Backlogs from Hell.

I can’t help myself.

I just keep doing it.

I buy games with the delusion fully intact that I’ll have the time to play them, but that most certainly is not the case. Games with Gold? At least they’re free, but a Steam Sale? Gah! Quite literally the worst thing that could happen, a regular reminder that contained within my ever growing backlog there’s a plethora of incredible games I’ll never dive into – and don’t get me started on my Xbox One backlog. And Gamepass certainly hasn’t helped with this at all.

I must stress, it’s nothing to do with work – I have a good job and regular, routine hours. No, it’s because I’m a dad, and I have a two kids. They’re the best thing in the world, but if there’s one thing they excel at, it’s being time consuming.

Oh god.

I’ve grown accustomed to having to game in short bursts, and have negotiated with indoor management that Friday is my go-to “I’m playing games and shall not be disturbed” night, which is great. But what really amazes me the more I think about it is how my game tastes have changed because of it.

A new open world extravaganza with one billion side quests, a huge complex story line and millions of things to do? Sounds great, right? But not for me. It’s just not happening. I’ve got GTAV – barely touched it. Witcher 3? I’ve certainly loaded it up at some point, I’m pretty sure. Forza Horizon 4? STOP GIVING ME THINGS TO DO YOU BASTARDS.

So many icons….

To be honest, nowadays, I want a nice , linear plot with good action and a short playing time. If the game has a ‘nav marker’ to the next mission, I’m there. Even then, getting interrupted mid-session only to return possibly days later…”Why am I here? What was I meant to be doing?” I’m sure I’m not alone – any parent must feel this way when they sit down to play sometimes.

In some ways, that’s what make Microsofts aquisition spree quite comforting. The Xbox team have aquired studios not known for sprawling, AAA open world games, but instead studios known for diverse, streamlined and unique experiences. By focusing on Gamespass, AA games with a high level of polish have a chance for resurgence in the marketplace, and that’s going to be a welcome development.

Multiplayer? You probably want to avoid having me on your team. Unless of course, you don’t mind me running off mid match to sort out my child, or change a nappy, or any other child related necessity which will DEFINITELY rear it’s head mid session. Ultimately, it will happen, and I will go AFK, leaving my team to fail. Sorry about that.

Halo Infinite is due to drop later next year, alongside a whole new console to enjoy, and if there’s one game I’m pretty confident with regards to my skills, it’s Halo. I’m even having a LAN for the launch, which admittedly these days is a rare and treasured event. But after that LAN, I genuinely will feel a small sense of loss as I see my online pals storm ahead with matches played, cosmetic unlocks, playing every night…leaving me feeling entirely left out.

I love my kids, and trust me on this, the benefits far outweigh any impact on my gaming hobby. I certainly don’t want to scare any gamers away from having kids of their own someday. But trust me, when it happens, your world will change, and your gaming habits will change too.

Give me checkpoints. Hold my hand. Make it linear.

Normal mode? Yes please.

Let me just play.

Jon "Sikamikanico" Clarke

Stuck on this god-forsaken island. Father of two, wishes he could play more games but real life always gets in the way. Prefers shorter and often smarter experiences, but Halo is King.

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