Game Pile: the 2023 State Of The Pile


Is the Game Pile?

For those unfamiliar, the Game Pile is a feature on this blog. It’s a column. It’s a weekly project. It is a war on the idea of a backlog. It’s an excuse to talk about whatever I want with a game as a feature. It’s a behavioural practice that I use to make sure this blog is not just twelve games back to back in a streak when I play them. And it’s a physical, tangible, thing.

I started using ‘game pile’ to refer to my games collection. This was originally because it was spread across my Steam collection, and some Good Old Games (remember when that was their name?), and some Humble Bundle games. I thought about it as a sort of form of the backloggery; that I’d play a game, and then write about it, in a purest diary sense. Some of my earliest Game Pile articles are microscopic, meaninglessly tiny examinations of games well before I got my dial in on how much time I spent on writing about games. Back when I started, I very much imagined this blog would be a gateway to working for a paid website selling my writing, ala a games Journalist.

Ironically, I think I was thinking of myself as following a path a bit like Ben Croshaw, which.

Huh, big news on that front this year.

Anyway, you ever wonder ‘what is the Game Pile? What’s the size? Is there progress in it?’

And sort of.

When I started on the Game Pile I didn’t start by tracking them. A few years into the pile’s progress, I started using the category and tag system on my Steam account to sort things out. That is where I focused my attention to, tracking my used numbers on Steam for a long time thinking of that as ‘finishing the Game Pile.’  That number was the one I was trying to get to ‘go up.’ At some point I also imagined that my gog collection was ‘pretty much done,’ because I had it in my head that it was all stuff I ownd historically, and all I was doing was validating that collection.

Sometime in 2019, I realised that I had crossed a threshold of games marked ‘complete’ on my steam account. That is, half of my collection was done and the other half was not. That’s also when I first attempted a major audit of the Game Pile and found that to my irritation, a number of the things I had ‘in the pile’ had literally expired. One game, I only had a Desura code for, not a Steam code, and if you’re not aware, Desura has been shut down since 2016. There’s a new thing called Desura around, but it ain’t the same service and I doubt they accept the same codes.

Anyway, Steam progress was ‘progress’ in my mind for a long time. When I had half of that done, part of me thought it was time to gather some kind of list of them and maybe see if any deserved some kind of recognition, any deeper examination. And that’s when I realised that through that time, my gog collection had ballooned to two hundred and fifty games – which meant that my entire Steam collection’s remaining total was about a third of what I had left to go.

Then also woven into that, another, new challenge: Itch.

I had grabbed bundles on itch. I had bought the Bundle for Ukraine, I had bought the Bundle for Palestinian Aid, and the Bundle for Racial Equality. Of these bundles, a lot of things are redundant, but the smallest of those bundles is a thousand titles. The largest is over 1700 titles. Now, if we assume they’re entirely redundant, my entire Steam collection and gog collection are smaller than my Itch collection. Then I got into board games and card games, which meant that I now have a shelf full of physical games, some of which are only going to live in my house until the next convention and I get to send it away at speed, having had my fun with it and wanting to make sure I have room in my house. The Pile has been played but it hasn’t meaningfully gotten smaller.

Well, the rate of growth has diminished I guess.

With that comes the question: So what?

The game pile got its start with an idea that I would play all the games that had been bought for me as a gift. And I did, and I tried my best to enjoy all of them. I kept my wishlist full because I wanted to make sure people weren’t at a loss for what to get me, then I had no idea what to do with it when people bought me things that were on my wishlist. I still maintain a wishlist, because, y’know, it’s worth it to at least makes ure I don’t forget about games I may one day want to come back to, but right now, I don’t need new games.  Even now, the games I want to buy and play are sometimes years old; buying indie games when they’re new is a nice gesture to support people who I think are cool, but not actually like I’m going to play the game any time soon.

The Game Pile articles on the blog at the moment number about 457. This is not without redundancy though, with some games like Wingspan and Carrion getting multiple articles. First there was a text article, then there was a video article. Making videos out of text articles is interesting because, well, first of all, it’s just a good accessibility feature. People who might otherwise not read the article (and I know I have some fans) appreciate having a video that delivers the thousand words in a video form. I don’t know if there’s multiple strands of my audience, per se, but I do think about those videos  and how easy they are to make.

But I also think that I need to stop acting like purchases, gifts that were given to me, are a kind of duty. I’m not obligated to wear the socks I was given every time I can. People buy gifts to give gifts, they don’t buy gifts to buy my behaviour.

The most notable thing about the pile going forward is that I don’t intend to play a game a week any more. I intend to make a Game Pile article every week, sure, but the notion that it needs to be current, and I need to relate at all to anything currently happening is silly. And the itch warehouse of games is thousands of games deep – and they just as much deserve attention as whatever Far Cry game is on my mind because I had fun playing it.

The Game Pile is just a loose association, a sort of rough agglomeration. And now, looking at it fairly, it’s mostly weird fun indie junk. There are articles I want to go back to and fix up, and there’s stuff I want to make more approachable, easier to experience.

So I’m going to.

At the moment, the Game Pile on Steam is about 50/50, and everywhere else, it’s who knows/how dare.