Tips for those that are having troubles making a choice of what game to play next.

If you guys are anything like me, then you enjoy buying games with the intent of playing them now or later. A common result of that, is that you end up with a large library of games to play, and often are unsure of what to play next.

Overchoice or Choice Overload is a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options. Overchoice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyer’s decision-making process.

Here are my tips on staying focused and making decisions about what to play next. Please add your own in the comments!

1: Adopt a “Finishing Games” mentality. If you’re enjoying a game, work on finishing it before moving on. I enjoy the feeling of “going back to work” on a particularly tough game to do some more attempts at finishing it. Looking at you, retro 8-bit games. Obviously this shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule, but I find that once a game is officially completed, it really helps me to move on. You can put the game away, and look towards a new title to get engrossed in. This is a great prevention method for the problem of being half-way through a ton of different games.

2: Keep a category in your spreadsheet (or other method of game/backlog tracking) for “Upcoming Games”. If you’re particularly excited to play a game you have, but don’t want it to get lost in the masses of your backlog, put it in a special category created for games you want to play soon. This greatly helps with paralysis of choice when you’re looking at 10 or 20, versus a couple hundred.

3: When faced with Choice Overload, try having a friend choose for you. The funny thing about Choice Overload is: the effect is actually reversed when making a decision for someone else. Having a friend choose from your “Upcoming Games” list will ensure they pick something you’re already interested in. Your friend will also likely choose something they enjoy, or have completed themselves. This will have the added benefit of giving you a good conversation topic while you play through the game.

4: Start using a good tracking or backlog tool to keep track of your completed games. Adding to that number of completed games becomes it’s own thing, and you’ll want to go back to certain games to check them off the list. I use backloggery, but there are tons of alternatives as well.

5: Use a competitive multiplayer game as filler. Find a great multiplayer game that’s “never ending” to fill in gaps in your single player gameplay. This also works great with open ended games like Minecraft or Cities: Skylines etc. I try to keep to one competitive game at a time, so I can focus on getting better at one game instead of many. This keeps it interesting for longer, as there’s always a new rank to try and attain. My current game is Rocket League, and I’ve put in over 1400 hours!

6: Play something that puts you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes what you need is a change of pace. If you find yourself looking at the list of 40 platformers you own, and wondering why you can’t make a choice, it may help to play something you’ve never gotten into. Try a rhythm game, or a genre-mix game, or maybe an art game like Mario Paint. Devil’s Crush on TG16 is a great example here. Break up that monotony.

That’s all I have for now. Good luck out there, and please add your thoughts and tips!


I saw this recently:

which helps you pick a random game per platform

source and list of games at so you could customise it to your collection.

also a couple of relevant TED talks

Really helpful couple of posts. I need to watch the first video but I think it’s largely true today, not just from the number of retro games available from the past but the sheer number of new games coming out in the future.

With so much choice, everything’s competing for attention and time more than sheer price, and I do find that focus makes game time feel more like “time well spent” over what could eventually become a slog. I guess at its worst on today’s platform that might be continually playing games for trophies or Gamerscore.

Arcade-style games or titles with a short session time are great for focus I find - you don’t feel like you have to commit to them so you’re less likely to drop them or lose interest in the long run. I’m still playing (and hopefully, getting better at) Mario Tennis Aces. And Ninja Cop was terse enough for me to want to master and complete it simultaneously.

It’s really difficult to make the choice to stick with a game when several games I want to play arrive at the same time, though. What do you usually do when that happens? Swap them out every now and again with the aim of eventually being satisfied having played each, or pick them up and focus on them individually? The answer might depend on the games and genres - though I do prefer when I used to play one game at a time, and uncover all the possibilities within the games that I liked before moving on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I had to sell my NES collection for house repairs about a year ago (650+ titles) and have been debating how I want to go about restarting it.

The cheapest, most efficient way, is to just buy someones collection or a bulk lot. I’ve come close to pulling the trigger on a couple 300+ title collections.

The other,more fun way,is to buy one title at a time,my favorites,and finish them. The rule would be I couldnt buy another game until I beat it. Most of my favorite games I would buy first I’ve beaten before (the Megamans,Castlevanias,Marios,Shatterhand,Power Blade,etc.) and it would be a fun way of motivating myself to finish them. I could also take my time and target the rarer,more uncommon titles first since it would take longer between purchases.

The problem with this method though is it would be much more expensive.

Still undecided. I almost bought a massive collection on eBay today but got outbidded at the last second.

My parallel is when I started using twitter, way back, and then one day realising that I was following so many people it had become impossible for me to read my whole timeline. It’s a bit of a shock to discover a limit of your own making like this.

Similarly, with games, I realised that I’m never going to play everything I want to. A sobering thought. So I made the decision to only play games I enjoy. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s quite liberating to be focused on fun rather than a list of games. I trust my gut on whether I’ll like a game or not. I spend less time looking at games in genres I’ve historically not enjoyed as much and I devote more time finding games along the lines of those I have enjoyed.

I struggled with this for a long time and I made a couple changes to help with it.

I set a goal for myself. For example I wanted to beat every Zelda,Metroid and Fire Emblem game so I started playing those series one at a time depending on what I felt like playing. This kept the choices down to a minimum and it really just depended on which genre of game I felt like starting next.

I removed the giant rom packs from my everdrives and instead add games to them as I want to play them.

I mostly only play games I actually own. I think the cost associated with this keeps me on track and I feel obligated to complete the game. This also helps narrow the potential games to play down to a few hundred (lol)


Great advice so far, thanks!

Having played around with emulators in the past, I knew this could be a problem. I got around it by only adding games one at a time as well. In addition, I was able to use old SD cards I had in the ~512mb range so I can’t copy a whole rom set even if I want to, also saved money not buying new cards.

I generally stick to 1-2 “adventure style” single player games, and 1-2 multiplayer or score chasing games at a time. Right now, it’s Chrono Cross and Rocket League. I generally don’t play anything else, although I may jump into SMG2 for a star or two to break things up, and may also play some Splatoon 2 on occassion.

Sticking to 2-4 games per month or even per season seems to be my capacity for videogames these days.

Really good pointers there. I sometimes struggle with this so I’ll try and get a friend’s recommendation for my next game.

The amount of times a week that I’m left paralyzed by choice is frustrating to me. What I’ve done recently is to look at the games in my backlog that I’ve been meaning to finish and organize them by how long they take to beat, using the data on the how long to beat website, and then prioritizing the games that I could beat faster to get them out of my backlog. I also have a couple of more arcade type games set aside in case I just want something quick to play but don’t want to be worried about a time sink. I did the same with my steam library as well since I just have way too many games on there but I’ve filtered it to only the games I have installed, which is around 80 games.

My spreadsheet is 278 games long but I have some pointers of my own…

  1. You don’t have to “finish” or “complete” every game.
    If you’re not enjoying it, stop playing it, take it off your list. If you ever feel like revisiting it you always can but you shouldn’t feel guilt for not playing a game you don’t enjoy.
    I recently did this for a game I spent >$100 on and while it kinda sucks that I didn’t end up enjoying all of it I still got 15 or so hours of enjoyment out of it which is pretty good.
    Treat it as “glass half full.”
  2. Make a category in your list for games you just want to “Check Out” or try briefly to see if you like it.
    This goes with #1 but it’s even lower effort. You could start a game for 20 mins and if you’re not feeling it just drop it. For example I have “DoReMi Fantasy” in that category because I heard it was good but who really knows.
    This in particular really helps to make starting a game lower effort and gives you something to try when you don’t know what you want to play.
  3. If you have a strong urge to start something just start playing.
    Even if you’re in the middle of something else, or several other games. The best time to play a game is when you’re really interested in it.
  4. Don’t track games you “finish” or “complete.”
    I was doing this from 2007 to 2012 but it really just ends up making things worse. You stop playing games for what you enjoy, you avoid playing the slow burn 50 hour games, you avoid doing another campaign of Civilization because you already “beat” it, etc etc etc.
    Especially as I’ve gotten older and have less free time I don’t need a constant reminder that I used to finish 40-50 games per year because there are really just more important things in my life now.

I’m a big fan of this rule. As a kid, I could never beat most of the games I played and that never bothered me or made me less of a fan.

As an adult, I certainly have more patience and better reflexes so I beat my games more frequently, but it’s never the “point.” I just play whatever I feel like until I beat it or it becomes unfun.

If I get at least 2 hours of genuine enjoyment for every 10 bucks I spent then I generally consider it a good purchase. It doesn’t matter if I don’t finish it. If I get even more bang for my buck, that means it’s a really great game for the price.

Time is too precious to worry about finishing games to check them off a list.

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So much this. This hobby is about having fun with your free time and the moment I stop having fun with a game I’m done with it. Pushing myself to finish something I don’t enjoy has no place in my life.

Great thread, I think we all deal with this.

this is a good thread

i already have too many games, and the everdrives made that just explode. i refuse to have access to thousands of games and feel bored!

sometimes i dive into libraries (I’m wakrind on the inclination towards a Wii dive, sitting on a lot of interesting looking things there), but my main thing is my backloggery

years back i gave myself a year to finish all the games I’d said I’d wanted to for years, and if i didn’t, accept that i was done with those experiences. it worked wonders, because i refuse to make a chore of this.

now? If I’m playing casually, i null it out. games beaten to the point that I’m done with it, barring a replay one day? mark it as complete.

that’s it. keep the ones i really wanna finish when I’m in the mood in queue (also to remind me not to buy much new stuff, haha) and call it a day. it’s been a good system for me.

related: Netflix has me wanting to finally beat the classic castlevanias next year, so here’s to that!

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Another backlogger! Added you to my friends. @fydo is a good friend of mine, and he has a backloggery page too.

Here’s mine:

I mostly started using it as a way to keep track of all the games I’ve played, but that’s proven to be way too much of a daunting task. I don’t really have the time or the inclination to add everything I’ve ever tried out.

Nowadays I use it chiefly as a tracker for games that I’ve finished, and I try to keep it as accurate as possible in that respect. I will also occasionally update what I’m currently playing, or have played in the past.

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same! i was very bored at work nearly…10 years ago? i went through system catalogs to try to put every game I’d played, of are least beat…I’m certain there’s countless coin-ops i forgot

nowadays i just add stuff i intent to finish, but keep a general collection list going here

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Rofl that sounds exactly like me… I was thinking about how cool it would be to have a complete list of everything I’ve put more than a few minutes into. I just started scribbling dozens and dozens of games into a notebook, and it went from there.

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A quick bit about avoiding fluff time from Day9.

Basically, make time for the activities or projects that you are motivated to do, but end up putting off due to mental exhaustion, or filling your free time with mindless distractions.

You’ll be more productive, and your free time will be more pleasurable and rewarding.

For parents of very young children, this will be slightly depressing, as “you time” is scant as best.

For those of you thinking about this topic in light of a New Years Resolutions to play more, I found this helpful decision tree.

Apologies if this is old news for you! :slight_smile: