Confessions of a Game Collector

I have too many video games, and that’s the #1 best thing about being an adult.

I have a black IKEA shelf next to my TV, and that’s where my game collection sits. The bottom row is almost entirely dedicated to the 3DS. Some isolated shelves are set aside for the GameBoy, PS Vita, and Wii, and then I have a massive row of Nintendo Switch games. Sitting on the top of my shelves is a small army of amiibo from my favorite franchises.

This is where the magic happens.

I love looking at this shelf. Every few months or so I’ll organize it and reorganize it. It’s my personal library; I’m surrounded by incredible experiences just waiting for me to explore. I am its librarian, its curator, and its caretaker. I am Belle when she enters Beast’s massive room of books.

And yet as happy as I feel perusing this shelf, I also feel a bittersweet wave come over me. I might not be able to play everything I’ve amassed over the years. How did I get into this predicament?

The many, many 3DS games on my backlog.

Tracing back my purchasing history, it’s easy to see that I’m susceptible to my friends’ (and the internet’s) recommendations. People talk about games so passionately in their video essays and reviews that I want to see what made them put all of that effort into their presentations. So I write the game down on a watch list. When I see that the game’s on sale, I pick it up. My collection is simply the result of repeating that process over and over for 3 years. It’s all a matter of watching and waiting. Buying games is like a fishing mini game where you have to press the “purchase” button at just the right time. There’s an odd sense of accomplishment to grabbing a game on your radar, even though it doesn’t take any actual “skill” to do it.

And yet there are still some games that are too expensive for me. I’ll miss out just because my budget would dry up immediately by buying just one or two of these titles. I lucked out by finding my childhood set of Game Boy games, but I can’t imagine paying $70 for the original Pokemon Yellow. I like to pretend that some day I’ll fill out my mostly empty Wii / GameCube shelf, but if I’m honest with myself, the thought of paying $80 just for F-Zero GX alone makes that dream feel nigh impossible.

The deep cuts from my 3DS Collection, including several Japan-exclusive games.

My focus for this past year has been collecting for the 3DS, thanks to Nintendo’s announcement that they will close the eShop’s virtual doors in 2023. My dedication to the 3DS has even spilled over into importing games only released in Japan, such as the 3DS’s Dragon Quest spinoffs as well as EX Troopers, a cartoony 3rd Person Shooter that thankfully has a fan-made English translation patch. Given the modest popularity of Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS, I’m perplexed that Capcom didn’t localize EX Troopers to capitalize on the same crowd. During this haul, I also acquired a game that displays the best boxart to ever grace a 3DS case: Labyrinth no Kanata, translated as “Beyond the Labyrinth.” If you hold the box up to the light, you can see a rainbow of holographic sparkles, like a rare Pokemon card. I’ve spent more time staring at this boxart than I have playing the actual game. Overall, I’m very happy with my 3DS collection. With my recent acquisition of Tales of the Abyss, I consider it complete.

Unlike my Switch and 3DS, my Vita backlog is still quite manageable.

My PlayStation Vita is perhaps the part of my collection that gets the most double-takes. Visitors recognize the PlayStation logo, but most have never even heard of the console. People still have a hard time understanding that it was basically Sony’s version of the Nintendo Switch Lite, but released in 2012. It’s still my favorite console to talk about just because it’s such a niche item. I still have a few Vita games on my watchlist, like Tales of Hearts R, but unless I get lucky, they’ll not join my collection for a long time.

The massive amount of JRPGs on my Switch backlog.

I’m honestly surprised my shelf can support the weight of all of my Nintendo Switch games. I have amassed a large collection, to say the least. It has gone over 80 titles at this point. Yes, I really do want to play all of these games. Why do I have so many Switch games in particular? It’s a combination of these factors:

  1. Nintendo’s outstanding first-party games. Nintendo games always get first-dibs for my time, which means other games tend to fall to the backlog.
  2. I never owned a Wii U. I never owned a PS2, or a PS3. I never owned a gaming-friendly PC until 2020. I’ve wanted to play many older games, but I haven’t had a convenient way of doing so until I got a Switch. I know many people complain about all of the remasters and ports on the console, but it’s my way of catching up with the rest of the industry. For example, I’ve never played Doom (1993) until this year when I played it on my Switch. Honest. If it weren’t for these ports, my library would probably be cut by a third.
  3. Speaking of which, JRPGs have made a big comeback in recent years, and the lineup on the Switch is phenomenal. From classics like Final Fantasy X to modern releases like Ni No Kuni II, the Switch just so happens to be a haven for my favorite genre. My backlog is full of JRPGs.
  4. Curiosity with new genres. I still have plenty of games in genres I’m unfamiliar with, like the Switch’s Doom (2016) port and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 remake, that I want to explore someday.

My entire game collection, specifically my Switch library, embodies all of my video game journalist aspirations: I want to be well-versed in video game design in all of its forms through the ages. I want to be literate with historically-significant titles. I believe that exposing myself to them will make me a better writer. This isn’t just an indulgence — it’s research. My library is part of my self-directed Game Design 101 Class. Each title is like a textbook that teaches me something new.

But even I have to admit that the collection has grown larger than I know what to do with. Well, I do know what to do with them… I just don’t have the time to do it. It doesn’t help that I get attached to a certain niche developers like tri-Ace, Platinum Games, or Vanillaware, and then I want to explore the evolution of all their works over time in addition to the more well-known developers like SquareEnix and Capcom.

However, early this Fall, I had an unexpected financial hurdle that put all of my video game purchasing to a halt. It has come at the worst possible time, as there are a half-dozen highly-anticipated games coming out, including but not limited to: Persona 5 Royal, Harvestella, NieR: Automata, and Pokemon Violet. Alas, I cannot allow myself to purchase these games yet.

The silver lining to all of this is that I’ve been dedicating more time to my backlog, and it has forced me to be happy with what I have. I realize that these new releases aren’t going anywhere. I can afford to wait.

I was hoping to write a lineup of reviews about these sleek new Switch JRPGs throughout this Fall; however, my recent financial crisis means this won’t be the case. In fact, going into 2023 I will still be trying to financially recover, and so starting next year I’m actually going to challenge myself: I want to dedicate 2023 to playing through my backlog. I may make an exception here or there, but any game I buy next year really needs to be something special… like, Pikmin 4 kind of special. Otherwise it’s going to be strictly a backlog-focused year. I’m planning on making special challenges for myself like “3 Months of 3DS” to help make it more fun.

How do you view your video game collection? Have you come up with ways to make playing through them more interesting? I’d love to try anyone else’s ideas as well.

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