Out With The Old – Why Getting Rid Of Games Has Been The Best Thing For Me
2017 has been a year of many changes for me, mostly centered around the birth of my son. From my experience so far, if fatherhood were a job advertisement it would have to trumpet those first smiles in ludicrously bold fonts while keeping the required hours and holiday pay in microprint to find any applicants. It’s an interesting experience, and it led me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while but always found excuses to put off – cull my game collection.
I think it’s fair to say that for a portion of my adult gaming life, I’ve suffered from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) pretty badly. It’s an insidious little bugger, pressuring me to hit the checkout button before any logical thought can override it. The ridiculous thing about FOMO is that it is absolutely one of the clearest examples of a First World Problem I can think of – you are literally scared you will be missing out on something that, when all is said and done, really doesn’t matter. Part of it is tied into the identity I created for myself many years ago and wouldn’t change, much to my own detriment – I was ‘a gamer’, the person you could ask for information or opinion on near any title and I could give it. This is a fine thing to aspire to, but unless this hobby starts paying the bills or paving a career for you it’s untenable for any lengthy period of time. I have other interests of course, but when I reflect on it my passion for game playing has quite often precluded me from further excelling in other areas such as language, music, martial arts and writing. My FOMO and subsequent purchases came to a head earlier this year when my wife was tallying up our expenses from the previous year in preparation for tax time. The conversation went something like this:
Wife: “I did the receipts, guess how much you spent on games last year?”
Me: “I dunno, like $1500? Maybe a game a month or so?”
Wife: “Hah. $10,000.”
Me: “Does that include the $2000 on the new TV and the trip to PAX we both went on?”
Wife: “That’s beside the point.”
Me: “So only $7000 then?”
Wife: “I don’t think you can put ‘only’ in front of 7000.”
Me: “That’s actually quite a bit of money….”
Which it is. Even if my wife is exaggerating, she’d only do it by about 20% or so. Thus I set out in 2017 with the hopes of mending my ways and no longer cowing to marketers and word-of-mouth. Unfortunately, this oath has also coincided with one of the strongest first quarters of any year in recent memory, so it’s been a tough ride to say the least. What I needed was a way to offset a few key purchases whilst maintaining the will to stick to my guns and keep my gaming budget for 2017 under $1000. Enter the storage cupboard.
I have at any time two to three large plastic tubs full of games resting in various cupboards around my house. These aren’t current releases or games I’m playing in any way shape or form, but things I’ve finished or given up on. One of these has remained unopened for the past 3 or so years and was mostly stacked with PS2 and early 360/PS3 releases, with a smattering of PSP and DS cases. Lining the overflowing shelves in my media room are large limited and collector’s edition cases that typically cost between 2 to 3 times the price of the standard version of a game but contain tchotchkes and trinkets that I thought I wanted but generally look at once and then toss back in the box. I figured by getting rid of a few things from both my shelves and tubs, not only would I be offsetting the cost of any purchases made this year, I would also clear some much-needed space in my media room. But I was weak, and many times I simply couldn’t bring myself to part with any of it, always able to rationalise why I should keep =omething – “I’ll get to it one day!” or “But it’s a collectible!”. I needed a power stronger than myself. I needed Ken Lee.
Ken is a writer for Player2 who takes game hoarding and FOMO very seriously. Not because of any real concern for the psychological wellbeing of those suffering it I might add; Ken just despises ‘old games’. After confessing my sins to Ken, he gave me some sage advice:
“Anything that you have not touched in the past 6 months. OUT. Anything that has been in a tub, or a garage, or some storage unit for over a year. OUT. Anything that can be digitised. OUT. Anything that has no monetary resale value. OUT. Anything not relevant to whatever work you are doing. OUT. If you pick up an item, ask yourself whether you would miss it. Unless the answer is an unqualified, unreserved YES, then it goes OUT.”
Which is what I did. At last count, I’ve made well over $1000 from eBay and still have a pile to go on Gumtree, all things that would have declined in value with more time and I was never honestly going back to. What surprised me most was the amount of recent releases that ended up in the pile – I showed no mercy and went for current generation stuff as well with 3DS, PS4 and Xbox One titles all going under the hammer. Rather than feeling remorse at getting rid of so much, it’s as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, as cliché as that sounds. I was struck by my own folly, the idea that games I didn’t prioritise years ago would somehow end up a priority now or in the future, a reckless notion given the forward moving state of this hobby and its industries.
If I had to boil this experience down to a few dot points to cater for the TL:DR crowd, it would be this:
- Identity is fluid, as is taste. Don’t become a prisoner of your past or perceived intractability. Just because you used to play any old POS JRPG doesn’t mean you still have to.
- Set a budget if you don’t have one – seriously, a game here, some DLC there, a system refresh and not keeping track of it is how I spent so much money.
- Collectors editions are a monument to capitalism and a waste of space – unless the items are bringing you some lasting function or enjoyment, stick to the regular edition – if you’re on a budget, you can pick up another title or two with the price difference (maybe four or more for those ridiculous $350 editions some games release).
Career and family mean that I’m having to split my time into tinier and tinier fractions, with gaming often an afterthought left for a few spare hours on a weekend or a holiday. I know I’m not the only person in this situation but I spent far too long grappling with it rather than making some responsible decisions. Time, especially of the spare variety, is a precious commodity. Don’t spend it on anything – games, people, whatever – that isn’t making you feel fulfilled in some way and realise that there’s nothing wrong with getting rid of things that make you feel like who you were, not who you are or need to be.
Stephen del Prado
It was whilst toiling away in the bowels of the now mythical Australian Gamer forums that Stephen del Prados attempts at writing were recognised by then up-and-coming Matt ‘Hewso’ Hewson as “not terrible”. Since then Stephen has contributed to such sites as The Age’s now defunct Screen Play, the recently retired Black Panel and currently serves under Editor-in-Chief Hewso for Player2.net.au, at least until the pattern of decline obvious in his previous engagements is picked up by Hewso and he is exiled from games journalism forever