I don't spend nearly as much time talking about the things I consume.
In 2014 I kept a detailed list of every single movie, TV show, game, and book that I finished. The key word here is "finished," because the point was to keep a log that would help me track how often I was completing things that I started. As I write this, I'm not sure to what end I want to discuss it, so I'm just going to start with an unadulterated list of all of those things.
Games (Platform(s) I played on)
- Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PS4 / Vita)
- Coin Crypt (PC/Mac)
- Dark Souls (PS3)
- Destiny (PS4)
- Fez (PC/Mac)
- Guacamelee (Vita)
- inFAMOUS: Second Son (PS4)
- Nuclear Throne (PC/Mac)
- SteamWorld Dig (Vita)
- Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (Vita)
- Tomb Raider (PS3)
- Adventure Time S1
- Agents of Shield S1
- Attack on Titan S1
- Blacklist S1
- BoJack Horseman S1
- Chuck S1, S2, S3
- Community S2
- Derek S1, S2
- Doctor Who S8
- Fringe S5
- Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood S1, S2, S3, S4
- Game of Thrones S1, S2, S3, S4
- Knights of Sidonia S1
- Legend of Korra S3, S4
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Parks & Recreation S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6
- Sherlock S1, S2, S3
- Sword Art Online
- The Guild S4
- The Office S7, S8, S9
- Tron: Uprising
- Twin Peaks S1
- West Wing S3, S4, S5, S6, S7
- Big Trouble in Little China (Netflix)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Theater)
- Divergent (Rental)
- Doctor Strange (Netflix)
- Dredd (Netflix)
- Edge of Tomorrow (Rental)
- Exit Through the Gift Shop (Netflix)
- Frozen (Theater)
- Grosse Point Blank (Netflix)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Netflix)
- Hansel & Gretel (Netflix)
- How to Train Your Dragon (BluRay)
- Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Theater)
- I Know That Voice (Netflix)
- Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore (Netflix)
- LEGO Movie (Theater)
- Lilo & Stitch (Netflix)
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Netflix)
- Reign Over Me (Netflix)
- Say Anything (Netflix)
- Snowpiercer (Netflix)
- Star Trek: Into Darkness (Netflix)
- The Fault in Our Stars (Rental)
- Video Games: The Movie (Netflix)
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (Theater)
- Annihilation Vol.1 (Graphic Novel)
- Hawkeye Vol.1 (Graphic Novel)
- Neuromancer (Novel)
- Sandman: Dream Country (Graphic Novel)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Novel)
So that's it. That's absolutely everything that I completed in 2014. I have dates for most of those things, but I did a bad job keeping track from about June through October, so I didn't include them all. Here are my general thoughts:
- It's satisfying catching up to things. I finally beat Fez and Dark Souls, for instance. I had never played Fez and I had been avoiding fighting Gwyn because I didn't want Dark Souls to end, but completing those games were great experiences. For TV shows, I caught up to Parks & Recreation, The Office, West Wing, Game of Thrones, and several others. I finally finished Neuromancer after about 9 years of trying. I finally saw movies like Say Anything, Grosse Point Blank, and Big Trouble in Little China. Truly wonderful experiences are still wonderful long after they're current.
- My media experiences were largely dictated by availability through subscription services. Half of my games played were through PlayStation Plus. Well over half the movies I watched and all but four of the TV shows I watched were on Netflix. Before I wrote this list I thought I read more than I did, then I thought, "Maybe I just don't read as much as I thought I did," and now I think, "I would read much more with a reading subscription service." 2015 may be the year I sign up for Marvel Unlimited, for example.
- Portability is king. Almost half of my completed games were on the Vita (thanks, 64GB memory card!). TV shows and movies were frequently watched on an iPad in bed. All of my books, on the other hand, required that I have that particular, physical book on-hand, so I was far less likely to read any given book simply because it wasn't included in my mobile media archive. Vita games were also more likely to be played than 3DS games because most of my Vita games are on my huge memory card while most of my 3DS games are on individual cartridges. This is interesting to me because I actively seek out physical games, but after analyzing my gaming habits it seems that that very thing decreases the likelihood that a game will get finished because it reduces that game's accessibility. Weird!
- I didn't keep current with very many things and that was okay. Destiny and inFAMOUS: Second Son were among the only games I bought when they came out in 2014, with Dark Souls II being the only other time-of-release purchase. Nuclear Throne was a free copy I got at PAX East and Coin Crypt was an early access gift copy from Greg. I saw only five movies in the theater. I kept current with only a small handful of TV shows. Still, I rarely felt like I was missing out and I never felt like I had a dearth of possible experiences to partake in.
- I have trouble with nebulous games that have no real "end." Destiny is my most-played game of the year, followed by Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Neither of those games has a set ending, despite them appearing on my list of "completed" games. Nuclear Throne and Coin Crypt are procedural death labyrinths, but they're on the list as well. For these games, I had to say, "This is an end point, so it counts." For Destiny it was defeating Atheon in the Vault of Glass. For Binding of Isaac: Rebirth it was beating all of the bosses once. For Nuclear Throne it was completing my first loop. I still played all of these games after this point, which is interesting to me. I never went back to any game that had a concrete, linear ending, but I kept replaying every single game that didn't. Some games, like Puzzle & Dragons, took up a lot of my time but never made the "completed" list because I simply never saw a clear end. Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing? It's hard to tell, but clearly endless games occupy a lot of my gaming time so it's worth taking note of that point. How many other people are playing endless games instead of moving on to new experiences?
- Despite intentionally keeping a list designed solely to encourage me to finish things, I still left many things unfinished. Now, let me be clear: It's okay to quit things. Some experiences just aren't good ones. I picked up Armored Core V: Verdict Day and hated it, so I didn't play more. I loathed the first few hours of Final Fantasy XIII-2 so I stopped. That's okay! The problem is that I still have games like Dark Souls II and Mass Effect 3, shows like Breaking Bad and Orphan Black, and unfinished books like the Dresden Files that I love, but haven't finished. Clearly I still have issues with completing media experiences. Perhaps I simply lack the discipline, but I also suspect that part of my brain just doesn't want my absolute favorite experiences to end. It took me literally years to finish Dark Souls and I've been perpetually on the last few missions of Mass Effect 3. Some of my all-time favorite games like Final Fantasy VI and Link Between Worlds remain incomplete. I just don't want them to end because I know once I'm done there's only a slim chance of ever going back. Perhaps there's also the lingering fear that maybe they won't be as good as I want them to be, so I don't finish them in order to keep them perfect in my mind.
What does this all mean?
First off, I'm going to do this again for 2015. It's really cool that I can look back at year-end and have a list like this. I forgot about many of these and I enjoy the reminder. It's also interesting to see just how many things I finished. It certainly doesn't feel like this much!
Beyond that, I learned that low stakes and and a low barrier for accessibility are the most important predictors for what gets finished. I'm far more likely to finish something I can experience right now that I don't have any prior investment in than I am to finish something I'm really looking forward to that I have to seek out. Perhaps knowledge of that investment barrier will help me overcome it and in 2015 I can make more of an effort to tackle the things I most want to experience instead of the second-best things I don't think twice about completing.
2014, you were a good year for media consumption. Here's to 2015 being even better.