Managing My Backlog

I have a Steam backlog again. Somewhere in the autumn of last year, I’d managed to pretty much clear it out, but it really didn’t take long to grow again.


Something I’m realizing, as I scroll through it, is that the sheer list of titles is overwhelming, and sorting it is somewhat difficult. When I was actively working in the games industry, I kept a paper-filled binder with one page devoted to each game– as I got it, I’d write the game title at the top. It was easy to check and see which games were “in the queue”, because I could just flip to the first blank page in the notebook– that was the game I was going to play when I sat down to play a game. I could move on after playing either ten hours or filling up a page with notes. Sometimes a game required that I stick in more pages, but most didn’t.

I don’t really play games in that kind of directed way in my spare time anymore. While effective at making sure I played everything, it really sapped my enjoyment of playing games in general. I scheduled several hours a week to sit down and play the queue, and I managed to make even games that were fun less enjoyable because of the constant press of both note-taking and the backlog.

When my hard drive died a while back, I had an opportunity to look at my Steam library with fresh eyes. I had a crazy number of games that were “in the queue”, but I no longer felt obligated to play all of them, and particularly before moving, I was burned out on playing games as much as I’d been. When I moved to Seattle, I pared down my physical possessions, but I also went through and looked at my video games, to see what I was going to keep and what I still wanted to play. I couldn’t move all of it, so I kept a very small number of console titles and took a long, hard look at my Steam library. What I wound up doing was going through the entire list and installing only what I knew I wanted to play, and ignoring everything else, even if I hadn’t played it. Some games had been “in the queue” for years, and I’d find myself doing pretty much anything else if it looked like I’d have to play them.

It’s the main reason I was able to clear out my backlog– I reduced my backlog to only games I wanted to play, then played them. It helped that for most of last year I couldn’t really afford new games. I still got some pickups, mostly gifts over Christmas and some new releases, and I’ve accumulated a small backlog at this point– probably about ten games. I know this can spiral out of control quickly, so I want to come up with a better way of managing it.


It turns out Steam has the ability to set games as “favorites”. While it’s probably going to make my store suggestions a little insane (they’re already kind of nonsense thanks to Hatoful Boyfriend as Aggrochat’s Game of the Month, so no big loss there), I can put all of my active backlog games in Favorites, and then remove them as I play them. It kind of lets me focus on what’s “active” for me right now, and if I see something languishing in the list, I can de-favorite it.

As of this writing, here’s the list:

Among The Sleep — a first-person horror game where you play as a very young child

Binary Domain — I picked this up during my cravings for cyberpunk games, but never played it (got distracted by Shadowrun Hong Kong)

Pillars of Eternity — This has been in my “active” queue for a really long time, and I’m waiting until I’m on a fantasy kick to try to delve into it again.

Read Only Memories — another cyberpunk title, picked it up, never sat down with it.

Satellite Reign — I really liked the couple of hours I put into this, but haven’t picked it back up

Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition — probably the first game on the list I’m going to play, for the new post-game content which is already rather good.

Sorcery! Parts 1 & 2 — I don’t remember where I heard good things about this, but the premise (narrative fantasy RPG in an interactive novel style) sounds neat.

Tales of Zestiria — I got really heavily into this for a while, got to a point where I needed to run around the world at length, and lost steam. I want to finish it, because I want to see where it’s going, but I haven’t quite gotten around to getting over that timesink portion.

Warframe — The game I’m actively playing right now, it sits here because I’m logging in most days, it’s about as “active” a game as I can get.

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide — I’ve heard good things about this and I want to give it a shot. It got drowned in Warframe a bit.

The Witness — Heard incredible things about this, I really want to jump into it when I have the spare mental bandwidth for a ‘heavy’ game.

I’m going to try to write about these as I play them, we’ll see how well that works.

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