Hello, my name is Matt Polen, and I have a problem: I’m deathly afraid of trading in games.

Certain games I will simply never consider trading in, no matter what treasure I’m trying to lessen the price of. Morrowind, Oblivion, Knights of the Old Republic, Bioshock, and a few others make this list. These games are such an integral part of my identity as a gamer that it would be like giving away a huge part of myself. It would cause me less emotional trauma to trade in my car or one of my cats than it would to give away something like a Bethesda RPG.

Never gonna give you up!

Some of the other games in my collection, however, I have no excuse for continued ownership. Let’s be honest. I’m at a point at my life when saving money has never been more important. If I can support my gaming habits financially by trading in old games, I should. But why does it cause me such anxiety? Recently, I began to understand why.


You see, there are a few aspects of my personality, that, when combined, are not conducive to my gaming habits. The first of these traits is that I suffer from a disease I’ve dispassionately named Achievement Hunter’s Syndrome. Contrary to popular belief, there is a world of difference from people suffering from AHS and people who are victims of Achievement Whore’s Syndrome.

I know why I bought you, just not why I kept you for three years…

The elementary difference between these two debilitating diseases is that as an achievement hunter, I do not rent or buy games such as Avatar: The Last Airbender or Peter Jackson’s King Kong to inflate my gamer score. What my disease causes me to do, rather, is to play the games I love until I’m completely sick of them so that I may reap each and every one of their achievements. For better or worse, I’ve only done this with a handful of games. I’m close on dozens more.

My second hindering trait is that I’m horribly sentimental. If someone, let’s say my mother, gets me a game as a gift, I feel like I’m slapping her in the face by trading it in. Realistically, I’m aware of two facts: if I trade them in, she’ll never know, and even if she did she probably wouldn’t care. Hell, I’m even sentimental about games I bought myself — even if they really weren’t that good. It took me about three years before I could bring myself to trade in Samurai Warriors 2: Empires — and it was only because I was desperate to get the new model of the Xbox 360.

The video game industry is fast-paced and hard to keep up with — a fact which I’m sure we’re all painfully aware of. Due to financial and temporal constraints, I only have room for one console in my life. And in 2011 alone, there are a number of games I’m excited to play: Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm, Pokémon Black and White, Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3, Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Add these to the handful of older games I’ve yet to finish, and you’ve got yourself a scheduling disaster.

Maybe I'll rent you for my children some day.

I’ve got to face it: I’m delusional. Am I really going to cut into my Skyrim time just so I can 100% Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga? Do I really want to spend 10+ hours finding the rest of those flags in Assassin’s Creed? I mean, I do, but realistically, will I? I’ve got four Call of Duty games that I’d love to beat on Veteran, but I’m simply not motivated enough to do it. Why, then, do I continue to hold on to these games? I’ve beaten the first two Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games so many times that I think it’ll be half a decade before I ever have the desire to pick one up again. Fancy another replay of the Halo 3 campaign, which I’ve already beaten on Legendary? Nope, me neither.

I think it’s time to start letting go. It’s not just about the financial aspect of it — I doubt I’d even get five bucks for my used copy of Dante’s Inferno. It’s the stress and delusions that these piles of games represent. We had good times and bad, but I need to move on. I’m running out of shelf space and I’m tired of looking at Dead Rising and wondering if I’m ever going to want to play through story mode again for extra achievements. And Samurai Warriors 2, it was a warm, sunny summer day when I purchased you for lack of anything better to do, but I don’t regret trading you in.

But I’m never getting rid of Morrowind.