Gamer Diary: The Half Year Report

In January of this year, I made a resolution to tone down my backlog which, like most gamers, consists of tons of games that I own but haven’t played. To motivate myself, I’ve been writing these Gamer Diaries, which are more or less stream of consciousness thoughts about games as I play them. I tell stories about how I got the game, what I think about the story and the characters, problems I might have stumbled across or particularly annoying fights or puzzles. They aren’t reviews in the traditional sense, since I don’t recommend games, and the criticisms I make tend to be ones people may not observe. Every time I’ve finished a game, I’ve shared my thoughts, and it’s a check mark off of my list as I trek Mt. Backlog.

But have I made any real progress? Did my backlog actually go down in any significance, or am I spitting in the wind? I’ve definitely finished my share of games...but I’ve also bought a lot more. Since January I bought all the DS Ace Attorney games, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS, Elite Beat Agents, Lego Dimensions, the Arkland Atelier trilogy, Atelier Shallie, Virtue’s Last Reward, I won Mad Maestro from Turbo Gaming Quiz Alpha and my mom gifted me with a bunch of Skylander games and some PS2 and PS3 games she’d found in Goodwill. The good news is, that while it seems any progress I made was immediately nullified by my purchases, the fact is that the amount of games I plan to buy in the coming future is actually very small. Between games that haven’t come out yet, games that came out this year, and vintage games I still want to track down, I only have 15 games I want to get between all the systems I own. The purchases I’ve made have been pretty strategic, since most of the titles I snapped up were when they went nicely on sale, before they’re out of print long enough to get out of my reach, and most of the games that remain on the list probably won’t go on sale for a good long while. I can afford to wait. Or more accurately, I can’t afford them at the prices they’re at now.

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That’s all good justification and rationalization, but how much did I really get done this year? Looking back, so far this year I’ve finished eight games. In reverse order I’ve finished: Disney Infinity: Toy Box Challenge, Disney Infinity 2.0, Apollo Justice, Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix Wright: Justice for All, Virtue’s Last Reward, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Ghost Trick. I’ve made significant progress, about 50+ hours on Conception II, Ar Tonelico Quoga, and I’m just about finished with Elite Beat Agents and Lego Dimensions (at least the core game, I don’t have any of the expansion sets yet.) Most of these games are RPGs and Visual Novels, so they probably were all at least 30 hours to get to completion, so that’s nothing to sneeze at. I would have liked to get more done, but I did run into a few problems.

First off, for most of the year so far I’ve had some incredibly serious back problems. Some of the worst I’ve had in a very long time. Since I typically play my console systems on a folding chair I set up in front of my TV, something that doesn’t offer any lumbar support, my back hurt so bad I often couldn’t play more than an hour at a time, if that. Some days I wasn’t able to sit at all. I think this is why my console backlog is always so much uglier than my portables backlog. My portables backlog is like 5-6 games, while my console backlog is...way more than that. I’ve had back problems for ages, and sitting playing games can go from a fun hobby to absolute torture with something as basic as it’s raining outside. In fact, my back problems triggered my depression again hardcore, and that affected my gaming as well. I know for a lot of people, gaming was what pulled them out of that black place. I’m not so fortunate. No amount of trying to make myself play helped. The good news is I am a lot better now. The weather is sunnier and I have some wonderful people who love and support me, so I’m not just back to gaming, but my other work as well.

The second major pitfall has been my TV itself. I still have my old CRT screen and that makes playing some games impossible because the text is blurry and gives me a headache. Pretty much all the PS3 era Atelier games except Atelier Escha and Logy got thrown to the ‘doesn’t count’ pile because the text is impossible to read. I know flat screen HD TVs are pretty cheap now, but I really don’t have room for one at the moment. I’m hoping to get one eventually, just isn’t in the cards for now.

With the weather getting better I can start playing more of my console games, and continue burning through my backlog a little more efficiently. Thanks to everyone who has been commenting on the Gamer Diaries, they are really encouraging and I appreciate it. I’ve been enjoying all the games I’ve played and want to continue sharing with you guys. I’m going to keep chiseling at my backlog and see how far I can go in the next six months.

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Gamer Diary is an informal review of games I play as I more or less discuss the thoughts that pop up while I’m playing the games. They are not meant to be recommendations or strict critiques, but as a motivator to continue to play and finish games even if I get frustrated or discouraged. If you want to do a similar thing and make your own gamer diaries, please feel free to mimic the format. The Geek Empress is a comic book artist whose work can be found at bwillettcomics.com and does the regular features Craf-TAY Corner and Collecting Retro Games.

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