It’s the end of the year and, other than getting drunk as hell on the bubbly, people love to look forward and make new goals. Making a set of New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition of lying to ourselves and disappointing our relatives. It’s also great for the private gym industry.
But hey, we’re here to talk about video games, not unused gym memberships. What are fun ways to make gaming plans you probably won’t follow through with? Less cynically, what are some cool things you can actually try to do and accomplish? I’ve been looking at this from both angles and looking inwards a little bit too much.
Anyway, here are a bunch of video game habits you might want to try breaking or starting in the new year.
Clear the Backlog
We all buy too many games, because there are literally too many games. It’s impossible to keep up, especially when so many AAA games demand dozens of hours each. Thanks to things like fear of missing out, attractive sales, and subscription services, people own tons of games they don’t finish. But things get pretty slow around the holidays (although February gets pretty wild nowadays), and those slower release months make for great opportunities to clear up those lists a bit. You can even use various tools to help organize your backlogs, from community driven services like Backloggery, to software solutions like Grouvee. There are tons of ways to whittle it down, although good luck managing your self-control.
Which brings us to the next slide!
Don’t Add to the Backlog
This one’s a companion to the previous slide. While you’re trying to work on your backlog, maybe it’s a good idea to also pledge not to significantly add to it. Listen, I really enjoy Xbox Game Pass. I love the sheer number of games I can access all at once that I may have never even heard of. But that access comes at a cost, and I don’t just mean the monthly fee. It’s almost effortless to pile title upon title onto your backlog. Sure, you aren’t obligated to try every game offered in a service like Game Pass, but the second you click that download button, you’ve added to the list. So just, be careful. Especially if you’re trying to cut back.
Save for New Hardware
2020 marks the birth of a new generation. Both Microsoft and Sony are ready to release their respective new consoles, so the next holiday season is going to be wild. Nintendo will continue to Nintendo, which is fine too. But if you’re an early adopter, you’re looking at a huge chunk of change to drop on at least one of the new boxes. It’s probably a good idea to start saving now. Tuck those extra dollars away, before you lose them to Steam sales!
Get in Fewer Gamer Arguments
We’re all passionate about games here, and talking shop with peers is a big part of being in the gaming community. Unfortunately that passion leads to a lot of hot-headed discussion. By that I mean arguments. If you look in any social media space, from Reddit to private message boards and even garbage places like Facebook, you’ll find nerds screaming at each other over their favorite Final Fantasy or something. But is it really neccessary to yell at strangers on the internet? Wouldn’t it be better to have a real discussion and open yourself up to opinions you don’t share? I dunno; I find myself arguing too, but I don’t always feel good about it after. We could all be kinder, even while still being critical.
Make a Game Yourself
Here’s something I really want to try some day. We’re all passionate about video games and, while you won’t be able to make your own Call of Duty or whatever, plenty of tools exist that will let you explore games creatively. From Mario Maker to RPG Maker , there are even console-based tools to explore that space. Personally, I want to try Twine, a tool that requires no programming knowledge. You can be as simple as making a choice-based, text-driven adventure title, and it’s all UI oriented. Tools like that break down the walls for anyone who may be interested in creating games, but don’t have the resources or time to learn to code.
Usually, when it comes to gaming, we all talk about what we have, want, or are buying. It’s a consumer medium, and so much of one that people get wrapped up in things like sales numbers. But there are people out there who would love to even have a single video game or whose lives would be a little less terrible if they had some.
Luckily there are charity programs and other organizations built to help facilitate those needs. You can donate directly to something like Child’s Play or Able Gamers or indirectly through events like Games Done Quick or fun things like Humble Bundle… bundles. Sick kids at hospitals and folks in need would benefit more from their main problems being solved, sure. But making quality of life adjustments in the meantime is good too.
Clean Your %&^* Up
Good lord! Look at that freakin’ mess. Like, all your consoles look dope, but how in the world do you manage all those cords? Well, I guess if I have to ask that means you don’t. I get it–you want to ahve all your consoles out, because what if you get that random hankering to play Dragon Ball Z Hyper Dimension on your “modded” Super Nintendo? It could happen any time. But that doesn’t mean your play area has to look like the closet of a high school AV classroom. Tidy that stuff up, yo!
Discover a New Creator
Okay, maybe making your own game is a bit too much to suggest. It’s a lot of time and effort for sure. But there’s always downtime at work or during projects to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s creative labor. But why stick with the same group of dorks that sit around a table and spout hot gamer takes for the rest of your life? Maybe it’s time to look for something new to watch, and support a smaller individual creator on Patreon or something.
For example, I recently discovered Super Eyepatch Wolf, whose in-depth, emotion-driven narrative video essays on games and anime have relaly helped me develop my perspectives during the adult chapters of my life. This year, I hope to find someone else who I engage with just as well.
Attend an Event
This might not be the best suggestion on a year new consoles are coming out, but hey, it’s still a good idea. Gaming is largely either a personal activity or one done with friends in multiplayer settings. But every now and then, there’s an event that takes being in the gaming community to another level. There are conventions, which can either be full of official presences such as E3 or PAX, or more local-ish events that are totally fan-driven like MAGfest. Sometimes individual publishers will run events as well, such as the occasions when Nintendo sends representatives to retail stores for time-limited demos and swag handouts. These events are fairly rare and only pop in in certain areas, but it’s totally worth trying to go to one at least once.
Try Something New
Okay, so, maybe you don’t have a giant rat’s nest of cords, own a massive backlog, and you’ve been to fifty conventions. Your stuff is pretty together, and you’re even thinking of finally cancelling that Planet Fitness membership. But there’s another option that’s in some ways much less effort, and in other ways potentially way more rewarding. There’s probably a series, game, or even an entire genre you just… haven’t touched. Maybe it doesn’t appeal to you on any superficial level, so you just haven’t bothered. Maybe the culture surrounding it or the industry politics rub you the wrong way. Or maybe you just never got around to it. Either way, treat yourself to something new, and you never know, you may accidentally find your new favorite game.