Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Slaying the backlog in 2020
Screenshot: Heaven’s Vault (Inkle Studios)

Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?

It’s the first-worldiest of first-world problems: Too many games to play, not enough time between now and the swift arrival of the sweet embrace of death in which to get them all played. We knew the advent of digital gaming libraries would come with a host of problems—intrusive copyright measures, the necessity for internet access, the omnibus issue of not really owning any of the games you supposedly “own”—but the sheer glut of unplayed games lurking in our Steam libraries or other online collections came as something of a shock. Whether through bundled purchases, impulse buys during sales, or just the sheer, steady accumulation of time, the backlog has become a real and persistent problem for a lot of people, imposing a weight of guilt—sometimes hundreds of musty games deep—onto them every time they take a scroll through their vast collections. “Did I really think I’d get seriously into Orcs Must Die 2?” we ask ourselves, scrolling past hundreds of Wizorbs and Gorky 17s. “Did I really buy a copy of Zork: Nemesis, ‘Just in case’?”

Video games have a weird relationship with time, anyway; no one comes screaming for refunds from movie directors if their film is “only” two hours in length. To seriously play almost any game is to make a commitment, not just of time, but of attention—immersing yourself in its systems, understanding its aims, settling yourself into its control scheme and vibe. Multiply that hundreds of times over, and it’s no wonder that so many of us recoil from even the best of our teetering piles of unplayed games. “Sure,” we tell ourselves, backs bent under a dozen unplayed Telltale episodes, “Heaven’s Vault sounds amazing. But maybe I’ll just play Downwell again, instead?”


Still, though: It’s January, the unofficial official month of probably fake promises to oneself. And so we issue, and call for, a pledge, to you, our humble What Are You Playing This Weekend? readers: Let’s make a dent in the backlog in 2020. Nothing too massive or strenuous—nobody’s asking you to finally give Pathologic 2 a grueling, soul-crushing try. But if we each play one unplayed gem hidden away in our libraries every month, that’ll be 12 games knocked off the pile, and only… Christ, a couple hundred left to go. And there’s more sales coming, soon, and a constant stream of free Epic games. And we’re really getting excited for the next season of Apex

So, uh, hey: Maybe we’ll just play Downwell again, instead.

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