In with the old.
With retro gaming being so popular, holding on to all your consoles and games seems like a no-brainer. Yet time and time again, I see people making the mistake of getting rid of previous gens only to look back years later and say, “Damn, why did I do that?” I suppose we are just too close to the forest to see the trees.
To this day, I am haunted by the things I’ve lost/tossed, and in my regret, I wrote this letter: a plea to my past self — and all gamers past and present — not to get rid of anything gaming related.
Dear Past Janet,
That’ll be funny once you actually watch Futurama. But seriously:
Don’t get rid of your PS2 or Gamecube.
I get it. With every new generation of video game consoles comes a rush of excitement. The industry says to us, “Here’s the next thing,” and we want it. It’s easy to look back at any 1–2 generations-old system and start to see it as obsolete. The process happens slowly. I mean, you love these consoles, but when was the last time you played them? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? That’s okay. You have other adventures to go on.
So you start to rationalize the decision; you will see your friends do the same. And while you never fall for those trade-in deals or even selling your system, your PS2 will meet an even worse fate. It will be thrown away somewhere in the shuffle of moving to a new place and “moving on” as a gamer. Your PS3 is not backwards compatible. In hindsight, this makes no sense. But you want to pack the things that are most important, and with the Jak trilogy on one PS3 disc, this just doesn’t seem like a big deal. The Gamecube will suffer a similar fate at the hands of your brother.
Looking back on it, I can’t imagine I was ever so foolish. But like I said, I get it. You’re not a collector. I could tell you that you will become one. I could tell you how you write about games and could still use these. I could attach the receipts; how much you’ve spent trying to buy back a fraction of what you willingly gave away. All of which are valid reasons for why you should hold on to these systems. But the best case I can make is this:
When you get rid of consoles the memories you have will become just that.
You can revisit plenty of mediums, but there’s something special about revisiting video games. Maybe it’s because we are actively involved (as opposed to movies, music, etc). When we play games we are viewers, listeners, and — above all — participants. Replaying games is a portal into both our pasts as well as the industry’s. It allows us to love and evaluate games on a deeper level. I have to say, Super Mario Sunshine remains one of my favorite games of all time. But what I wouldn’t give to hook up my PS2, put in Escape From Monkey’s Island, and figure out how the hell I feel about this game, especially now that I’m open to more genres.
So don’t toss out these consoles; don’t close that portal.
And this goes beyond you and gaming history. Keeping old consoles can be a bridge between you and loved ones. Janet, you’re going to meet a lot of wonderful gamers over the next few years. And all you’re going to want to do is hand them one of your old controllers and say, “Here; you have to play this game.”
Today, I look at my PS3 and it seems obsolete next to my Xbox One. And with dreams of getting the PS4, I don’t see myself hooking up the PS3 any time soon. But I plan to keep it for as long as I live. Why? Because gaming is a huge part of who I am, who I was, and who I will be.
So to you, my past self, I say this: I cannot promise you the amount of hours you play won’t change; I cannot see into the industry’s future. But trust me when I say you will always be a gamer.
And for that reason alone, you need to keep these consoles.
Why would you ever give away your own history?
P.S. On the same note, do you have any idea where the SNES Jr, N64, Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, and Gameboy Advance are? Take a weekend to go through the crawlspace. Trust me; this will save us a small fortune.