I’ve spent the last week or so finally combing through the clutter of my living space in anticipation of adopting a kitten. This gave me a chance to really take stock of the various crap I’ve collected over the last few years, much of it gaming-related, and the various points in my life in which they came into my possession. Here are a few particularly nostalgic items I found.
This is a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I finally tossed my old Xbox and games a few years ago, but decided to keep San Andreas at the time because of some lingering sentimentality.
In the early days of the Hot Coffee controversy—wherein a sex mini-game was discovered in the code and unlocked with a third-party mod—for a while the game was pulled from shelves and it even received a rare “Adults Only” rating from the ESRB. Thinking this might be my chance to score a rare collectible, I rushed down to the local Game Crazy (rest in peace) and grabbed a copy.
After the drama eventually blew over, San Andreas would become one of my favorite games of all time. Sure, I never really got the hang of the flying mechanics and certain areas in the turf war were frustratingly hard to capture, but the massive, diverse world kept me enthralled for hours. I didn’t even need to do any missions; most of the time I was happy simply driving around and seeing what mischief I could get myself into.
These days you can play San Andreas on your phone, so keeping a copy for Xbox doesn’t seem like much of a priority anymore. I’m probably going to get rid of it to teach myself not to be so sentimental over a piece of plastic.
My sister buys the best Christmas presents. Last year, she presented me with this amazing trio of Pikmin dolls she apparently found on Etsy. Pikmin is my favorite video game series. These dolls are hard to stand and pose, making them a pain to place on my limited shelving, but I love them all the same.
I’m a bit of a hoarder, kind of a side effect of some anxiety disorders I’ve dealt with since I was a kid. These Pikmin dolls were hiding out under a stack of receipts, and very dusty. Finding them served as a reminder that my mental health issues are more than just the pain they cause me personally; they also frequently blind me to the love that surrounds me. Now that I’ve rediscovered them I’ll be making a concerted effort to keep these Pikmin in a place of prominence to remind me.
I fancy the idea of collecting without really putting in the effort to dig up anything extraordinary. Case in point (well, apart from San Andreas) is this collector’s edition of Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon that I bought when the game made its way to North America in 2009. It came with a nice little plushie of Shin Megami Tensei series mascot Jack Frost wearing the eponymous hero’s outfit.
I’ve never opened this box because I’ve never even beaten the first game, which I also still own. Shin Megami Tensei is one of those series that I love aesthetically but never quite find myself finishing when I finally play them. They are extremely hard in a way that doesn’t quite gel with my mind. While I can usually brute force my way through a Dark Souls, I don’t have the patience to sit down with a deep RPG and do the necessary strategizing. But I’ll keep buying them for the few hours of happiness each one provides me because capitalism has ruined my brain.
While its library might not seem like much these days, the “atomic purple” Game Boy Color is probably my favorite video game console of all time. Just look at this beautiful specimen, the perfect representative of a bygone era when everyone wanted to see what the insides of their electronics looked like. Surprise! It’s not that impressive, but I still love it nonetheless.
I was gifted a Game Boy Color in the same style as a kid and kept it through my early teenage years until one day I randomly gave away the system and all its games to a cousin. (In addition to some slight hoarding, I also have extreme bouts of downsizing.) A little while back, I tossed all the yearbooks I had saved from elementary and high school, disappointing a mother who puts a lot of sentimentality on those types of things.
I grumbled for years after giving that thing away, wishing I hadn’t. Sure, I could emulate my favorite games on any old computer, but there was something special about curling up in bed with a light attachment and sneaking my way through Metal Gear: Ghost Babel. My sister—again, one of the best gift-givers in the business—surprised me with the very same handheld on a birthday I can no longer remember, complete with a copy of Pokémon Blue and an old-school carrying case.
I haven’t played it much, but I haven’t let that transparent purple Game Boy Color out of my sight since she gave it to me, even as papers and knick-knacks stacked up around it. It’s just comforting knowing it’s there, you know?
Sorting out a cluttered room can often feel like a personal archaeological dig. While I thought I knew everything there was to know about myself, sifting through the layers of my life really hammered home how poorly I had taken care of both my mental and physical health. It’s hard coming face to face with the physical manifestation of your depression and anxiety, but these brief pockets of nostalgia also served to remind me that it’s not always as bad as it seems in the moment.