Backlog, year two

Let's get weird(er)

I’ve been doing Backlog for a year now. One whole year! On the occasion of Backlog’s first anniversary, I wanted to say, firstly, thank you for reading. There’s a million billion little bits of text floating around the internet, all vying for your attention, and beyond that there’s memes, shows, and, yes, games, all of which are often a more attractive prospect, serotonin-wise, than sitting down and reading a gaming-focused newsletter with a vaguely literary bent. Which is all to say: thanks for sticking around, thanks for reading, and thanks for enriching my own experience playing games.

Writing, for me, has always been about making sense of my own thinking. When it comes to my process, I’m a pantser through and through. I don’t outline things. I hardly ever have a thesis when I sit down to write. Instead, I usually show up with a question. A feeling. A single phrase that’s bothering me enough to spend time on it. A wild and occasionally unfounded belief in my own ability to traipse the tightrope. In short, I show up to writing Backlog like I show up to games: to play.

With that in mind, as we go into year two of Backlog, I want to let things get a little weirder.

What do I mean by that? I don’t know, exactly. I think maybe what I mean is I want to let myself embrace more ideas like my Polygon not-review of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe and its accompanying Backlog. When I was drafting that particular newsletter, I vetted an early draft with a few trusted friends, worrying (as one does when writing a postmodern, self-reflexive newsletter about a postmodern, self-reflexive videogame) that I was venturing into unreadable territory that no reasonable human would be interested in. Turns out: I was quite wrong! The newsletter I was most worried to publish ended up being the thing to open the door to writing for Polygon, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell my students to embrace their stranger instincts and to venture out into territory that, in some way, scares them. Where does it make you nervous to go that you nonetheless feel compelled to explore? That is the place, creatively, that you ought to reside in order to grow as a writer.

Like a lot of things you say as a teacher, you really ought to take your own advice, and so I’m going to do just that.

Hey, listen! Backlog grows when people share it, so can I ask you to share this post with a friend or two?

Fear not: I’m still definitely going to write review-ish things about games I’m playing, and I will still, now and again, follow the latest gaming trend in the pursuit of clicks and subs.1 But I’m also going to let things get a little looser. Maybe a little more hybrid, perhaps in the vein of the brilliant “Playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” by Jamil Jan Kochai.2 Whatever it is, I’m going to take a page from the PlayStation PR team and remember that “Play Has No Limits,” because writing is, and always has been, play to me.

So, thank you again for reading—with promises for more to come.

  1. I’m playing The Cat Game, by the way. Look forward to my thoughts on Stray in a couple of weeks.

  2. Seriously, if you have not yet read this story, run don’t walk. Kochai does it better than anyone. Also, buy his book.