I love video games, I admit it! I am obsessed with all things gaming; memorabilia, systems, accessories, and (of course) games. While this is not a new discovery of mine, I feel like the thrill is just, well, dwindling.
My first real step into collecting did not begin until after 1997, roughly 20 years ago, after I received my first PlayStation for a Christmas present. I remember the excitement I felt as I opened up that beautiful grey box, popped in Final Fantasy 7, and sat in awe of the amazing graphics that my Genesis couldn’t produce.
Years down the road, I spent a fraction of my paychecks accumulating games for the beautiful console that I would refuse to sell; Lunar, Skull Monkeys, Ehrgeiz, and Valkyrie Profile to name a few. The system was the pinnacle of JRPG nirvana for this young gamer at the time. I relied heavily on SquareSoft, Enix, Namco, and others to fuel my desires until I made the leap into newer and better consoles.
The launch of the PS2 was a rockier start, especially with the lack of a memory card for months after I got my grips on that DualShock 2. Orphan and Evergrace brought a glimpse into the strength the newest Sony console could muster for my favorite genre as I held out hope for Final Fantasy X, only to be broadsided by the lesser known titles at the time. I strayed further away from my comfortable stomping grounds of yesteryear to find my way into the arms of Atlus, especially with the release of SMT3: Nocturne. This title widened my gaze into a more mature setting, and left me hungering for me.
I’ve strayed off of topic a bit, haven’t I? Let me get back to the main reason I made this post.
I am used to going to my favorite shops, scrounging through the piles of titles, and coming home with something I was proud of. Wild Arms, Evolution, Beyond the Beyond… These were all gems I never heard of that I took a chance on. The ability to wander aimlessly into a game shop and leave with an unheard of title was a luxury I didn’t realize at the time. It was an exciting time to be a gamer, in my opinion at least.
The Game Has Changed
Fast forward to 2017. After taking many years off of collecting, I decided to jump in full force. I know of a few retro shops in the area, so it shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Cookie cutter PS2 and PS1 titles filled the walls, and even more so with my beloved Sega. I became disheartened with what I found as I hit my third shop. Was this the new norm? Was this all these shops could muster?
“Have you tried going online?” A local patron proclaimed as I purchased Master’s of Teras Kasi for PS1, chuckling to himself. I never relied on eBay to produce a positive outcome for collecting, especially how people can just blatantly lie on their descriptions. Low and behold, I open up the app on my phone and typed “Sega Saturn”.
My mind went through a spin cycle as I browsed through the pages of titles available. Some listings went through an in depth breakdown of each game; case integrity, crispness of manual, and reflective quality of each CD. It helped remedy the uneasiness that my heart felt as I would place a bid for something over 20 years old. While not the most exhilarating, or frugal option available, it proved to be the most reliable.
I have also found that app’s like LetGo, OfferUp, and 5Mile have proved to be a fruitful venture. Personally, I have always enjoyed a more hands on approach to acquiring my games. The feel of the plastic, the scent of ink on the manuals, and the coarse touch of CD artwork is something that will never get old to me. I have met quite a few people through these applications who have been amazing to deal with, and offered more than what was listed in their backlog of additional titles. Dealing with dead consoles (especially Saturn and Dreamcast) leads to an exasperated amount of overpriced titles.
This new age of information gives a lot of inexperienced sellers, and buyers, a false sense of entitlement over certain items. People will try to sell a yellowed SNES with no cables or controllers for $100, while someone trying to purchase Ninja Gaiden 3 for $20 will throw a temper tantrum. To me, this is the largest issue with trying to collect games.
Of course this will not deter me from continuing my venture in completing my collection. I still find myself making lists of titles I still need, and an ever growing desire for consoles that I have yet to play (I’m looking at you Master System) keeps my hunger for the hunt still quite healthy. I have found myself hovering in Goodwill’s and Half Priced Books, scouring through shelves for picked over titles and other obscure nuggets to fill my shelves.
While this isn’t the world I remember from my youth, I have come to terms that everything evolves. Brick and mortar is a dying breed, only to be replaced by the convenience of digital distribution, similar to the way of gaming. I still hold out hope for a resurgence in the days of mom and pop shops, ran by geeks, and having a trip end with more than just a receipt crimped between a CD case.