Free Yourself From Gaming Debt, Slash Your Backlog!

Cut the backlog. Play games. Save money.

Through many years of enjoying video games, one issue has quietly and slowly crept up on me. This little villain is called a backlog. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? My backlog didn’t really emerge until I was out in the workforce, earning more disposable income. I would buy games that I was really excited for, usually at full price upon release. My backlog gleefully accepted my wallet’s sacrifice in its name. In the midst of earning this money, I found I had less time to enjoy these newly purchased games. Bit by bit, I found myself finishing fewer games and getting less enjoyment, but still purchasing more and more. By that time, my backlog had grown to a point where I had to set aside  considerable amounts of time to try and conquer. Has this ever happened to you? I, for one, am tired of backlogs.

Your experience might be vastly different from mine. Let’s visit a time in my past. Growing up, I had a Sega Genesis and my friend down the street had a Super Nintendo. Out of necessity, we simply played whatever game we had on hand, be it rented, borrowed, or owned. This wasn’t a bad thing by any stretch. I can recall moments being glued to the TV while marathon sessions of Super Mario World, NBA Jam, Street Fighter II, and Streets of Rage 2 dominated the living room. It was very easy to learn the ins and outs of games due to the amount of time you’d spend trying to master them. Regardless, new games weren’t something that I acquired very often. I only ever received new games from three possible special occasions:

  1. A birthday.
  2. Lengthy saving of an allowance.
  3. Christmas.

So, if the celestial bodies aligned, I might see three new games in the span of a year if I was lucky. To be fair, back then there was also the opportunity to rent games from your video store or borrow one from a friend. But, there was no such thing as a backlog. I played everything I had.

Getting my first job in high school opened up a world of possibilities. With no relative expenses to worry about (other than gas & car insurance), my newly found disposable income increased the number of games I could play through in the span of a year. This was undoubtedly awesome; I started working at the end of the Dreamcast and the rise of PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. Still, I found very little competition for my time, with school, sports, and work being the only priorities over gaming. College didn’t feel that much different either, with LAN Halo nights on the campus network being a highlight.

Back to the original point. Now that I’m working full-time, have a career, and married, I have more responsibilities in life. I wish I could play more, but I can’t. There’s no way I can match my pace in playing with the pace games are released. The lesson I wish I would’ve learned earlier is not to go overboard in my spending, steadily increasing my backlog. Because of this, I’ve been seeking a new budget-friendly model, which led me to the goal I created for myself this year:

This year, I will beat more games than I buy.  I will channel those simpler times, getting the most out of one game at a time, and playing games off a backlog I’m determined to shrink (it’s right around 20% of what I own). Combined with my approach to setting a budget and sticking to it, I’ve actually managed to earn $270 on my gaming hobbies from flips and trades, while only purchasing 6 games this year and beating 9. If you have a backlog and decide to play through games from it instead of buying and playing new games, think of the money you’ll save! Perhaps it’s time to show some love to those games that have been collecting dust.

What are your opinions of backlogs? Do you have games piling up? Or is your backlog nonexistent? Is it easy to pick a game in it and dive right in? Or do you find it difficult to play what’s next? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!

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