Jam’s Collecting Story
The great thing about video game collecting is there are all sorts of collectors with different goals and different reasons for getting into the hobby. If your new to the hobby this article is a introduction into my own personal story in collecting.
I have been playing games since the UK’s micro computer boom period but I didn’t start purchasing games myself till I owned a Sega Mega Drive. That is how I managed to build my first collection. I brought games and just never really sold them. I was always just kinda nostalgic for the system even before it got old. I was still playing on the system long into the original Playstation‘s life cycle. Being a generation behind is a pattern that remains today. Up to this point I was by no means a hardcore collector I pretty much just brought games I wanted to play and didn’t mind if they were cart only. When it came to the PS2 era I started delving into selling games. If you collect games you will probably be familiar with this tale, I sold my entire Dreamcast collection just to get a PS2. This was decision I still regret to this day as I haven’t been able to salvage some of the games I sold on. I would continue to trade games well into the PS2 life cycle I infamously brought the Onimusha series and sold it on twice. I now own a copy of the complete collection which I will not sell due to the likely pattern I’ll miss the game and want to play it again. When I went to University I did not care for collecting any more which was a little silly of me as it meant my brother could do as he pleased with my Mega Drive collection. During this five year vacation from gaming I lost some treasures like Sunset Riders and one of my all time favourites Rocket Knight Adventures. I also lost my entire N64 collection which included several cart only games and the expansion bay. I had left it at home so it meant anyone could have at it. Of course at the time I didn’t care but to this day I am yet to find a reasonably priced Sunset Riders on Mega Drive and replace many of the N64 carts I had collected.
During the tail end of University I started getting back into collecting but I didn’t have a lot of money. I started with the original Xbox and to be honest I pretty much just went nuts and brought most games I could for the system for a stupid cheap price. At this stage the Xbox 360 was out and original Xbox titles were going for very little. It’s during this wonder period I managed to obtain classics like Otogi 1 & 2 and Panzer Dragoon Oorta, two games I absolutely love and have received no ports to other platforms to this day. Although I hadn’t finished my education collecting was a fun hobby for me as it helped distract my attention away from the stress of studies. I also played every game I collected as it was interesting to witness different gaming experiences between heavy study sessions without knowing how well they had scored in the reviews in magazines or online. The majority of my Xbox collection was generated from Blockbuster Video, a franchise long dead now in both UK and US. The local store to me was selling off the disc only games for a couple of pounds. My best friend and I would make regular trips and pretty much pick up games we wanted. Sudeki a very niche title that was also released on PC (and is available on GOG) was one of my favourites. Everything was disc only with the occasional manual thrown in, the discs varied in quality since these games were rented multiple times to customers. This taught my friend and I a hard lesson in disc inspection but fortunately for us we could take chances on scratched discs and return them for exchange if they failed to work. The store did make use of resurfacing but as I will cover in a future article this doesn’t fix everything. Since most my collection was disc only I purchased a very large CD folder to store the games which I still have to this day. It saves a ton of space and keeps the discs from further damage. As I settled into work I did start to get a little bit more picky about the quality of the games I picked up. Unless I really wanted to play the game I generally tried to go for Complete In Box (CIB) especially with older games as the manuals contained fascinating content about the game that wasn’t just the control layout.
Some time passed and then one road trip back from holiday my partner and I came across a car boot sale. We only had 6 pounds between us but we decided to pull in and check it out. I had not been to a car boot sale since I was very young but we ended up doing quite well from the experience despite our lack of funds. We found a complete copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Xbox the same copy I would later use on Gaming History 101 game club. The same seller also sold me a Dreamcast with two controllers my first step into salvaging my Dreamcast collection. It was a very entertaining experience for the two of us, with our lack of funds we deliberately had to haggle harshly. We had so much fun from this experience we to this day go out to car boot sales provided the weather is suitable. I was still going for CIB games if they were CD based but was happy to go cart only on the older consoles which helped me generate a very nice Master System collection over 2 years. Car boot sales have been a good and a bad. I have every so often come across very uncommon games for reasonable prices but I have also been very guilty of buying huge lots of games because they were very cheap and in turn ended up with a lot of shovelware titles. While collecting bad games can be quite fun I have never had any intention building a collection of football games. Car boots also posed a huge risk as there was no return policy on the stuff I brought. To this day I find its a gamble buying a console as you won’t know if it works until you get home, the same can be said for games. The experience over the last few years has taught me to inspect items carefully.
I have of course dabbled in the eBay thing but this has always delivered mixed results. Everyone has an eBay nightmare story. I went through a period where I pretty much only brought games off ebay but the luster wore off as it just wasn’t as much fun as finding the game. Its pretty hard to find a good deal on eBay these days. Don’t get me wrong it’s fantastic if you are looking for a specific game quick and unlike car boots you do have the refund policy as a safety net.
The most rewarding finds in my collection today have been finding them out in the wild and that’s pretty much what I am settling on currently. I don’t use eBay unless I see a game I want to cover for the site. I am quite happy just being patient and buying stuff when I come across at car boots or charity shops. I am also at the stage of my life where I am started to downgrade my collection. The harsh reality some collectors get to is you realize you have too many games and not enough space or time to play them due to other life commitments. So I’m starting to let some of the collection go. Who knows maybe this will be another Onimusha tale all over again.
As you may have gathered from this article the type of collector I am has changed over the years. Although I am at a point at the moment where I am starting to say farewell to my collection that’s not to say that I won’t change my tune.
The most enjoyable part of collecting is sharing the experience with my partner and the Gaming History 101 community. A few years ago my partner and I started holding retro nights in our flat which we still periodically hold every so often. They have always gone down very well with friends who enjoy it when I present some very obscure title to the fray. There is something about just sharing the hobby with other people that has just made the experience all the more enjoyable and its these small experiences that keep me collecting to this day.