Choice Paralysis

If you’re anything like me, then you enjoy buying games with the intent of playing them now or later. A common result of that, is that you end up with a large library of games to play, and often are unsure of what to play next.

“So what is it?”

Overchoice or Choice Overload is a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options. Overchoice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyer’s decision-making process.

Here are my tips on staying focused and making decisions about what to play next. Please add your own in the comments!

  1. Adopt a “Finishing Games” mentality. If you’re enjoying a game, work on finishing it before moving on. I enjoy the feeling of “going back to work” on a particularly tough game to do some more attempts at finishing it. Looking at you, retro 8-bit games. Obviously this shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule, but I find that once a game is officially completed, it really helps me to move on. You can put the game away, and look towards a new title to get engrossed in. This is a great prevention method for the problem of being half-way through a ton of different games.

  2. Keep a category in your spreadsheet (or other method of game/backlog tracking) for “Upcoming Games”. If you’re particularly excited to play a game you have, but don’t want it to get lost in the masses of your backlog, put it in a special category created for games you want to play soon. This greatly helps with paralysis of choice when you’re looking at 10 or 20, versus a couple hundred.

  3. When faced with Choice Overload, try having a friend choose for you. The funny thing about Choice Overload is: the effect is actually reversed when making a decision for someone else. Having a friend choose from your “Upcoming Games” list will ensure they pick something you’re already interested in. Your friend will also likely choose something they enjoy, or have completed themselves. This will have the added benefit of giving you a good conversation topic while you play through the game.

  4. Start using a good tracking or backlog tool to keep track of your completed games. Adding to that number of completed games becomes it’s own thing, and you’ll want to go back to certain games to check them off the list. I use backloggery, but there are tons of alternatives as well.

  5. Use a competitive multiplayer game as filler. Find a great multiplayer game that’s “never ending” to fill in gaps in your single player gameplay. This also works great with open ended games like Minecraft or Cities: Skylines etc. I try to keep to one competitive game at a time, so I can focus on getting better at one game instead of many. This keeps it interesting for longer, as there’s always a new rank to try and attain. My current game is Rocket League, and I’ve put in over 1500 hours!

  6. Play something that puts you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes what you need is a change of pace. If you find yourself looking at the list of 40 platformers you own, and wondering why you can’t make a choice, it may help to play something you’ve never gotten into. Try a rhythm game, or a genre-mix game, or maybe an art game like Mario Paint. Devil’s Crush on TG16 is a great example here. Break up that monotony.
That’s all I have for now. Good luck out there, and please add your thoughts and tips!

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Raskulous is an avid gamer, retro gamer, and computer enthusiast. He also spends portions of his free time doing electronics service and repair, and console modifications.

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