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Video Game Collecting – An Old Habit I Kicked



video game collecting

Is video game collecting really that bad?

Sometimes you have to wonder why people collect video games. Collectors proudly display their stockpile on a shelf, and truth be told, most of the time, these games are simply used as decor. Whenever I visit someone’s house or apartment for the first time, the first thing that grabs my attention is their collection of games. A selection of retro video games really does indicate someone’s tastes, interests, and hint at certain aspects of their personality. But people spend thousands of dollars purchasing stuff they’ve most likely already played, and the bigger the collection, the more likely you’ll find games they still haven’t had a chance to play. Often someone will stumble upon a game, and buy it simply on impulse; perhaps because the cover stood out, or maybe they’ve just always wanted to play the game but never had a chance. And so they feel that by buying the game, they’ll eventually get around to doing so. Only sometimes, they never do. And for most people, they will never get around to ever playing many of the games in their collection more than once in their lifetime.

Some people collect for investment, but most collect for pure enjoyment. Sometimes people’s collections range from rare hockey cards worth thousands of dollars to vinyl records that are extremely rare and hard to find. However, most collections are comprised of things that have little if no value beyond the sentiment for the collector. Sure you can always sell your used games but you’ll rarely make a profit. Very few games worth seeking out are discontinued, and those that are can still be found readily available somewhere online. You can spend a few hundred dollars on the original Super NES Earthbound cartridge, or you can simply play in on the Wii U. And with every re-release, the value of these copies has dropped. And even with a collection of high dollar value, it is rare that any collector sells an item to claim the money. Why, then, would someone put so much time and effort into amassing a collection?

Some collect to expand their social lives, swap titles, and sometimes bootleg duplicates with like-minded friends – but more often, people collect in an effort to simply remember and relive the past. We use mementos to stimulate fond memories, and most of us collect items to show individualism. When collecting there is also a quest and in some cases a life-long pursuit that can never be fulfilled. And for many, the satisfaction comes from arranging, re-arranging, and categorizing your collection. How often have you spent hours doing this?

Image: AMC
Image: AMC

I personally started collecting games when I was younger but it didn’t take me long to give it up. I just couldn’t afford it at the time and eventually, I found myself shifting over to cinema. Gaming has always been something I’ve been very passionate about but I’ve also been a cinephile since I was about five years old. Back when I was working at a video store, I had the luxury of purchasing films at an extremely low cost. Criterion DVD’s would run me about $10, and everything else would cost no more than $5. During those years working at Movieland Video, I accumulated over 1,500 DVDs and Blu-Rays. At the time, it made more sense to collect movies than games based simply on cost. The problem is, I’ve maybe watched only half of those movies since.

Of course, I had my reasons for collecting, and I justified the hobby. There was first, those rare gems that were either discontinued or would soon be. Sure you can purchase the Robocop Blu-ray, which of course has better picture quality, but it won’t come with the Paul Verhoeven commentary track provided on the original Criterion release. And then there were those movies that were simply too hard to find at most video stores – we’re talking Luis Bunuel films that I picked up in Europe, or La Haine and Doberman, which at the time had no North American distribution. But of the one thousand plus movies in my collection, I’d say 90% were purchased because I felt I needed to simply complete a filmmaker’s catalog or because I got them at such a low cost. Sure it was great to have friends come over and let them pick through my collection before sitting down for a movie night with some pizza and beer, but most of these DVD’s have done nothing but collect dust ever since I brought them home. Eventually, I stopped collecting, and I haven’t purchased any DVD’s nor Blu-rays in two years. Nowadays I actually prefer trading in some of my DVD’s for movies I’ve never watched. I’ve already spent the money on movies I had already seen, so why not double my investment, and swap them for a film I have yet to discover, that I may very well enjoy.

But that brings me to the present day. I walked away from blogging and writing about movies in 2015 after launching our NXpress podcast. I guess part of me was tired of writing about film and television and part of me just wanted to make room for gaming once again. I’m no longer a teenager and while I am far from being financially stable, I do have more money to spend on games and game memorabilia than I did in the past. I picked up the Wii U for example in late 2014, and I now have over 80 games for the system along with every amiibo figurine released. Here I am once again in a situation where I find myself collecting as much as I can and not having the time to really enjoy most of these purchases. And I know I am not alone. The majority of my friends who play games on Steam wind up purchasing more games than they have time to actually play. It’s easy to fall into a trap of buying a bunch of game because of the reoccurring sales that continue to pop up, but eventually, we need to ask ourselves if it is even worth it at the end of the day. Perhaps gamers would enjoy video games more if they actually took their time to play through every game they purchased without feeling that urge to rush through every stage so they can finish the game and move on to the next? They say it’s a good time to be a gamer right now, but many of my gamer friends don’t seem to have the time to actually enjoy most of their games. Instead, they have a huge backlog on Steam and a load of unopened retail games just collecting dust.

The honest truth is, a part of me regrets giving away many of my older consoles and games over the years to family and friends, but I’ve also come to accept that it’s ok to sometimes let go of things from your past. There will always be a dozen or so games I’ll proudly display on my shelf at home, mostly for their rarity, but everything else can come and go. I no longer have the time, space, desire, nor need to own every video game, I like but I do envy those who do

What about you?

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast and the Sordid Cinema Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound on Sight. Former host of several other podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead shows, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.