July 14, 2024

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How to use Google Collections as a video game backlog tracker

Google Collections are a lot of things, but easily accessible is not one of them. Ever since the company introduced the feature, it’s been buried deep within the Google Search app. Even though they surfaced to the bottom navigation bar, most people really don’t use them to my knowledge. This aside, I’m crazy about their potential and have written quite a bit about what they are and how to use them to get the most out of Google’s services by curating content that you find interesting.

Recently, I spent some time looking for video game collection trackers to help me get through my backlog and generally just to get a better handle on what I was playing, had played and wanted to buy and play in the future. It’s not for everyone, but databasing what you own either physically or digitally can be a fun or therapeutic endeavor, and Google Collections is literally built for such a thing.

Up until this point, I had been using it for loads of other things – saving places I want to visit on Google Maps, saving recipes I want to cook to my Cookbook for use on the Nest Hub, saving articles I want to read later using Chrome for Android’s web view, and more. I also think that they have the potential to replace Pinterest for anyone interested in collecting inspirational images for game development or otherwise.

So, I tried a few video game collection tracker apps – Stash, GG app, and more, but what I truly wanted was to see if there was a way to make such a thing work right within Google’s own ecosystem. Sure, you could just open a spreadsheet and start plugging things in, but then you wouldn’t have the visual splendor of game covers. As a highly visual individual, I really didn’t want to miss out on this aspect.

Today, I’m going to show you how to do just that. It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty cool use case for Collections, so I certainly hope that you give it a try. It’s yet another way for you to make use of something that Google has clearly invested in. Even though it’s poorly marketed, the Collections ‘bookmark’ icon can be seen across almost every Google service from Google TV, Jobs, Travel, Image search, Google Play Books, Shopping, News, Discover, and so much more.

First thing’s first, go ahead and visit your Collections by going to https://google.com/save on your desktop or Chromebook. From there, click the ‘+ New collection’ button on the left side of the page. I recommend you make three Collections. One named “Want to Play” for games you see and want to buy or try, another called “Playing” for titles that you’re actively working through on any console or platform, and another called “Played” for those that you’ve crushed and want to archive. Oh, and if you want Collections called “Abandoned” or “Shelved” for games you either stopped playing because they were terrible or that you simply didn’t have time to get to and won’t for a while, those are great ideas too.

You can see below that I’ve done this. You’ll want to keep the “Playing” Collection quite slimmed down – it allows you to focus and not spread yourself too thin. Getting through a gaming backlog can take time, and playing a hundred different games in small spurts and never sticking to anything can drag out the time it takes to finish it.

Next, just visit Google image search and type in the name of a game you’d like to place into one of these Collections. Let’s type in one of my all-time favorite games, “Final Fantasy Tactics”. You may even want to type in the words “cover art” in the search query to narrow your search.

Once there, click the cover art you want. In this case, I want to place the PSP cover art for Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions into my “Playing” Collection. Near the top-right of the image view on the right, click the three-dots “more” options menu and then click the “Add to” bookmark icon.

I recommend collecting only high-resolution images, and those that show the full game cover art. I would also recommend only saving covers to Collections from sources that will not delete those images in the future. For example, video game preservation or database sites like MobyGames are unlikely to delete that image, meaning it will stay on Google image search and not be deleted or broken images in your Collections years from now.

Other suggestions include adding images directly from Amazon listings, Wikipedia, and other reputable sources. Here’s a power tip – Saving the cover art images from the digital storefront sources that you own the games on allows you to later click through the said image to that store to see all of the game’s information. Description, release date, and more will be available to you. Essentially, you’re aggregating all of the same data that would be available on a traditional video game collection or backlog tracker.

Alright, now that you’ve added several game covers, return to Google Collections, and under your “Favorite images” collection, you’ll see them there. Click the “Select” button at the top-left of the images and then click each game cover you’d like to move. Click “Move to” and scroll down to the “Playing”, “Played”, or “Want to Play” collection and select it. Automagically, your newly collected games (which are really just images) will be shifted over to where you can enjoy looking at them.

Let’s say that you’ve finally beaten, oh, I don’t know, “Chrono Trigger” for the Super Nintendo. Select that and move it from the “Playing” collection to the collection titled “Played”. Doing this means you’ve effectively archived that game in your backlog, and can now move on to something else. Again, this is just one way to track things with Collections, and it’s quite fun to do, but maybe only for an organization nut like me.

You can also use Google Collections to track and save things like books too, but unlike services like “Goodreads”, you will be missing out on the community, commenting, and page or percentage tracking. However, if you’re just looking for something simple to get a hold of your life, Collections are a great way to do that as Google is essentially just crowdsourcing data from across the internet. I hope this was a fun way to use the service, and if you tried it out, let me know in the comments section!