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Why I Deleted My PS4 Save Files on My PS5

Letting go of the past to appreciate the present

We all know what it feels like to forget to save. Before we had cloud and digital services, there were the blocky cartridge inserts of the Nintendo 64-era and the eventual disc drives of PlayStation 2 and GameCube consoles. There was a physicality to gaming back then, an aspect of collecting that’s since developed into a less manual system. It was a time of stacking games next to the TV stand, displaying them like books.

Nintendo 64 Memory Paks. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

As a child, I had a particular possessiveness of my various game and entertainment paraphernalia. Only I could remove the discs from my DVD player at home. Only I could take out the games from my own consoles, and often I played the same levels into mindless oblivion because they were all I had. Materialism was a mark of my adolescent unease, a symptom of my anxious attachment to comfort, but the scarcity of games also forced me to focus on the few that I had.

Growth, and a move thousands of miles from my childhood home, made this fixation on my few prized items less appealing. After all, how was I supposed to lug my precious Wii and unfinished copy of Xenoblade Chronicles all the way to a farm in the middle of an island? It was impossible, and beside the point of my whole venture.

Really, the idea of materialism in the form of something as simple as a video game save file is anathema to my entire collegiate undergraduate experience. By pursuing environmental studies and understanding our relationship to the world and consumerism, it was pretty clear that attachment to consumer goods could be bad for the brain and the planet. For a book collector, this is a rough realization, and I will never stop dreaming of one day having a window-reading nook and hidden library — never!. For a gamer, it’s definitely easier.

PS4 save file screen. Source: TweakTown.

Because at the end of the day, most of my games sit unfinished, being spur-of-the-moment purchases that were supposed to be my next healthy obsession. I’ve beaten FFXV, FFVII Remake, Nier: Automata, Tales of Zesteria, Resident Evil 2, etc, etc. But there are plenty of games I’ve barely touched, some even after I had been so excited to purchase them (Scarlet Nexus, I’m looking at you). Then there are others that I have played far too much, even though I’m no longer limited to playing just them.

The expanding nature of gaming means that we constantly have new offerings. Now that games are available at the touch of a button, it feels easier to play than ever before. It’s become a bit of false minimalism — we might have less physical product on hand, but we’re more inundated with potential than ever before.

So upon (miraculously) securing a PS5, I saw the option to transfer my old games’ save files over to my new console. I stared at the option for FFVII Remake, weighed my options, and then chose not to take my completed save files over. Why? Well, as a bit of a stopgap and future reward for myself — one day you’ll be able to play this with fresh eyes, but finish some other games first. In fact, I made a pact to delete the saved files of all of my completed games and relegate them to a “forbidden” pile.

As someone who used to grow nauseous at the idea of parting with beloved mangas or who still often refuses to shuffle music, doing something as simple as deleting long-held files was a tough-love style of self-sabotage. When I realize I can’t just mindlessly flip on Chapter 8 of FFVII Remake to play when I’m bored, it makes me think a little harder about my vast backlog of unfinished games. Why start FFVII over for the third time when I need to still finish Tales of Vesperia — and I already have an open save file for that?

This plays into the advice to myself that aside from FFXIV, which is a bit like a plant I want to water weekly, I want to finish the games I begin.

No more leaping around from known game to unknown game, hoping one will entertain me for these few fleeting moments. I want to treat my gaming sessions as I treat my baking sessions — with patience for myself and by striving to eliminate the temptation of other options. My leisure time is finite, and there will be games I decide not to finish because they don’t appeal to me, but that’s a hard distinction to make when momentary boredom easily eclipses a payoff that requires perseverance.

Into a new generation. Source: PC Mag.

Thus, I decided to start anew on my PS5. I wouldn’t buy any new games until I had finished a few of the old and I wouldn’t restart a game I’d already completed either. I haven’t touched my copies of Witcher III or Red Dead Redemption 2, and yet I’ve sat through Kingdom Hearts’ various worlds hundreds of times. There is certainly something to be said for coziness, but I think seeking constant reassurance in familiarity prevents and hinders exploration. I want to experience many more games, not just the ones that give me that sweet, sweet moment of nostalgia-laced serotonin, and not only the ones I think I’ll like.

So here’s a New Year's resolution, not just in the microcosm of my gaming time but in my general life: to pursue, be patient, understand good rewards are not immediate and go into games without predisposed ideas. This way I can witness them still with wonder because every new story I see or read or hear might just become a new favorite.




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in my head or one of the Final Fantasy games, most of the time / /

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