The year I lost the zeitgeist; Or, why I am wholly unqualified to write a 2015 Top 10 list

Little known fact: I am the person who conceived of ‘Backlog Adventures’.

The Playstation 3/XBox 360 console generation was coming to an end and I had stacks of old games that I hadn’t finished, or in some instances, even started. AAA high budget games had started to bore me and only a few genres held my attention for very long.

Throughout my college years I felt compelled to stay current; but a couple of years blogging about games had left me tired and disinterested in whatever the new hotness happened to be. As a recent college graduate with a job and other responsibilities/hobbies I found that my backlog of games was growing exponentially. I also realized that all the games I wanted to write about were old or obscure.

star wars hoth
I didn’t play this.

Backlog Adventures was born out of my dismay. The idea was that Will and I would create a site where we would write about anything we wanted without trying to stay current. I made plans for a site that I would code, a podcast, columns and then… I guess I’ll shrug it off with a cliche and say that life happens.

Will and I got married. We have jobs, interpersonal relationships, and needy cats. But truthfully, the last two years have been unpredictably eventful. My life -our life- has taken turns that I couldn’t have predicted. I won’t go into the details here, but 2016 is bound to bring changes to our lives the scope of which I’m still grappling with.

mobile combat
Was this released in 2015? I’m sure it was. Probably. 

All of this brings us to the morning when, via text, Will asked me to write my list of the top ten albums of 2015. I found this hilarious for two reasons:

I’m notoriously lacking in musical knowledge. More than once, Backlog contributor Kyle Northrop has threatened to end our friendship over my ignorance of music.

I’m not entirely sure I listened to 10 albums released in 2015.

Seriously: even after thinking about it all day I can only come up with two 2015 albums I’ve heard in their entirety: 21 Pilots’ Blurry Face and Wilco’s Star Wars. Even worse I listened to both albums on shuffle using a free Spotify account.

I know. I’m a monster.

This is the terrible Assassin’s Creed game that came out this year, right?

Oh, I also listened to Chvches new album that I can’t remember the name of or bother to look up right now. So three. We’re up to three now.

Music isn’t the only thing I’ve missed out on this year. I was seriously dismayed when I scanned the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2015 and realized that I haven’t read any of them. I don’t think there’s been a year since I was 16 that I haven’t read at least half of the list. Most of this year’s books I hadn’t even heard of until reading the list.

Like I said it’s been a weird year. The kind of year that when given the choice of what to do on a Saturday night I’ll invariably choose to increase my hundreds of hours spent playing Don’t Starve rather than try something new. Consciously and unconsciously I’ve spent the year subsisting on cultural comfort food.

A screenshot from Fallout 3, a game I remember playing… For like, an hour. 

Originally when I conceived of Backlog Adventures, avoiding the zeitgeist was supposed to be liberating. But now that I’ve done it by accident I’m left feeling alarmed that a year has gone by and I’ve barely digested any pop culture.

Don’t get me wrong; I read books, played games, and watched TV. But with a year’s worth of hindsight my consumption feels scattershot and I can’t think of another year during which I can’t remember being really excited for a new release.

I want to add here that there is one HUGE exception to all of this. Star Wars. I love Star Wars and wouldn’t have missed new Star Wars for anything. RIP Expanded Universe, we had a good run.

game library
A representation of the unplayed board games in our collection. 

Maybe there is absolutely nothing to be alarmed about. All told I’ve had a great year.

Sure, I can’t tell you anything substantial about Between the World and Me but I’ve discerned a vocation.

I don’t know what the hot cookbooks were this year but I’ve finally mastered the elusive art of Chinese takeout at home.

My knitting has improved exponentially as I channeled nervous energy into knits and purls.

Will overcame the odds and persuaded me to care about WWE.

cena sad
Doot doodoo doot. – Editors Note.

2015 has been a weird year. I have no idea where 2016 will take me be it physically or mentally. Maybe next year I’ll have a list of 10 best albums. Or not, I honestly have no idea. That’s what 2015 has taught me, plans fall through and life can take incredible turns.

When I needed a break from big decisions and heady assigned reading there was a comforting backlog waiting for me. The books, movies, and music I turned to this year may not have been this year’s important art, but nonetheless, said art carried me away when I needed to take a journey.

Rachel Harrison is a small-business juggernaut and writer from Toledo, Ohio. Message her at BackLogAdventures@Gmail.Com.

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