Apps and tech I’m using to help me finish more video games

I love gaming during my downtime, but lately I keep starting games and never actually finishing them.

I consider myself more of a casual gamer, but I still enjoy playing video games a lot. But lately, I've been having a problem - I start many games but never finish them. For example, I began Battlefront 2 in 2018 and finished it in 2023! While others may be trying to cut back on gaming time, I'm looking for ways to help me play more.

With so many games increasingly immersive with massive open worlds, I am torn between completing the main story and getting sidetracked by all the fun side quests. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting anywhere or unsure how long the game will take. Plus, even if it embarrasses me to admit it, some games are just too hard for me. So, I'm trying a few strategies to establish a steady gaming routine.

Keeping track of progress with Things

So, you might be thinking, why the heck am I using my to-do list app to track my video game progress? I know; it sounds pretty weird. But honestly, it's been a game-changer for me (pun intended). But before this, it was difficult to tell how far along I was in the game or how many levels I had left.

iPhone screenshots displaying Things 3 project view for Hogwarts Legacy game levels

My favorite task manager to the rescue, Things. I created a Gaming area and inside I'm adding Β project for each game. In the project I can add the chapters/levels of the main story to help me get a sense of progress. I mean, sure, I could just use a simple note, but checking items in Things makes it way more satisfying. I'm also using the amazing markdown notes to add useful info like How Long To Beat and handy links.

These are the steps I take when I start a new game:

  • Create a to-do list with the game's name in my Gaming Area
  • Google for the game's chapters, which I then copy and paste as sub-items.
  • Tidy up the list by removing anything I don't need.
  • Convert the to-do into a project.
  • Look for How Long to Beat and add the estimated time to the project description (also add any walkthroughs, reviews, or handy tips/links) and add them to the notes.

One of the cooler things is that Things keeps track of your completed items, so I always have a glance at my progress in the game. So far it's been working and because I set all the todo's as someday, they don't bother me during regular use of the app.

Shoutout to Nash Pitre from whom I first learned about this approach in one of his blog posts, he is currently doing a similar approach with Craft so I will have to try it out.

Building my Backlog with Sofa

Another app I'm using is Sofa by Shawn Hickman. I decided to give it a shot after hearing about it in Club Mac Stories. It was exactly what I needed- a simple way to keep track of my gaming progress. I have been using Game Track for a while, but the beauty of Sofa is that I can track any media, not just video games. Having one central place to keep track is excellent!

iPhone screenshots displaying the app Sofa and the multiple lists I create to keep track of games I'm playing and want to play
I added the two games I'm actively playing: Hogwarts Legends on PS5 and Metroid Prime.

I created a couple of lists for games - one for games I'm currently playing and another for the ever-growing backlog of games I want to play in the future. You can also use The Shelf to group items across multiple lists and media. Another cool thing is that you can add notes to each item, so I've been using that add my rating once I finish a game.

I added to the shelf the two games I'm actively playing: Hogwarts Legends on PS5 and Metroid Prime Remastered on Switch.

Gaming Home Screens

The best part of these apps is that they offer amazing home screen widgets. That helps me create dedicated gaming home screens on my iPad and iPhone that show up when I'm on my personal focus.

Screenshot of the iPad mini and iPhone with the homescreens I create with widgets from Things 3 and Sofa

I have two Sofa widgets displaying both my /Playing/ and /Backlog/ lists. For the Things widgets, I have two small ones displaying the project view for each game I play. I also kept a few Game Track widgets that show upcoming games and one that syncs with my PS5 account and shows my recent trophies. As for the apps, I have the PS Remote App and the PSN app.

I love these home screens because they serve as a reminder to play more in the evenings.

Improving my living room gaming setup

Another reason why I wasn't playing as much was that my old TV was terrible. It was a 2017 Vizio model and started developing huge dark spots around the edges. At first, I thought that upgrading wouldn't make a difference in me playing more and that this was just an excuse to buy a new TV. But boy, was I wrong. I upgraded to the newer LG C2 is spectacular and so beautiful that it actually motivates me to play more regularly.

With the old Vizio, it was impossible to play during the day because of all the reflections. Because of that, I also considered getting the Samsung QLED QN90B given all the reviews mentioned it performed better in brighter spaces due to the brighter nature of QLED. But ultimately, I decided to go with the C2 because I did not want to sacrifice quality for brightness. It ended up working out because it looks great during the day, even with a lot of reflections.

My living room with the LG C2 tv, homepods in stereo pair and PS5
Surprisingly LG C2 looks good during the day, so I can play a few levels in between meetings.

For the audio, I have a stereo pair comprised of two old original HomePods. I was unable to use them at all for the PS5 with the old tv. However, the new LG C2 supports HDMI eARC, which allows me to pass the tv audio through Homepods and therefore the Ps5 audio. Although the HomePods are all the way back from 2018, they still sound great and support Dolby Atmos.

Playing with Airpods Max

I love playing games when it's super early on a lazy weekend or when it's late at night, and everyone's asleep. But I can't blast the sound like I usually do, so I've been testing out the Airpods Max. It's pretty sweet. The noise cancelation feature gives me a totally immersive experience.

My Airpods Max connected to the PS5 controller in front of the LG C2 TV
Airpods Max connected to the PS5 controller using Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.

I did not want to waste any time trying to pair the AirPods every time to the PS5. I wish they paired as easily as they do with the Apple TV. Because of that, I went simple and used a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to connect the Airpods to my PS5 controller. Using a cable has proven quicker and more reliable than relying on Bluetooth. I love being able to easily adjust the volume and enjoy the noise-cancellation feature.

One cool tidbit is that if you set the AirPods Max to the transparency mode, you can still hear the cool audio feedback that comes from the PS5 controller.

Bonus tips

It's okay to play video games on easy - I'm trying not to feel ashamed about playing games in "easy mode." With story-driven games, I don't need to prove anything; I just want to enjoy the game. Who wants to spend a whole week trying to beat a boss? I'm talking about you, Raven Beak from Metroid Dread. I just want to enjoy the stories and cruise along, so it has been working out for me.

Nash also expressed the same thing on his newsletter:

I don’t have enough time in a week to play a game and not make progress. If I spend an hour with something, the story needs to move along. These stories are too good not to know how they end.

Leave your next playing session ready - If I finish a level or a quest and I’m ready to stop playing I try to spend a few extra minutes and setup the game so the next time. So the next time I sit down to play I don’t have to figure out what to do next as the context might be lost. In Hogwarts Legacy, for example I try to fly in my broomstick (so cool!) to the location of my next quest before logging off.

Although all these changes are small, they have helped me play a bit more consistently and develop a gaming habit. It’s also become part of my shutdown routine at the end of a long day. So far I’m almost finished with Hogwarts Legacy, just in time to replay Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order before the new, Jedi Survivor comes out on April 28.

I would love to hear about your gaming setups and rituals or if you have any feedback.