Almost every gamer has one, but very few (if any) have defeated this unstoppable monster. I’ve tried telling myself I won’t buy any more games until I clear my backlog. However, if I do that I miss out on playing new releases, and if I neglect my old games, my pile of shame only gets larger. What’s a hardcore gamer to do?
Luckily, by going to the gym regularly, I came up with a pile of shame routine similar to my workout routine that allows me to play a variety of games while simultaneously clearing my backlog. Here’s the strategy I follow.
The Pile of Shame Destroyer
Instead of focusing on one game at a time, my strategy involves playing multiple games at a time and slowly chipping away at your pile of shame. For your first game pick something that’s current and under a year old and for the second choose one that’s older. Rotate between the two and stick with the same titles until you finish them, or you get bored. An effective way to remember when to switch out games is the second and fourth Monday of each month or the days you get paid.
When choosing which games to play, diversify your routine to create the best balance. For instance, after I finish a retail game or grow tired of it I like to play a downloadable title next, change systems or switch genres to keep things from going stale.
I know it’s tempting, but don’t play just one game at a time. I find if I don’t rotate games I forget about my older titles. If you’re not thrilled about playing game A or B, set a timer and just play it for 25 minutes and then switch to the more fun one. By rotating your games, it forces you to make progress on clearing your pile of shame. If you focus on just one game, you tend to never get around to playing your older stuff because the temptation to play newer titles first is always there.
What about portable games?
Instead of including portable games along with console and PC games I feel it’s better to keep them separate and make time to play them later. Such as work breaks, commute time or any long periods away from home. The same strategy applies here; pick one current game and one older game. When you sit down to play, rotate between dedicated portable systems and mobile phones/tablets for the best variety.
Multiplayer and online games?
These just play whenever you want and don’t worry about rotating titles.
Rentals, review copies, and borrowing games from friends
Sometimes you have a game you’re itching to play, and it needs to be finished quickly for a review deadline or something. So, if you run into that situation don’t change your pile of shame routine. Instead, treat game A and B as a warm-up by playing it for at least 25 minutes and then switch to the more urgent one. It’s also an effective strategy for portable games if you don’t travel frequently, but still want to play unique games like Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
How to use Gamefly effectively
Gamefly is great, but parts of it can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. I use the one game plan and play my rental on top of my pile of shame routine. To get the most out of Gamefly follow this guideline for maximum enjoyment.
1. During the fall when there are lots of new releases consider getting the two-game plan to keep up with all the big games.
2. To ensure you get new releases make sure you send the game back at least four days before the game releases. If a game comes out on Tuesday Gamefly ships the game on the day before so if you send your rental back by Thursday you’ll usually be okay. If you miss out on the new release, depending on how popular it is you usually have to wait a few weeks and sometimes months until it’s more readily available.
3. Don’t keep too many games in your queue or Gamefly will send you a lower priority game and not the main one you want.
4. If a game is medium or lower you probably won’t get it most of the time so stick with pre-release games and high availability.
Besides the above guidelines, I’ve found these other 11 tips to be invaluable to making consistent progress on finishing games.
Give a game two chances to win you over otherwise forget about it
I used to force myself to finish all my games even if was bored with them, but I don’t consider it worth it anymore. Your time matters, and when deciding on what game to play quality is important. Sometimes you can get your value from just a few hours of play, and if you want to see what’s next, you can just watch some let’s play videos or watch the ending on YouTube. There’s no shame in not finishing every game you start.
That said, some games give off terrible first impressions so if I get bored with a game I like to put it aside for a while and give it one more chance after I’ve played something else. If it doesn’t grab me the second time, I removed it from my pile of shame.
For longer games like Skyrim try to get to a specific gaming milestone then switch to something else
Some good examples are getting to the next gym leader in Pokemon, clear 10 missions in Grand Theft Auto V, reach the next dungeon in Zelda, etc. Also, check Howlongtobeat.com to give you an accurate timetable of how long it takes to finish a game. By using this website, you can see which games in your pile of shame you can marathon in a day and which require weeks of dedication. Lastly, don’t keep too many unfinished games on the back burner. A few titles is fine, but once you get into larger double digits, you have a problem.
How to combat boredom
Many games can get really tedious, so I find it helpful to play a podcast or music in the background to make progress. Genres that work well with this include fighting games, jrpg’s, or any repetitive gameplay task. Playing co-op with a friend is also a great way to make progress since even the dullest games can be fun with the right person.
How to control the size of your pile of shame
When deciding to buy a game, ask yourself am I going to play this now or is it going to sit on my shelf for a year? Don’t sweat it if you buy games from Steam, Gamefly and GameStop because of the sales. However, be aware of the fact that you may think you’re saving money, but in the long run you’re just making your pile of shame larger.
Examine your pile of shame carefully and consider selling or getting rid of games permanently
Why play a 10 old jrpg or first person shooter when you’ve played enough of the genre already? Also, depending on how old the title is you might find the game mechanics don’t hold up like they did a few years ago and are a chore to play now. And HD collections and remakes are a great excuse to play classic titles you loved years ago, but it also means you miss out on a lot of new unique gameplay experiences. So strive to create an equal balance when choosing what to play next.
Don’t be a completest all the time
I consider a game finished after I see the credits, but sometimes I wanted to go back to it for downloadable content, achievements/trophies, or side quests. Instead of trying to do everything the game has to offer all at once just come back to it later after finishing another game or two. Remember, the more games you finish, the fewer games you start. So feel free to switch out games constantly.
You can use this routine for other things too
For instance, besides playing games you probably like to watch TV or read books. Apply the same pile of shame strategy here. Pick two titles, one new and one current and rotate between them constantly. I also use this routine for applying for jobs, self-improvement, writing, social events, trying new restaurants and bars, etc.
Finding the time to play games and forming a habit
A lot of people say they don’t have time for video games but with some creative thinking and time management skills you can find ways to not give up your favorite hobby. If you make a weekly schedule hour by hour, you’ll see you have time plenty of time to play games. Here’s a typical day for me and some examples how to implement games and other media into your daily routine.
Play console game an hour or more before bedtime
Play portable titles while on evening commute
Read during work breaks
Watch TV and movies during meals
Listen to music or podcast while applying for jobs
If you do your best not to miss a day, you’ll notice you’ll make faster progress clearing your pile of shame. Find a specific time that works for you consistently and if you’re unable to do it because of work or social obligations just carry it over to the next day. Say you didn’t have time to play any portable games yesterday start with that today instead of jumping into console gaming or TV shows right away.
Get out of your comfort zone
Consider trying a genre or game you think is imitating or something you wouldn’t like such as a sports game, MMORPG, or puzzle game. Free to play games, titles on Facebook, and, mobile ones work well too. Try doing this once a week or bi-monthly to expose yourself to a genre you think you might not like.
Keep a wish list and organize your pile of shame
A great way to keep track of your games is to create a word document on your computer instead of putting it all in your head. It’s also helpful to have a record of titles you missed during the year, so you know which titles take priority over others. A word document works great for getting ready for sequels and crossing off games you’re embarrassed to tell people you haven’t played. Finally, besides writing stuff down organize your shelf and digital collection to remind you of all the games you own.
Don’t like my routine then make your own
Similar to an exercise program you can follow this routine 80% of the time and change it 20% of the time. Also, it’s okay to cheat a bit and miss a day here and there. Some other ways make progress is to play one title on weekdays and the other on weekends. Or choose only to focus on Wii U games, first-person shooters, play a stack of shorter games back to back, etc. Get creative and have fun with this stuff.
So to recap the pile of shame destroyer routine, pick two titles you want to play, one current game, and one over a year old. Make your own categories and rotate playing between game A and B until you finish them, get bored. If you play on multiple gaming devices, separate portable titles from your home gaming routine to avoid confusion.If you have rentals, review titles, and games you borrow from friends then treat the pile of shame games as a warm-up and switch to the more urgent ones after playing for at least 25 minutes. Lastly, if you don’t like my routine make your own and customize it to your liking, so it’s tailored perfectly to your lifestyle.