So, I struggle with this for a lot of reasons and in a lot of ways.
One thing I’ve tried to do more is ask myself what I want to play instead of what I feel like I should play. This influences especially the games I plan on purchasing. An example: I feel like I should play Monkey Island or Doki Doki Literature Club, because people have said they’ve enjoyed it, but when I imagine sitting down and playing either of them, I don’t get very excited. I also think there are games that I feel like I should play because I’ve been told I might enjoy it. For a game like DDLR, the time investment might be worth it (also because it’s free) just to see if I enjoy it. But if I don’t actually think I might get into a game, and it’s a larger experience, why waste the time? Games usually take hours to get through, and that’s just not worth the investment.
I think an important thing to think about, though, is that time investment. I put about 30 hours into Pillars of Eternity. I got to the end of the second act, and I decided it wasn’t for me. I put the game down and haven’t picked it back up, and I don’t feel any remorse over that. I put like 10 hours into Legend of Grimrock 2, and was actually enjoying it, but I just decided that I didn’t want to keep going.
There’s no reason, when going through your backlog, to have to finish everything. It is completely fine to try something out, decide it’s not for you, and leave it at that. It’s probably better if you drop a game you’re not enjoying than to force yourself to go through the whole game.
Something I found really helpful is categorizing my library. (Okay, I’m looking at pursuing an MLIS, don’t @ me) First off it just makes it less stressful. But I also have this Four Box system that has been really helpful for me.
Here are the four boxes:
Box 1, “Backlog”: This is a category for any game I have not finished. Literally any game that I haven’t gotten to the end of. This doesn’t mean I’ve committed to playing it or not. (Though, writing this I’m actually considering adding another box to distinguish between games I want to get to and games I haven’t finished but don’t really feel any desire to play through/have tried and didn’t really click with)
Box 2, “Next Up”: This category is for the games I actually would like to play soon. Not “Oh, I’ll play that someday”, but “Oh, I think I’d like to go through that soon.” Marked by an actual desire to put time into the game. Things get added and removed from this list at intervals, and that’s fine. It’s just putting it in a space to remind myself it’s an option.
Box 3, “In Progress”: When I’ve actually started playing a game, I move it to this category for ease of access, and also to acknowledge that I am giving it an actual solid try. If I’m not feeling it right now, that’s fine. Move it back to the Backlog.
Box 4, “Finished”: This is when I finish the game. That means I get to cross it off the list. Yeehaw!
Maybe this seems really convoluted and overly complex, but this has really helped me keep track of where I am, whether or not I feel actually interested in a game. I also need to get better at dropping things I’m not really into!