Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Byte: Admitting you have a problem is the first step to finding a cure

About a year ago, on my old blog, I wrote down a list of all the games I've bought since I got into PC gaming. I thought that now, a year later, it would be nice to go back and update it, only this time, chucking the data into an easily updateable spreadsheet, so that I can not only maintain a list of all the games I own, but also rate them, log a rough estimate of the time I've sunk into them, and classify them by my desire to complete the game, and by how much I want to play the game.

So, I stayed up quite late last night, digging out that old blog post, and bashing all the data into Excel. I found, to my horror, that I've got more than ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY games, over three formats (classing expansion packs bought separately from the main game as separate titles). A round dozen on the Xbox, three on DS, and everything else on the PC. A bit of an imbalance there, but nothing a few hundred quid and a couple of months won't sort out!

Those 170-odd games conservatively equate to about 6000 hours of gaming time, over the last 9 years. That's a solid, constant, no-toilet-breaks TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS. And I've not even gotten around to playing about a dozen of the titles I've bought - some due to the fact that they're really old games and don't work on new kit (i.e. they were acquired off eBay for Collector's value, for example Terra Nova), other's out of a sense of guilt ("You didn't buy Hostile Waters! You're killing the industry!") and others I'm just plain not quite yet in the mood to play (such as Combat Mission 2 or Hidden And Dangerous Deluxe).

Still, the advantage of bunging it all into a spreadsheet means that I can autofilter the list by all the criteria I've filled in, letting me see which games I should really be devoting my time to. For example, through the miracles of computer science, I've been able to determine that the games I want to go back to and complete the most are Vampire Bloodlines, GTA: Vice City, Halo 2, Baldur's Gate II, Polarium and No One Lives Forever, which should prevent me from sinking all my free time into World Of Warcraft.

Then I can filter the list and at least try all the games I've not even played a couple of hours of yet (such as XIII, Tron 2.0 and Medieval: Total War, to name but a few). If I were ever foolish enough to publically distribute the list, people would boggle at the fact I've plugged more than 300 hours in Star Wars: Supremacy, but barely even touched something like Alpha Centauri... but hey, them's the breaks, I suppose.

I bet you're just dying to know what's my favourite game, though. Well, if you rate in terms of a combination of percentage score and number of hours played, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the hands down winner. Only World Of Warcraft comes close, though Supremacy and UFO: Enemy Unknown rank up there in the number of hours played. TIE Fighter's not too far off the pace, either.

You know something? Channel Four's weekend programming director is right. Lists ROCK. I could probably spend more time mucking about with this spreadsheet than playing the games themselves...
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