The Pile of Shame and the Penny Arcade Solution


When I was a kid I would get video games only two times every year, once at Christmas and once again on my birthday. This shaped everything about my choice in games. Play time became the statistic of focus, whatever I got was going to have last me for at least 4 months so it was imperative that I could get a lot of play out of it. I looked for games that encouraged replay, multiplayer games that resembled sports more than movies, open world games that just packed in as much content as possible. I had a lot of time to fill and no money. As I got older, my situation flipped. Suddenly I found myself with the money to actually buy my own games without any time to play them. And there were plenty of opportunities to buy games. The old classics were dirt cheap at Gamestop a few years after their prime and the advent of digital distribution platforms supplied incredible discounts daily. Steam was the primary culprit with daily sales and seasonal sales offering games for 75% to 90% off. I picked up a lot of little indie jewels I never would of looked at because they only cost a dollar and you could get many AAA titles for under $10 a year after they came out. As the years went on, I slowly acquired a massive library of games through impulse purchases and bargain hunting. It eventually got to the point where it seemed like there was no possible way I’d be able to play through all of them in my lifetime, and I still continued to pick up games. My situation is not uncommon. A quick google search will reveal a thousand memes about steam sales decimating wallets and gamers buying games they’ll never play. Many of us have piles of shame we’ll never get to.

But with the New Year comes ambition! As I sat there with a pen deciding what resolutions to take on in 2015, a glorious new project dawned on me. Playing more games is always a worthy goal but I decided to be a bit more ambitious. I want to put a sizable dent in my pile of shame this year. And I have a plan. I call it, the Penny Arcade solution.

A few years ago, shortly after my first trip to Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East, I got really into watching Penny Arcade the Series. It was a wonderful documentary series about Penny Arcade that followed the people that worked there around the office and showed how they operated. During one particular episode in the first season, Video Games, Scott Kurtz describes the gaming habits ofthe creative team behind the Penny Arcade web comic, Mike and Jerry, and how they would go through them at an alarming rate. “They’re really not even playing games, they’re testing out games,” Kurtz says, sometimes only playing them for a few hours before feeling like they got everything the game offered out of it. Sometimes a game will hook them and it’ll become the obsession of the moment but often they seem to blast through games as if they were tasting candies. I wish to take the same approach to my pile of shame. If I skim my games rather than consume them entirely, stopping as soon as the magic wears off or not pushing on with it if it fails to grasp me, there may be hope to topple the pile yet. Starting now, I’m going to keep a list of the games in my pile of shame on this site and cross them off as I finish with them. I invite you to do the same. At the very least, it should give me plenty of content to write about for the blog.

You can find my pile of shame here

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