Monday, December 1, 2014

The Unending Steam Library

I've been shuffling through my Steam library wondering what happened.

Ten years ago I would have been ecstatic to have such a huge variety of involved, long running games. Those were the days before Steam gathered its momentum, where it was still more common to buy a game at a brick and mortar store than buy one online. I'm pretty sure I still had dial-up ten years ago, too, so even those sloppy flash games were uncommon. If you bought a game back then, especially with the limited budget of a teenager, you'd better play that thing to death.

Now I look at my list of 200+ games on Steam, most of them from sales and Humble Bundles, and wonder whether or not it's possible to have too many games.

Games, games, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
So many games,
So little time.
Young Me scoffs at the idea. Too many games? Impossible!

Just about everyone who has a Steam account has that unending backlog of games that they want to play, or ones that they've played and want to finish, but can't bring themselves around to finally going through with it. Heck, I've played certain free games more than I've played games that I've paid good money for, and I know I'm not the only one.

In a way, it's a matter of time. I easily have enough games to fill thousands of hours of play time, but working a full time job, going to school, and fulfilling all of the other little things that I have to do in order to live a normal life leaves me with maybe five hours of game time a day. So why can't I power through the final ten levels of Wolfenstein: The New Order, or live up to my childhood dream of finishing Baldur's Gate if I still have so much time?

It's easy to blame Reddit and YouTube for my lack of progress in those games, but I think it's also a matter of convenient entertainment. After a day of work, I just want to sit down, partake of some cheap laughs and interesting commentary from interesting people and unwind. I hate the feeling of getting older when I'm not even past my midlife crisis, but it's a very real thing.

What's the point of this post, then? I'm not sure. I wanted to explore the question, and I suppose it's mostly down to a matter of time and energy, both of which are in limited supply and both of which are demanded by most games these days. I think it's the main reason I dislike games that are specifically designed to waste your time with no real benefit.

I guess the lesson from all of this is that game designers should keep this rising generation of gamers in mind when creating games. We don't want mindless grinding and doing the same thing over and over again. We want things that'll test our reflexes, our accuracy, and our problem solving skills. We want engaging stories and interesting characters. We want variety.

Yes, I'm talking to you, Ubisoft.
So, not this.
Granted, I'm only a bare portion of the gaming demographic out there, but I can't help that I'm not in the target demographic that I used to be in.

So is having this massive library of practically untouched games bad?

I don't think so. If there were to be a ban on new games today, I'd be set for countless hours of entertainment. My library is well prepared for whatever whim or fancy my mind flicks to. Some day I'll sit down and finish Baldur's Gate, but until then I won't worry about whether or not there's something left undone in my game library. Because if I don't feel like playing, I won't enjoy it.

But, like an old toy, it's there waiting when I'm ready for it.

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