The Steam Sale is over. Over those crazy two weeks, gamers selectively forgot their tight budgets, ignored the poor ratings of cheaper games, and repeatedly lied to themselves in that oft-repeated way: “I’ll find time to play this game.”
And then, they don’t. Life gets in the way, more exciting titles grab player’s attention, and requests from friends to play the latest multiplayer fad all work together to ensure that every game bought during Steam Sales stays at an embarrassingly low “# HOURS PLAYED,” or even remains uninstalled for several months.
It’s time to clean out your Library. Tell your DayZ friends to carry on without you, tell your wife you love her, lock yourself in your room and use my super effective strategy guide to finally wipe the floor with every end-game boss you’ve left waiting all this time.
The ultimate first-world problem: “I have so many video games on Steam, it’s a daunting task deciding which one to play next.” Steam has a fix for this. Enter your Steam Library and switch the View mode in the top-right to either the first or second option. Now, look down your list and find a game you haven’t beaten yet. Right-click it, and select “Add to Favorites.” This will put the game in a section on its own, right at the top of the list where you can’t help but see it.
Go through your library, and add every game you have not beaten to that Favorites list of shame.
Step 2: Narrow it Down
Real talk: If you have trouble even loading a game you purchased once, you’re going to have to be realistic about how many games you can finish in your first library-cleaning attempt.
The first games you should cut are the ones you have already seen the ending credits for. Speaking as a completionist myself, it’s easy to fall into the trap of promising yourself that you will, one day, collect all the Riddler trophies, fully upgrade Monteriggioni, or see everything there is to see in Skyrim. Getting your money’s worth out of the games you haven’t even picked up yet is the key right now, and trying for 100% completion will only be a distraction. Remember these games for later, when you are bored but not packing an entire library full of games you’ve never loaded up.
The second games to remove are those multiplayer dependent games. Terraria is a prime example, so are Magicka and Trine 2. These games can be experienced alone, but having a friend to play with adds an element of guilt to playing it when the whole gang isn’t there. Being able to fall back on the excuse “I will play this when Steve is available” will only enable your procrastination habit. Approach Steve sometime and outline a good time for you both to beat the game, but don’t rely on him to fill in your free time when there are single player games out there.
In advising this, I’m reminded of a part of the trailer for the upcoming movie Hope Springs. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are in couple’s counseling to spice up their marriage, and Steve Carell tells them that the next step is for them both to “seal the deal,” so to speak. They look at him like he grew a second head.
Deciding to play a game you’ve been putting off is exactly like this. If a game goes unplayed for long enough, it gains a static state of being, an unknowable in-experienceable mystery which prevents it from changing from a game you haven’t played to one you have. You know you want to play it, you put money down to get it and its purpose in existence is to entertain you, but every time you mouse over “Install” your arm jerks involuntarily to keep the mystery alive.
There are a couple ways of finally getting started. Ask a friend who has beaten the game if they enjoyed it. Invariably, they will probably say yes, and you can go forth heartened that your time won’t be wasted. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, look at the game’s price tag. Is it okay that you put that money down and let it go to waste? Probably not.
Ultimately the key is to remind yourself that no matter which game you pick, you will in all likelihood have fun. Although you may have forgotten, gaming is something you enjoy. Go wild.
Step 4: Prevent Combo Breakers
Once you’re underway, it’s important to keep the rhythm up. Some games are enormous land mines for repeated play sessions. Here’s what to avoid.
Horror games, like Dead Space and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, are best played at night, and will sometimes be too intense to pick up on consecutive sessions. Let these games get to you, and your completion journey will be over. To ease your progress, choose a secondary game to play when it’s not dark yet, or when you’re not feeling up to being scared. If you fall off the wagon, you’ll have another game to work on until the time comes when you can face your fear.
Puzzle and challenging platform games, like VVVVVV and Braid, will literally block your progress until you can solve a particular puzzle or clear a series of jumps. If you’re feeling absolutely stuck, put the game down and immediately reward yourself with an easier title. The time away from the game should clear your head, and on your return the solution will be clearer.
Lastly, it can be both a blessing and a curse that some games provide a longer experience than others. Being hooked on League of Legends or Star Wars: The Old Republic while trying to power through your entire Library or just one long title can kill momentum in a hurry. Be aware of how much time is being invested on each game, and budget your time appropriately. If a game is going to require a large time investment to beat, start playing it only when you will consistently have time to return to it.
Step 5: Profit
As your Favorites list shortens, go share your experiences! Bask in the glow of finally understanding why “Space!” is funny, or go about being patronizing to people who enjoyed Deus Ex: Human Revolution without playing the ’00 original. /r/IJustPlayed on Reddit is a good place to talk about games that aren’t brand new. And, if you can keep up your Library maintenance, by the time the December sale rolls around you’ll have plenty of room for even more games!