How many video games have you actually completed last year? That is, beating the single player campaign? A couple? A few? Maybe even ten? Tim Hage completed 59 video games in 2013, proving that it’s possible to get through that overwhelming stack of games sitting in your entertainment center that you promised you’d get through.
59 games in one year may not seem like a lot to some hardcore gamers, but considering how most of us can barely muster up the motivation to fully complete a handful of games in that amount of time, 59 is quite a bit.
Hage is a 23-year-old video game enthusiast, but “enthusiast” is a rather weak word to describe him. He’s more like a video game freak who plays through every game he can. His video game career started with Wolfenstein 3D, a first-person shooter developed by id Software for the PC, and that’s where his love for PC gaming began and continued to grow.
Hage has always been a video gamer, once dedicated to the original PlayStation and the Nintendo 64, but now a full-time PC gamer that feels right at home in the tight-knit, PC gaming community.
We had a moment to talk to Hage about his video gaming exploits this past year and answer some questions about how he ended up going through 59 video games in just 365 days.
GBM: Your primary mode of gaming is on the PC, but were any of the games you played this year on a console or a portable?
TH: I dabble in the tower defense genre on my phone, but my preferred gaming platform is PC (all games completed this year were played on PC). The most modern console I own is a PS2, and it happens to function as my monitor stand currently, so not much console gaming. It’s not some elitist complex or anything, but I can never justify buying a console to play one or two exclusive titles when I could just upgrade my PC instead. That doesn’t mean I don’t want Red Dead Redemption or GTA V on the PC, though.
GBM: What’s your gaming setup like, and what specs is your gaming rig rocking?
TH: Well, I’ve already spilled the beans about what my 23-inch Acer monitor is standing on, but I also have a Dell 17-inch as a secondary that I use occasionally for watching gaming livestreams while working or browsing on my main monitor.
My PC specs are in a steady yearly shift, but generally hover around the mid-high range. Currently, I’m running a 3.4GHz Intel Core i5 quad-core Haswell processor, Radeon HD 6950 graphics, 8GB of RAM, a 64GB solid-state drive and a 500GB hard drive, all inside a Cooler Master CM690 case running Windows 7.
As for accessories and peripherals, I use a Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 keyboard, a Razer Deathadder 2013 mouse, Logitech Z4 2.1 speakers (amazing speakers for the money, though discontinued), a wireless Xbox 360 controller (for use in most platformers, third-person, and driving/flying titles), a wireless Xbox One controller that is DYING for PC driver support, and a can of peanuts (not sure this is relevant, but it may be the source of my powers).
GBM: How do you afford all the games you play?
TH: I’m a patient gamer, usually. I rarely purchase games at launch unless I’m really anticipating its release. Steam rewards patient gamers with fantastic seasonal sales, so I tend to take advantage of those. It also helps that I’m a big fan of indie games, and I keep a keen eye on Humble Bundle and similar bundle offerings, as well as occasionally trade games on Reddit.
GBM: How do you find time to play?
TH: I don’t watch much TV, and the lack of a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule can do wonders for those looking to waste time, especially if you need “creative outlets” or co-op “team-building exercises.”
GBM: Speaking of the last two questions, what do you do for a living?
TH: I’m a self-employed web designer and most other things of digital nature. Some might say “artist,” but I don’t know about that. Is this where I plug my site? I think it is: www.splitwebdesign.com. Boom. Plugged.
GBM: How many hours do you think you spent playing video games in all of 2013?
TH: This is a tough — and potentially shameful — question to answer. Short of spending an equally-depressing number of hours figuring it out on a per-game basis at this point, I think we’ll have to rely on averages. I’d say the average game’s campaign nowadays is roughly 4-6 hours, with obvious exceptions on both sides, so we’ll call it an average of 7 hours per game, multiplied by the 59 games I completed, we get 413 hours total.
This is a large number, but it averages out to just 1.1 hours per day, and if you consider that I spent nearly 1,000 hours playing just Call of Duty 4 over the last few years, 413 hours doesn’t seem like a lot.
GBM: I noticed that you counted some games twice, with the single player and co-op campaigns counted separately. What’s your criteria for when a game is “completed” or not.
TH: A jolly-good question. Some would shout “heretic” upon hearing me say I’ve “completed” these games, since I rarely grind away for achievements or hidden/collectable items to 100% everything (the Batman: Arkham games being the only recent exception that comes to mind). Whenever I start going for hidden items, I tend to lose interest after a little while. This is probably why I can never get into “grindy” games, like most MMOs or JRPGs.
A game completed for me just means I completed at least the main storyline and/or all campaign chapters/missions. If that game has a separate co-op campaign that features an “end-game” (i.e., not endless survival modes like CoD’s Zombies), I treat that as an additional count when completed (some games integrate the two, like the Left 4 Dead and Borderlands series; these I count as a single playthrough, regardless if I play solo or co-op, since it would be the same missions either way).
I also don’t count multiplayer games/modes among my conquests, since there’s never really a point where you can say you’ve completed a multiplayer game — not in my opinion, anyway. It sounds like I’ve put a lot of thought into what qualifies a game as completed, but really it’s just logical boundaries that I stuck to.
GBM: Do you use strategy guides to help you complete games more quickly?
TH: Not really. I never use walkthroughs unless I’m 100% stuck somewhere and fear I might be facing a game-breaking bug (though it’s usually just poor game design, or poor pathfinding skills on my behalf). If that’s the case, I’ll usually check a quick walkthrough or some community forums to make sure I’m not going insane.
Sometimes I’ll lurk community forums to get input on tactics or methods used in-game as well. When I play an Elder Scrolls or Fallout game, I often find myself looking up locations or characters in the Wikis (via either Steam’s overlay browser or on my phone) just to get more details about the lore or to make sure I’m not missing any new quests/unique items/easter eggs.
GBM: So you use other devices, like your phone or tablet, as a second screen of sorts?
TH: Not so much for guides, but I’m excited by the recent developments with the new generation of consoles, so I am looking forward to seeing more of it added to gameplay. However, the only current PC example I can think of is Battlefield 4’s tactical map and Commander mode.
Aside from the lore-seeking methods mentioned previously, I used to have a Logitech G15 keyboard with a built-in LCD supported by a scant few games, but it was something like a 3.25-inch x 1.5-inch display, so it couldn’t offer much more than current ammo and health count. I mostly used it to display framerate or chat logs.
GBM: Do you have a ritual that you do before, during, or after you play/complete a game?
TH: There are some games I prefer to play after dark (and with headphones, if it’s a horror game) or when it’s raining or cold out, just to help me get into the atmosphere of the game. As far as a routine (unless setting the resolution to 1920×1080 every time counts), I don’t really have one, though I used to do warm-up stretches and listen to music to prepare myself for competitive matches.
GBM: You’ve competed in video games before?
TH: I used to play several Call of Duty games on a low-medium competitive level in a European clan for a few years. I really enjoyed that time, but the competitive play peaked for me at Call of Duty: World at War and going downhill from there. More so than just playing competitively, I enjoyed being one of the leaders calling out movements and tactics. I still play co-op and some multiplayer with a few of those guys, but I haven’t really wanted to re-enter the competitive world, which is fine because the only way I’d be able to would be if I switched games (Counterstrike or Team Fortress 2) or platforms, since all the Call of Duty matches seem to be on Xbox now.
GBM: What was the best game you played this year (completed or not)?
TH: Of the games I played, my Game of the Year is probably the popular kid, Bioshock: Infinite. For my indie pick of the year, I’d have to say it’s a close race between Gone Home and Surgeon Simulator 2013, but the latter probably takes the cake.
GBM: What was the worst game you played this year (completed or not)?
TH: This is another fun question. I’m sure I’ll be forgetting some particular turd of a game that has more than earned this title, but for my money, the worst game I played (but literally couldn’t complete): Star Trek. It had potential as an enjoyable movie tie-in co-op romp, but it launched with far too many game-breaking bugs to be even playable most days, and it was never patched.
The worst game I luckily didn’t play was a tie between Ride to Hell: Retribution and Fast & Furious: Showdown. Look up gameplay videos and you’ll see why. Just remind yourself that they were actually released in the year twenty-thirteen with publisher support. Sad.
GBM: What tips do you have for other gamers to finish games as quickly as you do? What tips would you give gamers that have a back catalog of games that they think they’ll never get to?
TH: First of all, I’m hardly qualified to offer any advice, but since you asked, enjoy my opinion: Everyone’s different, but as far as trying to complete games fast: Don’t. In most cases — unless you enjoy speedrunning or have played it before — you’ll end up ruining the intended narrative/experience. Skipping sidequests to focus on completing the main story is fine, but deliberately rushing through a story-driven game is silly (generally speaking).
To avoid staring into your games library and feeling overwhelmed, try to limit your focus to just a few games (even fewer if a massive, 30-80 hour title is included), and try not to let any games you’ve started sit for too long unplayed, especially if the game has even slightly complicated controls or core mechanics. I still haven’t finished Skyrim, LA Noire, Psychonauts, and a few others because of this very reason.
GBM: What have you learned from this experience of completing 59 games in one year?
TH: I’ve learned that my Twitter followers really will put up with anything.
In all seriousness though, I learned that (and this is why I mentioned it earlier as a warning to others) when I feel like a game is reaching its finale, I find myself wishing the game would end, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed it so far. This makes me rush a bit, which begins to ruin the enjoyment for me, and then I feel bad once I finish the game because I should have enjoyed it more. It’s a perplexing issue, and one I’m planning to be more conscious about and try to avoid in 2014 and beyond.
GBM: Do you plan on beating your record in 2014?
TH: I have no plans other than to continue playing games I enjoy. I doubt I’ll play through more games than I did in 2013, but we’ll see what happens (sorry, Twitter followers; prepare for another year). In 2010, I actually managed a disturbing 67 games (I was writing game reviews at the time, so that makes sense), while 2011 only saw 37 games completed. In 2012, I abandoned my record-keeping at game #5 for some reason, so that data is now lost forever.
GBM: Now that you’ve completed 59 games in one year, are you going to Disney World? (meme joke)
TH: Sorry, but this was the first thing that came to mind.
Photos by Steve Hage — Point Photo & Design