I’ve got a Steam backlog – not as robust compared to other users but it’s there, all right. It doesn’t haunt my thoughts or give me pangs of guilt or remorse or shame. But, still, it’s there. And I am mindful of it. I was prompted by this particular forum thread over at Gamers With Jobs this past week to add the prices paid for my unplayed games and the sum was enough to give me pause. Again, my reaction didn’t result in some kind of staggering existential crisis, but that monetary figure was heavy enough for me to ask myself ‘Is it worth it?’
I related this experience to Sir Tony ButtonMasher who suggested that just in even asking myself this question there may be ‘something more’ to this problem. Perhaps this isn’t a concern about money spent but moreso time spent or that the time and money could have be spent elsewhere.
No. That wasn’t it. Gaming is a hobby which I consume in measured increments. I have never ever felt the need to justify the time and money spent. It is enriching and not just a distraction. The video game industry is growing and maturing, becoming, I think, a legitimate focus of critical thought. And I think that is fascinating, a cause for celebration. To me gaming is not just passive consumption, hence one of the reasons I enjoy writing about it and, when I can, streaming it.
I arrived to the conclusion that by asking ‘is it worth it?’ I wonder what I’m missing in my own library. Games genres are vast and multiplicative, they morph and cross-pollinate. Yes. Video games do not just appear from a puff of purple smoke. There are people behind these damned things. And whatever the result, however (un)successful a game is, however large its impact, there was, at the very least, an effort made, time spent, in transducing it from the theoretical realm. And the very least that I can do is make the effort to interact with these efforts.
So, here’s what I did: I created a new category in my Steam library. The ‘Pick List’ is a curated collection of games that are either Humble Bundle B-sides or whose discounts were so steep that I bought them just because. Sprinkled in there are ones I dabbled in but am now judging worthy of a revisit. A few titles that populate the Pick List are as follows: Banished, Eufloria HD, Grim Fandango Remastered, The Last Federation, Penumbra:Overture, Sacrifice, Teleglitch: Die More Edition.
The angle, here, is selection. I will not even make the attempt. Curated custom list or not, I’d still feel the same analysis paralysis. No. This task will fall to my wife who is about as removed and disinterested from video games as one can fathomably be. I will sit her before the Pick List and it will be Greek to her. I will instruct her. I will say, “Honey Bunny Darling, I’m going to turn around. You will click on one of these mysterious titles. You will say nothing about which you are picking! After you click on one of these mysterious titles, you shall then click the blue ‘PLAY’ button”. I will then play this game, make the effort to give it my due attention. Perhaps I will be engaged, perhaps not. Regardless, it is here, where once it was not.