Posted on Thursday, February 10 @ 10:52:44 PST by KevinS
I have been a video game collector for more than a decade now. I'm not a guy who focuses in on the super-rare items like Airworld for the Atari 2600, or obscure 1980s European-only PC hardware like the Spectrum ZX. That sort of thing I have kept away from for multiple reasons; the first and top reason being, I don't have that kind of money. I can't hop onto eBay and drop a few grand on Kizuna Encounter for the Neo-Geo because "it's not in the collection". Mainly, my stuff comes from local thrift shops, my trips to conventions like the Classic Gaming Expo, and the occasional online import shop.
Several weeks before writing this article, I came into the office and found Nick looking over a Canadian/Aussie's gallery of photos, taken of the collection he lost in the recent Australian floods. (Take a minute or two of silence to go through the photos. I can wait.)
From the pics taken of the aftermath, he lost a lot of amazing pieces, some of which I would lose a pinky just to see intact: Nintendo hanafuda cards and Game & Watch units, early issues of Retro Gamer and Wired magazines, Japanese Sega Saturn units and games, complete and boxed games and systems even I can't recognize… as far as game collecting goes, this is one of the worst - if not THE worst - loss of a collection I've ever heard of. I've heard horror stories, but it can't compare to visual proof. I never thought I would see what was once a beautiful NeoGeo home unit (they still cost upwards of $200 - $300) caked in some nasty-looking mud.
Looking over the gallery that looks more like an electronic grave site makes me look over my personal collection of a piddly thousand-or-so titles and assorted cool bits and wonder. What would I do if I lost my entire stash? And more importantly, why would I start up again… what is it that makes me want to down pieces of history in the video game space?
For many players (including myself), there are two major factors: the history and the personal history. Having something that has history - and that history being known to many, many people in our hobby - can automatically make something stand out as "collectible". Take, for example, a copy of Nintendo World Championships 1990. Knowing that there are only 26 gold editions and 90 gray carts ever produced, that makes them rare, but what makes them desired is the history behind them… the "legacy" of the Nintendo World Championships themselves, and the Nintendo Power promotion that got their ball rolling.
The other factor is simple: personal nostalgia. Many players focus on something from their past that they really love, like specific systems or brands. I actually know a fella who loves Mario so much that he, at age 14 or so, got himself a Paper Mario tattoo on his leg! I tend to gravitate to the systems I grew up with, like my NES/FamiCom, Game Boy, and Genesis games, but my love for handheld games has found me digging through bargain bins at toy stores looking for unusual PSP and NeoGeo Pocket Color games. Even if they're titles I'm not really interested in playing a lot of, just searching for another game for a beloved platform gets my blood pumping and my excitement reaching a boiling point.
Of course, there is one more type of collector out there, a person I like to refer to (affectionately, of course) as "the weirdo". You know, the guy or gal that strives for that one obscure title that no one else knows about. Think of them like the indie-rock kid that always knows about the up-and-coming band and single that might never make the charts, but will develop a following that earns them life-long fans… and little-or-no money to speak of. Like some of the games we've come to know: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for PS2 (with re-releases on the PS3 on the way), Biomotor Unitron for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, Picross DS for the Nintendo DS. Then, there are the super-rare games that fetch a huge price - but that might not even be worth playing - like Action 52 or Cheetahmen II for the NES. The more unusual and uncommon they are, the better.
Whether you are a collector or not, if you enjoy any classic/retro games, everybody has a reason for going back to the games of our youth for some reason. Have you missed out on any games or systems you found later, only to yell to the gods asking, "Why did I miss this the first time around?"
If you collect, why do you collect? Or why don't you?
[Image Credit: NFG Photo]