Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Stack of Shame

Within the game journalism community, there's a problem that is affectionately known as the "stack of shame."  It refers to the issue of having so many awesome games to play, but not enough time to play them all.  Sadly, this problem doesn't plague only journalists.  Members of the gaming community can find themselves mired in an ocean of games to play. It's everywhere, and it's starting to turn into an elephant in the room.  But it doesn't have to be like this.

For journalists, this is a very easy trap to fall into.  Members of the press regularly receive free copies of games from various publishers and developers.  Some games don't even get unwrapped.  They just get tossed in a corner and forgotten.  Some might get sold on the secondary market, long after the game has passed its prime.  It's an embarrassment of riches that helps no one.

The average gamer isn't far off, either.  A steady source of expendable income, low overhead, and time to burn, makes it very easy for someone who is a compulsive buyer to pick up a stack of games from the local shop and maybe get through half of them.  Add in the free games from Playstation Plus, the time that an MMO can burn, and all of a sudden there's a lot of games that get ignored.  When I let my WoW subscription lapse last fall (I didn't want to deal with pandas), I looked at my shelves of games and thought, "damn, I really let myself go..."  I bought all these amazing games, and didn't even scratch the surface on some of 'em.  The list was huge, too:
  • LA Noire
  • Bulletstorm
  • Project Zero(Fatal Frame) 4
  • Lost Odyssey
  • Xenoblade Chronicles
  • .Hack//GU
  • Xenosaga Episodes 1, 2 and 3
  • Fallout 3
  • Blue Stinger
  • Black Knight Sword
  • Infamous 2
  • King of Fighters XIII
And the list goes on.  Since then, I've purchased even more games, some of which haven't even been touched.  Factor in all the free games from Playstation Plus, and I honestly have no idea how I'm going to play through all of these when I'm engrossed in Aliens Colonial Marines and Gears of War Judgment, when those are out.

So what do we do about it?  Owen Good, over at Kotaku, challenged his readers to join him in completing "Four in February." The rules are simple: Take four games from your stack of shame, and complete them before February 28.  It doesn't matter if you've started them, you're partway through, or whatever.  Since that article was posted on January 27, over 250 people have commented on it.  Many said that they would join in, and announce that they were taking part.  Others lamented that they wouldn't be able to finish in time.  One commenter, Mennoknight, said "it's hard to kill a backlog made mostly of 80+ hour RPGs."

Even so, it's still very possible to put a dent into them.  I took up Good's challenge and set LA Noire, Bayonetta, Catherine, and Quantum Conundrum as my goals.  At the time of this writing, I've completed LA Noire and Catherine.  Aliens Colonial Marines came out yesterday, and I'm probably going to start in on that soon, too.  I plan on having a review up for that one within a week of it coming out.

In addition to what Good is doing, I'm going to try and make it through another four games during the month of June, and maybe even July.  There's always a lull in the release schedule, and that seems like the ideal time to really polish off a title or three.  I may decide to blog about this when that time comes.

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