Anyone who has read some of my posts on this glorious website might have noticed that in a couple posts of literary genius, I mention that I’m a video game collector/hoarder. This is actually not true. In reality I should have wrote that I’m a game collector/ reformed hoarder. Yes. I can admit it now. I was a hoarder. I’m so ashamed. I had to own every game/ console even if I had no actual interest in it. If it was on sale or cheap on eBay, I would buy it. At one point I owned 18 consoles and a few hundred games. A lot of these games were unplayed and more importantly, still sealed. My collection was so out of hand that I had a whole room in my place dedicated to my collection (it seemed like such a great idea at the time), that my wife graciously let me claim. Once a week I would visit Gamestop and check out the bargain bins and buy a few games. This was on top of the games that I bought from eBay on a daily basis. Essentially there was a non-stop game conveyor belt leading right into my “nerd room.” Needless to say, in a span of about 2 years, my room was pretty full and I was proud. Until one day, a little over a year ago, I suddenly wasn’t proud anymore. It was like something in my brain clicked. There was no more happiness in buying a game. The joy was replaced by buyer’s remorse. It didn’t matter if the game was $5.00 or $25.00, I still questioned each and every purchase. “Do I really need this game? Is it something I’m going to play over and over again?” The answer was always a resounding “No”. Yet, inexplicably, I still bought them. I had to have them. It became clear that I wasn’t collecting for quality, I was collecting for quantity, and soon I wasn’t even collecting for myself anymore. I was collecting to see people’s faces when they walked into that room and saw everything. For some reason it was a source of pride for me. My family and friends’ awe-inspired faces were my motivation to keep buying, even though I had lost the desire to actually even play any games at all. They were all glorified dust catchers. Soon, even the compliments were not enough. So what changed? It boiled down to just one sentence…
My wife’s cousin had decided to drive 2 hours from New Hampshire to come visit us on a warm Spring Saturday afternoon. It was his first time seeing our place so we gave him the tour. Of course the end of the tour was my nerd room, as I thought it was the highlight of the whole place. I brought him in and proudly showed him around. After a few moments of silence, he asked, “You have an Atari?”. I said yes. He nodded, taking it all in and then asked if I had actually played all of these games. I was at a loss. No one had ever asked me that question. That’s when it hit me. I hadn’t. Not even close. Not even a quarter of them. I was honest with him and said no. He nodded again and said, “Well, some people collect baseball cards and they just sit around on a shelf, it’s just that your cards are video games.” There it is. That one sentence changed everything. You see, I grew up a sports card collector thanks to my dad. He got me started when I was only about 6 years old and I collected until I was about 14 or 15 (he still collects to this day). The reason I had stopped was because I couldn’t get past the fact that they serve no practical purpose other than existing on a shelf or in a shoebox. After that comparison of video games to sports cards the seed was planted; I had to sell most of my collection. If it was a source of happiness then I could justify owning it, but at this point, it was actually depressing when I thought of all the money I had spent on games that I hadn’t played, and in some cases, not even opened yet. In my mind, it had to go.
As with most decisions in my life, I sat down and talked to Caitlyn about it. She reminded me of the seller’s remorse I had when I sold my entire comic book collection (I was in a comic rut). The collection was mostly all Silver Age books (Tales to Astonish, Hulk, Fantastic Four, etc..) and right before the buyer showed up, a part of me wanted to back out. I didn’t and to this day I regret selling them. In the case of my game collection though, I was positive. Soon after our conversation I started the long process of separating what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to sell. In the end I only had 4 consoles and maybe 40 games that I actually played and wanted to keep. I took pictures, made a huge list of everything and posted it on Craigslist. After the endless emails from lowballers, spammers, and people who just wanted a game or two, I found 2 serious buyers: A store owner out towards Boston, and the other a collector from Pennsylvania, who said that he was going to be in the area and wanted them badly. In the end, I went with the collector. After exchanging emails back and forth for a few days, it became clear that this wasn’t about a profit to him; he actually wanted to hold on to everything. I expected the “back-out bug” to bite the day of the sale, but it never happened. As promised, he showed up on time with his girlfriend and we got to work loading the collection into his truck. While we worked, his girlfriend told us about how his collection was taking over their whole apartment (apparently they had a wii store display in their bathroom), but she was okay with it because it made him happy. I miraculously stopped myself from blurting out “for now!”, like the cynical a*****e that I am. After the last box was loaded, he paid me, assured me that it was going to a good home and drove away. I slowly trudged up the stairs, walked back to my nerd room and looked around at all of the emptiness expecting a wave of remorse to hit me. It never did.
It took me awhile to buy a game again. I would stand in front of the display shelves at Gamestop for what seemed like forever questioning if I was going to open Pandora’s Box again by buying a game that I might not make time to play, therefore starting the cycle of wasting money again. I’m sure I must have weirded out a clerk or two. In the end I always walked out with nothing, and for awhile, took it a step further and avoided going into a game store altogether. After taking a hiatus for a few months from buying games, I started reading reviews and watching Youtube videos so I could make an informed decision when it came to a game purchase. I was finally able to identify what games that I had an actual honest to god interest in playing and the ones that I didn’t. Basically, I became a smart shopper again. Admittedly, today, I do have a decent collection, but it’s exactly that; just a collection. The best part about it is that it’s all games that I actually like and play on a regular basis. What? You thought those Currently Playing articles write themselves?!”.