As one of the infinitesimally small subsection of gamers who make a bit of scratch from their gaming, I'm not so broke as I used to be. These days, bills get paid, the hydro never gets cut off, and it's been a long time since I had to head down to the hock shop with a bag full of stuff to be able to swing rent. But no matter how much cash I'll ever cobble together, there's one ritual I cling to that'll always remind me of my broke-ass days: The bin.
You know the bin. Most game stores have one. Beyond the regular titles shelved in neat little rows, there's often a discount bin, filled with the little games that couldn't. It might be tucked away in an overlooked corner, out of sight and mind, or nestled right beside the checkout in full display. Maybe it's labeled "two for fifteen" or "as cheap as ten." Sometimes there's just a sticker than just reads $$$DISCOUNT$$$, based off that unspoken rule that the cheaper things get, the more dollar signs they deserve.
The bin is always in disarray. In some, games are stacked on top of games like cordwood, or all scrambled about with no rhyme or reason. This needn't be a sign of neglect. No matter how often it is organized and put back into place, a bin will return to chaos the moment you turn your back on it - it is the bin's natural state. It weathers a gauntlet of grubby little hands and fat little fingers, all flipping through the two dozen copies of High School Musical: Sing It! in search of a certain something ... or, maybe, a certain anything that isn't High School Musical: Sing It! The bin is disregarded and disrespected - and why not? These are not the games that everyone wants. These are the games that slip from the shelves bit by bit, edged out by newer, shinier titles, until they end up in that disorganized pile, cheap as dirt, waiting to be scooped up indifferently and disappear.
The bin is where games go to die.
Old Madden games that have the date of their obsolescence stamped on their face. Old MMOs with their servers empty or taken down. Weird and obscure stuff you've never heard of - knockoffs with oddly generic titles like Sword Lord 7 with bulgy, badly-drawn heroes on the case. Some games have layers of stickers pasted on their faces, a half-inch of little price tags, counting down to a fraction of their original price. Other games are designed to run on computers so old even your parents have long since upgraded. There's something distasteful about sifting through this sort of cruft - especially when you really get in there, elbow deep, rooting through unknown titles smeared with fingerprints and sticker glue. It makes me feel like a vulture hunched over some bit of carrion. This is not prime cut. This is skin and bones.
But at the same time, I just can't kick the bin. Any time I visit a store that has one, it's my first stop - even if I've checked it recently, and even if I'm sure the contents haven't changed. It's not exactly a chore. It's more a compulsion. I can't not do it. I'll check and recheck, hopeful that I've missed something mind-blowing, something game-changing. And of course it's all rubbish - the same rubbish I saw yesterday, the same rubbish I'll see tomorrow. But that's the thing about us bin-divers, and our rummaging ways - we aren't much for logic, and we live for the long odds.