When we started Sprites and Dice, one of the main goals was to try and bring a little joy back to gaming. It seems like a strange statement: why would someone need to bring joy back to a hobby that was made to well… bring joy?
The 21st century brought hundreds of blessings and curses to those who grew up praying that their parents might bring them to the arcade at the mall. Video games became easier to play at home as processing power skyrocketed, and suddenly you could not only try and save the princess with a few quarters, but explore entire worlds. As the industry ballooned however, so did the complications. The ability to have better graphics cards turned into an arms race between developers and players to own $1,000 dollar bits of hardware. The creation of Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs led to “Games As A Service” as a business model. The list goes on and on.
That moment when you've done a week of daily quests and find out you need to buy in-game currency anyway for a shiny hat.
Sometimes, it’s important to pull back from the complications of the giant hype machine that modern gaming has become and return to the simple joys. For the next month, we’re going to try and let go of previews and the anxiety of waiting for whatever games are coming out next month. We’ll try and ignore perfectionist urges and achievement lists. We won’t care about competitive ranked lists and how many concurrent players there are on steam for our favorite games.
It’s time to Finish The Damn Games we already have.
The 2023 Finish The Damn Game Month Challenge
In previous years, we’ve tried to dedicate a month to games already in our library to finish and write about. Sometimes we do really well and write great reflections about the experience, while other times we make lists of hopeful games to finish and still haven’t completed a single one of them four years later. Whether successful or not, we’ve found tackling this exercise as a team really helpful. It reorients us away from looking at the next big releases and back at the games we already own. In a culture of always feeling the need to buy the-next-best-thing, taking a little time to work backwards can help bring a little appreciation back to the hobby.
Why do this? Why focus on the past instead of the new shiny future? Well, a few reasons. The main reason you might say is money: how many games have you bought and never even opened? You bought them originally for a reason, and without even trying the game, it feels like wasted money just… lingering there. Like that aspirational bowl of berries that’s been slowly becoming moldy in the back of your fridge.
XCom 2 is one of my favorite games ever. When its massive expansion War of the Chosen came out in 2017 I bought it right away. Yet, I never played it again!
2023 update: I got about halfway through during charity streams in 2022 - maybe this is the year to finally wrap it up.
Playing games you already own does save you money, but there’s also a sense of accomplishment and closure that comes with it too. Games offer players a rare opportunity to actually start a story and play it through to its conclusion, whether its exploring an open world, shooting hundreds of aliens, or building a farm. As the real world has gotten busier, that sense of finishing a game has gotten sometimes even harder to find. More games released today are built like Fortnite; there is no start or end, but always more content, always more daily quests and goals to keep you playing. They can absolutely be fun experiences, but lets be honest – the last time you loaded into an MMO or battle royale game, did you do it with excitement or a sense of obligation?
Finish The Damn Game Month is an attempt to return to the simpler pleasures of the genre. The biggest new releases and the daily quests can wait a few weeks. For now, September is a chance to enjoy what we already have.
The Contest: Game Giveaways and Good Times
This year, we are upping the stakes by putting money where our mouth: we're hosting a contest with some money behind it this time around.
On our discord, we’ve set up a channel called “Finish The Damn Game Month”. During September 2023, we’ll be encouraging people to talk about what games they REALLY want to finish. Maybe its to vent about why you never finished that last Final Fantasy you’ve always meant to, or maybe its to get some advice on how to finally beat Darkest Dungeon. However, we’ll also be using that channel to orchestrate a giveaway of some of the money we’ve saved up from our patreon.
Rules of the “Finish The Damn Game 2023” Giveaway:
- You can’t have beaten the game before.
- The game has to be from 2021 or earlier.
- You must take a screenshot of the game in your library (or gaming collection of your choice) showing it as unbeaten/unplayed and post it in our discord chat during September 2023.
- Once beaten, take a screenshot of the ‘Congratulations!’ screen or achievement showing you beat the game, and post it in our discord chat during September 2023. It will count as one entry into the giveaway.
- You can enter up to four games.
- We’ll be starting a hashtag #FinishedTheDamnGame for anything the writers beat this month on twitter, and encourage everyone else to do the same! Doing it with one of the games you’ve beaten will get you an extra entry into the giveaway. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a requirement for entering the raffle.
How Prizes Work:
- We’ll be giving away $10 gift cards for Steam or any other major console.
- We are giving away one gift card to start, plus one more for every 10 games completed according to the rules above! The more games completed, the more we give away.
- There will also be some game code giveaways for fun indie titles we enjoy during the month! These will be held at random in our discord - all you need to do to get one of these is have entered the contest with at least one game.
And that’s it! We’d love it if you liked our social media and stuck around to talk with our community in discord too, but right now, we just want to encourage people to open their backlogs and feel like they’ve enjoyed games that have already been purchased. In 2022, we gave away two gift cards. Our goal for 2023? Give away at least four. Can we get to 40 games beaten in a month?!
If you need the discord link to join our community, here: https://discord.gg/zzZqRFXRnE!
It’s About The Games You Beat Along The Way
On a personal note, the last few years have been… well, difficult. It’s hit everyone a little differently, but everyone I know has had to deal with some level of hardship. I wrote two years ago about how having a kid right as COVID kicked off nearly broke me, and how gaming helped. It did, of course, but once my baby Jonah started being able to walk, the sleepless nights also turned into no calm moments of gaming with an immobile baby in my lap. My ability to find stress relief in gaming tanked. To compensate, I did a lot of window shopping. My steam backlog of wishful thinking grew and grew. I spent money I didn’t have on impulse purchases I still haven’t gotten around to.
In 2022, I made a resolution to beat 10 games before I bought any more. It really did wonders for refocusing my limited time on what I already had, and running this event helped get me to that goal. This year, I'm shooting for 15 games beaten; I'm already at 11, and I’m really hoping that this month will get me towards that finish line. In a world that feels like its constantly having an anxiety attack, the simple pleasure of knowing I finished something, however small, can be a great joy.
Planescape: Torment came out in 1999. I last played it in high school, and it absolutely blew my mind. I never finished it due to leaving for college and a corrupted save file - maybe twenty years later, I'll finally get some closure to this bizarre masterpiece of a CRPG.
That’s why we’re hosting the contest, in the end. To up our hopes to play games we’ve gotten in the last few years, maybe write some long overdue articles and reviews about them, and to invite others to find some real enjoyment in a hobby that's become bloated with micro-transactions and a feeling of having to keep up with everyone else.
Happy gaming everyone, and may your backlogs feel lighter in just a few weeks.