pat and jay

Please Finish Your Games Before Dying

Due to one part being bad with money and one part psychosis, I have over 100 Switch games. Many are smaller (and were thankfully cheaper) indie games that are probably shorter than a dozen hours, but the catalog still adds up to a huge time investment. At the rate I play, maybe a decade’s worth of games. Perhaps I should stop playing, “browse the eShop deals section and buy random shit,” and focus on something with better game mechanics, like this Live-A-Live demo with huge sections of nothing but listening to people speak at me.

If games stopped coming out, would you have enough to last the rest of your life? There are a few factors at play – how old you currently are, how long you’ll live, your ability to get your hands on old games, and your willingness to play old stuff. Assuming you’re a good person who can stomach games from most generations (I understand not wanting to play Asteroids clones for years, but then why did you buy them in the first place?) and any age really, let’s just randomly say you were born in May of 1982, I suppose it would ultimately come down to how many titles you’ve stock piled.

“Do you own enough stuff to keep you entertained?” is maybe a less interesting conceptual exercise than, “assume all existing games are available to you, are you interested in enough of them to keep you busy until your brutal-yet-well-deserved death?” My backlog, as the kids say, is enormous. It’s a testament to my open-mindedness and general excellence that I am interested in so many games. Are your interests varied enough to have way too much to play at all times?

My voracious appetite for creative enterprise aside, time is also a concern. Time is probably the main concern, generally, psychologically, and evolutionarily speaking. Knowing I buy things I will never get to play is kind of a bummer and has begun to weigh on me more than when I was young and death seemed infinitely far away. Maybe it is time to lay my games out in front of me and make some hard decisions. What do I really want to play and what would be neat to play if Big Buddhism is right and I return to this world as something with thumbs?

I haven’t even played Langrisser V.

Oh, so these questions are not rhetorical and you are looking for real answers?  Fine, I suppose I can muster a few thoughts.

Several years ago I started tracking the games I play each year, and the average is almost exactly a dozen, or a game per month.  The actual pace varies pretty widely between goddam From releasing Elden Ring the week before my daughter was due followed by me taking me 5 months to finish, and running through Journey in one evening. But overall we are averaging 12 a year for the past 14 years.  According to the Social Security Administration, actuarially speaking I have 38.24 years left or so.  A number of factors could influence the number of games I play a year, including my kids growing up, failing eyesight, the rise of a fascist dictatorship in the United States that outlaws games, and rising sea levels washing my entire house and all my games with it out to sea. In the absence of teasing out the exact effects of each of those, let’s assume what I have done is what I will do: 12 x 38.24 = I will die before finishing my 459th game starting…now.  Jay is a bit younger than I am so he probably finishes that 459th game.

So are there 459 games out there that I haven’t played but want to?  Probably, though it might be closer than I assumed before doing that math.  I have a list of games right here next to me with some stuff I would like to play near term, but that only has 29 or so games on it (one, God of War Ragnarok, is not yet available).  My list only includes the most easily accessible consoles and handhelds, but does include some older games available on newer systems.  It certainly isn’t exhaustive.  

Artistic rendition of unplayed games.

RPGs are my favorite genre, and one from which I am very comfortable playing older games.  I have only played one Dragon Quest game (IV), and only one is currently on my list (V) so there are like ten games right there I would want to play.  I recently commented that I have only played one game from the combined Wild Arms and Shadow Hearts serieses (so combined because of the recent Kickstarter), so we have another ten or so games. Another ten Final Fantasies (mostly older or spinoffs), a handful of non-Murayama Suikodens, a couple of Valkyrie Profiles, Phantasy Stars, etc. and we are starting to make a dent before even looking at the genre’s Western counterparts.  I have played a few of the classics (Planescape: Torment, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, about half of Baldur’s Gate) but would have a lot of wood to chop just playing Infinity Engine games. 

Add in the point and click adventure games, platformers, the recent proliferation of Souls-likes (not to mention the pre-Demon’s Souls From games I should play), most of the Metroid series, all the great Metroidvanias, the Yakuza games I haven’t gotten to yet, and all the games Jay is always annoying me to play and I think I could come up with 459 games I would like to play in my life.  On the other hand, I am excited for Eiyuden Chronicles and that hasn’t come out yet, which is another way of saying I am not yet ready to limit myself exclusively to the backlog.  

I would argue that you are lacking in imagination if you’re even considering doing the math to determine the feasibility of playing all you’re interested in. A cursory glance at revealed I would like to play 20+ Super Famicom games, almost all RPGs. Now consider what will be translated for PS1, Saturn, PS2, and Dreamcast over the next decade. Then there are all the loser systems that have some stuff worth digging into. Your PC Duos, 3DOs, and so forth. Who isn’t interested in Lucienne’s Quest?

No one, that’s who. The only solution for these video game based dilemmas is to win the lottery, retire immediately, cast your family out into the streets, and do nothing but play games. This probably would work but precludes other hobbies. If you are some literate nerd, for example, you won’t have time to read everything you’ve ever wanted while simultaneously playing the currently non-existent fan translation of Langrisser V. I don’t have this problem because I dislike books and movies are for pedophiles, but I assume most people like other things.

Did you know Lucienne’s Quest was ported to the Saturn and released as Swords & Sorcery? Of course you did – you’re not a fucking moron.

I definitely agree there are enough games in the world that I would not have to play anything new, but from where I am today, in 2026 would I rather play Lucienne’s Quest (which I assume is some sort of game) or Armed Fantasia?  Of course today I would rather play Wild Arms 2 than Assassin’s Creed 2022.  I guess my point is that since I do not plan to forsake my family, or even reading, 12 games a year makes for hard choices.  And what if the recent Suikoden remasters, combined with Eiyuden’s upcoming release somehow leads to Suikoden VI? Are we not supposed to play it? WHAT THEN JAY?!

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1 year ago

Of course, the answer to “do you have enough to play for the rest of my life?” depends entirely on one’s willingness (or not) to pirate games.

It changes significantly if we tweak the question to “do you have enough games that you’re genuinely interested in playing to fill out the rest of your life?”

For me, I think the answer is yes, because I honestly don’t see myself gaming until I’m dead (assuming I die a “regular” death of old age). Sooner or later I see myself not only becoming wholly uninterested in new releases, but also having depleted most of the good stuff of the retro gaming world, and too tired to want to bother to dig for any more hidden gems.

Ironically, I predict this will happen around the time that my children are old enough to move out on their own – or slightly later when they’re old enough to start their own families (regardless of whether they actually do start a family – I’m not putting that expectation on them). At that point I would happily give them all of my gaming stuff if it’s something they wanted.

I say this is ironic because for the longest time, I added games to the backlog under the logic that “I’ll play them when I’m retired”. Now I realize I probably won’t want to do that. Funny how things work out.

Also, you should 100% make sure you play Dragon Quest V.

1 year ago

if you had asked me when i was 20 if i would still be this enthusiastic about games at 40, i am not sure what i would have said. as it stands today i can still find enough interesting stuff among older releases and new stuff to keep me pretty engaged.