Video Game Collecting Episode.010

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Collecting things seems to be in our blood for the most part.  We keep things for nostalgia or investment, sentiment or obsession.  Although there are exceptions, generally when you decide on something you want to collect, chances are there are many others wanting the same thing.  It’s what makes things collectable.  Nearly no one collects grass clippings for a collection.  In the last ten years especially, video games of the 80s and 90s have skyrocketed in both price and scarcity.  If you’re considering to join the many others in seeking out games of yesteryear, there are a few things to bear in mind before beginning.

Ask yourself the following questions before you even buy a single game:

“Just how large of a collection do I want to build?”

“Do I have enough space to store everything?”

“Am I wanting to display these for presentation or storage?”

“What specifically do I want to go after?”

“How badly do I want to go after the most valuable things?”

These are just a few of the necessary questions needing to be answered by you.  Take the time to know what you’re going to seek out.  Otherwise you wind up much like many of those I see online who post “finds” at a garage sale that includes a complete hodge podge of games from numerous systems.  If you have zero focus, you are going to wind up with a bunch of random things that really don’t make up a solid collection of any kind.

The best way to start is to pick your favorite gaming system of all time.  Was it the 16 bit Super Nintendo?  Perhaps the elusive Atari Jaguar?  Or it could be the hard to find Neo Geo system.  Perhaps you are going after just handhelds made by Nintendo.  Whatever the case may be that fits your preference try to get as specific as you can.  Even more, you could break down that decision into sub-decisions.  For example,  after deciding you want to get a complete collection of Super Nintendo games, break it down into acquiring every Marvel and DC theme game that was made for the system, or collect the entire Mortal Kombat franchise.  It will give you good focus, help you develop discipline (as you will need it), and get you a good start on your way to reaching your goal.

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You are going to find a lot of crappy games that you won’t ever want to own.  These typically include the sports genre as there are a LOT out there sitting on the shelves of pawn shops and thrift stores.  If you’re going after a complete set of a system, you can either get these over with or save them until the end.  There is no rush as they will always be around.

Don’t settle for a terrible condition game just to fulfil a goal.  Be aware of reproductions.  If the game is a steal and you’re worried it will be bought before you come back from your research, pick it up knowing if it’s a fake that it will act as a placement holder until you find the real one.  If the game looks like it was used and abused, unless you are a wizard at repairing (and don’t mind that your game won’t have original labels on it), pass on it knowing there are others out there.  Part of the struggle in game collecting is waiting.  These games are out there, but they aren’t everywhere and they aren’t abundant.  You may hate yourself for passing on the badly damaged copy of Chrono Trigger after waiting 6 months without finding another copy that isn’t outrageous, but you’ll be glad in the long run of your collection if you do.  Be proud of your collection no matter the size of it.  This is your baby.  These are your games.

If you’re going for presentation rather than just storage of your collection, consider expanding a bit in your field to include merchandise relating to the system or a specific game made famous within the system.  Plan ahead, however, on your available space as you will naturally be buying other things unrelated to game collecting that will also take up space.

Don’t be afraid to haggle.  Garage sales are a definite haggle place, pawn shops can sometimes be brought down, and thrift stores are generally ideal as many store owners are unaware (yet) of their value.  Many pawn shops are lazy and referring to the Internet to get their prices, and they often overshoot the value substantially by visiting ebay and looking at 2 or 3 high bids (ignoring the actual sale price).   You should always be able to get $5 knocked off any game, and sometimes more than that if you are willing to buy a few more games.  Don’t force yourself, however, to buy several crappy cheap games to get a better deal on the one you want.  In the long run, it probably isn’t worth it unless the deal is substantial.

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From the very start, put money back each month for the big hits.  Each system has the ultra-rare games that you may need in order for a complete set.  Games like Super Nintendo’s Earthbound will run over $100 and closer to $200 as the nostalgia and interest continue to rise.  If you can’t justify spending the excessive amounts on video games, then reevaluate your ultimate goal and consider either narrowing it down or selecting a different avenue.

Don’t let the games just sit on the shelf.  There are quite a few games that I haven’t played in 20-25 years because they are either ridiculously overpriced in value or they are extremely hard to find.  I’m wanting them to actually play and experience again, but with the value continuing to rise on video games, fewer and fewer people are wanting to part with them, hoping to get a better deal if they hold onto them a few more years.

If you come across loose cartridges or (gasp) loose CDs, don’t walk away in disgust.  There is a website called the Cover Project, which is a database of original and user-created case coverings.  You can also buy blank, plastic game cases for the covers so you have a more professional look on the shelf.  For CDs, I usually buy large quantities of the cheapest movies at flea markets for a few bucks and swap out the cover and disc.

Whatever road you take in collecting games, don’t let yourself get discouraged.  Know that this is not a goal that will be accomplished in a week.  It may take years, but it will give you something to do whenever you are out with others, especially if you’re bored.  Going shopping on Saturday with Mom isn’t quite as bad as you are on your own mission of discovery.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew, both financially and quantity value.  Know your limits on both.  When you have any portion of a collection noteworthy done, journey over to the information site, Reddit, and post on their game collecting page with photos that you proudly took of your growing display.  This might keep you motivated through each milestone you reach.  Happy hunting and gaming.

Until next time, lie about your dice roll as much as you can get away with.  Thanks for stopping by.

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