Abi and I are book hoarders. We buy lots of books, and we keep them. Even after we’ve read them, and even if we have no real intention of re-reading them, we usually hold on to them. Most of them (about twenty-five carboard boxes full) are sitting in our loft right now, but some day we would really like to have a house with a library so we can have them all out on display. Mmmm. Lovely boooooks. Our precioussses.
I’m starting to turn into a bit of a games hoarder, too. There are a bundle of games that I’ve played, and have little intention of re-playing, that I can’t really bear to get rid of: Grand Theft Auto III, Ico, Metroid Prime, Ratchet and Clank. I can sort of understand myself holding on to racing games, beat-em-ups, sports games, and other things with decent multi-player options (Mario Kart), but is it really worth keeping story games?
A book is guaranteed to be backwards-compatible. If I really enjoy a book this week, I won’t re-read it immediately, but I might want to read it in ten years’ time. I know that won’t be a problem. A videogame, however, is not likely to stand the test of time quite so well. For a start, I’d have to hang on to my PS2 and GameCube to make sure I’ll still have the hardware to play the games on. But will the televisions a decade from now still be compatible with all the connectors and wires from the early 2000’s?
Games like Metroid Prime and GTA III are cutting-edge right now: MP in terms of its immersive graphics, sound, and music; GTA in terms of its wide-open environments and freeform gameplay. But games are going to take enormous leaps forward in the next ten years. Dusting them off and playing them again won’t be the same experience as it was the first time. It’ll be retrogaming. The games will look old-fashioned and quaint. They may allow me to revel in the nostalgia of the age, but I’m sure that I’ll long to return to the wonders that game developers and publishers will have in store for me in 2013.
Some books don’t age well, but classics remain classics. I can pick up one of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels from the 1970s and enjoy it just as much as his latest adventure. Classic games like Elite still have their fans, but how many of them did not play the game the first time round? Is the original version of the game still atracting new players in the same way that, say, Jane Austen is still attracting new readers?
So does it make any sense for me to hang on to these games when, if I were to sell them on, I could use the cash to fund new acquisitions? Intellectually, I’d have to say “no”, but my heart is currently exercising its veto. I might never play them again (well, apart from Ratchet and Clank, which Alex is very fond of), but they have great sentimental value. And so…I hoard.