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Backlog. The word alone makes me uneasy. In a day and age full of steam sales and deals like Playstation Plus, it’s easy to accumulate a large sum of games that may never even be touched. For me, my backlog is a daunting thing. A task that needs to be completed. The idea of that makes me a bit melancholy. When did playing video games turn into something other than enjoyment? Why should I be stressed about which game to play next? My massive backlog is what made me realize I was playing games for the wrong reasons. I started viewing them as another part of the daily schedule I needed to push through. Homework, chores, class, those are all things I have to do everyday, but somehow, my time with video games became another job to me. The reason I loved playing video games in the first place became alien to me.
I’m sure all of you understand the reason you love games. They are our escape from insecurity, from crumbling relationships, from the struggles we face in the world on a daily basis. The precious time we have in virtual worlds can be our way to blow off steam. Rodeoing Titans in Titanfall, or saving the last humans in Resogun. Those are the moments when our mind can be at peace, and forget about the anxieties of today and tomorrow. As someone who deals with chronic depression, my rounds of Conquest in Battlefield 4 are my way of forgetting the triggers in my life. Soaring off of skyscrapers, feeling the rush of bullets whiz past me, those are the moments when I am no longer grounded in reality, those are the moments when I feel free. Video games offer, to me, what no other medium can: the ability to be lost in another place. I love movies and television, don’t get me wrong. But as I watch things play out in film, my mind still strays and contemplates the things I wish to get away from. But when I play video games, I am gone. I can be whomever I want and, in some cases, do whatever I want. They are my escape, my happy place.
That is exactly why my backlog is such a sad thing to me. I look at it and think to myself: What should I play next? The thing is, I don’t ask that question with excitement for my next journey, but out of anxiety of all the games I own and want to play. Recently I have been thinking about this particular first-world dilemma of mine. I would like to think I have at least temporarily overcome it, and I am happy with myself about that. To those of you reading this whom understand where I am coming from, let me try to be of some assistance. If you keep playing games that you don’t enjoy, you’ve lost what gaming does for you. I kept playing games that critics praised because I thought: if they love it, so should I! I felt the need to finish everything I started because I needed to complete one to move on to the next. But what in the world is the point of that huge backlog but to give you options? I now play the video games I play, because I want to have that escape. I stopped playing what I thought I should play, and started playing what I wanted to play.
This may seem like a dumb problem, but to me, it means a lot. I learned a lesson about why I love video games, and I think I love them even more for it.