If I could go back in time and tell my 13 year old self “Some day, you will have more videogames at your fingertips than you could ever possibly hope to play,” I’d watch as waves of joy and disbelief wash over my younger self. Then I’d tell that same 13 year old self that same setup and drop the bomb on him: “You’ll hate it.”
Without hesitation, I can say that I have more videogames than I can ever possibly hope to play to completion. That’s not even counting the various movies and tv shows I’d like to watch, books moldering on my kindle going unread, and podcasts rusting in the guts of my phone. All of that aside, I have more digital media that I can ever hope to consume in my lifetime.
According to the wonderfully sadistic website Steamleft.com, just based on my current library of steam titles, it would take me approximately 1,340 hours to “finish” my game library. That’s assuming the average of play time per title and assuming average usage for sandbox games, which I’m particularly fond of. In that amount of time I could apparently watch the entirety of the Indiana Jones franchise 167 times (yes, including Crystal Skull…. what? I liked it!) I could drive the United States from Atlantic to Pacific, literally sea to shining sea, 25 times. The clincher? I could lose 5 ½ guys, assuming the rate of losing a guy in 10 days holds true. All of this is great, and laughable and funny, but then you calculate in that I also own an Xbox One that formerly housed Dragon Age Inquisition, Destiny and Shadow of Mordor but has been reduced to glorified cartoon conjurer for my son, a World of Warcraft subscription that a friend of mine conned me into re-upping after almost four years sober (more on that later), and a 3DS which is rumored to play more than just Megaman 2 - generally, all of these games are played independent of my loves ones, my job, eating, bathing, breathing, sleeping and general life tasks. It stacks up, is what I’m getting at.
So why then? Why do I keep browsing Steam sales, Humble Bundles, Microsoft Sales even bargain bin swap and shop stores for my embryonic retro game collection? Why do it? The old (horrible) joke of the wife coming home to the husband with a pile of boxes and saying “… but honey, they were on sale, look at all the money I saved!” holds so true. Gone Home is supposed to be great, and only 6 dollars? Ghostbusters for 2 bucks? That sounds fun! Kingdoms of Amalur for $4.99? It’d be dumb NOT to buy it! The amount of money and time I have sunk into games I’ll never play is shameful, and I don’t dare do the math on money spent versus time played. Just using those examples above, it’s at least $13 wasted. I suspect it might be more.
I compare it to investing on future spare time I might have some day. It’s free-time speculation. Perhaps I’ll get a day off of work and I’ll burn a couple of hours, perhaps my wife heads out of town to visit family with the kiddo for a weekend. Maybe one day I’ll knuckle down and start scratching games off the list before I buy new ones. However, for some crazy reason they keep designing and publishing really neato games and I’ll still be there, staring blankly at my Steam games list browsing titles to play only to shake my head and turn off the screen when I realize it’s late and I have a job and family to attend to. No, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s digital hoarding. I CAN say it’s better than have a dozen cats in the freezer, so there’s that.
I don’t have an answer, nor do I have an action plan to stop it. I’ve made a concerted effort to tap the brakes on new titles, but sometimes you just can’t pass up an opportunity. When did I make this deal with the virtual devil? “Want a video game kid? Here, have ALL the games, but you’ll never have time to play them, Muhaha!” All of those episodes of Twilight Zone, I didn’t even notice Rod Serling was talking about me.
Why do you do it? Why do any of us do it? Any strategies for curtailing it or wiping out that backlog in short order? I’d love to hear it, seriously, for the sake of my own sanity.
Oh hey, there’s a Steam Spring sale coming up!