It’s that time of year where bloggers publish posts about their New Year resolutions, and one which often makes an appearance is dealing with the backlog. That sense of discomfort experienced when looking at your pile of unplayed titles is a feeling we’re all too familiar with but perhaps not so good at managing. So how do we go about changing that in 2019?
I started a new job back in August which was a slight shift away from what I’d been doing previously, so I read several books about IT best practices and methodologies to get up to speed. It was while working through The DevOps Handbook recently that the realisation struck me: some of the principles here could be applied to help us overcome our backlogs. I know looking to an IT book for guidance on managing your games sounds kind of strange but hear me out.
A Lean way of thinking
First up is a brief definition to provide some background: ‘Lean’ is the extension of manufacturing principles to the development and management of IT. Its main concern is the elimination of ‘waste’ that contributes to poor customer service, higher costs and lost productivity; and it focuses on elements within IT operations which add no value to a finished product. (I won’t go into further detail but there’s plenty of information on the Lean Enterprise Institute website for those who are interested in finding out more.)
The philosophy may have started in manufacturing but this principle of ‘eliminating waste’ can also be extended to our backlogs. And if Lean can bring about benefits such as reduced lead times, lower costs and increased morale for IT organisations, then perhaps we could also experience the same positives when it comes to dealing with our increasing pile of games!
Getting rid of the waste
This way of thinking recognises different types of waste and I’ve taken those listed below from The DevOps Handbook. Now all we need to do is consider how to get rid of each of them and make our gaming lives a little easier.
|Partially-done work||Any work that hasn’t been completed or is sitting in queue. This becomes obsolete and loses its value as time progresses.||We’ve all got those titles we started and abandoned halfway through with the intention of returning to them ‘someday’. Maybe it’s time to admit that it’s never going to happen and not feel guilty about crossing them off the backlog.|
|Extra processes||Any additional work being performed that doesn’t add value to the customer.||Finding every collectable and hitting all of the achievements extends the length of time it takes to finish a game, as well as delaying moving onto the next one. It’s not always necessary to 100% a title to truly appreciate it.|
|Extra features||Features built into a service that aren’t needed by the organisation or customer.||With several game modes, additional multiplayer versions and numerous DLC downloads, today’s releases are continuously getting bigger. However, sometimes the standalone title can be enough for a player on its own.|
|Task switching||Switching and managing dependencies between work, adding additional effort and time.||Some people enjoy the variety of playing more than one game at once. Having several on the go can extend the time it takes to complete them though so if you’re looking to get the backlog down, think about concentrating on a single title.|
|Waiting||Delays between work requiring resources to wait until they can complete the current work.||It can be hard to find the motivation to pick up the controller after you’ve been at work all day, but it’s easier to get through your backlog if you play regularly. Waiting for the weekend to arrive doesn’t always work out.|
|Defects||Incorrect, missing or unclear information, materials or products.||Made it partway through a game before a bug gets in your way? It could take a while for it to be fixed so unless there’s a readily-available solution, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses and remove this one from your backlog.|
|Heroics||Performing unreasonable acts (such as late nights) in order to achieve goals.||As mentioned above, you’ll make it through your backlog if you play regularly rather than pulling all-nighters. You’ll often find more enjoyment in taking your time with a game rather than rushing through it in one sitting.|
Changing the way we view our backlogs
The section above may have given you some ideas about ways of making it through your backlog, but there’s something else I’d like to ask everyone reading this to consider also. I mentioned earlier in this post that a benefit of the Lean philosophy is increased morale. Is it possible that those positive vibes we get from doing something about our backlogs is more important than actually reducing it?
Let’s be totally honest with ourselves here: the truth is we’ll never make it through every one of our unplayed titles and it’s the fact we think we might do which causes the anxiety in our stomachs every time we look at our full libraries. Forcing ourselves to play something simply because we bought it or because of how long it’s been sitting on our shelves is counterproductive. We’ll never truly appreciate it as much as we would have if we’d gotten around to it in our own time and as gaming bloggers, that’s so important.
Although it’s good to work on your backlog, let’s leave the gamer-guilt behind in 2018 and be proud of our libraries in 2019. After all: the larger your pile of games, the more peace of mind you have that there’ll always be something there you want to play.