Decluttering: Letting go of part of my "identity"

Today I managed to complete a major part of declutter. It was a long time coming but it's finally done. The donation is complete and I can let go of a part of my life that I'm both proud of and OK with being complete.

During the 1990s I became obsessed with video games, in particular console gaming. My main gaming computer was the Atari 8-bit computer. I used that up until I graduated college, so I missed an entire generation of games. My friend Dan actually got me into the next generation of console gaming, starting with the 3DO. I loved that console. The 3DO was one of the first consoles that had full-motion video and was an absolute delight for someone who had missed an entire generation of gaming. I started collecting games for that console. This lead to other console game collecting. I never had an Atari 2600 and it was cheap to collect for it so I started collecting for that as well. Suddenly I collected for many different consoles: Intellevision, Colecovision, Turbografx 16, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Vectrex, Neo Geo CD, and of course, the Atari 8bit computers.

When the Sega Saturn came out I transferred my love of the 3DO to it. I started collecting for it like mad. Worse, the Sega Saturn had a lot of imported titles that didn't make it over to the states, or had better versions in Japan. We tried to modify my Saturn to play imported games, but sadly it turned into a not-great CD player. A new modified Saturn fixed that problem. I went nuts buying lots of imported games. I became a sort of expert on collecting for the system.

When the Dreamcast came out I applied the same collecting principles to that console. I grabbed every title I could.

I managed to gather a bunch of interesting titles for all of these systems. I had many rare titles for these machines. I played a bunch of these games and learned a lot from them.

I spent a lot of time seeking out new things for these machines. Part of my identity as being a video game collector. And I thought it was immutable.

I wanted to make a computing museum. I managed to score a bunch of retro computers from a friend, so I thought that it was only natural to make something that others could enjoy and learn about these magnificent machines. Over time I've realized that museums are a ton of work and expensive.

I noticed that the University of Michigan has a Computer and Video Game Archive. They have an amazing collection of games available for patrons to check out and play. Plus they also have a bunch of rarer systems for research purposes.

I could think of no better place to send off my collection. I couldn't think of a better place to realize my dreams of letting others enjoy the games that brought me joy. Plus there were games in my collection that go for unobtanium prices. A library has limited funds, so spending money to get those titles would be expensive and prevent them from putting that money to more important uses. Hopefully they can use my collection to fill in those gaps.

Several years ago I made my first donation. That was a lot of older systems that I didn't have much affinity towards. Today I made my latest donation. My beloved 3Do, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, and Turbografx 16, and some older games that didn't manage to get included in the previous run. I was only going to donate the Turbografx 16 and the older games but I realized that I was pretty much done with being a collector of the Saturn and Dreamcast. Part of this is the collector market, which has become an expensive place to inhabit. Part of it was just holding onto systems that I barely used. And part of it was wanting to focus on machines that actually bring me joy and might help me with my programming. I'm focusing on consoles and computers that mean something to me and are machines that I have a fighting chance of programming someday. I've narrowed my focus to the essential. Maybe someday I'll narrow it more. But for now I'm content.

Maybe someday I'll get the itch to play these games again. If that's the case I can schedule some time to head on own to the CVGA and play them. But I doubt it. This was my second time making a donation to the CVGA, and my second time being there. I didn't miss the consoles and games that I donated then and I'm pretty sure that I won't miss the consoles and games that I've donated today.

The decluttering continues, but this feels like a major accomplishment. I've shed what I thought was an immutable part of my person and it feels liberating. I'm not bound by past decisions and can be more nimble with my future. I've long said that I don't want to be the curator of the museum of my bad decisions. That's still true, but perhaps I should expand that: I don't want to be the curator of the museum of my past selves. That part of me no longer resonates. Perhaps it will someday, but for now I'm OK with letting it be dormant. I need to let my collector mentality rest for a bit and allow myself to actually enjoy the things that I let into my life.