How did I get my Steaming Pile of Shame?

Hurriedly, the reader scans down the text to make sure that the Steaming Pile of Shame wasn’t something scatological. The article opens with the assurance that this Pile of Shame pertains to the owning of unplayed video games. With a sigh of relief, the reader reads on…

I have owned my current Steam account since 2010, when I relinquished my old account to my brother in order to build my own separate games library. Coincidentally 2010 introduced the digital gaming community to the Humble Bundle, but I’ll get into that later. In the past 4 years I have acquired titles at the staggering rate of over 100 games per year. Yes, my library is closing in on that sweet 500 games milestone. Here’s where the shame comes into it; I have only played 22.5% of these games. I think that this is a little unfair, as the ‘unplayed’ count includes games that I own and have played on other systems, for example GTA: San Andreas, which I have completed on console a couple of times, but only own on Steam due to its inclusion in a Rockstar Games bundle. Regardless, 22.5% use of hundreds of things that I have spent my money on is a staggeringly low percentage, hence the shame.

Just another game that I shamefully hadn’t played until recently!

I know that I am not alone in owning more than I can chew. I have seen subreddits dedicated to helping alleviate the Steam backlog, and countless memes about Steam Sales emptying wallets. But why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to add to these shameful piles of unplayed games? Well the contributing factors are quite numerous, which is why the problem seems to be getting out of hand!

  1. Steam sales. Perhaps the most common method of acquiring unplayed games is via the “It’s so cheap now, I should get it before the price rises” mentality of Steam’s seasonal sales. On top of the “practically-a-steal” pricing, Steam also waves incentives in front of hapless sale-goers. A badge and experience points for purchasing from a particular type of sale for example. It might sound like a trap for the foolish, but when you see a game you want with an extra, even if superfluous, reason to buy it; there is no holding back.
  2. Indie Bundles. I mentioned before that the release of the Humble Bundle coincided with the beginning of my Steam journey. This is because games bundles are the next largest benefactor to the Pile of Shame. Steam sales have bundles too (whether they are for particular games series’ or specific to individual publishers), but you purchase those knowing that you want most of the games. When it comes to indie bundles, I have found myself only wanting one or two of the games, but the recommended price is often lower than the full cost of the standalone game! This means you pay less than usual for the game(s) that you want, and you also get a handful of other titles to play later! I will say here that I tend to push up above the minimum or average price because at the end of the day we buy games online to support the publishers, and digital sales are extremely important for indie developers so please; always push above the average.
  3. New games! New games get released all the time. With gaming being so social, it is quite important to keep up to date with the latest popular releases so you can talk about them with your friends, or have more people to play with online. This means that older games which you fully intend to play get pushed back. More games get released, and perhaps you haven’t finished that previously new game. Whatever the reason, the unplayed games that we own get pushed back and back, until they become socially irrelevant, or are completely forgotten.

Well I think that it is about time that we do something to shrink this Pile of Shame. As much as we can think about different ways to trick Steam into thinking that we have fewer unplayed games there really is only one solution: PLAY YOUR DAMN GAMES! And that is what I fully intend to do! With so many ways to skin this metaphorical rabbit, I have chosen to take a weekly trip into my rabbit hole and play a game or two from my Pile of Shame. To help me stick to a weekly schedule I am also filming my play sessions to be released on The Killer Bits webshow.

The latest video in my Pile of Shame series


Because the pile is so big, I can’t possibly make it 100% of the way through every game. Instead I have decided to set myself a limit. I will play each game for a couple of hours to see what it is like. The next problem is choosing where to start. I have decided to reach out to the YouTube and Reddit communities, asking for them to choose between a selection of games that I would like to play. That way I know which game other pile-of-shamers might want to see. The videos that I produce will provide a taster of each game for viewers, and hopefully a few of them will also have a backlog, and the games that I present to them will help them decide whether or not to play. However you approach your pile, and in whichever order you choose to play them, I hope you can be inspired to actually get playing. Since beginning my Pile of Shame journey, I have found a few gems that I know I would have otherwise not made time to play. I have the viewers to thank for selecting these great games and helping me on my journey. I know that my approach is far from original, but that’s okay; I would recommend that everyone makes a schedule and reaches out to the online community for help. I am having fun doing it, and I will always be happy to share my experience of games with other gamers.

A typical games library on Steam. So much to do… so little time…

Good luck on your journey through you unplayed games. Let me know how you are approaching them, and what you have found, whether you have uncovered some treasures, or absolute stinkers. And finally, please check in on the Pile of Shame over at The Killer Bits; see what I am playing this week, and feel free to drop a comment and vote on next week’s show. Even if you read this article months or years after it was published, I doubt I will have finished the pile, so stop on by!


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