Trimming Down My Video Game Collection

Collections are trees that require careful pruning to stimulate beauty and growth. #Deep, right? Sometimes collections need pruning. It can stem (pun intended) from necessity and major life changes, or simply an itch for maintenance and evaluation.

I currently feel both.

Not so long ago my wife and I moved into a spacious home with disposable time and income to spare; the growth of my collections (video games, collectible cards, memorabilia, etc.) during that time correlates appropriately. Now we’re on the move again, but this time we’re downsizing, preparing to (try to) grow our family, and planning a sustainable lifestyle where time and income are concerned. I also decided to pluck some of the weeds and invasive species (#plantmetaphors) from my collection when I stumbled on a group of bad, forgotten, boxed Game Boy games that I would neither play nor display, ever. Sorry, Quest for Camelot; I didn’t like the movie either.

After a couple hours of enjoyable, nostalgic digging, I’d filled several shoeboxes with the most forgettable one percent of my collection. I took them to my local game store and swapped the entire pile (and $10 extra) for two PlayStation titles I’ve always wanted. Seeing tiny item-by-item credit amounts is disappointing, but trading a pile of inconveniences for a pair of desirable commodities felt great. It was like trading a cow that no longer produced milk (the reason Jack’s family parted with it) for magic beans (#moreplants), but without a seething, starving family to judge me.

I felt the best when I saw the results. The collection emanated as much nostalgia and happiness as ever, but with more clarity and direction, and in a (slightly) smaller space. It was useful mental exercise to reevaluate what the hobby means to me, and to make difficult-but-thoughtful choices. As a bonus, I think the experience will resonate as a meaningful memory every time I see one of the games I got in return.

***

If you have a story about a time you had to purge your collection, I’d love to hear it! I’m fortunate that my experience was positive, but I’d love to hear your tales of more challenging times, and how you adapted and moved on.

Video Game Dads, if you read this, I recall an episode with Norm the Gaming Historian in which he said he’d gotten rid of all but a handful of his games when moving to Kansas City. It’s a tremendous episode, and since listening to it I often wonder which games I’d keep if I had to sell the majority of my stuff, which is an entertaining mental exercise. That idea helped motivate me to do this (and to tell the tale), so thank you! Also, I’d love to hear your collection-pruning stories.

***

As an aside, I wanted to list a few of my notable purges below, in reverse chronological order.

Spring 2018 – Video Games
As mentioned above, I sold a small portion of my collection for the sake of size-reduction and using the money to add a couple more meaningful titles to my collection.

Spring 2017 – Games, Memorabilia, Accessories
Prior to moving to my second home, I sold a lot oddly-shaped and/or difficult-to-move gaming items including memorabilia, video game accessories, and game room storage.

Fall 2016 – Trading Card Games
I wanted to upgrade my (terrible) Yugioh zombie deck. I sold more than half of my collection of Yugioh, Pokemon and other trading card game collections, primarily comprised of obsolete and duplicate cards.

Summer 2014 – TurboGrafx-16
I’ve written about it before, and it still stings. When I was in high school, a former foreign exchange student at the was selling some things at his host family’s garage sale. He sold me two TurboGrafx-16 systems, one TurboCharger adapter, two controllers and several games. (I had no idea what they were at the time, but quickly and excitedly did some research.) I sold one system to my friend Tracy to help me cover the cost. About a decade later, I realized how expensive and difficult the system was for which to collect, and that I disliked the very limited library anyway. I’d also set my sights on the far cheaper, more interesting, fleshed-out and durable Japanese version, the PC Engine. I traded in the system and games an excellent stash of credit from my then-local game store which I effectively spread out over a year. More importantly, the following summer (2015), I had saved enough money on the side to purchase the mother of all Hudson consoles, the PC Engine Duo-RX, and a small-but-sweet bundle of import games. Playing the amazing Duo-RX helps me forget, but doesn’t completely erase the pain.

Spring 2012 – Sports Cards
Before graduating college, I trimmed down my sports card collection by nearly 20,000 cards. I kept everything sentimental, and made a few dollars I needed badly prior to moving and getting married.