On parting with gaming hardware

I used to trade in and sell my video game hardware on a regular basis. Who needs old consoles and handhelds when they have the shiny new thing, right? I got a PlayStation for Christmas in the late ’90s, which of course made young Topher say “goodbye, SNES.” That was a mistake. Maybe.

The SNES wasn’t alone. Many other consoles I’ve owned met similar fates: my N64, GameCube (on two occasions), GameBoy Advance SP, and the aforementioned PlayStation all found new homes through yard sales and trade ins. As you can tell, it’s been a while since this has come up.

That might be changing.


Systems currently hooked up to my TV: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U. Also in my apartment: Wii, N64 (my wife’s), PSVita, 3DS, DS, and PSP. Not all of these are functional (looking at you, dangerously expanded PSP battery), but I could be playing games on the majority of these systems within minutes if I wanted to.

But only the PS4 has seen significant play time in the past I don’t even know how long. It’s not the only console getting used, to be fair—but it’s close. My wife has been playing Pikmin 3 on the Wii U lately, and we’ve been slowly working our way through Yoshi’s Woolly World since last weekend. I’ve powered on the Xbox One on the first and fifteenth of every month to download the latest Games with Gold games. Other than that, everything’s been happening on the PS4. Gaming. Netflix. Hulu. WWE Network. It all goes through my PlayStation.

Am I keeping the other systems because I’m a gamer and I need to have as much gaming hardware as possible? Is this out of some misguided sense of obligation? I’ve had these systems for years now, so why shouldn’t I keep having them? The PS3’s case for continued presence is simple: I have a fairly large backlog that I’m still pretending I’ll get around to playing eventually. The others are a little more complicated.

I’d get next to nothing for the Wii and Xbox 360, so I might as well hang on to them, right? The same goes for the PSP and DS, not to mention they’re small enough that having them around isn’t really a big deal. There’s a problem with that thinking, though: I haven’t touched any of them since moving into my current apartment. It’s been even longer since I played games on any of them.

Preparing to move across the country has made me rethink every item I own regardless of size or perceived value added to my life. I haven’t been using these systems and I have no plans to use them. They’re just collecting dust, so why wouldn’t I want to get a few dollars for them and hopefully get them into another home where they’ll actually serve a purpose? I said goodbye to my childhood systems, the ones with real nostalgia attached to them, a long time ago. I said goodbye again years after I bought those consoles and a bunch of games on eBay—all of which got used for maybe a month before they sat on shelves and in boxes like these other systems are doing now.

There’s a part of me that says not to get rid of gaming hardware again. That I’ll regret it and wish I still had these systems and their games at some point down the road. But the world we live in has video games increasingly detached from the hardware we initially played them on. Virtual Console aside, I’ll still be able to play my Wii games on my Wii U. If things go well over at Nintendo, they’ll all be available on Switch in one form or another. I’ll be able to play most of my DS games on my 3DS. I’d have to buy digital versions of my PSP games, but I could play them on Vita with relative ease. The point is, nostalgia, attachment, or even a little bit of a hoarding mentality are not valid reasons to keep this old hardware around.

Even my Xbox One is a question mark at best. I really want to play Quantum Break. I’d like to play State of Decay. But my ability to play those games, and all Xbox games at this point, is not dependent on having an Xbox One. Unlike PlayStation and Nintendo, Xbox is moving away from the idea of console exclusives. Sure, I don’t have a gaming PC right now. I don’t have a PC at all. I plan on having one, though, and those games (and any future Xbox “exclusives” I want to play) will be there waiting for me when I do.

The solution seems clear: get rid of the gaming hardware I’m not using and take a deeper dive into the minimalist lifestyle I’d love to embrace. Having less gaming hardware won’t make me less of a gamer, whatever that even means. It will make moving easier, though. And it’ll clear up my crowded TV stand. There’s another major benefit, too: selling all those systems might cover the cost of a certain other system.

Do you keep your old gaming hardware? Do you get rid of it as you as you have something new? Let me know in the comments.



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