Minimalism can mean a lot of things to different people; some of it scary and some of it interesting. Some people might see the word ‘Minimalism’ and ask why would anyone want to live like that? Some people might see it as a difficult lifestyle to achieve and they will never try to test the concept. I first saw minimalism as just dressing in black and white or having no pieces of furniture or whatever other extremes I had in my head. The concept of minimalism can be especially daunting in the minds of gamers (myself included) because we enjoy collecting memorabilia or having multiple consoles. In this article, I want to define what minimalism actually is and how we as gamers can embrace it a little easier.
I’m also revisiting this concept from episode 20 of our podcast which we talked about “Minimalism and Gaming”. Since that episode, I’ve been practicing minimalism further and have a steadier ideal as to how to implement it in my life. If you want to revisit that episode and hear how uncomfortable Liz and I still were about how to podcast properly, I’ll link it down below:
What is Minimalism
Let’s first start this idea by defining Minimalism and what the real concept is. If you talk to any long-term minimalist, they’ll tell you that you could call it Essentialism or Intentionalism or just LiveWithNoExcessism. In their book ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life’ authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus wrote: “Minimalism is a tool to eliminate life’s excess, focus on the essentials, and find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom”. Minimalism isn’t about throwing away everything you own, but instead, it focuses on those last three points: Happiness, Fulfillment, and Freedom. It is about getting rid of the excess in your life and only having the essentials.
In episode 20 of our podcast, I had you imagine looking in the shirt or pants drawer of your dresser. Instead of fumbling around the clothes you don’t wear to find the clothes you do wear, with minimalism the only clothes you own are your favorite clothes. With these clothes, you’re freeing your mind in the morning of what you should wear because you can now open your drawer without thinking and throw on a great outfit. It doesn’t just stop with clothes, it’s the things in your household that take up too much space or the budget that you made that eats up too much of your hard-earned money. Minimalism is decluttering your homes, your finances, and your mind so that you can be free to enjoy the things you truly cherish like the video games you really love.
I’m still working to this day to declutter myself; I’ve minimized a lot of my household and currently, I’m working towards a more minimized wardrobe (I may have donated too many of my shirts and I may be wearing my Lancaster Barnstormers shirt for the third time this week). The beauty of minimalism though is that there’s no mandatory date of accomplishment, it can take longer for some people and that is totally okay. In his book ‘The Minimalist Mindset’, Danny Dover writes “Minimalism is the constant art of editing your life.” and that is the perfect way of putting it. All Minimalism really means is being intentional with your life and pursuing less so that you can live a more meaningful and free life.
This is all the tip of the iceberg that is the concept of Minimalism because I want to get to my main point, but if all of this sounds interesting, I definitely recommend looking at the content given by Matt D’Avella, Patrick Rhone, Greg McKeown, Josh Fields Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus.
Video Games and Minimalism
So, what does Minimalism have to do with Gamers? In this era of video games, I feel like there are more releases and more exclusives than I have ever experienced. With more releases, you feel like you can’t keep up or you don’t want to miss out on the hype. When they’re exclusives, you feel like you need to own multiple consoles so that you really don’t miss out on the hype. Within all of this insanity, you are also immersed with gatekeepers who might say something like “Have you played fill in the blank yet? No?! Are you actually passionate about video games?” Yes, I’m guilty of saying if you haven’t played Sleeping Dogs or Life is Strange then you’re missing out and I hope to not put off that sort of vibe. All of this to say being in Gaming culture can be filled with a lot of “fear of missing out” and the insanity of keeping up. However, it doesn’t have to be this way and Minimalism can help with the mindset.
As I mentioned in the first section, Minimalism can be called many different names including Intentionalism which should be the driving point on the love of gaming. Being intentional means to do something with purpose and to be meaningful about it, this includes how we decide which games we play or collect. Too many times I’ve seen gamers jump into a game without thinking or considering it just to end up hating it and regretting their purchase (much like my experience with Fallout 76) and that isn’t practicing Minimalism or Intentionalism as it should be. Consider also collecting video game memorabilia, when you purchase too many of these items you start to run out of space for the memorabilia that truly matters. After that, you start looking for closet space or finding different rooms or at worst having to decide which items to get rid of. Minimalism is not about getting rid of all your video games or all your memorabilia, Minimalism is about owning the ones that really matter to you and giving away the clutter that blocks the view of the essential items.
During a panel to promote their book, Ryan Nicodemus addressed someone who said they can’t get rid of their books saying they love the smell of the pages, lending them to friends so they can discuss the content together, the look of the binds on his bookshelf. Nicodemus responds by telling him to keep his books because it sounded like he really valued his books, don’t throw away the items that bring that sort of value in your life. In the same way with our games or game memorabilia, if your N64 with all of the cartridges or your collection of Vault-Boy bobbleheads can give you that sort of joy then those things should stay in your life. It’s the items in your collection that you only have so that you can prove you’re a ‘real gamer’ and not so it can give you joy in your life.
Own What You Value
There are gaming items that I have donated or sold that I won’t mention in this article to avoid comments related to “No! Why would you do that?!” and to answer that simply because it only was in my life to prove a point and not something I personally valued. I knew someone would find personal joy and value with those items, so why keep it to myself when they can find joy with it. Now when I look at our Retro Gaming collection, I only see what I personally enjoy. I see my PlayStation 2, N64, GameCube, Xbox 360 with the games I find a lot of value in, I don’t see the piles of clutter that I wasn’t using or finding joy in. Sure, if some people were to see my game collection, they might look to say something like am I actually passionate about games, but video games shouldn’t prove your passion.
Why should you have a life cluttered with items you don’t care about, why not walk into your home and immediately see the items that you love seeing? Minimalism is the mindset that everything you own has meaning and depth behind it rather than dragging around baggage you don’t want or desire. It is difficult to let go of things, especially if those things were gifts from people you care about. The most important thing I want you to take away from this article is that Minimalism should be taken with baby steps. Don’t just kick down the door to your house with hundreds of trash bags eager to fill them to capacity, start with the things that you're meaning to get rid of already. Start with the freebie items that you got at conventions that just ended up in a junk drawer somewhere or the games that you never intend on playing ever again. Once you start with those, then you can work your way up slowly by realizing there are more things than you realized that you don’t really value.
Minimalism, when done right, should give you more freedom to enjoy the things you really value and to make you less anxious about living with the clutter you have. Having a Minimalist mindset can also change your mind about what games you buy or what items you collect in the future, you start to see what you really value and forget about the things that only have you proving your point.
You love video games, the items you own don't prove that but your joy for games do.