Bullet journals are a great way to stay focused and organized in your regular life … so why not extend them to your gaming life?
Bullet journal techniques can be used to track the games you’re playing, as well as your progress through them. At the most basic level, you can use it to track your high scores, which is what I’m doing with Yars’ Revenge for my Ready Player One Replay. But where bullet journals really shine are with more complicated games where you need to keep track of the game’s minutia … and the in-game journal and quest managers aren’t up to the task.
Bullet journals are organized into logs (e.g. a daily log with tasks and reflections), trackers (e.g. a habit tracker to keep track of your progress toward certain tasks, like learning a new language or reading every day) and collections (for tracking things like projects or special topics).
- New to bullet journals? Check out my intro over at Nuketown
- We talk about bullet journals on S1E6 of Lair of Secrets.
- Looking for a digital take on BuJos? Check out our virtual bullet journals post
Gamer Collection Ideas
- Crafting: Many video games include a crafting component (e.g. upgrading weapons in Cyberpunk 2077, seasonal items for Animal Crossing). A crafting collection can be used to keep track of the resources you need to collect (e.g. 15 pieces of rusted metal) as well as notes about what items you’re trying to build.
- Daily Log: Keep track of what you did on a particular real-world day (e.g. Completed Chapter 7 of *Fire Emblem Revelation). This is a particularly helpful when you play a game intermittently, and can’t remember where you left off (or what you were trying to do).
- Skill Tree Planning: Map out your future character’s upgrades … and then remember your plan by writing them down in the journal. Particularly important for games like Fire Emblem or Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, which contain dozens of characters, each with their own upgrade paths.
- Side Quest Management: Most RPGs are pretty good about telling you where you are in the main quest … but side quests hit or miss. Use your gamer journal to track and prioritize your myriad side questions, and where you are in them. Particularly useful for quests like assembling Biggoron’s Sword in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nothing in the game helps you keep track of the quest; you need to manage it yourself.
- User-created quests: Keep track of the random things you want to come back to later. For example, in the Fallout series I’d find power armor out in the wild … but didn’t have the skills to 1) reach the armor and 2) a spare power cell to power the armor. Having a journal lets you keep track of the things you as a player want to come back to.
Example: Fire Emblem Fates – Revelation
I love the Fire Emblem series. It’s a turn-based fantasy-themed skirmish game / relationship manager featuring epic (and epically repayable) story lines. At first glance, the games may seem simple enough: gather your army, find an enemy, fight them. Die (a lot). Repeat until you win and the story advances.
But while its easy to know where you are in the story, there’s a ton of minutia to keep track of. I started using my gamer journal to keep track of them for Revelation, which is the third campaign for Fire Emblem Fates (following Birthright and Conquest). I did this in part to develop journaling strategies for Fire Emblem Engage, which released in January 2023.
In Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates, your characters have relationships and relationship levels. If they achieve “S” (the highest rank), they’ll get married and have a kid. Building those relationships means pairing them to fight in battles, which means keeping track of who’s dating who. After researching the best unions, I created a charter listing the pair name and the letters C, B, A, S (which represent the level of support they’re currently at).
This was particularly helpful at the start of battles, when I needed to remember who needed to team up with whom.
The Fire Emblem Revelations weapon system is somewhat convoluted. Each character has a weapon type they can use, like axes, bows, swords, and spears. They have a current rank in that skill (from a low of E to a high of A) that improves over time.
Weapons are also rated from E to A, and characters can’t use a weapon that’s rated higher than their ability. At a glance, it’s difficult to see what character is skilled in what weapon AND the level of the weapon they’re currently wielding.
Beyond this, each weapon can be upgraded, which requires finding a copy of the weapon and collecting/winning enough gems of a certain type. Once you have that, you can forge a more powerful version of the weapon in the forge.
As characters level up, it’s important to keep their weapons current and upgraded so they remain competitive but it’s a chore, so I avoid doing it.
To help with that, I created a “weapon improvements” table listing the character, their weapon type / level, and what weapon and level they’re currently wielding. The game’s shops offer new weapons each day, and I use this table to figure out what I should be looking out for. Once my key characters’ weapons are at the proper level, I’ll work on upgrading them
I started a daily log to keep track of what chapter I’m on, and to make notes about strategies that worked or didn’t work during its battle. I play Fire Emblem in hard core mode with permanent character death. In true Fire Emblem fashion, that doesn’t mean I don’t let anyone die. It means I power off and restart the game whenever anyone does die. Would it be easier to just go with casual mode, let people die, and then be resurrected after the combat.
Yes, most definitely. But tradition is tradition … and while frustrating, it can also be immensely satisfying when you finally complete that perfect battle.
While I started the log planning to track tactics, it turned into a death roll noting who died and how they were killed. It’s a bit morbid, but darkly amusing as well.
- JashiiCorrin: Bullet journal collection ideas for gamers (video)
- Planning Vero: Gaming Bullet Journal Flip Through (video)
- Reddit: Bullet journal for gaming, or overkill?
- Polygon: Hitman 3 is even better with a bullet journal
- Reddit/Girl Gamers – 2019 Game Tracking Bullet Journal Spreads
- Reddit/Girl Gamers – Game Journaling: How it increased my creativity and gave me more self-control