I’ve finally reached the point where almost every new game I download onto my Switch gives me the same response. “There’s no room,” it says, gesturing around the virtual space cluttered with games I haven’t touched in months, or even years. “Where am I supposed to put this? Why don’t you get rid of something old?”
Listen, Nintendo Switch. You’re not my mother. And even if you were, I would tell you that you just don’t understand — all of these games are sacred to me in some way. I’m only 2/3 of the way through Luigi’s Mansion 3, and I might finish it some day! I know I haven’t finished Paper Mario: The Origami King, but I want to return to it when I’m not so annoyed about the combat! And don’t even talk to me about Breath of the Wild. As long as I don’t delete it — all 13 space-hogging gigabytes of it — there’s still the promise of more beautiful adventures in that stunning open plain.
But keeping old games even when I know I won’t play them is just another type of virtual hoarding, isn’t it? It would be a little hypocritical of me to keep a bunch of gigantic games just because when, just last month, I said that Resident Evil 4 had taught me not to hold on to things. I’m a sucker for keeping things around just in case, but that rainy day never turns up. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Breath of the Wild any time soon, and if I do, I don’t think I’d mind having to start over with a new save file, anyway.
So, am I alone in keeping these games around, taking up precious space on my SD card? Why do we even do it, anyway? My theory is that deleting games (or archiving them) feels like definitively sending them into the past, turning them into memories and nostalgia. Once we’ve done that, we’re leaving that part of our lives behind us, and moving on — and admitting that life itself is moving on. By clinging to our most precious memories — represented by gigantic amounts of data, in this case — we’re refusing to move on, refusing to admit that we’ve changed, and we’re not kids any more.
Or, maybe, I’m just avoidant. It’s probably that.
But perhaps I’m not alone in this quest to refuse to pack away my toys forever! Tell me: do you have at least one Switch game that you just won’t delete, or — even worse — do you have a whole PILE of games you refuse to let go?