Where Do Good Games Go When They Die?

-David Ruddock

I am sitting here now writing this and looking at the piles upon piles of videogames that I have unsuccessfully tried to sell as pre-owned to game shops and also to pawn shops. Most of them are original Xbox games that no one wants anymore. Many are PC games that frequently garner no more than a few pennies which isn’t worth the bus ride to get to the only place that might buy them. As I look at them, separated into piles that I had planned to keep and then the garbled mess that is ‘the unwanted’s, I cannot help but begin to reconsider my choices and think that maybe, in actual fact, I would like to replay Age of Mythology at some point. Or even that, after all is said and done, Morrowind was only so good as long as you could handle the numbers and percentages, which I can’t quite remember if I could. Would it really be such a shame if I never revisited old classics that tired themselves out on the first playthrough? Or will I be kicking myself a few months down the line when I have an insatiable itch to catch up on some fond memories?

Having been a lifelong gaming fan I have accumulated quite a collection of games for the Playstation and Xbox onward, for as I was never one to consider trade-ins they only became taller and more obscurely-located collections. It was only very recently that I realized I had far too many games to continue clogging up my parents’ house with so I decided to bundle them up and sell them on, which began my problems. First of all I had to decide which of the more viable games I was willing to part with because I wanted to get something out of this after all. I sold most of my PS3 games (God of War III, LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid 4) and a considerable number of my 360 ones too. But a few weeks later I decided to put Bayonetta into the tray having deemed it a classic worthy of my attention again and so saved it from the proverbial glue factory. To my disappointment the game was disappointing me. And then I wished I’d traded in Bayonetta instead of Metal Gear Solid 4. Crap.

The thing is videogames, like any ‘experience’, hold certain memories and the memories of feelings. That first time you opened a Christmas present and it was the game you’d been desperate to play for months it felt like the most perfect day ever. But then you play it back a year later and you’re left feeling a little let down by the hype you yourself made for it. The two different occasions feel completely different, but of course the game hasn’t changed at all. This can ruin once cherished memories as you realize they were a sham, and you’re left wishing you’d just been left with the suffocating nostalgia rather than the crushing reality. More cheerfully though it also means that bad experiences can be made good by surprising yourself with a thoroughly good run-through of what was previously deemed drivel and dire. The trouble is that when we cash in our games, as most people do now as soon as the games have outstayed their welcome, we are cutting ourselves off from an entire plethora of new experiences based on old ones but at the same time we need the money and the space because we are poor and cramped (at least I am anyway). 

Digital copies seem like the best way to get around this, and it would be perfect if not for the tangled mess of ownership rights currently spreading its ugly mess throughout the world. But there is something nice and warm about having a tangible collection, to be able to scan a pile of games for that one you’ve had a hankering for all weekend and then to play Jenga with the pile as you wiggle your game out. It’s a call back to my childhood when games were still emerging. Now I can happily walk into a gaming shop with my head held high and browse my favorite section, pre-owned obviously, without shame. But seriously, am I ever going to want to annoy myself with Munch’s Oddysee again? If that day comes I will happily re-purchase all my games and stack them into a pile a mile high. For now the remaining cases make an interesting modern art installation on my windowsill, which I may look upon from time to time and reminisce. Some good times spent well in my opinion. Even the crap ones.