Like so many others at the start of a new year, I made a short list of resolutions with the ultimate goal of getting my life in order. At the top of the agenda: clean out my stuff from the parents’ basement. The task was meant to be a sort of gift to my mother, who I am sure is tired of looking at piles of junk covering an otherwise-serviceable living space. Granted, I tend to keep my assets meticulously organized and well-maintained, but they remain massive piles of junk in the basement, nonetheless.
You see, I have a tiny habit of being a packrat. A more accurate description of my character would reveal that I am a hoarder who keeps nearly every item that enters my possession. But after two trips home this year, I have made my way through half of my treasure stores. Thanks to the efforts of my wife, I have parted with several items: old school papers and receipts have been recycled, unneeded clothes and furniture were donated, I have even managed to gift or Ebay some of my massive collection of gaming memorabilia. But no matter what anyone says or offers, I cannot get rid of a single video game that I own; the games of my past are simply too precious to throw away.
Many people have tried to reason with me on this matter. “When was the last time you played your NES? Do you really need all of this stuff? Can’t you play this on your computer?” All of these are valid comments. It has been quite a while since I hooked up my old Nintendo; the old girl cannot even run on a modern television without a conversion cable. Certainly I do not need any of my old games. I have piles of newer titles that I have not even started, so I am in no short supply of entertainment. And of course I have emulated much of my older collection for the sake of convenience. In spite of all these criticisms, I will not budge.
Let’s look at this from another angle. Now that all the hullabaloo of E3 has died down, it has become clear that yet another console generation will abandon backwards compatibility with the previous systems. All of the games I purchased for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 will only run on their parent consoles. On top of that, my digital purchases for the Live Arcade and Playstation Network will not carry over, so these titles are tethered to my current consoles until the end of time (or when they break down, whichever comes first). Despite all of the technological marvels displayed at the latest E3, it seems that even going back even one console generation is proving too much for Microsoft and Sony.
What about Nintendo and the potential of the Virtual Console? At this time, there are 27 titles available to download on the Wii-U eShop, most of which are licensed Nintendo properties. Combined with the games available on the Wii eShop, which covers eight different consoles from several companies, players have roughly 450 titles available to purchase. While this is a great library of games to choose from, these offerings are hardly comprehensive. Just looking at the games I have stored away reveals dozens of titles that are not included on the eShop, and probably never will be (sorry, Monster Party).
How about buying older items from your local used game store? Earlier this year, GameStop voided all Playstation 2 transactions, which limits their products to only current gen offerings and smart phones. This relegates all previous consoles and their games to Goodwill, flea markets, and online dealers. Oh sure, some of the more fondly remembered classics will get re-releases and bundle packaged, but so many great games are getting tossed out the moment something shiny and new comes along to be sold (and resold) by GameStop.
This leaves the argument of simply emulating all of my old games and pitching the physical copies. After all, I could make a pretty penny off of some of the more beloved titles in my collection, and keeping my games in a digital format would free up some space. But there is something lost when playing hunched over a computer screen with the cold embrace of a keyboard. Call it nostalgia sickness, but playing older console games just isn’t the same without a controller in hand and sitting on a comfy couch. I am the sort who would prefer to pay for an ideal gaming experience as opposed to piracy or emulation. But if no one is offering, what choice do I have?
It seems that for the near future, I will be keeping my old games and consoles. I want to preserve these games and the unique experiences offered by each one, so I can share them with new friends and loved ones. Besides, no one really uses the basement anymore; Mom can handle the clutter.