Archive for January, 2012

Five Years of Stack

The fifth anniversary of this blog’s beginning has come and passed, and so I think it’s time to take a look at where we’ve come with this little project so far. In significant ways, it’s been a failure.

One of the purposes of this blog was to motivate me to play all of the games I had accumulated over the years and never finished. Well, I started off with “just over 300 games” on my stack, and there are now just over 400. The Oath which was to see to the reduction of this number has a flaw: it allows me to count multiple titles purchased as a unit as a single purchase. I hadn’t supposed this would be a large factor when I framed the Oath, because compilation packages of this sort were seldom issued for anything other than major series, and there were only so many of those that I had any interest in. But somewhere along the line I decided it applied to any package deal on Steam or elsewhere, and that has become my dominant game-buying mode — it’s rare that I buy a game alone. Furthermore, I’m loath to close this loophole, because that would limit my access to those indie bundles I adore so.

But reducing the size of the Stack was really only a pretext all along, as the About page that I wrote five years ago acknowledges: “So really, this whole exercise is an excuse to play a bunch of old games and examine them in detail from today’s perspective.” But it’s getting to be more and more of a failure in that regard as well. Excluding the IF Comp, this year’s blogging covers nearly fifty games to various degrees of detail. Of those, only six were ones that I owned before starting the blog (and two of those remain unfinished). The Oath encourages me to prefer shorter games that I can finish quickly, and newer titles are more likely to fit that description than the ones that have managed to stay on the Stack for a decade.

If the Oath is failing me, it’s only fair, because I’ve been failing the Oath. Late posts have become the norm rather than the exception. Typically what happens is: I feel like gaming but not writing, so I try to cram as much game into a 24-hour period as I can in order to maximize the gaming/writing ratio. When I’m done, I haven’t left enough time to do the writing that I still don’t feel like, so I push it out to the next day, or further. If I’ve finished the game in the process, I feel like I have to summarize the entire experience in a single post, which is a difficult enough task that I procrastinate. If I haven’t finished the game, I feel like I can’t play it again until I’ve written something. Either way, it’s hurting my ability to finish games and write interesting commentary about them.

So, after five years, it’s time for a change. For the last week, I’ve completely abandoned the Oath and played freely, and I intend to continue in this state until at least the end of January while I contemplate what to replace it with. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t be blogging — I have some thoughts I’d like to share about Solar 2 and Terraria already — but it does mean that I won’t be pretending to myself that I’m obliged to do so. I have only room in my head for so many obligations, and it’s time I tended to the real ones a little better. If I’m lucky, maybe it’ll turn out that I can blog without an Oath at all.