3/366 – I Have A Problem And It’s Called The Steam Games Elephant

Man-And-Elephant-Howling-Together-Funny-PictureTwice a year, I realize I have a disturbing problem on my hands.

Problems typically suck. They muscle their way into your regular routine, muck it up, and proceed to make themselves at home until you get rid of them or they wreak havoc on you like an unwelcome houseguest.

Problems typically suck more if you see them coming and they’re scheduled. Why? Because if you know that a problem is going to show up, you start dreading it.

You start thinking of all the things that could go wrong with the problem arrives.

You start thinking of all the things you could have done to prevent the problem.

You start planning for the inevitable, and sometimes if you’re just a little too panicky about it, that planning becomes sloppy and you get immediately run over by it.

I call such scheduled problems Elephants, because Elephants are huge and unwieldy and when they tend to rampage they make a ton of noise and any humans in the way typically don’t do very well. Nobody really talks about elephant related injuries to humans. Why? Because usually describing such injuries usually involves humans with snapped bones or being made into unpleasant paste. Unpleasant paste typically doesn’t make for very happy news.

The rampaging Elephant problem that pops in just in time to remind me around Summer and Winter looks something like this:

Steam games backlog. The great and terrible shamefest of any gamer whose taken advantage of Steam’s twice-a-year mass infusion of revenue they call the Summer and Winter sales.

Now, I don’t blame Steam or Valve for this. After all, the sheer number and variety of games that typically go on sale from Steam range from the new to the old, the light and the heavy, the easy to the soul-crushingly difficult – there’s something for everyone in most Steam sales if you open your wallet.

I also can’t really blame tech or the internet. Aside from the fact that my occupation inevitably is tied to both of these things, it’s just the inevitable march of these being attached to greater convenience. Years ago you had to actually brave the elements, the traffic, and the pretty-damn-high resolution of graphics they call the outside in order to take advantage of games sales. Not so anymore. In this age of “I did my Christmas shopping all on Amazon” all you have to do is sip your drink of choice, sit back in your computer chair and watch yourself somehow buy 10 copies of Magicka and 4 “franchise” bundles without realizing you have most of the games in the bundle.

When I’ve purchased things through the Steam sale I usually have the intention of playing them. Usually. My process goes a little something like:

  • futurama-steam-sale-robbedDeny the fact that I have a Steam games elephant of backlog because there’s a new shiny on sale for less than $10.
  • Get upset at myself after opening my Steam library for having x number of games under 10 dollars that I haven’t played
  • Bargain that if I buy this game then I’m getting my money’s worth for it being on sale and commit mightily to playing it.
  • Purchase the game so I won’t be sad at letting go of such a good deal
  • ???/ERROR FILE NOT FOUND
  • Wonder why I have a backlog of games to play but inevitably accept I have one.

I feel like one of these days I’ll get around to figuring out the “???” part, but I have suspicions that it has something to do with pesky things such as work, spending time with family or friends, or trying obsessively to 100% complete some other game I paid full price for (in my current situation, it’s Fallout 4, damn you endless Minutemen missions). I suppose if it’s any comfort, I don’t usually spend money I don’t have on Steam stuff and much of what I do purchase is usually less than $15 dollars and single games (I’m usually safe from bundles, though their have been moments of weakness, such as buying all of the Witcher saga including the terribly clunky first game).

Someday I feel like if I really commit to it I’ll get past the first hour of Life is Strange, stop fiddling with my choices in Telltale’s Game of Thrones and actually pick up Magicka and not get weirded out by its $2.49 graphics, among other things. Until then, however, I feel like with 60+ games I haven’t gotten through from Steam sales I’m a cautionary, Elephant-shaped tale about purchasing too much before finishing what I have.

Don’t be me. Don’t get the Steam backlog Elephant, finish your games, and only purchase the ones you feel like you’re gonna be playing in the next two weeks. You’ll thank me later.

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