to try a walking simulator out. The closest I gotten to playing one of them, is Myst back in the 90’s. I’ve heard Firewatch is great, probably top on the list. Another I’m going to try is Proteus. Have either of you tried that one?

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    1. I’d highly recommend Firewatch – @cripleh came up with a good tip there! 🙂

      Proteus is awesome. It’s not to everybody’s taste as the ‘storyline’ (and I use that term loosely) is highly open to interpretation; but it’s just so pretty-in-a-pixely-way and relaxing to play. It’s like going on a digital holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not the kind to needs games to fit into certain categories of ‘game’ for them to be compelling or interesting experiences. It’s all basically interactive software really. Thanks. I’ve been looking forward to getting Proteus.

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