The Game of Shame

Post inspired by this Reddit thread from /r/PatientGamers

Have I told you how much I love the Patient Gamers subreddit? Because I really do adore it – it’s such a different vibe from most of the other gaming focused subs. Once in awhile, someone really comes up with a question that speaks to me. This time, it was about Games of Shame.

This is not about backlog. This is a discussion about that one game you’ve played a lot… but never managed to finish. Maybe you love the first half, three-quarters, but you just get so burned out before the end. Maybe the game mechanics change and offer a different experience. Maybe a new chapter starts and the art style for that section sucks. Maybe you just can’t play one game that long. Maybe it just got insanely difficult at a certain point.

Whatever the reason, it’s the game you’ve played partway through multiple times. And you’ll even consider starting it again, knowing you might not finish. What is that game? And why haven’t you finished it?


Until the end of last year, my Game of Shame, the most shameful of them all, would have been Psychonauts. I played it back in 2005, bought it on Steam in 2011, picked it up for the XBox about a year later, and played it over and over. I loved just about everything about the game. Everything, right up until the Meat Circus, whereupon I died over and over and over, until I wandered off, frustrated.

But then something amazing happened this past December. I decided to start over ONE MORE TIME, armed with my trusty Logitech F310, and resolved that, this time, I would beat it.

I definitely thought it was unbeatable. Definitely.

It only took me about 13 years, but I could finally take Psychonauts off the top of my Games of Shame pile.

There are probably hundreds of games I’ve bounced off of for one reason or another. I couldn’t get past the first hour of the original Hitman, Fallout, Deus Ex, or Assassin’s Creed. I enjoyed my time with Just Cause 2, but I just … got sick of it. I’ve hidden dozens of games in my Steam library after I played them enough to determine they really weren’t for me. But in all of those cases, there are no regrets.

There are plenty of other games I see myself going back to someday, but that I’m also not terribly upset to not yet have finished. Maybe there’s a little shame, but it’s barely a speck.

Then there are the games that have no finish line. If, like in the case of Tropico 4, there’s a campaign, I might call it finished once I work my way through the scenarios, but I also know that a lot of games in the genres I prefer are never really over. No shame there.

I’m pretty sure that puts Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines firmly on the top of my Shame-pile. Another title I’ve bought three separate times, I failed to finish it for much the same reason as Psychonauts – the last part of the game just soared past my personal skill cap and limits for frustration. However, unlike Psychonauts, recent attempts to play resulted in even less progress than ever before. It feels dated and slow, and the early game seems like a horrendous slog.

I was hoping that news of the sequel would inspire me to give it one last go, but I’m afraid that – with this one – it’s just not going to happen.

Do you have a game that stands out to you as a Game of Shame? What’s stopping you from finishing it?

One thought on “The Game of Shame

  1. Pretty much every game I didn’t finish is part of my pile of shame. There is a lot of them too, not even because of any fault of the game just because of my ADD (thanks brain!)

    The closest I can think of to your definition would be Dragon Ages: Inquisition. I quit that one because I hate collectibles, even more so when they give some kind of bonus. And that game had quite a few collectibles, even in the DLCs!

    *sighs* One day I intend to go back and finish that game though. I just need to find the patience to deal with collectibles.


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