The modern gamer suffers from an abundance of choice. As we explored in our post on the Digital Revolution, changes to the sale and distribution of games grow our libraries faster than ever before, giving us an unprecedented number of options to choose from when deciding what to play next.
Sounds great, right? More games should mean that we have more to play and can spend more time having fun! But as we discussed in our post on Overchoice, having more options can result in a less satisfying decision because we feel more anxious about making the wrong one.
Applied to gaming, this suggests that one reason we feel overwhelmed by our game backlogs is because their size makes it difficult to choose what game to play next. If you’ve ever spent a few minutes scrolling through your library for a new single-player game to try before giving up and launching Rocket League, then you have experienced the pain of overchoice.
When choosing a game to play, we could make better decisions that make us happier if we could choose from a narrower set of options, enough to provide us with some variety without being overwhelming. The obvious solution is to cast our oversized game collections into the Cleansing Fire and start anew, free of our accumulated burden.
On second thought, we can probably do better than the scorched-earth approach. It’s not actually necessary to get rid of games – we just need to organize them in a way that reduces the size of the set we are looking at when deciding what to play next. Gamers we’ve talked to about this problem have described a variety of strategies for organizing their libraries – let’s go over them.
One approach we heard was to keep only the games you are planning to play next installed. This ensures that these games are the easiest to pick up and start playing, since they can be started immediately while others require a download. This has the added benefit of saving disk space that would otherwise be taken up by games that you aren’t going to play anytime soon!
Groups and Categories
Others suggested using platform-specific features to “group” or “tag” the games you want to play. For example, you can use features like Steam Categories or Xbox Groups to group a subset of your games under labels like “Playing” for games you’re playing through now, “Play Next” for games you want to play in the near future, or “Ongoing” for games that you come back to periodically. A few even took the extra step of creating multiple categories corresponding to different degrees of urgency, where they planned playing games in Category “1” above games in Category “2” above games in Category “3” and so on, improvising a prioritized backlog.
The most detail-oriented gamers we spoke with described maintaining spreadsheets cataloging their collections, complete with lists sortable by genre and review score. This requires the most effort to add data and maintain, but affords the ultimate flexibility in terms of how your games are represented and organized.
Gamers using AllMyGames to track their libraries can add a subset of the games in their collection to their “Backlog”, allowing them to maintain a prioritized list of the games that they want to play soon. By creating an ordered short-list of games from across their cross-platform game collection, users narrow their scope from hundreds of games spread across multiple platforms and launchers to a handful of games in one place.
Whatever tool you use, imposing a bit of order on the seeming chaos of your ever-growing collections of games will make it a lot easier to keep track of what you most want to play, which means less time spent searching and more time gaming.