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Tidying up (my game inventory) with Marie Kondo

Maybe I should get rid of some of this stuff ...

A photo still of Marie Kondo, facing the camera, from the shoulders up. She helps sort through things that you may not need to keep around. Denise Crew/Netflix
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

I hoard items in video games. I hoard them to the point where I have no other space in my inventory or my storage. The idea of tossing away some animal skins or even “beastkin blood” frightens me. What if I need it later? Should I buy it off another player or be forced to track one down? No! I just need to keep everything in storage forever.

But tidying guru Marie Kondo has me rethinking my habits, Snippets of her new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, are appearing everywhere, and it seems like everyone is tearing through their closets in response. But I’m not the only one thinking what Marie Kondo’s take on not just my real storage, but also my game inventory habits would be:

Kondo’s methods involve going through everything you own, starting with clothes and ending with sentimental items, and throwing out or donating whatever doesn’t bring you joy. Stuff can become overwhelming, and it’s possible that the things you own are complicating your life and causing unhappiness, even if it feels like you can’t throw anything out. Even your socks have energy, and must be folded a certain way. Or, if they don’t bring you joy, you can thank them for serving you, and then get rid of them.

This may sound like a joke, but it doesn’t feel like one to me. Watching Tidying Up, I kept asking myself questions about my virtual closets.

Why do I hoard elixirs and never use them? Why do I have so many low-leveled equips for classes I don’t play? What am I going to do with this huge pile of elm logs?

Kondo tells people to only keep the things that spark joy, but none of these items give me joy! It’s the opposite, in fact — they give me slight anxiety when I get the notification that I only have two slots remaining in my inventory, or that my storage only has five free slots left.

So I started thinking: What would Marie Kondo do if she took a tour of my virtual life?

I didn’t like the answer. I decided that it might be time to put what she preaches into practice.


Every inventory can be tidied up

The important thing to ask when cleaning out a character or online game go beyond the usual, “Will I ever use this?” The answer to that will always sit at, “Maybe!” You might level a mage in the future, so you need to keep that low-level mage gear. You might need to craft new furniture for your house, so you need to keep that extra leather. You might get stuck on a future boss fight, so you need to keep that elixir.

It’s better to decide if an item is helpful to you now — or if it can make you a little extra gold or be broken down into crafting materials for immediate use. You’ll find more elixirs later, but you may or may not ever find time to try another class. Cash and materials are almost always helpful to buy or create more powerful equipment today, not just in the hypothetical future.

Getting rid of items is just as easy as hoarding them; we just have to create new habits. That’s what Marie Kondo says. Stop weighing yourself down with stuff you don’t need, and begin to find joy in a bigger bank account or specialized equipment.

This sort of cleaning can, in a direct way, improve how we play games.

I was literally unable to complete a Final Fantasy 14 quest, because I already had a Phoenix Down in my inventory, and you’re only allowed to hold one at a time. I couldn’t accept the one given as quest reward, and I couldn’t even remember where I had gotten the one in my inventory or how long I had held onto it.

Which meant it was a wasted item that, in a literal sense, had stopped my forward progress in the game. It had held me back. I could have used the Phoenix Down when I needed it, but instead it turned into nothing when I was forced to drop it. The KonMari method will hopefully calm you down in the face of your mess — and it could make you a better player by forcing you to see, and react to, the utility in your items before it’s too late.

But the KonMari method isn’t just about minimalism. It’s also about making sure everything you own has a home. It may be helpful to stop worrying about the number of items you have, as long as they go into the right place. If you don’t have an immediate use for something, and you don’t have a good home for it, it’s probably best you got rid of it.

This is also how people end up with houses in Skyrim that are only filled with books, so maybe proceed with caution. But if a house filled with books brings you joy, who are we to judge?

The games we play sometimes have infinite possibilities, which has fooled me into thinking that I’m planning ahead and outsmarting the system for stockpiling an endless amount of leather. But it’s a fool’s paradise; I was anxious and had no place to store all my leather. Marie Kondo, without a hint of snark, has made me question if my hoarded items bring me joy ... and it turns out they weren’t. They were stressing me out and making it harder to enjoy the items I was using, the ones that really mattered to me.

Maybe it’s time to tidy up.