When I added video games to my many geeky hobbies, I never realized how easy it is to watch your game collection go from one or two games to ten or twenty games piled high in a corner.
My gamer friends have told me there are maybe just a handful of games they completed in full, while the rest are left partially started or not started at all. Despite knowing this, they all can’t resist the urge to buy more games as the newest, hottest titles continue to come out every year.
Collecting games, like you collect baseball cards or a stamp collection, was a foreign concept to me. In my opinion, it made more sense to finish a game you already owned first before buying a new one, or waiting for a price drop so the game is cheaper to purchase. I naively thought how silly it was to keep buying more and more games until you couldn’t keep up. I eventually caught on that the urge to collect more games is a lot stronger than one might think.
Why is that? Why do gamers want to have more games in their possession than they can actually play in a day? A week? Or even a month? What I discovered from my friends and from my own experience is if a game has been reviewed highly and looks cool after watching the game trailers, we will buy it.
We are easily swayed by awesome graphics, a fun or different gameplay system, and the story. It may also be the latest, hottest title everyone is currently playing. You want to be among the cool kids playing what everyone else is currently playing. You want to trade stories of how this boss fight was epic or discuss what that shocking ending meant. It could also be a way of avoiding spoilers faster if you get the game the day of its release.
Personally, I don’t buy too many games the day it’s released. I’m a bargain shopper by nature and I really don’t see the point of throwing down $40 or $50 on a single game, even if it’s one of the best games to come out in a month or year. I also have to really want a game that badly to get it on the first day or week of it coming out (I’m looking at you Dragon Age 3). I’m content with waiting until the price drops a bit or when there’s a sale. Once I do see the game I’ve been dying to get for a while go on sale, there’s no holding me back from buying it straightaway.
This also brings me to another reason why we seem to accumulate so many games––price drops and sales are our best and worse friend in the world. During holiday shopping seasons, I’ve seen a good number of the newly released games go on sale at decent prices from the regular. It calls out to me like a Siren’s song. Before I know it, I’m whipping out my credit card and hitting purchase before I even have a chance to figure out what just happened. It’s also comforting to know a game is in my possession, waiting for me to play it when I’m ready.
I also think we can’t help but collect more games because we want the available option of playing it when we want to. This has happened to me recently when I was trying to figure out what to play, but didn’t feel like playing the current game I’m trying to finish. “You know, I don’t feel like playing anymore Fire Emblem Awakening right now. What should I play instead? Oh, let me start playing Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I haven’t tried it yet and I’m in a story driven game kind of mood.”
If I didn’t have The Walking Dead among my piles of games, and I wanted to play it, there isn’t much I can really do about it other than to choose a game I have already beaten but has a high replay value, like Mass Effect, to satiate my urge for a story based game.
There’s this desire to want to play everything when realistically we can only play so much. For some of us, we have summer vacations from school where you can have a marathon gaming session and reduce your building backlog. For the rest of us who are working adults and have responsibilities in the real world, our time isn’t what it used to be. We’re lucky if we can carve an hour or two of our time to play a level here and there. Backlogs for us is just a reminder that we may never get around to playing everything, despite our best intentions to try.
I think I’m okay with knowing this. As one good friend said to me recently, to comment on his monster size backlog, “When I die, maybe I’ll just have my consoles and games buried with me. I can play them in the afterlife.” Not a bad idea.