Have You Played…trying to remember everything you ever played?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

This is the 598th Have You Played? entered into the RPS back-end (apologies for that image). I would estimate I’ve written a hundred of them, as well as having played the vast majority of the others. Yes, I’m running out of ideas now, but I am positive that there are dozens, if not hundreds more still in my head somewhere – the trick is trying to access that dusty filing system.

Games are like songs, when it comes to memory. Film and TV I think are a little different – you can watch something not quite sure if you’ve seen it years ago, whereas returning to a game years later, and in some cases even just seeing a screenshot, usually results in certainty. Same with music – if you’ve previously heard it more than once or twice, chances are it’ll have a home in your mind until the day you die. You’ll never think of it, probably not be able to summon it from memory at will, but it’ll come on the radio unexpectedly one day, and you’ll be able to sing along to at least part of it.

And so it is with games. If I sit here and try to remember everything I ever played in my life, I run out of answers fast. If I browse through, say, Archive.org’s roster of DOS games, all sorts of lights flicker on in my brain – played that, had the demo, remember the box, a mate had it, always wanted to play it…

Every game, no matter how bad, perhaps even no matter how brief, leaves an impression. I’d love to have, essentially, a photo album made of everything I ever played – a screenshot of each one, chronologically. Memories of my life, in some cases far more potent and important than holiday snaps.

Of course, to do that, I’d need to remember them all. Never gonna happen.

From this site

56 Comments

  1. Land says:

    Can you tell us your current process for finding games for Have You Played? Do you, as you say, go to archive.org to find old games only, or do you also use other ways to try and remember?

  2. LinasKK says:

    Is there a database where I could add all of my played games? Something nice and easy (like IMDB for games) would be awesome.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      How Long To Beat has turned into that kind of service, with the added benefit of crowdsourcing some much needed info on play length.

      link to howlongtobeat.com

    • thegooseking says:

      I use Darkadia (darkadia.com), which was featured on this here web site some years ago (Nearly six years? Has it really been that long?).

      I use it mainly to keep track of what games I own (and whether or not I’ve played or finished them – turns out I own nearly 150 games I’ve never even played!) but there’s nothing to stop you using it for games you have played but don’t own, too. New games you add are automatically set to ‘owned’ but you can easily deselect that and select ‘played’.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Darkadia seems interesting, thanks.

        If it closes soon, then you’ll know that I just joined. I tend to have that effect.

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      Aerothorn says:

      I also use Darkadia – development seems more or less frozen right now but it’s not abandoned (dev swings by if something breaks)

    • internisus says:

      Over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with Letterboxd, and I desperately want the exact same website to exist for video games: a place where I can not only catalog my collection but also make lists and chronicle my play time and rate games and discover new ones and write reviews and be social about all of it. Why, oh why does this not exist yet.

    • dskzero says:

      I use Backloggery every once in awhile but it doesn’t have a database so you gotta remember the games, not suggestions or anything.

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      Rilmo says:

      Boardgamegeek is basically IMDB for board games and has a sister site called Videogamegeek. While I use bgg for anything board game-related, I only use vgg for keeping a list of the games I’ve finished. Up to about 215 and having looked through all physical games I own along with digital libraries means it’s mostly accurate, although I did remember to add Another Code and Hotel Dusk only a few days ago, (adventure games on the DS) so I’m probably missing a couple still.

      Why would anyone make a list of everything they’ve played though? Most of it’s stuff I wouldn’t want to revisit or reccommend to anyone anyway. That’s like keeping a list of every tv show I’ve seen even half an episode of.

    • Ckrauser says:

      The only thing I dislike about those sorts of database sites is the number of them that come and go. Sucks to build up your collection and have a site go away. Make sure to export them from time to time!

  3. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    First world problem, but it’s becoming even more of struggle to remember what games I’ve purchased and why.

    Various bundles and Steam sales have turned my library into a sea of obscure titles. If Steam didn’t also show me the Hours Played to remind me that I’ve actually spent time with some of them, I’d be at a total loss.

    • jezcentral says:

      God, yes. I was looking through my library, and although there will be games I bought as part of a bundle, or I got free with PC Gamer/some promotion, there will be some I must have bought for some reason. Which ones are they? And Why?

      • Guvornator says:

        I just looked and only got as far as the “A”s before I ran into Aquaria, which I don’t know anything about and swear blind I wouldn’t have paid money for. I’m beginning to think Indie games of a certain type aren’t developed at all but are the bastard offspring of other indie games which have mated in people’s Steam library. Early Access is really just a sort of creche…

    • Ghostwise says:

      I get a fair bit of mileage out of Steam categories to keep my stuff organised, with non-Steam games being added in (even if I can’t actually launch them from Steam).

      It’s better than nothing but could use many, many improvements. As I probably babbled about here already like a senile Turian.

      EDIT – and IIRC you can now create your own local Steam tags for your stuff.

  4. Trillby says:

    Damn and goddamn blast, where’s my retrospective of Silver (1999)? You, Alec, and Old Man Winter too (that’s John) both owe me a quick write-up – after asking for ideas for ‘Have yous played’, I duly recommended it to each of you, at seperate occasions. And to what end? Nary a sliver of Silver anywhere. For shame, Sirs. Correct this embarrassment post haste!

    • Thankmar says:

      Silver, the one with the mousecontrolled swordswishing? I played that, liked it and considered it an oddity since no one ever mentions it. From what I remember it was a really nice zeldaesque Action-RPG with this strange control scheme, which made it really unique on a PC. Definitely one for a HYP, but chances are, nobody at RPS did actually played it?

    • HigoChumbo says:

      Funny, it’s exactly the first game I thought about as soon as I read the title of the article.

      It’s indeed a gem, and I’ll never understand how it’s not that known.

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      cpt_freakout says:

      The music was pretty great too, IMO nearing that Final Fantasy feel of a grand fantasy journey. Interestingly enough, it was composed by Ray Shulman, who was once the bass guitarist of the ‘Canterbury’ prog rock band Gentle Giant. Anyway, Silver is indeed a gem!

    • Darloth says:

      I still remember “SIL-verrrrrrr!!!”, yes. Never got very far though. Lent it to someone in the end. Hope she enjoyed it more than I did, have since moved away.

      • HigoChumbo says:

        I did finish it a couple times, but I also remember having to leave a few playthroughs half done because there was a bug that would not detect the second CD, which had the second half of the campaign.

        I still remember being stuck at the damn bell trying to figure out what was I doing wrong (once you put in CD2 you had to ring a bell once, then twice, then three times for the door that led to the second half of the campaign to open).

        And to make it worse, it was raining.

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    distantlurker says:

    The one that irks me most is trying to remember the driving game I had on one of 8-bit boxes that had Galaxians as a loading screen game.

    It shows that I am so unbelievably old and feeble minded that the patent on loading screen games has now expired.

    Ooooooooold!

  6. Freud says:

    I sometimes remember a mission or level from a game and I can’t recall what game it’s from. It’s funny how some details stick but everything else is gone.

    The game that I most recently had a flashback about despite not thinking about it for over a decade is the old game Freedom Fighters, a third person game about Russia attacking USA. Decent but not great game and I have no idea why part of it stuck in my mind and popped up 2017. Silly brain.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Funny how Freud talks about the brain behaving silly. I bet you’d know all about that, what with your theories and stuff.

      I sometimes think about all the games I have played, but then I inevitably think about all the games I haven’t played, which I either own or don’t. I either spend lots of time with a game or none at all, which explains why I can recall pretty much every game I’ve ever played since I started in the late 90’s.

  7. keefybabe says:

    Well I started on the spectrum so… no…

    I have no idea. There are games I loved I’ve forgotten about that I only remember when I stumble upon them in an emulator.

  8. mollemannen says:

    Haha thats a good one. Like “do you remember every smell, sound, sight you’ve ever had”. No would be the answer as it is impossible. however i think it’s all stored in long term somewhere tough? like codes for old games. Have you played cell block A?

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    Godwhacker says:

    Have we had AirQuake yet? I’m pretty sure you’re allowed mods if they’re sufficiently different to the original

  10. kud13 says:

    Back when I was just getting into the hobby, back home in the post-USSR republics, there were no such things as “licensed copies” . Everything was bootleg, and no one really knew or cared, as long as it was affordable.

    I remember my grandfather buying me a couple of “compilation” CDs for less than 2-3 USD (when converted from local currency) that would boast having hundreds of games on a single disk (a lot of them early 90s platform’s or arcade shooters, under a megabyte each).

    At some point I’ve tried many of them, usually many in one sitting, until I’d get stuck, and then move onto the next one. I’ve encountered a few shareware jewels like that (can we get a Solar Winds retrospective, please?), but most were just a pixellated blur.

    One such CD I still own and treasure is the one from 1997, “Best strategies” that included all the 90s classics (Dune 2, Civ2, Colonization, M.A.X., Lords of the Realm 2, WarCraft 2, Warlords2 Deluxe, Settlers 2, Total Anhilation, UFO, Age of Empires, etc- most of the titles that live on my GOG shelf now). I’m pretty sure that’s the CD that “made me” as a gamer.
    But all those others- they pop up in my mind from time to time, though I obviously don’t remember the titles to most, but I sometimes recognize the screenshot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      I replayed Solar Winds several years ago. The shareware portion (i.e. the portion that was available for free) was great, if not nearly as long as I remembered. I had never played the second part, which required a purchase, and was surprised to discover that it’s much worse. All the good stuff is in the free first half. It was rather odd.

  11. Chaoslord AJ says:

    It’s all a blur the millions of virtual monsters slain, thousands of bosses.
    Sometimes when I’m driving a music might play in my head and I realize it’s actually from the original Starwing. The suppressed memories are all still there somewhere.

  12. caff says:

    There is one game that I can never remember the name of, and it really bugs me. It was on the Atari ST back in probably the early 90s.

    It was basically about a guy walking around a funfair, playing mini games on cabinet arcade machines. I seem to remember each of the mini games were quite hard, and it was quite violent involving spinning blades and stuff.

    I’ve tried googling it but to no avail. Any help would put me out of my misery!

  13. Ninja Dodo says:

    My solution is this thing: link to darkadia.com

    (game collection system using data from the giantbomb api)

  14. floogles says:

    Ah this is a Big Thing for me. I stopped gaming for many years, and when I came back to it recently via The Witcher I realised that I NEVER FINISHED GAMES.

    Once it dawned on me that all I had were fragmentary memories of barely begun experiences, I started making a list. Sometimes it took forever to discover what the game actually was, but now I alternate – one new game, one old game.

    It’s weird to say how much weight gets lifted off me each time I finish an old one – recently it was completing Hybris, 28yrs after I first played it. I know it’s meaningless, but somehow my life is better now after finishing it.

  15. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    For the past year or so I’ve been maintaining a simple spreadsheet of games I’ve beaten. Maybe it’s just some OCD thing but a game feels more tangible to me if I can definitively write down a record of having finished it.

  16. Mara says:

    That’s why you have a spreadsheet, a large meticulous spreadsheet for the >1000 games you’ve played.
    …everybody does that, right? Right?

    • da_moe says:

      Yes, I do! It was a hard work to find all those lcd games from the 80 though. and the lesser known arcade games.
      > 2000

      • Mara says:

        Hooray! I actually found that my childhood library kind of pales in comparison to the slew of Steam nonsense I somehow end up acquiring each month, so I didn’t quite have that problem.
        Glad to see I’m not the only one though.

  17. someoneelse84 says:

    Have you played… Gods?

    Have you played… Prehistorik?

    Have you played Little Big Adventure 2?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Yes – ST Format cover disk demo.
      No
      Yes – and it’s one of my favourite games of all time (though I’m dubious about how well it’ll have aged)

  18. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    The biggest thing for me would be remembering all of the arcade machine idle screens that are injected into my brain.

    I recently had a massive nostalgia kick when I saw Circus Charlie for the first time in ages and immediately remembered all the minigame demos. Boy, I hated that game though.

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