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Devil's Advocate: Cheating My Way Through a Backlog


For years I never looked at longplays plays as more than a distraction. A quick way to get a feel for how a game plays, relive the memory of a game that I no longer had access to or to catch up on some long-forgotten story details through cutscenes and dialog. A handy tool but nothing more.

For years I had an extensive backlog that spread across dozens of consoles and hundreds of games. I could remember the excitement I had when going through different "Top 100" games of all time lists, eagerly soaking in the details on what made each game memorable and excitedly making a list of all of these games I would complete during the next few years.

As an adult almost in his thirties, with the ever demanding call of responsibility and social activity, its come to the point where I admit to myself that I will never finish my backlog. A backlog that has only grown larger as the years have gone on into a monstrous shadow that stands in the background, mocking my feeble attempts to be a completionist and maintain my daily demands.

Suddenly, those longplays that I turned my nose up at before, the thing that no "true" gamer would resort to are suddenly my way to cheat through my backlog. a small part of my dies each time where I mentally mark a game off my list, but the part of me that has yearned for closure since high school breathes a baited sign of relief.

Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of RPGS. I admire their stories, lore and characters but the sheer commitment that it takes to complete one of these beasts is simply too much for me to commit to. Combine that with older titles where the turn-based gameplay and need to grind for leveling turns me off even more. I can fully admit that gameplay wise, RPGs aren't really for me, but for everything else, they're something that I always wanted to experience.

For years I kept a list of RPGs that I told myself I would one day play.

"Once you finish your other games, you'll finish these," I naively told myself.

The years went on and the games piled up. Compared to other titles on my backlog, the RPG stack was always the highest and while a few would occasionally find their way to completion, most would sit and collect digital dust.

Once I started watching longplays of older RPGs (such as Phantasy Star for Sega Master System) I found myself taking on a different role in examining this classic. Sure I'm not experiencing it in the way it was meant to, but in all honestly, how much does it lose? The story is kept to a minimum and a vast majority is exploring similar looking dungeons and overworlds. If I can experience the music, dialog, and plot while understanding how combat works, isn't this a similar experience?

The old me might have said no, that to truly experience the highs and lows of a game, you must play it. This old me also had no idea the time sink jobs, family and other things have on a hobby that slowly gets less time in the spotlight as we grow older. There are some games that I feel I cannot do this with and some games that I feel must always be experienced, but for someone who is interested in everything but the actual gameplay, this more than satisfies that itch to explore games on a backlog that otherwise, would not get their fair time to shine.

I'm sure for some, this is a sign that its time to turn in my proverbial gamer card, but for me, this digest version stands as a satisfactory way to satisfy that curiosity. Am I proud to admit this? Not really. Do I recommend this method to others? If you're like me, yes I do.

Just for an FYI: When I say longplays I mean full playthroughs with no comentary. I don't really watch letsplays. Nothing takes you out of an experience than some guy screaming over game footage. 

- Thanks for reading! For weekly streams on retro and weird video games, please follow me on Twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/mrkn1v3s.

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About Mr Knivesone of us since 4:32 PM on 10.03.2011

I was a writer, reporter, and language editor for a localization company in South Korea. Now I'm back in the good ole US of A working as a writer/editor/photographer. A lover of old-school FPS games, obscure arcade deep cuts, the Metal Gear series, and general shenanigans.

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