Welcome to Backlogvania!

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back·log

/ˈbakˌlôɡ,ˈbakˌläɡ/

noun

  1. an accumulation of something, especially uncompleted work or matters that need to be dealt with.

Like most geeks who fancy themselves gamers, I have a backlog of unfinished and mostly unplayed titles. What’s difficult to quantify is exactly how many games I currently have in my backlog but I know it’s not a short list. I’ve bought, received, traded and sold hundreds of games in and out of my catalog over the 30 years of my life spent playing video games so it can be easy to lose track of even what’s actually in my stack of unplayed games let alone how many are there. What’s more difficult to measure is if the list of unsullied games from my hoarders pile is larger than the list of games I’ve actually played let alone completed in their entirety; though if I was a betting man I definitely wouldn’t take the under. 

One of my personality defects that looks to stack even more games to my cache is that I’m a “collector.” I like to hunt for, collect, display and yes, occasionally play the titles I have added in my catalog of games. Depending on the series, I may even have a few set up on shelves to display and with my most favorite series I may even try to “catch them all” just to say I did. You could say I have a problem. I won’t, but you could. I know Scott the Woz wouldn’t judge me…

Scott the Woz
“NOTICE ME SENPAI!”

Worse yet, my collection doesn’t just stop with physical spines resting on a shelf as I also dabble in digital. The realization has dawned on me that collecting physical games makes me a dinosaur in this dangerous online ecosystem where digital games are the inevitable asteroid hurtling towards causing the extinction of physical media. So while I have no partisan convictions to physical or digital, I do prefer physical for certain titles, or series. Even with the preference of buying physical, that doesn’t stop me from adding to my stockpile of games digitally. I purchase digitally when it makes sense to do so. So, when it comes to buying games I’m as likely to pull the trigger on a digital copy on sale as I am to pop into my local used game store on my way home or troll around eBay before bed. I mean L.A Noire was 50% off and I needed to buy it for the third time on Nintendo Switch so I can screw up interrogations in portable mode! Everyone does this, right?

Doubt
“I swear officer, I don’t have too many games in my backlog.”

Why not play the games in my backlog?

For a vast majority of cases, it should be a cardinal sin to buy a game with no intentions of playing it. Shouldn’t the first thing you do with a new game be “play it?” Yes and no. I won’t deny that there may be games I’ve purchased with very little (any) intention of playing ever, say as a second copy to put on display or something just to have in the collection. I’d say for 99% of the games I own I have at least some intention of playing at least once, even if only for a laugh or to satisfy some sick curiosity of how bad or weird they may be. Outside of those rare, sketchy scenarios I intend to play what I buy but life does happen. There’s only so many hours in a day filled with family, work, chores, projects and, maybe the most likely culprit: other (read: newer) games.

It would be fair to say most games in my backlog are there because another (read: newer) game took priority, but that isn’t always why they remain in their shrink-wrapped prisons. Each game in my backlog has an interesting story, a funny anecdote, or at bare minimum a poor justification as to how it ended up getting to the unplayed pile. I can recall a few occasions where I plunged myself further into debt indulged in some retail therapy by purchasing several new games at once with the expectation that I’d want to and have time to play them all. I’ll let you guess if I had time to play them all. Spoiler: I didn’t.

Digital game sales make the IRL game store buying more games than I can reasonably play all too likely to repeat from a couch. Not only are digital purchases convenient AF, I may feel compelled to buy games during digital sales for several more reasons: maybe a game just looks interesting, has been on my wish-list for a while, or maybe is a game I already own but I want it on a newer, let’s say portable system. The “buying games to have them on a newer console” scenario happens a lot on the Switch E-Shop since it’s a port powerhouse. Why wouldn’t you want every Doom game on the Switch? I’d be worried if you said you didn’t.

The Switch makes playing games so convenient that if I can get it on the Switch, I probably will. Even having a game in portable form doesn’t always mean I’ll have the time or the energy to play it right away. So… into the stack these games will go to make way for more Animal Crossing time. Because the only thing in videogames sadder than the first 15 minutes of The Last of Us is my turnips going bad because I held out for bigger prices while those raccoons tried to rob me all week. 

Turnips
The most tragic scenario in modern gaming. (Image from Polygon)

It’s time to finally clear some of the games from my backlog

So, why talk about the games in my backlog? Well, like most gamers with a wife, kids, a house and a job it starts to become clear that my list of games I have yet to play has become a little scary. Like Dracula’s castle in the Castlevania series, my backlog is big, ominous, overwhelming, and treacherous. Despite these daunting traits, there’s a sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish a game I’ve had sitting on the shelf for a while not unlike the sense of accomplishment I felt when finally completing Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse.

Another apt comparison between my backlog and the Castlevania games is that, in most cases, they’re both fun! I mean most video games are fun… who knew? So, I want to start chipping away at the boulders at the bottom of the mountain and playing some of these games. I want to have fun with the games I bought. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment of checking some of them off the list.

I want to give that $12 copy of Starlink a good honest try and use the Arwing controller for more than just plastic decor next to my Amiibo. I need to feel like I truly conquered my fears of that nasty house in Resident Evil 7 without begging my wife to be in the room to ease my anxiety from the pants-shitting jump scares. After all these years I just want to say I actually finished Xenogears. I want to experience great games and I want to share those experiences with my friends.

Which leads us to where you are now… standing at the gates of Backlogvania!

Castlevania Intro
“Simon Belmont immediately regretted his new paper route.”

Welcome to Backlogvania!

I’ve decided to focus my desire to play games from my backlog and document this journey in a new series I’m calling Backlogvania, which I named for one of my favorite series after being inspired by the challenges of those immensely grievous but wholly fulfilling games. And I hope you like the name, because I bought the domain and had a logo made so, it’s not going anywhere. 

Official Backlogvania Logo
Official Backlogvania Logo – I hope you like it. Someone worked hard on it.

So, what will Backlogvania entail? Aside from being a way for me to have some solid structure in my videogame life to help me chip away at titles unplayed, Backlogvania is also going to be a way for me to document that experience to share with my fellow gamers. Once a month I will select a game from game mountain (with enough demand, I’ll let the readers choose), do my best to finish the title if not fully complete it, and then write an overview and evaluation of the title and my experiences with it.

Each evaluation will include:

  • Overview of my personal history with the game (why did I buy it, what didn’t I play it, etc)
  • What’s the background on this game (who made it, production, etc)
  • A brief review and rating of the game (play it, skip it, backlog it?)
  • General commentary and miscellaneous stuff
  • Some bits of game trivia

Aside from playing games and completing them to trim down my own list of unplayed games, my goal is also to make this fun and inspire other gamers to do the same. Fun will be a key factor since it shouldn’t be a slog to beat a game. My time is limited and not every game is a winner, after all. I will give every game I start a genuine effort, but if after some time I feel it’s not worth continuing to play… I won’t. It doesn’t mean I won’t cover the game in Backlogvania, and I will reiterate what stopped me from playing it as part of the overall analysis and review but I won’t be wasting what little game time I have on what I can only describe as shitty games games that aren’t for me.

Even Pam thinks COD should take a break
Even Pam thinks COD should take a break

So, there you have it. Welcome to Backlogvania! I hope you enjoy what I have in storage… get it? Because game storage? It’s a backlog pun. You get it. The first entry is coming sooner than you think as I’ve already completed the first title and am writing out the structure and the details to hopefully have it up for you all to read soon. I hope you’re all looking forward to reading these as I am to be playing them and writing them for you! 

Check back soon for my first entry which will be, appropriately, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance on the GameBoy Advance. 

Harmony of Dissonance
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance cover art

Keep checking back to Modern Gaming for updates and new posts to Backlogvania as they are published! And follow me on Twitter to read more gaming nonsense!

Thanks for reading and don’t ignore your backlog! Happy gaming!