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Meet the man trying to finish all the Steam games

Gabe on.

Since 2012 "Multitasker" has been trying to finish all the Steam games. He knows he'll never complete his mission, but he's soldiering on regardless.

I first came across Multitasker on Reddit, where he posts updates on "Project Finish all Steam Games", as he calls it. There are eight updates, now, each accompanied by an image packed with art from each game on the list.

Multitasker uses Photoshop to mark games as finished in his Steam library.

The list includes 1413 games Multitasker's currently working through. In the creation of each update image, Multitasker circles those games he considers finished, alongside a tick. He's finished 283 - or 20 per cent - of the games on the current list. Next to "games left to buy" is an infinity symbol. Why? There are over 3500 games on Steam, and more are added every week. It's impossible for Multitasker to gain ground.

At first glance, I thought the whole thing silly. Why bother? But the response to Multitasker's mission on Reddit is, largely, positive. There are loads of comments like this one:

People are rooting for Multitasker, even though he's already lost. I started to root for him myself, which sparked a number of questions in my mind. Who is he? How did the project begin? And, the inevitable: why?

Multitasker would prefer to keep his real name off the internet - as best he can, anyway. And in this age of doxxing and all the rest, I don't blame him. But he will say he's Norwegian, in his mid-thirties, and works as an IT consultant. He married his highschool sweetheart and has a two-year-old son. Another child is on the way.

I admit, this is not the type of person I had expected. I'd expected to find someone with few responsibilities, someone with plenty of time on their hands - not someone with a full-time job and a family.

"My friends identify me as the type of guy who always has some sort of project going on," Multitasker tells me. "I'm always doing something and rarely do I sit passive and for example watch television. Games as entertainment is the perfect fit for me as I feel more involved and active. This means that the time I spend for myself is usually spend in front of the computer."

Project Finish all Steam Games began life as Multitasker was playing old massively multiplayer online role-playing game Anarchy Online. He, like so many of us, had a Steam library packed with games he'd bought but hadn't played. They were sitting there, idle, gathering digital dust.

Multitasker made a point of getting stuck in to his own Steam library, but found himself jumping from game to game, as so many of us do. So, he set himself a rule: limit yourself to playing three games at a time. When one is finished, install another. This would be the spark that set fire to the Project. And it's grown ever since.

Most of the games Multitasker has finished he wanted to play, brilliant games such as Stalker, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Half-Life 2, Final Fantasy 7. But he always tries to have at least one game in his list he knows little about ("a wildcard, if you will"). A game such as cult classic Steam puzzler Bad Rats, perhaps?

"When the credits roll across the screen I consider the game finished," he says. There's no need to 100 per cent complete a game, Multitasker argues, no need to see every level, talk to every character, or defeat every enemy. The credits are king.

"There are those who would argue that a game isn't finished unless you have all achievements, have finished all side-quests, have seen all endings and so on," Multitasker says.

"I don't think spending double the time to finish Final Fantasy 7 just to farm 99.999.999 gils adds any value to the game. Nor do I think missing a side-quest is of any significance either. The Bethesda RPGs are great example of games that I love to play and end up being huge time-sinks. I usually play all the side-quests I can find, including DLC if available when I play it."

Multiplayer-focused games, however, pose a problem. You can't "finish" games such as Dota 2 or Counter-Strike - both huge hits on Steam. MMOs, too, rarely have any complete condition. Multitasker's solution is to "postpone" these games until after he's finished all the single-player games on Steam. This, we both know, will never happen. A kop-out? Something for the next generation to worry about, perhaps.

Watch on YouTube

Multitasker says he spends one or two hours playing games each weekday, then more over the weekend. "But gaming is secondary to all other everyday activities," he adds.

"Instead of planting my ass in the couch and drool in front of the television I shoot raiders and capture foreign troops with balloons on my laptop. In a week maybe 15-16 hours or so. It varies a lot."

About that laptop: "The TV is always occupied by my wife, so I end up on the dining room table with my laptop," he says, It's an Asus G751JT, and Multitasker uses it every day. It's a little over a year old, and he's had to remove and re-insert the W button three times. "I am simply wearing it out."

Multitasker buys his games. Steam Calculator tells him he's spent a whopping $15,000 so far, but he reckons the actual amount spent is about a third of that. So, around $5000, spread out over a decade. "I don't think spending that amount of money on a games is much. The hardware to run it all though..."

I keep going back to the time and effort that Multitasker must have put into this project already, but it comes across as a relaxed effort. It's more, I think, about chronicling his progress than making some kind of concerted effort to finish all Steam games during a set time period. I quite like that. It's more reasonable. More realistic.

It also seems to be a somewhat private project, a personal journey played out online. "I rarely talk about this with anyone except for my Reddit posts," he says. "Most of my friends aren't gamers either." Clearly, Multitasker's doing this for himself - and the Reddit karma.

If Multitasker keeps his current rate of game-playing up, he'll still be trying to finish Steam games when he's 80 years old. He knows this. So, why bother chronicling his progress at all? Why keep going?

Clearly, he just loves playing games, and I quite like that. "There is almost always some intriguing story or fun gameplay that draws me in," he says. "There are so many talented developers out there creating all sort of awesome worlds and I can't wait to explore and experience them."

Like a video game, Project Finish all Steam games has an "endgame". It's just not something Multitasker will be a part of, despite being the creator of it. One day, he imagines, someone will have to take over, working to finish all the Steam games Multitasker failed to complete.

Multitasker's PC setup, in the gaming room attic.

Meanwhile, Multitasker has launched a YouTube channel where he is currently chronicling his progress in video form. If he gets the time he'd love to expand the channel to feature stories about how the games he's playing were made. "That part of the process is just as interesting to me as the games themselves," he says. "Early prototypes, tech demos, beta versions, unreleased games and so on are pieces of history just like book manuscripts and early versions of symphonies. I find this part of game development extremely interesting and hope that I at some point can document and showcase that type of work on my channel."

Right now, though, he's happy to "continue grinding" through the list. That is, until life gets in the way.

"I suspect it will get hectic when my second child arrives," he says, "so most likely will it be scaled back quite a bit. I'll be back on track though, I'm sure of it. There are still games left to be played and I have yet to beat Bad Rats."