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Around the beginning of 2018, I uncategorized every one of my Steam games.
I had a few things in mind when I did this:
Today, more than two years later, I've categorized approximately 220 of the 550 games in my Steam library. To celebrate, I'm sharing my categories and the reasoning behind them. I'll also reveal my current list of favorite games.
If you've been following the blog for a while, you know about my love for ranking things. I like putting things in boxes. The Steam categories are different, though: they're mostly informational.
I'm not exactly sure why this is. I think it's partially due to the increased variety in video games versus board games.
For the vast majority of board games, 1-6 people sit at a table for 15-120 minutes, push some cubes around, and determine a winner. The distinctions lie in the number of players, length of game, and mechanics at play. There are exceptions (legacy games come to mind, as do social/storytelling games), but by and large they fit a niche.
Video games are primarily single-player experiences but can be local or online multiplayer as well. They can take 60 minutes to completely finish or they can still be providing new content after hundreds of hours. They can be slow, brain-burning experiences (not unlike board games!) but they can also rely on skills like twitch reflexes or conceptualization of 3D spaces.
So, rather than comprehensively rank, I classify games into the below categories. Note that some games have multiple categories.
The best of the best. I sometimes think of this list as "games I would have no problem recommending". Many of them I would happily play again today; some of them I have no interest in returning to. These range from AAA titles of yesteryear (Halo, Team Fortress 2) to obscure indie flops (Shutshimi, Zombotron). I greatly enjoyed my time with them, however much that was, and they hold up today.
I beat these games. Sometimes I didn't explore all the endgame content, but felt like I completed enough to say I'd seen enough (DemonCrawl). Sometimes I got every single collectible or achievement (Yoku's Island Express). Most of these games were good enough to favorite, but some of them were merely OK or short enough to sprint through.
Games that support local or online multiplayer. Some of these are multiplayer-only (Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), while some of these are just as good or better as single player games (Stardew Valley). This is the only category that organizes games according to their mechanics. I find it valuable to glance at all of these games in one place in case my friends want to play something together.
I started playing these and, for whatever reason, put them down for a while. I sometimes have this problem: I play a game for 30-60 minutes, think it's interesting, and then don't return to it for an entire month. By that point I've lost interest, but I still want to play it someday, so it goes here. Some games weren't right for me at the time (Into The Breach). Or maybe I burned out on it but would like to return to (Alphabear).
Games I have not played since the start of 2018, or games I am currently playing. This is where the bulk of my games lie (current total is 330). Some games have huge play times, just not in the last couple years (Binding of Isaac, Spelunky). Some games are essentially the "to try again" games I bounced off of 3-5 years ago (Captain Forever Remix, The Witness). Some are new and I just haven't gotten to them yet (Legend of Bumbo).
Usually, this is the final resting place for a bad game. I'll never play Frostpunk again: its mechanics weren't satisfying and I hated losing my progress after a huge campaign. Sometimes this category means an alternative is available: old versions of games like Skyrim and Borderlands go here, because I own their remastered versions. A small number of games are even worse: they're not playable. Super Monday Night Combat's servers are down.
I don't put Favorites or Finished games here, even if I'm not interested in playing them. This list reads kind of like an anti-list of recommendations, and I like keeping it that way.
Are you interested in this type of game? Play this Sam-recommended one.
Note that this list still only includes the games I've played in the last ~2 years! More games will end up here. Some may even drop off if I forget why I loved them.
If you'd like to know more about any of these games, don't hesitate to contact me! People like talking about the things they like and I am no exception.