Why you should give your games away this Christmas

When the final boss has fallen and every secret has been uncovered, where do your games go? Do they forever rest in peace, nestled among their own kind on your shelf, or do they get stuffed into a box and tossed into storage? Or maybe they take a trip to the local GameStop or Best Buy, netting you some handy spare cash or in-store credit?

Whatever their ultimate fate, I've got a suggestion for you, and I (almost) guarantee you're not going to like it. Because you're right - it's totally fair to keep the games you enjoyed around in case you want to revisit them. It's sensible to display them as trophies. It's reasonable to trade in your games or sell them on Craigslist for some extra cash. But I'm going to tell you why you shouldn't do any of those things. I'm going to tell you why you should give them away.

Four years ago, I was on my way home from picking up Christmas presents. Call me a bad boyfriend, but while I had remembered my then-girlfriend's mother and father in my holiday shopping, I'd forgotten about her siblings and step-siblings - something I didn't realize until it was too late to go shopping anywhere other than a gas station, because everything else was closed.

These kids love video games, but were still relying on an original Xbox that often malfunctioned or died. We, however, had a spare Xbox 360. I was (and still am) ashamed I hadn't thought of giving up my excess system sooner. I grabbed it, as well as my copies of Borderlands, Dead Island, and Left 4 Dead, and wrapped them all up in a box.

The look on those girls' faces when they opened their gift; you wouldn't believe how stoked they were. Like the Nintendo 64 kid multiplied by 100. They spent the rest of the day glued to the TV, and from then on, every time I visited, the girls would eagerly tell me about some cool moment, some "totally awesome thing" that had happened while playing. Meanwhile, I was able to give the joy and fun that I had playing games to someone else.

Giving is an important part of being a well-adjusted human being. It promotes cooperation and social connection - by thinking of others and putting them before yourself, you're participating in civilized society, and contributing to the welfare of something that extends beyond yourself.

It's not just about the games, it's about giving attention and care, and telling someone you want them to be happy. It's about, in your own little way, making the world a better place.

There's something in it for you too. Think back on when you were younger and you were the first kid on your block to get the new hotness. Depending on your age, that might've been a new Sonic the Hedgehog game, the latest Call of Duty, or Minecraft. After the initial excitement and novelty wore off, what was the first thing you wanted to do? For me, it was always to invite my friends over to share in the fun, and I loved getting them to smile.

That attitude, that giddy excitement of "I can't wait for someone else to see this" still lives on in modern gaming. Hell, the PS4 has a button on it that literally says 'Share'. Giving away games you enjoyed is just the next step, the next evolution of that thought process.

If you look at your library and can honestly say that you're the only person who would enjoy the games therein, if you consider each title a classic that you don't want to be without, or you have sentimental value attached to them, that's fine. Don't give them away. Seriously, keep 'em. I personally can't see myself ever letting go of the signed copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 I stood in line 16 hours for, so no judgment here.

But if you see a game that's been neglected, especially one you don't see yourself picking up again, do me a favor: pull it off the shelf, put it in a bag or a box, and say goodbye. Wrap it up in Christmas paper, send it to the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army, or even better, donate it to the Get-Well Gamers Foundation, a charity that will send those games to hospitals so sick kids can recover from illnesses with a round of Mario Kart 64.

It sounds melodramatic and hokey, but the truth is you have an opportunity to make Christmas happen for people, whether they be friends, family, or strangers. We're gamers because we know how fun games can be, or how meaningful an impact they can make in our lives. And giving your games away isn't about losing something precious to you, it's about someone else getting to experience the feelings we know so well.

All it takes a little bit of honesty and a willingness to let go.

Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.