It was a bit painful, on a purely sentimental level, to trade them in. But the decision was easy to rationalize. I rarely replay games, even when I have the time. The longer I keep them, the less retail value they'll have. And it probably won't be long before I don't own the hardware to play them anymore. Besides, I remind myself, like the rest of the media piled and stacked around the room, there's a good chance those games will find their way online in one form or another.
I envision trips to used record and book stores, the back of the car piled high with items for sale. I see dollar signs on ebay. I imagine full trash bags and piles of shredded documents. I bask for a moment in the sense of detachment.
And then I begin to feel uneasy.
I might not need photo albums, retail copies of games, music CDs, or even books, I realize, but I'm hopelessly dependent upon the electronic versions that have taken their place. Not to mention the devices that deliver such content.
I remember how I lost my iPod last year. I was so traumatized by the thought of enduring my public transportation commute without it that I purchased a new one the next day without giving it a second thought. I'm unable to envision life without a mobile phone, and I'd feel completely disconnected from the world without internet access. The thought of losing online access to my finances feels me with terror.
I think back to my most recent red ring of death experience. My Xbox 360 died just weeks before BioShock's release, and not playing BioShock wasn't an option. My 360 ended up arriving in time, but not before I seriously considered paying for a major PC upgrade, or maybe even a replacement console, so I wouldn't have to wait.
I find myself thinking about the old sci-fi flick, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Specifically, the scene where the extraterrestrial Klaatu shuts down mechanical processes across the globe. I indulge my anxieties a bit, conjuring up mental images of similarly ridiculous scenarios, in which unforeseen events shut down electrical power, halt all data transmission, or wipe clean data storage media. I'm horrified.
I push my chair away from the monitor and keyboard, and survey the contents of the den anew.
"Honey," I say, turning to my wife, who sits at her desk browsing the App Store.
"Mmm hmm," she replies distractedly.
"I think we should buy some bigger bookcases."