The Purge?

Lately I’ve been considering getting rid of my retro game collection. I tried starting a blog post about this earlier in the week but my thoughts were too jumbled, and I had trouble even beginning the post.

I have a large PlayStation-branded cabinet full of cartridges, CDs, DVDs, boxes & what have you. The cabinet was recovered from a Canadian Tire, where it was being thrown out as they stopped carrying video games.

Life Pro Tip! Get a friend to work at a large retailer like Canadian Tire who also doesn’t mind doing some dumpster diving. It’s possible their policies have changed, but years ago CTire threw away piles of returned items that were either usable or needed only a little fixing to be perfectly fine. It’s apparently more cost-effective than shipping it back to the manufacturer, which is sad. Anyway!

I keep the related hardware for these games in large storage tubs, stacked near to the cabinet. I’ve also kept a large Sony CRT screen in an old entertainment unit for the purposes of playing, although I did try to get rid of the screen when we moved into our new house, with no takers. The CRT falls out of use for long stretches of time, because it’s more convenient to just hook things into my newer flatscreen, even if the picture quality suffers.

Life Pro Tip! Images from older consoles were designed for CRT screens, so pixelated images will look better / more naturally blended AND you won’t experience the kind of input lag you get on an LCD screen.

The problem is that Lori and I are not especially good at managing space in our household, and the cabinet, tubs, and entertainment unit feat. CRT TV take up a substantial footprint together. Also, I’ve been asking myself why I’m holding on to all these things, and it’s tougher to answer. I used to collect more or less indiscriminately, but I’ve pared a lot of my older collections down to just the things I loved or that made an impact. Digital storefronts, backwards compatibility and emulation have continued to grow in prominence and availability. If I’ve had the impulse to play something in my collection, I’ve brought out all the hardware because I have it, not necessarily because I want to use it. Does that make sense? I’d often rather use modern, convenient options, but I’ve felt compelled to drag out the old stuff because…well, why did I keep it otherwise?

I’ve kept some of it because, like I said, the games meant a lot to me. I like the idea of a physical copy of something that I enjoyed, because I like to look at and be reminded of those experiences by looking over my collection. I like the tangibility of them. But what of it am I actually going to set up and play again? Also, the original impact of those experiences will never come back; chasing that feeling is a fool’s errand. And letting go of a cartridge or disc doesn’t mean that my original experience with it didn’t happen.

I’ve been down this road before and always decided to keep the collection, but the other day I asked myself what I would do if somebody appeared at my door with a big bag of cash and offered to haul everything away. If I’m being honest I’d hang on to my SNES and a couple of games…and probably let the rest go. I’m pretty sure that in a month or two I’d have real trouble remembering what I’d given up. I’d be hard-pressed to name everything now. So I think what’s mostly held me back is, well, effort. It will take a lot of work to properly catalog and sell everything, even if sold in lots. Easier to just let things sit there, and then eventually forget about the decision until it comes around again.

Something my counsellor said to me a little while ago was to apply “gentle persistence” to problems or uncomfortable parts of my life. I have a well-honed ability to let my mind slide off of any problem that takes more than a little effort; same as difficult conversations, where I tend to mentally check out when there are too many feelings to sort out. But it’s been helpful to remind myself to Gently Persist; not necessarily to power through and solve the problem all in one go, but just to try a little more. So this blog post is me Gently Persisting, and when I have a chance again, I think I’ll keep filling my Google Doc with game titles so that I can offer them to my friends before hauling the remainder away.

That, or, somehow I’ll figure a better and more compact storage solution for all the hardware, and just get rid of the stupid TV.

Thing I Saw: I’ve been obsessed with the BIGTOP BURGER series by animator Worthikids. All of the episodes released so far have been a treat, but this is the one I’ve gone back to multiple times–

Thing I Learned: A pony is not a baby horse, because a baby horse is a foal. A pony is just a little horse. Look, I’m not kidding about this. I never realized the distinction until a few weeks ago, when a social media post asked how old you were when you learned that fact and I said to myself “Well, 37. I guess.”

You in Your Small Corner, and I In Mine

It’s been a month since I’ve written anything last. Let’s do an update on The Pandemic, because I was sorta trying to keep tabs on that for…posterity I guess.

When last I wrote we were just about to start Phase 1 of re-opening services, which went really well overall. Phase 2 began yesterday, so restaurant dining rooms can operate at half capacity, gathering sizes are increased (25 people indoors, 50 outdoors, provided of course social distancing and other health guidelines can be followed), some outdoor sport programs and things can maybe resume I guess. Parks & playgrounds can carefully admit people again. A friend asked if I was “excited” about this development, but honestly there’s not much I’ve been burning to do, lately, that I haven’t been able to. So no, not really.

I have a nice mask made by somebody local that Lori knows, and I’ve worn it out and about a couple of times, but around here there is decidedly a Low Emphasis on mask-wearing when out at the shops. Makes me feel a bit weird but I dunno, I’m trying to do my part.

Manitoba has been a remarkably safe province overall so I’m glad that we can relax in some ways, but there’s still lots of opportunity for a 2nd wave to roll through, and I’ve almost no doubt it will.

I’m getting my hair cut Thursday morning. While scheduling the appointment I was asked several questions about my overall health and recent history of travel or interacting with unsafe/infected people. I was expecting this, and now that I think about it, it’s interesting how normal the conversation seemed. A year ago such questions would have seemed strange, maybe even invasive. New normal indeed.

Since I’m writing about big events I’d be remiss not to mention the huge protests going on daily all over the United States, as well as here in Canada and around the world. On May 25th, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer during an arrest. The officer held Floyd to the ground with a knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, and a video showed George exclaiming “I can’t breathe!” among other things before going unresponsive.

There is video circulating, taken by a bystander. I haven’t seen it. The whole thing is so brutal, and so senseless, and so tragic. Outrage boiled over into protesting almost immediately in Minneapolis, and the rest of the nation, then the world, have joined in.

I’ve been struggling with maintaining my sense of optimism and hope for the future, but I’m so privileged in so many ways. I have no idea what it’s like to deal with systemic racism and injustice, and to see tragedy after tragedy befall my community and loved ones while the wider world continually tries to walk past it and “move on”.

So I hope and I pray that meaningful, lasting change can come from all of this unrest. Reading back what I’ve written doesn’t seem like I’ve said enough, but I don’t have enough words or insight. Take this opportunity, if you can, to research and learn about the names listed alongside George Floyd, as victims of police brutality. There are so many names. Or, find and follow creators and writers of colour on your favourite social media platforms. Or, donate to nonprofits and organizations that are trying to make the world better. I personally supported this one, a Canadian initiative to bring low-or-no-cost mental health counseling to the Black community of Toronto. As they put it,

It is not enough to “not be racist,” we have to be actively anti-racist by striving to rededicate ourselves, love our neighbours, and become the change we wish to see.

Thing I Saw: My own list of Recently Completed games, an ongoing attempt to catalog everything I’ve played to completion since the beginning of 2019. I try to find a nice representative screenshot and write a lil’ capsule review of the game. Everything on that list has something positive about it, because if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t play it all the way through, I guess. If you want game recommendations, go look.

Thing I Learned: Despite owning and driving our green 2000 Honda Civic for a while, I’ve never known to push the hood lever back in after opening the hood. I always thought there was something wrong the the latch and the hood had to be shut multiple times before it ‘caught’ – turns out I can close it instantly with One Weird Trick. (Lori has owned the car for longer, and had no idea either)

I’m Grateful For: Games that draw me in and remind me why I like to play them so much. Currently, that’s Nier: Automata.