How can I deal with my overly large collection of unplayed video games?
November 24, 2008 10:30 PM   Subscribe

How can I deal with my overly large collection of unplayed video games?

I have somehow found myself in a situation where I own over 60 games, for a variety of platforms, that I have played either not at all or for only a couple of hours.

The thing is, I don't consider myself a collector at all; I don't get any real enjoyment out of just owning the games. Most of them were originally bought because I read that they had good stories (a lot of these games are lengthy console RPGs, which makes the situation even worse), and because they were either at a cheaper than usual price. There are also quite a few games I have bought because they only rarely show up for sale these days.

I had full intentions of playing most of the games at the time I bought them, but because I tend to complete games very slowly they have gradually piled up. This has eventually resulted in my current situation, which I am quite unhappy about.

I'm now trying to rein back my spending, but I still have the backlog to deal with.

I was thinking of selling off a lot of them. There are a few problems with this however: it would be a lot of time and effort, and I tend to have fears (irrational, I know, but still there) that any game I sell will suddenly increase in value in the future. I also have a constant niggling worry that any game I sell would have turned out to be a great experience that I would have really enjoyed.

I suppose I could also make a massive push to play through them all, but when I think how long this would take (as mentioned, there are a lot of long RPGs amongst the games) I just feel defeated. Individually I would like to play all of these games, but as a mass it is just too daunting. I think I would probably end up using a lot of game guides and rushing through a lot of them, which I fear would make something I do for enjoyment feel too much like work.

I'm curious if anyone has ever been in a situation like this (although I admit it is somewhat unusual), or just has any advice on how I should proceed. I really would like to get on top of this...
posted by fearthehat to Technology (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I go through phases where I end up with a bunch of movies on DVD or games that I intended to watch/play but never got around to them and then I forget I own them until I rearrange the closet where they are stored. Since forcing myself to play them all feels like an undoable chore, I list them for sale on Amazon's Marketplace for a low-middle-of-the-range price. Occasionally one gets sold, which pushes me into that play/not-play decision and then I get some money and some closet space freed up. I've yet to regret selling anything that way and the sale of one usually spurs me to play a few more before they get sold.
posted by jamaro at 10:46 PM on November 24, 2008

How about... doing nothing?

Unless some of them are Japanese imports, they're probably worth less than what you paid for. And it sounds like you're not dying for the pittance you'd get for them. And you're most likely correct that it wouldn't be worth the time spent trying to EBay them.

My advice: set them up so they look nice on your shelf, and maybe they'll serve as a caveat.

Also, on the game guides tip: no one needs to tell you how to play video games. If you wanna buy guides for them, go for it. They make a pretty penny on strategy guides because some people actually like having the game walked through for them. I know I do, at least for RPGs.
posted by hpliferaft at 11:14 PM on November 24, 2008

If you're worried about missing out on games you should consider modding an xbox. Not that I've ever done it....... but uh, people I know have and they put NES, SNES, N64, Playstation, Genesis, NeoGeo, etc emulators on their xbox and than you can download entire system rom sets and bam, you've got every game for every system.
posted by BrnP84 at 11:22 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I vote for hanging onto them - you bought them for a reason, are unlikely to sell them for a ton of money, and will miss the opportunity they represent when they're gone.

Why not make a project of it? Draw up a list of the ones you want to play the most (I'd personally narrow it down to a top 10, and then a top 5, and then a top 2, and frequently re-evaluate as your moods change). Then spend an hour every day working through them, one at a time, with the occasional weekend marathon thrown in.

If the game is boring, try to power through it. If it's really unbearable, put it away and start immediately on the next one.

If it helps motivate you, you could blog about your experiences as you work your way through the stack.

I know it seems like a daunting amount of work and energy, but if you put the time in, you will get the reward (yay, grinding) - the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a game, and the satisfaction of having followed through on the desire that compelled you to buy the game in the first place.
posted by lhall at 11:31 PM on November 24, 2008

I'd suggest going to the games department at metacritic, and checking the ratings for each platform. Play the top-rated games, and toss anything rating less than the upper eschelon.

Game reviews and rating numbers at Metacritic are reliable, and so are the write-ups--but only if you ignore the fantastically inflated reviews of the commercial gaming sites and read readers' comments.
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:41 PM on November 24, 2008

It would help if you'd be more specific about your goal. Are you trying to play through games faster? Use a guide. Getting rid of games so they don't clutter? Give them to your neighbor or local library. Want to spend less on games? Stop buying games and start playing the ones you already own.

You probably won't make a big profit selling games, so I wouldn't suggest doing that unless you're absolutely sure you'll never play them again.

Actually, you should definitely consider a rental service like GameFly. You can rent the latest and greatest games, beat them at your leisure, and return them. The monthly fee is probably less than what you're currently spending on games.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:42 PM on November 24, 2008

Give each of them one evening or one hour, and work your way through them all. Take notes, not just so you can remember them but so you can appreciate each one a little better.

Go back to the one you are most interested in playing first. And maybe you'll feel differently about selling the others.
posted by fleacircus at 11:46 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

If this is your biggest problem, count yourself lucky. If this is not your biggest problem, get rid of the games and consoles that you don't play on craigslist. Use the time you would have spent playing the games to address your biggest problems. Take classes, meet people, switch jobs, exercise, or discover shorter-term hobbies that don't require 80+ hours to finish (graphic novels?).

I had the same problem, but now mostly only play PC demos that I download to get a taste of the game and see if it's really worth playing - once a year or so I play something spectacular (Half Life 2) but stay away from purchasing anything that will consume 4 weekends.

I think of it as analogous to eating as you get older - once it made sense to optimize on the number of calories/$ by eating at a buffet, but as your metabolism slows you have to start optimizing for the fewest calories. As your free time diminishes, you have to choose games that are playable in short bursts and don't require 80+ hours to complete.
posted by benzenedream at 11:54 PM on November 24, 2008

You throw more money into the pile and buy a Personal Library Kit, then make your collection officially available to family and friends... possibly involving a small rental fee, or collateral in the form of DVDs they have that you want to watch.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:17 AM on November 25, 2008

This is very common among gamers; I've seen it called the Pile of Shame.

There simply isn't enough time to play all the games anymore, even the very good ones. There are far too many being made. You will probably never play everything in your pile.

But, that said, you have a wealth of entertainment to draw on. I wouldn't worry about the guilt factor; just pick the thing that looks the most interesting, play it until you're done with it, and then move on. If you just stick with each game until you feel you're done with it (or maybe a couple, alternating), and don't buy a game unless you're actually ready to play it, then your backlog should, very gradually, diminish. But it will probably never go away, if you're a working adult.

Overall, I would suggest never buying a game close to release again. Wait until at least a year after it's out, and if people are still talking about it, then buy it. With your huge backlog, you can wait a year before you buy any new games, and then you'll be able to cherry-pick the very very best stuff. With a backlog that large, you really want only the homerun titles, and you should be able to get them on the cheap, a year after they've first shipped.

And you just only have so much time. If you set aside gaming time, and you're always playing the thing you most want to play, then the size of your backlog is pretty much irrelevant. You're extracting the most entertainment you can out of the time you have available. You can't do better than that.

If the clutter's a problem, go back through them, prioritize them into at least four categories, "ready to play now", "want to play soon", "want to play someday", "sounds good, might be fun". Then toss out or sell the bottom two categories. With the rate that new games come out, even a backlog of thirty should be way more than enough. :)
posted by Malor at 12:22 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Throw them in garbage and never think of them again. The plus is you get to start collecting them again, which seems to be the part you enjoy.
posted by 517 at 12:39 AM on November 25, 2008

If you've not played any of them in 2 years then there is a very good chance you won't in the next 2 years either. Free time rarely increases year on year.

So sell them all.

If you can't bear that then sell the ones for consoles which you don't have set up. If the console isn't immadiately available, you're even less likely to play it.

Then sell the ones which require you to dedicate many hours of your life. See points above on why.

Finally sell the ones with a Metacritic score of under 80. Yes, one which is 75 is probably good - but your time is precious, so play only the very best.
posted by mr_silver at 1:04 AM on November 25, 2008

Looking at the collection as a big mass of unplayed games is the wrong way to go about it. I have too many games too, and not a whole lot of time to actually spend on them, so what I do is I conceptualize them in groups. Instead of worrying about what I've bought that's getting dusty, I ask myself what game series do I want to feel like I've really experienced. I'll pick maybe two series that I want to explore, preferably ones with different gameplay styles so I can switch back and forth for variety, then fill in the gaps in my collection till I have all the necessary games, and play through them sequentially over however long it takes. So for example this winter I want to play through all the Half-Life games, and at least put a dent in the Zork text adventure series. With a longer series, go ahead and play the best ones first if you like, and then stick around if you feel you want more.

It's simply impossible to play everything out there, so approaching it from this angle sacrifices the breadth of seeing many different games, for the depth of seeing a created universe in its entirety. It takes the pressure off; the idea is to linger, and you're done when you're done or when you get bored and pick a new group of games to attempt. Even stand alone games benefit from this if you can mentally group them with similar games in a set, either by influences, theme, developer, or gameplay style. The upside is that it's always clear what games you'll play next, there's much less fretting about keeping up with expensive consoles and new releases, and if you actually do complete a whole set of games it feels like a substantial accomplishment not just in terms your collection, but in terms of having personally seen a whole chunk of video game history. I realize that this advice is fairly idiosyncratic and may not in fact be useful to anyone, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyhow in case it helped.
posted by CheshireCat at 1:29 AM on November 25, 2008

delete the gaming blogs from your feedreader and try to limit yourself to games personally recommended to you by personal friends who think you'll like it, or have been blown away for the quality of the game.

a game may be GREAT on itself, but if I don't have anyone to share my experiences with it -this applies if the game is more than a couple years old and not a classic- its interest wanes a lot.

also, if i find that i've progressed to about 70% of a complex-plot game and then stop playing it, i'll usually sell or give it away. i know i won't pick it up again. it's a hard thing to do, but then there's going to be other games to be hyped with on the line.
posted by ArchEnemy at 1:30 AM on November 25, 2008

My husband finally cleaned out the section of the garage that I'm not allowed in. He proudly (actually, I'm not sure it was pride) showed me a whole bunch of 5 1/4 inch floppies for games and software that a. we don't use now, b. we hardly used before, c. has been superseded by much much better stuff, and d. is/was worth not much at all.

Life is too short to try to read all the books and play all the games, so I just choose the ones I like best. Life is also too short to try and make money back on stupid purchases so I give them away on Freecycle. Plus, if you run out of things to do, there's always metafilter.
posted by b33j at 1:53 AM on November 25, 2008

You need to have a plan. A schedule. Seriously. This Penny Arcade comic, while clearly meant to be jokey, is actually not too far off the mark about how I intend to play and complete the games in my console collection I've not yet finished.

Since I work full time and have a woman in my life, I have very little time to devote to games. But I've used a similar plan to the one in the comic to try and clear the backlog. So, for example, I played Resistance: Fall of Man furiously for the last few weekends so that I could finish it in time for the release of Resistance 2 this week. My plan is then to play that until I finish it, at which point I'll play Okami for the Wii. Then I plan to play Half Life: Episodes 1 and 2 and Portal before moving onto Wario Land: The Shake Dimension. During this whole time, I plan to be playing Little Big Planet in an alternating basis, because it's more of a 'pick-up-and-play' kind of game, as opposed to a game that requires your full focus. Games like this are great to give yourself a break from the 'A' game you're currently playing for when you get stuck, frustrated or otherwise just need a break.

If hand held games are part of your collection backlog, as they are mine, public transport and the up-coming holiday season are perfect times to clear those. So for example, the last month or so I've been working on finishing Yoshi's Island 2 on the DS, after which I plan to complete Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and then Advance Wars: Dual Strike. By this point I will probably buy Chronotrigger (which will actually probably eat into my home console schedule a bit) and then Lockes Quest. I also have a couple of pick-up-and-play games which I play on and off, like Metal Slug 7, Yahtzee and Tetris DS.

So basically work out a plan and stick to it. Make time to game in amongst your other schedules. But also make sure you get out of the house as well. Getting out is probably a reason why guys like you and I are so behind on our gaming, but the challenge is half the fun, right?
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:42 AM on November 25, 2008

You could always donate them to Child's Play. It's a charity that gives games and systems to children's hospitals around the U.S.
posted by Gneisskate at 5:33 AM on November 25, 2008

Go to a local library that has a game rental section and donate them. Now, you can play them whenever you like, but they won't be staring you in the face. Plus, all the gamers in your community benefit. If your library does not have a gaming section, 60 games is enough to start one. Find a friendly librarian and discuss the benefits of the FearTheHat Gaming Wing.

If you can't find a librarian who will go for this, find a local comic book shop and ask them if they want a free game lending library. It would probably help draw people into the store more often and maybe you can get a few graphic novels out of the deal.
posted by mikepop at 5:51 AM on November 25, 2008

I say keep half, donate half, and then cut yourself some slack...they're not going to hit an expiration date after which you can no longer play them.
posted by kattyann at 5:58 AM on November 25, 2008

I like to hoard things, lots of things. It's the "I might need or use this later" mentality that is the problem. I've only very recently started to get over this and get rid of stuff, and it's not easy. Look, you have over 60 games that you haven't played yet. Do you really think that you're going to play them all? You're not. They're sitting there and collecting dust. The holiday season is coming up and I think the best thing for you to do is to donate them to a charity to supplies presents to kids around Christmas time. You've been fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy all of those games and it's time to share that with someone else who isn't as fortunate.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2008

Buy only the absolutely best from now on and every time you see a game that seems "just interesting" or "great premise" or "hey, 82%!" ignore it and play one of your oldies. Many rpg stories aren't wildly different and if that 28th Tales game turns out so much better than the rest, the gaming populace will let you know. Promise.
posted by ersatz at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2008

Re Gneisskate's post - and from the Child's Play site:

A. Unfortunately, we can't donate used items directly to the hospitals. However, we're a registered eBay Giving Works charity, you can sell items on eBay and have the proceeds benefit Child's Play! When you begin the listing process, there is an option when you're setting the price to select a non-profit to benefit. A simple search for "Child's Play" will turn us up. eBay will ask you to register for a MissionFish account, but it's straight forward. You'll need a credit card to complete the process. Please read through eBay's Giving Works website for more information at, so you that understand how you will be billed when the item is sold. You could sell pretty much anything to help the kids!
posted by opsin at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2008

pick a night of the week and make it game night. invite a bunch of friends and/or internet friends over to play one of the games.
posted by groovinkim at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2008

nthing the Gamefly suggestion.

What I would do (and have done to some extent) is sell/donate any game that is readily available and in print then add the ones that you sold to your queue and play them as they come in. Or not. You might find that you don't even care about some of them and that will shorten the list. Gamefly actually has a program where you can ship them your used games for credit towards a monthly plan.

I would suggest keeping any somewhat collectible ones though as I have had trader's remorse quite a few times for older RPG's and obscure titles and such.

Now that my collection is leaner, I usually only buy multiplayer-based games and rent any mainly single player games.
posted by theDrizzle at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2008

Thanks for the replies. I'm planning to try out a combination of the ideas listed here - I'll try and ditch a few of the more common games I own, then make a schedule. I've hauled my games out of storage and put them near my computer, so I'll constantly notice them. Hopefully this will all go according to plan - I may even blog about it as suggested!
posted by fearthehat at 11:44 PM on November 26, 2008

You're not the only one with a stack of games that have yet to be fully explored (or even unwrapped). I have a number of games that I fully intend to get around to playing someday, so the way that I see it is that somewhere down the line — years or even decades, hopefully — some event will severely alter my routine. It could be devastating illness or injury or it could be something more extreme like the collapse of our civilized society. Personally, I'm hoping for peaceful retirement. Either way, at some point I'll have plenty of time to hang around the house with not much to do and no drive or reason to go outside very often. That's when I'll break out the backlog and get to work. I call it the "Time Enough At Last" scenario.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:44 AM on November 29, 2008

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