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"Oooh Imogen, you'd love a little unknown indie gem called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt... Oh Imogen, you've got to play Assassin's Creed: Origins... Excuse me? Imogen, how dare you enter this building without ever trying a soulslike before? You disgust me, really."
Sound familiar? Of course it does - I like to call it the gamer guilt trip (I came up with that, just now) and we're all guilty of it. If I find out anyone hasn't played Disco Elysium, I suddenly want to scream about how perfect it is, and shove every line of dialogue and clever quip I've memorised down the throat of the poor soul talking to me. However, at this point I think we all need to be honest with ourselves: if you've not cleared at least a little bit of your gaming backlog in 2020, you should stop lying to yourself and admit that you're probably not going to get through it.
Although I talk about games professionally, like any gamer I have a backlog. Games from various years, genres, platforms that I just haven't got around to playing yet because I'm working or being a normal human with normal non-gaming interests. You know the ones - going out and socialising with friends, perhaps travelling, or getting some exercise. There are so many things I can do when I'm not playing games, so the backlog just never seems to go away and... what's that? A global pandemic? Sitting inside for months on end? No normal human activities for 2020? Well, crap. Seems like it's time to clear the backlog.
By now we're all aware of the whole pandemic thing. And despite the cause being the same terrible virus replicated in millions of people, the effects on each person's life have been monumentally different. For me it meant moving back in with the parents for several months while we shielded, getting furloughed for a while, moving jobs, starting a streaming career, and more.
Before I worked at GAMINGbible, I worked on another site that furloughed me and others in an effort to prevent the company from letting anyone go. And so I briefly returned to playing games as a hobby, rather than as my job, something I haven't done since leaving university.
In the first week of furlough, I played Assassin's Creed Odyssey - for up to eight hours some days, just trying to crawl through it as quickly as possible. It took around a hundred hours in the end, but I got it done, and despite playing Assassin's Creed for hours each day, my mind once again decided to wander back to having a job. I had this nagging feeling that I should be working on something, but legally I couldn't lift a games journalism finger. So if you're in your parent's basement, with a lot of games to play, but want to feel productive, what do you do? You stream, of course.
May 12 was the first time I streamed a game on my Twitch channel, and although I didn't know it then - streaming was about to be my 2020 lifeline. My way to connect with new people, learn a new skill, socialise, and even surprisingly make a little money. Not only was streaming a great way to cope with the lockdown of the world - it was also the catalyst of my great backlog-ening of 2020. That is to say, I've played more of my backlog this year than I ever have.
First I played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Fantastic game, 10/10, one of the best RPGs of all time. I got through Assassin's Creed Origins - top tier AC content, although I wanted to punch Bayek in the face sometimes. I've tried Dark Souls, Control (GAMINGbible's number one game of 2019), Marvel's Spider-Man, Hitman 2, Horizon Zero Dawn - check the video above for an interview with the voice of Aloy, Ashly Burch - and more. Games I haven't had time for but are certified bangers, and because we've been locked indoors and I gave myself an audience to entertain, I've played more great games from the past this year than I have 2020's titles.
Admittedly, I haven't finished all the games I've mentioned - sometimes I move on before getting all the way to the end. But the point is that starting streaming, at the same time that a global pandemic was rampant, was legitimately the only way I was ever going to play some of these titles.
And so, I've made an executive decision for all of you. If you've been locked inside during 2020, and you haven't made your way through your backlog, even a little bit - mate, stop lying to yourself. It's not going to happen. I'm not saying you're not allowed to get through them, of course, but I'm saying that it's okay to be honest and admit that although you've been told 20 times to play The Last of Us, you're probably not going to, and that's absolutely fine.
Of course, there have been some cracking games this year for you to spend time with - Valorant, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Hades, and more. (Why not browse our top 40 games of 2020 list.) But if you've spent 2020 - the year of being stuck indoors - without revisiting all the games you promise yourself you'll play, it's probably not going to happen. I'm the friend you need to tell you to let that dream go. It's over buddy, you can stop now. Shh shh shh, it's okay.
And if you're not convinced? Go on then, pick a game over the holiday. Play your backlog. Do it, or at least try an indie game you've heard good things about, one that takes a few hours to finish. The first step in clearing your Steam library or the Xbox Game Pass or your PS+ collection is by downloading something and just getting on with it. And maybe your 'game of 2020' will be a backlog title, after all.
Featured Image Credit: FromSoftware / Ubisoft / Guerrilla Games
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