Man, the Internet is huge. There is so much content out there, and not nearly enough time to check out every context-devoid recommendation link you see in your Twitter feed, or Tumblr Roll, or whatever it’s called. “I favorited a YouTube video!” “OMG CLICK THIS SO FUNNY,” or even just a naked link in complete gibberish…is this really the best way to share the good stuff with your friends? The Irreverencia says no. We can do better! Every Thursday, @demoversi can tell you what’s worth your precious Internet time…And Here’s Why.
I regret to inform you that this week’s And Here’s Why has a fairly good chance to not lure you. The subject at hand is meant for a specific demographic: gamers. Not just people who play video games, as I would guess most people reading this do, but the people who have incorporated the hobby of playing games into their life to the extent that it becomes a necessary facet of their identity. For some people, “Would you be a different person if you had never played a video game?” is laughably easy…whether you would, or wouldn’t. For some, it may be a subject worth some thought. No judgment, either way. Just setting the stage.
Me, I am a gamer. This comes with some unpleasant associations; this subculture hasn’t really been nearly as open or progressive as we’d like to think. The loudest of us are complete dickheels, and have earned us a reputation for being misogynistic, arrogant, unhealthy, sun-fearing, socially inept trolls, whose idea of a good time is to repeatedly shove a digital crotch into another person’s point of view. Even the most naive of gamer advocates surely must recognize that this stereotype gets propogated more than we’d like. Being a blight on humanity, however, is not the defining characteristic of a gamer. Neither is simply playing games, for that matter. Being a gamer is being part of a culture where games are a necessary part of communication, social interaction, and mutual understanding.
My perspective isn’t as happy-go-lucky as you might expect from a life-long gamer. I’ve weathered a great deal of suffering because of video games, and they’ve cost me a LOT over the years. Not just money, but time…and health, and people. Conversely, video games have given a lot back; comraderie, culture, and FUN. This culture (and the prices one pays to be part of it) hasn’t always been kind to me…but I cannot imagine what my life would be like without them. Without games, and the culture shared through them, I would never be able to Darmok Jalad Tanagra the way I do now. Ashton, dragons on his back.
All that being said, if you feel any attachment to the word gamer, you should get yourself a Backloggery. And here’s why.
The Backloggery is a website designed to help gamers keep track of their games. That doesn’t sound particularly impressive at first, until you cast your gaze upon your own collection. Oh, go on; take a look at your games. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that your shelves are a mess. A few of you are noticing that they’re no longer alphabetized, and are quickly shuffling them around to be more aesthetically pleasing to you. Heh. YOU are exactly the kind of person who needs this site. You’ve accumulated games over the years, but never gotten around to finishing most of them. Some are punishingly difficult, some are too disappointing to stomach, and some are just really, really annoyingly bad. Even so, they grate on you. You never beat them; therefore, they’ve beaten you. And you HATE that.
…Or maybe I’m externalizing. Why the hell did I buy Ephemeral Fantasia? I KNEW it was bad.
Anyway, the Backloggery totally helps with this kind of feeling. It’s kind of like a database for all your games, and how far you’ve gotten through them. Upon making an account (which is free), you begin to enter your games. All your games. I found it to be strangely liberating and empowering to update my list for the first time, three and a half years ago. It gave me a bizarre feeling of agency over a hobby that generally just flows through my life without direction. I would play games on a whim, or to grab an achievement, but I would rarely dive into a game I had purchased but not completed. I had a very bad habit of acquiring lots of games on the cheap, but then abandoning them if they didn’t grip me right away. Let’s put it this way: on my own Backloggery, I have an unfinished game percentile of over 75%. I have beaten less than a quarter of the total games I own! That’s quite a backlog. (Backlog? Backloggery? OMG IT MAKES SENSE!!) Being able to look at a cross-section of all my games, by system and completion status, brings new life to my old acquisitions. One particular feature, the Fortune Cookie, suggests a random game from some parameters than you can customize. I love this feature, and though I ignore its suggestions most of the time (NO, Fortune Cookie, I will not play Chulip! Stop suggesting it!), it still frequently gives me new inspiration to play old games, or a nostalgic rush even if I choose not to.
Speaking of systems, the Backloggery is..let’s call it “comprehensive.” To put it bluntly, there are more systems on the Backloggery than you will ever PLAY, let alone own. You may have played some rare systems in your time; I think I even used a Virtual Boy…once. In the grand scheme of things, though? The Virtual Boy is common knowledge. I had never even HEARD of the Acorn Archimedes before. Had you? If so, then you are the guy who does Lazy Game Reviews, and you KNOW you’re in the minority, dude.
There’s a social element to The Backloggery that I regretably can’t comment too much on. There is a feature called the Multitap (a nice reference) that allows you to stay updated on your friends’ activity, but I know very few people who actively use The Backloggery. The site is fairly easy to forget about if you don’t have it bookmarked in an obvious location. I just added mine to my Firefox quick links, and have immediately noticed myself going there more frequently. Aside from the Multitap, the most useful social tool The Backloggery offers is a Forum Signature. This is a very cool feature; it stays updated with the games you are currently playing (if you remember to check the “now playing” box) and is very stylistic. I don’t use this feature, as I don’t like forums all that much; however, I LOVE this feature, because, well, that’s how I discovered the site in the first place. Someone was using a forum sig that looked cool as hell, so I clicked it. Your mileage may vary, as I obviously prove; I don’t use the feature at all…but it IS pretty sweet.
I can safely say that updating my Backloggery is EASILY the most fun I’ve ever had while doing data entry. Low bar, that. Still, realize that I run a website more or less dedicated to myself. The Irreverencia is among the most grand forms of egotism I’ve ever rocked, complete with an extremely flattering portrait of me at the top of every screen. I had to add a lot of articles and videos, and ensure that each had the proper stubs, tags, social network integrations, and all that. That’s all data entry, and it’s kind of a pain in the ass. Updating Backloggery, though, is very simple, and brings a dose of joy with each new addition. Every game I add is either an accomplishment to shout, or a quest I have yet to finish. It’s a strange feeling, to have the act of listing items bring validity to a chosen hobby.
“Validity” may actually be the most important concept, when considering both the Backloggery and video games as a whole. Let’s not mince words; video games can be a massive waste of time. I myself have lost weeks…probably MONTHS of my life to video games. Sure, there are some good reasons to play them…stress relief, social gatherings, competition…but there are also bad reasons. Depression. Isolation. Addiction, though that term can be argued to be questionable. To someone deep in the culture, who has already lost more time than they could possibly realize, the shock can be…I hesitate to say “devastating,” but it can wreck you something fierce. It certainly did to me. There’s no way to recapture that lost time, but there ARE ways to retroactively make the time closer to “well-spent” than “lost.” The two ways I’ve found to justify my wasted youth/adolescene/adulthood have been to a) try to learn what I can from every bit of media I’ve ever experienced, and b) categorize and list the time spent, as a memorial to my time and a monument to my accomplishments. Mastering the Infinite Stair Glitch in Mario 64 may be trivial in the grand scheme of things, but I can still impress people at parties, should they bust out the old Project Reality.
…Did Nintendo really call it that? Jeebus. The more you know, right? In retrospect, the hubris is hilarious.
You might LOVE The Backloggery if:
-You have amassed a huge collection of games over the years and want to see a full list
-You are social on the internet and want to share your collection and stats with your followers
-You buy a lot of games on Steam when they’re like 80% off but you never play them
-You simply love lists and want a good place to display your video games
-You are trying to cut back on spending and want to remember what you already own
I personally love The Backloggery, and want to share that with all of you. If you get one, feel free to add me to your Multitap, if you want to stay appraised with what I’m playing and why!