Every Steam summer or winter sale is the same. I get excited and a little giggly as I rush to my Wishlist to see what kind of massive discounts I get on 10+ year old games. I usually pick up 4-5 games for around $30. Then, they sit idling in my library unplayed and unloved for years.

I used to have the same problem with books. After undergrad, I had four 6′ tall book shelves filled with all sorts of literature. 1/3 of those books I never really planned on reading. Though, I told myself that I would get to them when, “I was in the right headspace”.

Most readers and gamers follow a similar pattern of buy-to-enjoy and buy-to-shelve.

Years ago, I moved across town taking my collection with me. For the first time I learned really how much I had accumulated in literature loving emotional debt. Every unfinished book I picked up was a reminder of how much time I wasted planning unmet accomplishments.

I decided to be honest with myself and systematically read or donate the bulk of my collection. Now, I barely fill one bookshelf let alone 4. However, the books I’ve kept hold very dear and fond memories.

I’ve decided to do the same with my games. Play, plan, remove, or hide from view, there is no other option. I’ve now paired down my debt by half. Meaning, of the 300+ games I own, I’ve come to terms with myself that I will not play half of them…ever.

It’s been an oddly emotional experience.

I’ve had to tell myself:

  • It’s okay to NOT like a game
  • It’s okay to not play perfectly (i.e. okay to make mistakes in a game)
  • It’s okay to not obtain every achievement
  • It’s okay to play on easy mode
  • It’s okay to not finish a game
  • It’s okay to take breaks

That being said, I’m only allowing myself access to two games at any given time. Either finish it or hide it in my library for good.

Last night I finished a wonderful game that I had been planning on playing for years, but could only play for around 30 min at a time. The game deals heavily in psychosis and is an emotional beast to play. Over the course of 3 weeks, I’ve pushed myself to complete the game. Without this new system, I would never have finished it.

I missed getting the “true ending” and I’m cool with that.

It’s not just about being authentic with yourself, but allowing yourself to grieve the opportunities presented to you. If anything, I don’t want to spend another minute planning when I could be doing. 

Games, books, movies, shows, art, concerts, plays, blog posts, podcast episodes, every last little bit of entertainment or learning all accumulates the same way. These are the things I wish I could experience fully and completely, but most I never will.

If you can, cut down on that emotional debt. Write the blog post or delete the draft. Read the book or donate it to someone who will. Play the game or get rid of it. Try your best. I hope you found something to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire. I know I’ve been learning to look at the potential of experience differently. It’s not easy. As always, thank you for reading.