The Soapbox: Confessions of a serial hoarder (in MMORPGs)
How much is too much?
To some, that might seem like a reasonable question. But I knew. I knew. There is no such thing as too much!
There was a question raised on Massively OP this past week about in-game hoarding. I answered… boy did I answer. I kept answering. It was just like my virtual bags: I filled the space to overflowing. And I just kept going. And now, it’s even spilling over to The Soapbox! It’s not my fault games make cool things I like and want to keep, or make getting stuff so much fun (searching through every box and barrel, anyone?). But there is much more to it than that. Yes, I admit I am a serial hoarder. But I am also an unrepentant hoarder! It’s not a problem. Others may think I have a problem.
I see it as item security.
I’d rather be playing
One of the reasons my bags get so full is honestly directly tied to how many games I cover when streaming and such. Frankly, taking time to organize has been nearly erased out of my gaming now thanks to all the games I log into. I play so many that I don’t want to waste what actual play time I have in game with worrying about my inventory! I don’t take the time to sort through after gaming sessions that involved obtaining loot (which is to say, most all of them). I used to enjoy organizing stuff, especially if it is a virtual world I get to inhabit, but now it slips my mind, or I think I can get to it “next time.” Then next time I just want to jump in and get right to the action. When play time is limited and shared between so many different titles, it is much harder to carve out time to sort.
This also shows up in the fact that when I play games, I play however I am in the mood to. This is what keeps gaming fun for me. If I want to jump in and decorate, then that’s what I want to spend my time doing. (And that activity is greatly benefited by hoarding, but more on that later.) If I feel like working on an achievement, or explore places, then I do that. If I want to organize, then I do that. But if I feel like I have to spend what time I have doing something I don’t want to do but maybe I “should,” then I just won’t log in. I don’t want gaming to become a chore. I have chores for that feeling! But there is more to it than that, especially in games I frequent more frequently.
Part of my personality
When some folks watch me open my bags while streaming on OPTV, they audibly gasp. I can almost hear it through the internet! There are those who mention they cringe when they see my bags and they must look away. Hey, I get it. Lack of space can make some anxious. Conversely, lack of stuff can make me anxious. I say that I hoard worse with so many games because of lack of time to organize, which is so true, but I hoarded even as a one-to-two-game gamer.
Probably the top-most reason I collect is that it’s an ingrained part of my personality: I have an extremely hard time getting rid of something that might be useful. You might laugh, but I have actual anxiety issues with it. (Don’t worry, I laugh too!) This is a trait that has been a part of me since I was really small and grew up in the circumstances where there wasn’t a way to replace things. If we needed something, we either had it or we did without it. I experienced a few of those times of crippling regrets because I did get rid of something I needed later — both in life and game! This life experience has made me very conscious of not being wasteful: If something has a use, it should not be wasted. I seriously can’t stand being wasteful. It’s physically painful to me.
That trait exhibits itself so much more in games. Just looking at my relationships with consumables illustrates it so well. Consumables: I can always use them. Except, I don’t. I honestly forget to! I have so many different consumables in different games because I get them as rewards or whatever, and I just forget to use them. Maybe it isn’t even a consumable I need, in which case maybe someone else can use it. Throwing it out feels so wasteful, because they are useful. See my problem here?
And then there is just not knowing what is worthwhile. In games where I play but don’t know what might be good or necessary (Marvel Heroes was a great example), I don’t want to chance throwing something necessary or epic away, so I just leave it. In games I enjoy but have more infrequent play sessions, I don’t really have the time — let alone the desire to spend the time — researching extensively and figuring out what it what. This is only fixed by having a knowledgeable friend sit down and help me go through things and telling me what is worthwhile and what is not. I’ve had a great friend run me through a couple inventory clear-outs, and it was fun and appreciated!
I’ve got you covered
Most times, my hoarding ways are not even about items being useful to me. Add the waste not, want not mentality to the second top reason I hoard: the fact that I always love to be able to help and gift things to friends/others that they need. I have a harvesting depot in EverQuest II filled with more crafting materials than I think an army could use. I keep stocking it because there are times friends need some… or could need some. I have huge collections of collection and legends and lore pieces, also in their respective depots. (Seriously, these depots were one of the greatest things ever introduced to EQII, and all games need these nearly bottomless pits of specialized storage.) Do you know how many times I have bailed someone out because I had a needed item? Gotta love that feeling. I just love being able to help others; that’s a trait that I never want to change. My favorite RP is actually being someone who knows how to get hold of whatever someone needs, so it is like a win/win.
Interestingly, the one game that has many positive features I would normally enjoy but where you can’t trade things to people, Black Desert, I just can’t bring myself to play much specifically because I can’t easily gift things to friends.
So for me, cool items to keep aren’t always about usable things like armor, potions, or collectables. Some of my favorite keepsakes are actually vendor trash. Why would I keep that? Because it has a really cool name! And that, my friends, can be used in roleplay. You see, in games like EQII where you can link it in chat, a specific cool item becomes a roleplay tool. Being able to link “the blood of your enemy” as something you have because you literally have it just adds flavor and immersion. Even if I can’t share the item per se, if it relates to my personal character story (and all my characters have them), I keep it. I have a number of items like this.
Speaking of my character, there is the whole topic of gear and vanity clothing. So I hoard gear when it might be good and I could use it someday, be it on an alt myself or to give to a someone else. But I also keep stuff just for looks. When it comes to vanity outfits or how my character presents herself, I will save awesome looking outfits to wear at different times. This is a big deal in RP to me — to look the part of whatever is happening. It doesn’t matter if the RP is only in my own stories; I still want to look the part. It enhances my gaming.
Besides keeping items for RP reasons, there are times really cool things can be placed in a house for decoration. Star Wars Galaxies ruled the roost on this and started the trend; there, junk loot was actual items you could place in your houses. It was so awesome to have a broken tools in a shipwright’s shop and such. Immersion my friends — I am all for it!
That brings us to decorating items. I will never toss a decorating item. Never. I might want to use that item sometime, so I need to keep it. It’s significantly worse if the item is a special limited-edition type thing that cannot be replaced. EQII is the worst since I have a bajillion houses with nearly as many ideas for decking them out. And there are many ideas I don’t have yet, and that one piece might have been perfect in it! Can’t chance not having it. Luckily, some of those houses can double as warehouses.
Do you even need to ask if I hoard pets? I want every single one there is. Always. And cool mounts. This will never not be a thing. So yah, if there isn’t a feature where these can be removed from your bags and “collected” and still used (games with this, I LOVE YOU!), my bags will fill up with them. Such has been the case in Riders of Icarus where I have used all my mount/pet slots, but I am still getting rewards of pets, so they sit in my inventory. Heck, I stopped logging in because I’d want the log in reward pets and have no place to put them!
And yes, I even hoard currencies and tend not to spend them. I want it there in case I need it. But if I can earn an item instead of buying, I will 99.99% of the time no matter the effort it takes. The exception to this is if I can spend the monies on friends. This I know is a direct result of going without while growing up, so it is a seriously like a security blanket kind of feeling to have it in games. I have the money there in case I need it someday. And I might need it. Someday.
This doesn’t even cover all the stuff I hoard, but it gives you an idea. If it could be useful, I keep it. If it is adorable, I keep it. If I don’t have time to sort through tings after a gaming session, I keep it (at least until I do do a sort and purge). And I am perfectly happy being this way.
You may wonder how I deal with my collecting ways? Well, I end up with the max amount of storage in games I play regularly if it doesn’t involve real cash transactions. Sometimes I have to get creative to get more (alts, more houses, build more boxes, making a personal cabal in Secret World Legends just for the cabal bank). In games that have the “sell all junk” feature, I have a little more success in managing grey loot, but that is only if I am not roleplaying and nothing has a super cool name/is a cool thing.
I also greatly appreciate when games make things that help with storage, like the personal and guild depots in EQII that you can specific things. (I seriously had five alts I made just to be bank space holding collectibles and Legends & Lore pieces that could free their inventories when those depots were introduced). Also in EQII I have a number of houses that currently just store decorations because there isn’t enough bank space in the world to contain it all. Wardrobes and other systems like pet and mount collections are also totally awesome. Every game needs these, seriously! And games that have these features are more apt to get my playing time because they lend themselves to my personal playstyle.
Although it can be a thing for anyone, I think hoarding can be quite an issue for creative types. Decorating, roleplay, stories… all that lends itself to keeping items others might more easily dispose of. Same for the social, generous folks who always want to help friends or newbies.
I totally understand where some folks feel collecting lots of stuff is a problem. For them it could be. But don’t assume it is a problem for everyone, or that an intervention is necessary. As noted before, I see it simply as item security. It’s the way I play, and I like it. I am a packrat, and proud of it. Now, excuse me while I go admire my super-stuffed bags and overflowing inventories. Need anything?