There are more books than anything. Tons of books. Books have existed for centuries. Ancient texts and scriptures are still being unearthed and there is no way they can all be read in a lifetime no matter how much heroine laced cocaine flavored coffee one consumes, it’s not getting done. Extremist religious entities even burned a good bunch of them for us and THERE ARE STILL SO MANY STUPID BOOKS. The good news is, you wouldn’t want to read them all. Lots of books are garbage. I’d even go as far as saying most books are garbage. You really want to read Dr. Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese?” or Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”? Nah, you don’t. I mean the cheese one sounds interesting at least. I like cheese.
There are far better books out there obviously. The greatest of all time have been curated into classical collections you can download on your Kindle or audiobook device of preference. You can consume the best there ever was. The ones history points to and says, “Yes, this was of the time” or “This was ahead of its time.” Very different but distinct praises of what constitutes a classic.
But books are still coming out! Every day a slew of new books are released and the curation of the masses and reviewers are thankfully here to keep the unworthy ones from creeping into our consciousness as casual readers. Occasionally, you might see a book you think you may like despite the reviews. Maybe you like the author, the topic, the setting, or the descriptive sex bits. Maybe a friend braved the uncertainty of a new book, liked it and thereby recommended it to you.
Books are an easy analogy because they’ve been around for all of written history except for that shit they scrawled on cave walls, most words ended up in books. Video games, though, okay? Let’s talk about those. They haven’t been around for nearly as long but the quantity of games increase each and every day just like books. Games are always being developed, released, uploaded, and downloaded with a very low bar. It’s probably harder to get a book published than a game but I don’t know that for sure because I just read and play the things. By the mid-80’s, games were releasing at a rate akin to books in the sense that their high prices and immense time it could take to complete or get over one would detract from the ability to consume all of them or even most of them. Games slip through the cracks. Books and movies, too. Where do they go?
As co-host of the Polykill Podcast we are a show dedicated to two men who struggle through the time commitments of everyday life in order to play and beat the many games in our backlogs. To me the backlog is an on-deck circle. That’s sports speak for games I intend to play soon. I own it and I’ve committed to playing it to at the very least validate the price I paid for it which hopefully isn’t much because I’m frugal AF (a fancy term for poor).
But then there is the bucket list. I don’t intend to die soon but being a sentient being cognizant of my mortality I’m well aware I will die with many things I fully meant to do or experience left undone. And forget hang-gliding or climbing Everest, no thanks. But due to the curation of what is considered classics over time and that my selected medium is video games (sorry books), I’ve taken much pleasure in whittling down and forming a bucket list of games for nearly every console I own. “What are the definitive titles for this machine?” and “Who says so?” It doesn’t matter how you do it, but put some thought into it.
The bucket list includes games I’m embarrassed to have never completed such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. I own both and have played both but I’ve never completed either (I know, I feel shame too fam). Completing these titles that gamers far and wide declare as classics and worth the time is a goal for me. They’re on the bucket list and I own them, but they are not on my backlog. When the mood hits me they will be but until then why put pressure on myself to play them NOW? The bucket list also includes less familiar games like Odin Sphere on the Playstation 2 or Crystalis for the NES. Both are regarded as great and hardcore gamers are overly familiar with both but a majority of folks have no idea. I had no idea either which is why they slipped through the cracks at the time and are on my bucket list now.
On the other hand, not all games on my backlog are on my bucket list. Some of them are there just out of curiosity. Bayonetta 2 for example was a game that I was merely interested in and elected to play based on the hype. I threw it on the backlog and eventually played through and enjoyed it. In hindsight, it might have been a game worthy of the bucket list but the WiiU is too fresh of a console (though that is quickly fading) for me to be absolutely aware of what could be one day considered classic. The same with The Witcher Wild Hunt, no doubt it would be a future bucket lister but I’m playing it now because it’s still hot and relevant. I caught it before it slipped through the cracks of time.
Other games on my bucket list include games I may never be able to own like Snatcher for the Sega CD. It goes for nearly $500 if you want the case and I would. I can emulate it but another part of my bucket list is to motivate me to own some of the classics as that tickles me in my collector button. Collecting is not for everyone but not only do I want to play and beat as many era defining titles as I can, owning them is also something I aspire to do. I will make exceptions for ridiculously priced games like Snatcher or the NES’s Little Samson. I don’t deal drugs, after all.
I think it’s wise for fans of any consumable media to make a list of the greats they want to take in. It gives perception and reference to the rest what is out there, old and new. Again, it’s true for movies, TV shows, music, books, and certainly games. It’s also important to note that not every game on your bucket list has to be your cup of tea – the point is to experience what people consider great. You don’t have to like it but it’s important to experience it enough to know why you don’t. You might have to get over “this looks old” or “this controls like ass” because for its time it was probably baller, especially if it made several lists for being great. It doesn’t mean you have to spend 20 hours with it but maybe you’ll find some appreciation for it after a short experience. In the future when the title of that game is put on a list somewhere you’ll be able to definitively say “I get it, it has a lot going for it” or you can say “it’s overrated drivel and I want to stick it up a butthole”. Both are possible but you won’t know until you dabble in the greatness of the past.