The Problems of Being a Polygamous Gamer

BioShock Infinite… toward the beginning. A long time ago.

As much as I love games, sometimes I just run out of time to play. Recently, I went almost two weeks without gaming, which would have been more torturous had I not been on vacation. And with desirable games coming out at least twice a month for me, I have trouble keeping up with them all.

I understand some people play only a single game at a time. They spend a solid week or two navigating that game from start to finish, and then they set the game on their “beat” shelf and move on to the next game. It’s an orderly, efficient system. It must feel good to be so skilled at finishing games like that.

There’s a part of me that would love to do that too, but I’m too distracted by old games. Sure, I’ll play BioShock Infinite the day it’s released, but later that week, I want to dive back into Mass Effect 2, just because I can and I love it and stuff.

Mass Effect 2. Why do I keep replaying this when I have so many other games to play?
Oh, Mass Effect 2. Why do I keep replaying this when I have so many other games?

So I’m playing two games at once. And then, two weeks later, I get a gift card to a video game store and purchase the Tomb Raider reboot. And I forgot that I bought Skyrim a few weeks ago to start a new playthrough of it, which has been sorely neglected ever since. Not only that, but I also have to keep a game going on my Nintendo 3DS, and that game is currently Fire Emblem: Awakening.

So let’s fast forward to when I have a few hours to myself, which I designate as gaming time. What do I play first? The sheer number of choices is overwhelming, and my Steam library is getting fat, fast.

Fortunately, I don’t have trouble keeping the storylines straight when I play several games at once, but my progress in each slows to a crawl. Didn’t I just say I purchased and launched BioShock Infinite as soon as it was released? Well, that was in March, and I only just finished the game a couple weeks ago. All that chatter about the mind-blowing ending was left unseen; I caught up on blog posts discussing it just last week, but it felt too late to participate in any of the comment box conversations.

I’m just way too behind.

Balancing acts and stuff.
Balancing acts and stuff.

I’m still working my way through Tomb Raider. There are several other new games that I want to play but won’t get around to until later this summer. I probably won’t pick up The Last of Us for a few months, simply because I have so many other games that take priority for me, personally.

But the problems I have with my gaming backlog make me wonder if I’m handling all of this right. Instead of scattering myself across several games at once, it would be so much more efficient to pick just one game and be monogamous to it. Because when I finished BioShock Infinite last month, I felt so satisfied… and then I wondered why I didn’t finish it ages ago, like normal gamers do. Or maybe every game has this problem sometimes.

Then I remember. Not finishing it sooner had something to do with Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC, a new playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins, my reviews for Population GO, my neverending questing in Fire Emblem: Awakening, the new Tomb Raider… and, deep down, the fact that a part of me never wants to say good bye to a good thing.

— Ashley

27 thoughts on “The Problems of Being a Polygamous Gamer”

  1. I can completely relate the amount of times that I have played through mass effect I’m a little obsessed with mass effect. It can be difficult to play just one game I got resident evil revelations when it came out and still haven’t gotten round to playing it great post….

    1. Yeah, Mass Effect seems to be a “problem” for a lot of people! Glad to hear you like it so much too. =) I haven’t played Resident Evil Revelations yet either, but it’s lower on my list than some other games that have been coming out lately.

  2. I know what you mean, I always have at least 2 games I’m playing and recently it seems to have exploded on me. That’s a bit odd considering we’re entering the summer drought.

    Actually, for us, that may be a good thing. Now you’ll get some time to catch up on your backlog and hopefully be refreshed and ready for what will be a whirlwind fall/winter

    1. That’s a good point. Let’s hope things calm down enough this summer for us to catch up! Kind of a funny thing to hope for, but I agree with you there… And vacation time helps too. I game a lot when I have time off but am home for it.

  3. Yup, I have a similar problem, when you have a few games you want to play there is always that pull while your playing one game, you actually start to want to play the other.

      1. oh yeah definitely. Happens to me a lot when im trying to get into an RPG, Mass Effect was bad for this because I kept replaying the game for the achievements (must have completed it 5+ times) and my head kept telling me to play something else… anything! ;)

  4. It’s funny how quick games can pile up on you without you even being aware of it. When I started gaming a long time ago, I didn’t think it’d be this hard to catch up/finish games. I naively thought, “Well, there’s only a few games I want to play. I’m not going to want to buy X amount of games like my friends do.” Lo and behold, I end up eating those words immediately.

    When there’s a sale on Amazon, Newegg, etc. of a game I’ve heard of and was thinking of playing I buy it. When my birthday and Christmas rolls around, friends keep adding to my backlog by giving me games as gifts. Before I knew it, I’m accumulating a huge stack of games. Pretty soon it’ll reflect the stack of mangas I have in my room! It’s really hard to focus on one game. I also realize that when I choose a game to play, it depends on what I’m in the mood for. :)

    1. You’re right, games can really pile up until it’s a little overwhelming to choose between them all! I was like you when I started gaming, where I didn’t think I’d play THAT many games… and then I got a little addicted. And I’m a sucker for sales too!

      I think you’re right that it’s best to pick games when you’re in the mood for them. Sometimes I’m lucky and get sucked into a game that’s new and that everybody is talking about, so I can jump in on discussions too. Other times, I’m just in the mood to play an old favorite for days on end, even though I’m leaving my backlog to pile up some more in the meantime!

  5. I’m the same way. I still have not finished: Skyrim (even though I bought the DLC and played each time I got distracted again), Halo 4, Black Ops II, Battlefield 3 (I was playing the campaign at one point), Arkham Asylum, Arkham City (own both, finished neither)… the list goes on. To make matters worse I just started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic again, so the time I might have used to play one of those other games I find myself stuck in that. The Steam Summer sale is only going to make matters worse :/

    I won’t be finishing anything before the Xbox One comes out I’m sure.

    1. Oh yeah, games like Skyrim and those MMOs are killers because they never seem to end! I forgot to mention in this post that I’m ALSO working through KOTOR and KOTOR 2… so there’s more games. There are always more games.

      You’re totally right about the Steam sales too. They are going to make my backlog even crazier! Good luck to you on finishing some games this year… =)

  6. Haha. I was very curious to see what this would be about, given the title.

    I’m pretty monogamous. Maybe in the 1940’s fashion, where I have a multiplayer-only mistress on the side of whatever single-player game I’m steady with. But by and large I’m an “obsess over one thing for a couple days or weeks and then move on” person.

    And honestly, I don’t envy your situation at all. I guess it probably helps that you play a lot more open-ended or role-playing games, which aren’t so driven by narrative. For me, intermingling or interrupting the story for an extended period of time just feels…wrong. Suspended for too long, I actually lose my desire to get back into it, which is why there are a few really long games that I’ve played through MOST of but have never completed; life got in the way, and the connection was severed.

    On the other hand, I think I probably save money. For example, I assumed I would want to be playing the latest Gears of War, but I decided to hold off until I had finished Tomb Raider and Infinite. And then time went by, and I realized I would be just as happy NOT playing Judgment at all, and there were sixty dollars saved. Had I bought it, I might have played it a little, but the other games (and playing Borderlands on the side with a friend) would have still been my focus, and it eventually would have been a waste of money.


    All I know is that your current style led you to write a blog lamenting how overwhelmed you are and questioning whether you may be missing out on a sense of fulfillment that other gamers get regularly. As one of those other gamers, I have no problems to write a blog about. Take that as you will :P

    1. I’m going to take this as advice, because I need it! I would love to start finishing games in a timely manner. It’s a satisfying feeling that’s just much too rare for me.

      That’s a really good point about saving money by not overdoing it with too many games at once. And I agree with you that it can be difficult to get back into a game after a long break, especially if it’s story-driven. I’m fairly good at picking up where I left off, but when I get a rush from a story, I do try to ride it out by playing lots, before I lose steam. (It’s funny, that’s how I am with creative writing, too.)

      So okay. My new gaming goal is to play no more than 2 games at a time. One thing I DO like about playing more than one game at once is that I have choices to suit my current mood, etc. Maybe that’s like you with the multiplayer option on the side. =)

      1. Possibly :)

        I guess it depends. I haven’t been much of a reader lately (though with grad school, I guess that’s about to change REAL fast). When I pleasure read I tend to have one fiction book and one non-fiction book going, or perhaps one “serious” book and one more frivolous. I think that could probably work well for games too; totally different kinds of games probably won’t even feel like they’re intruding on one another, and while you’re actively involved in both, your focus shifts depending on your mood.

  7. I usually play a few games at a time too. And I often replay old games instead of new ones or rewatch old shows despite stuff piling up on my DVR (because sometimes the ones you’ve already beat/watched are just better). Every once in a while I will be excited enough for/into a game enough that I will just whip through it in a few days or a week, but that is rare these days. So I see where you are coming from. I don’t see how you could wait to get The Last of Us though. Madness!

    1. Yeah, it’s those old favorites that are so tempting. I don’t get like that as much with shows, but I definitely do with games. I agree with you about occasionally getting really excited by a new game and ripping through it, but it’s rare, as you said — maybe just twice a year or so for me.

      Ohhhh The Last of Us. Once I get back into console gaming this summer, I might buy it. Maybe. It does look amazing, but it’s just not my style. I’m not into that type of post-apocalyptic story. And when this game ends up being Game of the Year, I’m going to regret saying all this… =)

  8. I prefer to be a monogamous gamer, but reviewing games has caused me to cheat a bit. I won’t play them at the same time, though. For instance, I’ve been playing through the ME Trilogy the last 2-3 weeks. I just started ME3, but I’m putting it down until I’m done playing and reviewing Remember Me and The Last of Us.

    1. Ah, that makes sense. I do that quite a bit too. I’ll set down a game to play through another, particularly for a Pop GO review or something… but most of the time I end up bouncing back and forth between them before finishing either. That’s the problem I need to overcome!

      I can’t wait to read your reviews of those games. I’ll be reviewing Remember Me for Pop GO as well, so it’ll be interesting to compare notes.

      1. That will be interesting to compare notes again! Are you playing on 360 or PC? My review should be up Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

  9. I feel your pain ^_^ I have a rule of Not buying a sequel until I’ve finished the one before it, and luckily with my lack of time for gaming it usually means it’s a more reasonable price by the time I get to it ^_^ *Silver lining*

    1. That’s a great point about saving money once the price drops. I don’t always stick to the sequel rule myself, but I should try that more often.

      That’s actually one of the perks of having an extensive gaming backlog: if I want a new game to play but am trying to be budget-conscious, I can always pick up something that’s a few years old on Steam. =)

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