Clearing out a backlog takes some serious discipline. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people that the first step towards clearing one out should be to catalog your games, and then determine which ones to beat first. Besides giving you a central location from which to manage your game collection, a well-organized backlog will also allow you to track your progress and give you a clearer picture how far you have to go before you reach your goals.
Thankfully, there are lots of tools already out there to help you out. Here is a list of six websites I frequently find myself visiting as I clear out my backlog:
- Backloggery – This is the site I use to catalog and track all of my games. It’s fairly simple as far as interfaces go – the site has no real main page, only the profiles of its thousands of users. You add games to your profile and categorize them as “Unbeaten”, “Beaten”, and “Completed”. It then sorts the games on your profile page by platform, though you can customize some things such as achievement counts, ownership status (owned, borrowed, lost), and even provide little mini reviews of the games you beat. At its core its still a tracking tool, so you’ll have to update your progress on everything manually, but its simplicity and flexibility are what make it a such a convenient site.
- How Long to Beat – An indispensable tool for any backlogger, How Long to Beat tells you how long it will probably take to finish a game, as reported by other gamers. The site is a wonderful way to determine which games to beat next, as you can schedule your games around how much free time you anticipate having in the next week or month. Registered users can also utilize its powerful game cataloging tools, which compiles a ton of data on your playing habits and allows you to contribute stats to the site. If you’re looking for quick and simple, Backloggery would be my suggestion for logging you games, but if you’ve got a fetish for numbers and statistics, this site was meant for you.
- Good Old Games – Chances are almost certain that one of the games on your backlog will simply no longer be playable. Maybe it’s no longer compatible with modern PCs. Or maybe the controls are too frustrating to deal with on is original platform. Or maybe your old console simply doesn’t work anymore. In any case, head on over to Good Old Games, where you can buy ready-out-of-the-box PC ports of many old (and new) PC and console games. No gimmicks or fixes – these babies will work without needing to deal with patches, emulators, or mods (though some games do come packaged with extra fanmade mods or fixes in order to fix common errors or to enhance game play). Hell, if I might show a little bias, I would actually recommend the GoG version of many games over their originals. The power and flexibility of PC ports really make for a much more pleasant experience over their old-school or console counterparts.
- Steam Completionist – A convenient, if overlooked tool for tracking which Steam games you’ve beaten. You actually log in using your Steam ID, and site automatically lists all of the games tied to your account. The site has a barebones interface and allows you to mark your games as unplayed, playing, beaten, or blacklisted. You can also keep track of how long you’ve played each game, and what percentage of the achievements you’ve gotten for each of them. If you click the stats button, you can also see some interesting statistics about Steam’s most and least played games.
- CoolRoms – I’ll admit we’re venturing into a legally gray area here, but if Good Old Games fails you, chances are you can find a decent ROM and supported emulator for it on CoolRoms. You can find a ROM for just about any game here, especially most retro titles from the 80s and 90s. I am explicitly stating here that I cannot vouch for the legality of what they do, so download at your own risk. In fact, I don’t even want to link to it. Google it yourself if you need to. Likewise, please be extra careful when downloading their games. Although they’re free of viruses to the best of my knowledge, they will also try to get you to install a ton of crapware on your computer during the installations. Read those installations steps carefully!
- A Google Docs Spreadsheet – Simple yet effective, it really doesn’t get much more hands on than this. Though rudimentary, many gamers I know use a good ol’ digital spreadsheet to catalog their games. It’s simple and easy to customize, and can contain as many details as you would prefer. I recommended Google Docs for its flexibility and ubiquitousness, but you can use just about any flavor of spreadsheet you prefer. Either way, the old-school pen and paper route is still an attractive option for tracking a backlog – or any colleciton, for that matter.