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In Retro-spect

, , , , , | Related | August 30, 2019

(It’s 1998. I am twelve years old and I have become a budding video game collector. It’s the middle of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation era and while most of my friends have sold their older consoles to help fund purchases of current generation games, I still have an NES, SNES, and a Sega Master in addition to a Nintendo 64. The Super Nintendo stays in my sister’s room at this time, although she doesn’t play it much and I still come into her room to play on it some days. I also cycle between connecting my Sega, NES, and N64 to my TV, depending on my gaming whims. My friends who come over are also enthusiastic at still being able to play the games they once owned in previous years. My mother is less than thrilled with the collection of consoles filling up my drawers. I come home one day from school to find my room has been cleaned up and made more orderly. I open one of my drawers and am shocked to find it empty when it once contained my NES and its games.)

Me: “Mom, where is my original Nintendo?”

Mom: *casually* “I threw it in the garbage.”

Me: “WHAT?! Why would you do that?!”

Mom: *looking at me incredulously* “You don’t need old garbage when you have a new video game system.”

Me: “I like having it! And I still play it sometimes!”

(The expression of incredulity grows and she starts sounding angrier.)

Mom: “What use would you possibly have for an old Nintendo when you already have a new one?!”

Me: “It’s fun to go back and play old games again and sometimes I get bored with…”

Mom: *waves me off dismissively* “No, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

(I rush out to the side yard and open the trash can to find my NES, controllers, zapper, and games all sitting on top and uncontaminated by any trash or fetid liquids, so I recover it all and carry it back inside. My mom watches me and shakes her head and sighs, unable to fathom my actions. I talk with her later.)

Me: “Mom, please don’t throw anything out of my room without checking with me first.”

Mom: “It’s my house and I’m not going to let you fill it with garbage.”

(Sure enough, days later, I come home and find that my Sega Master is now missing. It shared a drawer with my Nintendo 64 and one Sega controller is all that’s left of my system; my mother must have overlooked it. I also realize the power adapter for the N64 is missing. I run back out to the side yard and open the trash can… empty. She picked the day the garbage truck came to make sure I couldn’t get it back.)

Me: *trying to contain my rage* “Mom! Did you throw away my Sega Master?!”

Mom: “Yes! I did. There is no f****** reason for you to keep around useless junk when you’re playing a new system!”

Me: “I do still play them, and I like collecting–“

Mom: “NO! You don’t ‘collect’ old video games! You play them when they’re new and then you get rid of them to make room for the next ones! That’s how it works! No one plays old video games! They are worthless, and all your friends are going to think you’re so stupid for keeping old video games! Go to your room! I don’t want to hear from you until dinner!”

(I sit up in my room by myself most of the night. I struggle through my homework, distracted from feeling angry and upset. A few days later, I tell my mom that she also threw out the power pack for my Nintendo 64 so I can’t play that anymore; she harshly tells me it is all my fault for keeping old games with the new games. I get my dad to replace it for me, since my mom has no intentions of doing so. My dad also talks her into respecting my personal space and possessions, so she does not make another attempt at discarding my NES, but she remains hostile and utterly baffled by the concept of retro gaming. She sees my sister and me playing “Super Mario World” on the SNES in her room, or a friend and me playing “Battletoads” on my NES and my room and says:)

Mom: “How can you play those old games when you have new advanced games?” 

(She tried several more times to convince me to part from my ever-growing collection of games and consoles as I grew into an adult, but at least she did not overrule my decisions to keep them. She wanted me to leave them stored at her house when I moved out after graduating high school, but I was adamant about keeping my collection whole and set up together in my entertainment center. I’m now 33 years old and have about 250 games across 22 different consoles spanning five different decades of gaming. My mother has accepted that retro gaming is quite popular and that old games can be very valuable. She regrets being so harsh on me and — as an avid collector of antiques herself — deeply regrets throwing away a complete and perfectly working classic system as she now can emphasize with what I went through and realizes what a sought-after collectible it was. She enjoys finding good deals on rare heirlooms and, now that she associates classic game collecting with antiques, has become quite enthusiastic at helping me add to my collection. By the Christmas of 2018, I lived — and still do — on the opposite side of the country from my family. I could not return for Christmas that year, so my parents sent Christmas presents to me in the mail so I could open them on Skype with the family. One of them was a Sega Master. My mom worked hard to track one down that was in optimal condition and sent it to me as a way to apologize for her actions twenty years ago.)

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