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I got fired last week.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I had nothing to do with my termination. Sure, I got some real bad things to say about my previous employer, but I was a pain in the ass to deal with on occasion, particularly over the last year, where frustrations with my career and path in life have made me insufferable. I've never been much for Astrology, so when my hippie Portland friends keep warning me about my Saturn Return, I never really thought much of it. Essentially, for those of you unfamiliar, your Saturn Return happens sometime in your mid-late 20's, and gamma rays from Saturn somehow make you rather depressed for around twenty months. During this time, through adversity brought on by this event, one finds the person they are supposed to become, and, ideally, become a better, more rounded individual through this experience.
My father, who is in no way, shape, or form into Astrology, calls this “Being in your mid 20's and growing up, numbnuts”.
Here's what I do know: I'm 26, and it's time for change. I'm one Bachelors degree down, and one career path down too. Being on the internet, I'm sure you've read untold amounts of drivel written by failed writers explaining how making money as a writer is about as difficult as splitting an atom successfully, so I will spare you of that essay. Nobody wants to read that. Add to that, apparently the people who paid me to make pizza over the past two years don't feel like paying me to make pizza anymore. I've got next month's bills paid and $10 to my name.
I have one possession of monetary value. A library of wonder, collected over decades. Tens of thousands of dollars dumped into a wall that I have taken immense pride in over my life. It has become one of the defining characteristics of my being. When company comes over, it's the first thing they notice or want to talk about. It's in my basement, in my living room, in my personal room, tucked away in my closet, and hidden behind my furnace. You can't go too far in my house without finding one aspect of it. In times of hardship, it has provided me so much comfort and joy.
It is my massive videogame collection, and I am fucking sick of it.
In a way, collecting videogames has become a prison where, I, the prisoner, have to lay the foundation brick by brick. Tens of thousands of dollars. Countless $60 videogames now barely worth the plastic they're concealed in. The rare, sought after, financially viable aspects of my collection are so vastly outnumbered by piles of nearly worthless games. So many times I would tell myself, “Oh I need to buy this RIGHT NOW, or else it will be out of print and I'll NEVER get it!”, only to find stacks of it sometime later in a bargain bin for $8. If you're looking to make money, videogame collecting is NOT the way to go.
I think about what could've been accomplished with that money instead of it being added to the wall. How jealous I've been of people I've known who were given extravagant European white privilege vacations by their parents in college, but never thinking about I could've funded a truly exceptional globetrotting excursion if I would've saved some of it. I think about all the times where I've turned down doing fun things with friends not because I was playing games, but because every dime of my disposable income over the past decade has gone to this obsession of collecting.
In time, collecting the games has become more of the game than actually playing the games. There are countless $60 purchases made on games that I probably didn't even play an hour of. And that's not including the games I haven't even played at all! “Hmm...Well I hated Final Fantasy XIII, never even played XIII-2, but I have to own Lightning Returns for completions sake! What would my Final Fantasy collection be without it!?!” If I never bought another game, and forced myself to beat every game on the wall that I haven't, I assure you that I would be a pile of decaying bones before that task was completed.
I hardly even define myself as a “gamer” anymore. Since graduating college, I've been leading a very physically active lifestyle in an attempt to get in shape. I play rugby for a local team, play tennis where and when I can, go hiking, and actually attempt to lead this thing called a “social life”. Frankly, I've spent less and less time in the basement playing videogames. In an attempt to keep my writing chops going and stay connected with the videogame world, I opened this blog with the hopes of keeping it updated regularly. It's been around two years since my last post. When I do venture into what it's like in the internet videogame scene, I usually come out marginally disgusted by what I've seen, which causes me to not want anything to do with it.
But I still feel its pull. Even though my game playing time has diminished, I still funnel money into the wall like it's going out of style. I have sixteen PS4 and Xbox One games, and I've finished one of them. I'm more than an hour into maybe five of them. I got to the first checkpoint in Infamous: Second Son and never touched it again. When I do go downstairs with the intention of playing something, I often find myself staring at the wall, completely at a loss as to where to even begin. So many times I've said, “well, I'll get around to beating that eventually”, but that lost it's meaning long ago. I end up just basking in it's perceived coolness, like Thror aimlessly wandering through his mountains of gold.
Well I'm no longer waiting for a dragon to come and steal it from me.
I need a complete paradigm shift in life. While Portland is awesome, I've lived here my entire life. The most exotic place I've ever been is Toronto. Furthermore, I'm done making pizza. It served me well while in college, and pizza kept me afloat while I struggled with the rest of the recent college grads, but it's actually time I did something with my degree. Also, I'm kinda done contributing to America's obesity epidemic, so doing something positive with a net gain on modern society is important to me.
So, for all these reasons, I've decided to go teach English in Vietnam. Their economy is growing at a rapid pace, and due to that, there is a ever expanding need for English teachers in the region. Working with kids is awesome, and helping a country grow in my small way sounds incredibly rewarding. My calculations state that the entire venture, including the flight, the training, food, passport & visa acquisitions, and startup money to put down a deposit and first month's rent on a room works out to around $4,100. Now how could I ever land a chunk of change like that?
That's what my wall is: It's a golden ticket. A way out. Combined with my movie collection and a couple of HDTV's and after talking with an expert in the field who used to run a local game shop, $4,100 is an easily attainable amount for my collection. Sure, if you look at it as a long term investment, I'm losing my ass in a big way, but I hardly find myself caring. A new lease on life is priceless, and something so many people in my situation would kill for, so if my wall can do that for me, than it is all kinds of worth it.
Granted, I still love games, so with great discipline and anguish, I went through my nearly 1,100 piece collection and chose exactly fifty games to keep as a momento. Firstly, The PS3 stays. Of the fifty, nearly half of them are playable on my PS3 (doubling as a PS2 & PS1 didn't hurt on that front). Of the current generation of consoles, I'll keep the PS4 pretty much just so I can play Metal Gear Solid 5 and Final Fantasy XV. I feel a portable device will get far more use in Vietnam than it will here, so the Vita stays as well. Lastly, the PC is the most viable platform on the planet, and my PC is also, y'know, my computer, so that has to stay. That's it. One retro console (is the PS3 retro at this point?), one modern console, a PC, and a handheld. Losing access to Nintendo hurts, but when it came down to it, I love Metal Gear and Final Fantasy more than Mario and Zelda, so they're gone. Also, one of the primary factors in what stays and what goes is general ease of being able to play it on a PC, and there are many, many ways to play Nintendo games there.
As mentioned earlier, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear are pretty damn important to me, so keeping those was a must. I have a boxed copy of every numbered Final Fantasy, and that complete collection stays (I may frame it and make it into some kind of art display). Luckily that Metal Gear Solid Legacy collection makes having all of those pretty easy, and then my copies of Metal Gear Rising, the PSP games, the GameBoy Color game, and the Documents of MGS2 all come too. Aaannndd that equates to half the collection on its own.
Choosing the lucky 50 was actually a faster process than I had originally anticipated, but it still hurts. The original intention was to keep the SNES collection, but it drives up the worth of the collection too much to keep it. I had visions of someday giving it to my child and having him play Chrono Trigger and Yoshi's Island the same way that I did, and maybe that will still happen once I'm rich and have enough Fuck-You-Money to buy whatever I want, but it has to go. I also use and love my Wii U a lot, but keeping two modern consoles doesn't seem in the spirit of the great separation I am undertaking.
I'm sure many of the people reading this are downright horrified at what I'm doing. Even two years ago, I would have never considered it. One of my best friends has been jokingly egging me on to sell it for years, to which I would respond with something like “Pfft. It's my pride and joy! I could never part with it.” People change. I changed. This stationary life I lead is no longer a viable option for the sake of my sanity, and if cutting the cord from my wall helps in achieving my goals, than so be it. Somebody reading this may be contemplating the same thing, and if they are, I can only say that this is how I have decided to try and fix aspects of my life, and while I cannot guarantee it will work for you, maybe it's time to consider a new path.
I already had one Tolkien reference, so I'll end on another. My basement is my hobbit hole. Like Bilbo's, it's well kept, neat, and, as he perceived it, perfect. All the comforts he could need are right there. However twelve dwarfs and a wizard are attempting to pry themselves out of my brain and drive me towards adventure. That requires abandoning everything I've known, without guarantee that I will return that same individual, if at all. Previously, like Bilbo did originally, I refused. I didn't think I was cut out for adventures, and wondered why I would need to leave when I have such a nice hole here. But Bilbo finally grew a pair and left everything he knew in the name of adventure, and that's what I aim to do here.