The Curse of the Gaming Backlog

Many huge stacks of console video games, dozens high. Not my stack of video games, but it could be if I don’t get an intervention!

I have a confession to make.  I never beat Dragon Age and I haven’t even started Dragon Age II yet.

I know, I know, those are blasphemous words around here.  I know that Dragon Age does character development so well and that the story is exciting and there are opportunities for me to express love interest in non-heteronormative ways and as a collective we are pretty big fans of BioWare here.  But I’d be a liar if I said I was good at finishing games.

My backlog is currently dozens long.  I’ve made so many game purchases over the last 2-3 years that I have never even started much less finished.  Alan Wake, Alice: Madness Returns, Costume Quest, Darksiders, Dead Island, Dead Space, Dear Esther, Fallout, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Legend of Grimrock, Mount & Blade, Orcs Must Die, Portal 2, Psychonauts, Saints Row 3, Stacking, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Trine 2, The Witcher 2, Ys Origin, The Walking Dead….these are all games that I currently own on Steam (purchased during various Steam sales) that I’ve never installed, never played.  This doesn’t take into consideration my current stack of PS3, 360, and PS Vita games that are awaiting me.  The list is so daunting I don’t even know where to start.

But then there’s my list of games that I’ve started but never finished, despite having every intention to.  Dragon Age II, Oblivion, Skyrim, Mass Effect 2, Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Hotline Miami, Torchlight II, Diablo 3, The Witcher…all great games that I really enjoyed while I was playing them but never went back to finish them.  I’m not too bent out of shape over the Elder Scrolls games — after all, they’re massive in scale and I feel that I played them long enough to understand the concept and have good entertainment while it lasted.  Some titles I’m just embarrassed to not have finished.  It feels silly to be an editor of a feminist gaming website when I haven’t beaten the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series.  I’m going to do it, I swear I’m going to.  Someday…..

I have a feeling that everyone has that one game that they say they’ll go back and play.  A game that you thoroughly enjoyed while playing it but somehow fell off the wagon and never got back on.  So, readers, what is that game for you?  What game do you swear you’ll finish someday?

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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41 Responses to The Curse of the Gaming Backlog

  1. Nefa says:

    Too many PC games. Between all the pay-what-you-want and steam sales I have quite a list of games I have to play. My pile of xbox games is much smaller, mainly just have Dragon Age & Dragon Age 2 to play at some point.

    My boyfriend linked me to a site designed to help manage this backlog:
    It’s amusing if you like to keep a “to-do” list. I haven’t fully set up mine yet.

  2. Momiji says:

    I’ve picked up a lot of games through GOG, mostly adventure games and old-school RPGs, but so far I have only played two of them. One of the problems is that I’m so used to working on the computer that I can’t really relax when I’m playing on the same. At least when I sit down by the TV and pop a new game into the Xbox or Wii, I know that I’m only spending time there for recreation so it helps me relax and concentrate on finishing the game. So having a “gaming corner” separate from my workspace seems to be a good idea. Maybe I should put my old laptop computer there as well. :)

  3. frayd says:

    Chrono Trigger! I think the reason I never played this on SNES may be because they never release a PAL version…? Could be wrong about that, it is out on DS now though. I don’t know how many times I’ve started this using emulators but I’ve never reached more then halfway through.
    I left Half Life Episode 2 alone inexplicably too, it’s amazing.

    One day.

  4. Gospel X says:

    At this point, it would be surprising if there are gamers who do not have a backlog. Big games are being released as frequently as big movies, and then there are the titles we want to acknowledge and try out because those are the games for the little guy. But the difference between movies and games is that movies often take 3 hours or less to complete while games are getting longer and longer. It’s nearly impossible to have enough free time to finish all of the games the more serious game players want to collect.

    In my collection, there are actually too many games that I’ve collected that I haven’t even started. That’s a problem. There are a few games that I’ve started and just haven’t finished yet, but the only one that comes to mind is Robotech: Invasion. Xenoblade is quickly becoming another game on that list, since it takes so long and then there’s the sudden level bump that enemies take at the very end of the game. (I would have completed it this weekend if not for the game’s subtle hint that I need to spend time grinding, which is my least favorite aspect of RPGs…) But I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve reached a critical mass with my games. I literally cannot spend more time playing games, and I have so many games that I need to work through now. This may actually mark the end of my picking up games for a while, which is becoming more and more comforting thought.

  5. Smudge says:

    I have exactly the same problem, my Steam library backlog is starting to get ridiculous (and I keep buying more Humble Bundle’s and games in the Steam sales oh woe). Despite all these shiny games I still prefer to hop on the ol’ PS2 and replay the games I’ve completed a million times before. Comfort gaming I guess? Got the same issue as Momiji that gaming on the PC isn’t as relaxing as in front of a console.

    I think the one game I really want to go back and complete would be Tombi. Got pretty far in it then.. just stopped for some unknown reason. Never really got back round to it.

  6. Dejadrew says:

    Oh god so many.

    I have gaming eyes bigger than my gaming stomach, so I have a tendency to accumulate shiny games during sales. And I have a bad habit of playing through just the early intro quests of RPGs before getting distracted. I too have never finished Dragon Age, I’ve barely touched Skyrim, and the HEAP of rpg and adventure games downloaded from GOG is getting ridiculous. Baldur’s Gate, Gabriel Knight 2…

    The big one sitting on my desktop and mocking me right now is actually a freeware adventure, The Silver Lining, a fan sequel to King’s Quest. I played through the first few chapters of that and quite enjoyed it, but… *shrugs helplessly* I -will- finish that, dammit. I love King’s Quest, the Land of the Green Isles was the first game-world I ever fell in love with as a wee nerd, and I’ve played all the myriad fan remakes that have come out.

  7. Kimiko says:

    Ah yes, the games backlog. That’s what we have the Backloggery for. I use it to keep track of my whole collection and what I’m doing with it. It’s fun to see what others are playing, especially if you find some gamers with similar tastes to yours. Some people play only one or two games at a time, others have ten games at once on their Now Playing list. Having those (U)nplayed, (U)nfinished, (B)eaten and (C)ompleted marks next to each of your games is motivating to finish something before moving on I’ve found. And then I can check my collection to see what I have yet to play or beat, or if there’s nothing of interest there, what new games I wanted to buy.

    *ahem* Yes, I’m quite a fan of the Backloggery ^_^

    As for which games being unfinished bother me the most, I’d say Nervous Brickdown (DS), which I quite enjoyed, but just never finished, Ouendan (DS), which I have had for a long time but never even played yet, and some DSiWare games that are still on my DSi-with-the-wonky-bottom-screen, which I might get around to when I finally buy a 3DS next year.
    Technically I also own some HIB games that I’ve never even installed, but I bought those bundles for a few specific games and know that the others are not really my taste.

    There are still a lot of games that I want to play someday though. And I haven’t even looked into all those big PC/console titles yet..

    • lian says:

      Yeah, another plug for Backloggery! I love it, and it works. I’ve gotten pretty good about beating games — I mean, I’ve always been, but now I really put in an effort to finish game A before starting game B.

      Consequently, I don’t have too many unintentionally unbeaten games (although a couple deliberately abandoned ones.) My one “must finish someday” is Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. …it’s coming up on 10 years unbeaten… >_>;

    • Lassarina says:

      Yyyyyup I am one of those “currently playing ten games” people.

      In my defense, I usually do rotate between one to six games on a biweekly basis, so.

  8. Daniel says:

    There are a few games I have abandoned part of the way through that I still want to finish, like Metroid Prime, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Fallout: New Vegas, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Mark of the Ninja. Then there are the games I haven’t even started: Papo & Yo, The Unfinished Swan, and a few others. This is a problem I never thought I would have when I was younger. Back then, I would only ever have one new video game at a time, and it was unthinkable that I would get another when I hadn’t finished it. With age has come less free time and more disposable income and, as a result, quite a backlog.

  9. K. Cox says:

    I am making a point of tackling my backlog during this round of unemployment. I can even justify it, because I absolutely need to stay more current than I am, and my inspiration for writing comes from, well, *playing*. I need new input in order to form new opinions.

    So. On the list for the next however long, in no order: Spec Ops: The Line, Metro 2033, BioShock 2 (I promised my spouse I’d play this one before Infinite comes out the week of my next birthday…), Deus Ex: Human Revolution, all of Half-Life 2, and … man, I really shouldn’t have opened Steam and looked at my library. I didn’t even realize I owned a bunch of these. Gifts from friends and indie bundles will do that to a person…

    First, though, I need to finish The Walking Dead (I left off partway through episode 3), so that I can finally go read all the spoiler-filled critiques and essays.

    • Alex says:

      Looking forward to hearing what you think about The Line!

      I really need to play TWD. I watched my boyfriend play part of the first episode (it is actually a fun game to watch!) and I got the season during the last steam sale. I’ll get there… eventually…

      • Llamaentity says:

        My personal recommendation is to play the Walking Dead all the way through before anything else :P Just finished it last night and wow, so good T.T

  10. gunthera1 says:

    Oh my backlog -> it is embarrassingly enormous. Between Steam sales, Amazon sales, gifts from friends, and buying games when I get Amazon Gift cards I own more games than I care to admit. It is hard to resist a game when it is $2 on Steam and people have been recommending it for awhile. Like many of you here, I have quite a few 50+ hour games in my backlog as well.

    I realize part of the cause of my backlog is how I play games. I am a completionist and because of that, I tend to spend much more time just wandering around in the game word than is really necessary to “beat” the game.

    To top it all off, I lost hundreds of hours of saved games when my PS3 hard drive died. I want to go back to FFXIII, but that means I need to restart the whole game. That did not help my backlog at all!

    But one day I hope play and finish FFXIII, FFXIII-2, and Fallout:New Vegas.

    • lian says:

      Oh, god, gamer’s nightmare. Luckily I only lost one almost-finished game once (Grandia), but nope, never going to go back to that one either. Sigh.

      I usually take 100+h on a game, because fellow completionist. Even on those I don’t particularly covet (I logged close to 200h on FF XII? Uhm.)

  11. Korva says:

    I don’t even have a huge collection, but I’d say about a quarter to a third of my games remain unfinished or even unstarted. This is partly due to length. Long and deep games are my favourites, but they’re a big time commitment — doubly so because I’m such a slow and methodical player. My mental health issues often make me too jittery about such a “commitment” these days, and the longer and/or deeper a game is, the harder it is to just pop into it after a longer break. In the case of some beloved oldie CRPGs, there’s also the necessity of manual mapping. I used to really enjoy that, but by now automaps have spoiled me. For example: Ultima VI, which is still easily one of my favourite games ever. I got through most of it and then got utterly lost and stumped by some puzzles waaaay back, eventually wussed out and triggered the ending via cheats, but always meant to go back and finish it properly.

    Then there’s Morrowind, which I burned out on because the story isn’t strong enough. I was totally addicted to the open-world exploration, making my own spells, advancing in various organizations. Then I dived into the editor and spent a lot of time on that too. By the time I was done with what I wanted to do with it, I realized my hunger for the game had been sated.

    Happily, I can say that there are only a few games I didn’t finish due to disliking them. Mass Effect just didn’t work for me and I was never tempted to buy its sequels. Neverwinter Nights was plain awful and only good for fan-made modules.

  12. Tablesaw says:

    I’ve gotten a bit better at letting some games go if they get to a point where I’ve gotten my enjoyment out of them. Right now, I’m having issues with Dead Rising, which is at a point where it may simply be too difficult for me to master without grinding, which I don’t want to do. Unsure if that means I have to set the game aside, even though I otherwise love it.

    My biggest troubles are horror games like Silent Hill and Fatal Frame, that creep me out effectively enough that I have to be in the very right mood to play.

    My biggest regret is FFX, where I got very close to the end on a borrowed system. By the time I got my own, my friend had deleted the save.

  13. Doug S. says:

    My Backloggery.

    The game I’m most embarrassed about not having played yet is Metal Gear Solid 3.

  14. Lassarina says:

    Hmm, my earlier comment seems to have gotten eaten!

    I use my backloggery to keep track of mine. I think the oldest games on there that I really expect to beat are Chrono Cross, Valkyrie Profile, and Vagrant Story; the others are admittedly sort of there because I’m incapable of not putting ALL THE THINGS on a list and also because shame is a great motivator for me. Whoops.

    I found that the Backloggery has really helped with my habit of replaying the same things dozens of times (FF6, FF4….) instead of beating something new, although sadly it’s done nothing for my penchant for buying games I may never finish (Thanks, Steam Sale!)

    • lian says:

      I miss the overview page on Backloggery, back when the server load was still bearable enough to click on a game and see what everyone else thought. Awesome quick review possibility! I know I only bought “The World Ends With You” because the whole Backloggery played & raved about it, for example.

      Damn good game, too.

  15. wererogue says:

    UFO: Enemy Unknown
    X-COM: Terror From The Deep

    Planescape: Torment. I always play up to the first evil world, and then get scared that the ending won’t be as profound as the leadup to it.

    A thousand games newer than those.

    • Doug S. says:

      The ending to Torment is pretty good, actually…

    • lian says:

      Seconding that the ending is not a let-down at all*, if that helps :)

      *complete understatement, to be honest.

      • Ms. Sunlight says:

        There are several possible endings, but yeah, they’re all good and the “best” ending is bloody fantastic. If you don’t finish PS:T you’re denying yourself a treat. There’s a reason people drag this game up every time the tedious “are games art?” debate gets resurrected.

  16. Chris Hill says:

    I, too, have fallen too often to the lure of the Steam sales. Well, so many of them are so cheap you end up thinking ‘oh, I might as well!’

    Specific games that I’ve started and intend to go back to? The Last Story, definitely, soon. I only put it aside because we were packing things away in preparation for selling our house (which never actually happened in the end!) The new X-COM is on the short-list – I started it and then got distracted by something else. Also ‘The Last Remnant’, which I just played 30 minutes of before starting something else.

    • Ms. Sunlight says:

      The Last Remnant is a funny old game. Checking my Steam profile, I’ve put 90 hours into it! All I can say is, it looks like a generic JRPG, but the battle system is so much fun! It’s squad-based tactical combat, where you play as though you were a general arranging your troops and giving orders rather than micromanaging and telling every unit what to do. Collecting troops and arranging them into different combos is half the fun. I’d give it an hour or three so you really get an idea of how it’s going to play before giving up on it completely.

  17. Negative Kat says:

    I’m not done putting it together yet, but the backloggery I just started is painting a pretty bleak picture so far.

    Glancing over my backlog, the vast majority are never going to get finished, realistically. Either it’s been so long that I’d have to start over because I can’t remember what I was doing and lost any skill I had, or I got my enjoyment from the game and have no particular hunger to beat it. The latter situation is pretty common for me, and seems to set in earlier and more often every year. Maybe later I’ll go back and switch some of those Unfinished checkboxes to Nulls.

  18. Alex says:

    My backloggery is pretty embarrassing, and I don’t even bother to add steam games I haven’t started yet! STEAAAAMMMM. I was going to start a project for TBH this year to work through my steam games and review them for the blog, but I never really had time. Maybe soon.

    I still go to game stores pretty often but every time I’m like, NO MORE GAMES. I am trying really hard to get through my backlog instead of buying new things or playing DA2 ~again~ (Though I may not be able to resist once Mark Plays DA2 starts!). The only exception is that I’m totally getting Persona 4 Golden once I finish AC3 Liberation. Personaaaaaaaaa

  19. Katydid says:

    Per. So. Na. 3. And 1 and 2. And I got a bad end on 4, so definitely need to replay. I mean, the murderer CAN’T be that one guy who was pulled out of the game’s ass, Atlus writes better than -that-.

    Final Fantasy 8 hit me real hard, due to a combo of disk scratch on disk 1 and corrupted save file during disk 3. x.X I downloaded it from the PSN, but I’m terrified that I’ll get just as far then the game data will spontaneously combust.

    And one day, I swear I will return to the world of Mass Effect and learn how to drive the damn Mako! It’s hard to go back to that game though, cause each time I turn on the X-box my brain goes, DRAGON AGE 2 DAMMIT! “But, I’ve beaten it as mage, and rogue, and I’m still not sure how I ended up romancing Anders of all people on playthrough 3…” DRAGON. AGE. 2. “But I’ve got Dragon Age Origins right here, the edition that came with all the DLC bundled. Don’t I want to play that instead? In Ferelden? See what that game is like for once?” DRAGON. AGE. 2. KIRKWALL. “Fine, fine…”

  20. Shannon says:

    My boyfriend looks at my steam library and gets upset that I’ve played everything. This usually results in him asking if he can buy me more things. I’m too much of a perfectionist haha!
    His backlog is scary. Most of his money spare goes into games – so you can imagine what it’s like… Not only that but his fav game is free 0___o

  21. Chris Hill says:

    I’d never heard of backloggery until y’all started mentioning it here! So I’ve now set up an account ( but it’s going to take a long time to get it up-to-date…

  22. Llamaentity says:

    I tend to successfully finish games somewhat frequently, but get way too many games to even touch them all. Between the PC and my various other gaming platforms, I have hundreds of unfinished games, many of which are untouched :’c (mostly on the PC, but I have some untouched PS3 games, as well).

    The games I never quite finished, but intend on finishing “someday” (these aren’t the only ones… just the ones topping the list):

    Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
    Quest For Glory IV
    Deus Ex
    Ace Attorney 3
    The Witcher
    Blackwell Unbound
    Icewind Dale
    Ultima VII
    I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

    The key untouched games I really want to play through someday (not counting sequels to games in the list above):

    The Last Express
    To the Moon
    Zork Grand Inquisitor
    countless other adventure games :P

    I try to focus on up to about two games per gaming platform, but too many games are released (and bought by me) to keep up (especially because I’ve been watching a lot of anime) DX

  23. wanderthe5th says:

    I have the awful habit of putting down a game just before beating it because I don’t want it to be over. What makes it worse is that when I pick the game back up years later, I always start from the beginning again so I can have the whole experience. I’ve always been like that and it’s particularly bad with JRPGs.

    I’m currently on my third attempt at beating Lost Odyssey; I enjoy it so much and I don’t think it will have a very feel-good ending, so I’m having particular trouble just letting go and entering the damn final dungeon already!

    • Lassarina says:

      Lost Odysseyyyyyyyyy oh gosh I love that game so hard.

      I won’t get into any spoilers, but I will say the ending is bittersweet–there’s some sadness, but it’s not all woe and tears. (Also, it may interest you to know that there is a new game plus – you start over at like level 50.)

    • Cuppycake says:

      Oh man, thanks for reminding me about Lost Odyssey. I think I made it to like disc 3 of 4 or something? I loved that game so much, and definitely had the tears rolling down my cheeks during certain parts. I want to go back and play it. :)

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