[Dtoid community blogger ChillyBilly shares his personal story of how he became a videogame collector, and why he's decided to stop. Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]
One thousand, five hundred sixty two games. Thirty three consoles. Forty seven handhelds. Hundreds of pre-order goodies, posters, toys and little tchotchkes.
The culmination of over five years of hardcore collecting.
And you know what?
I've come to a realization recently; I have too much stuff and not enough room. I've been collecting videogames, consoles, handhelds, tabletop videogames, toys, pre-order items, and more for over five years now. I've been part of some massive trades with other collectors, bought stuff from friends I've made on Destructoid, and have had people from all over the world send me games.
I went from having a small CD shelf with 10 games on it to enough stuff to completely fill two master bedrooms.
I can't do it anymore. I've lost the "drive", that spark that kept me wanting more, more, more. I can't say that it has to do with age; sure, I'm almost 40 now, but I didn't start really collecting until I was just about in my mid-30s. It's not because I have a family now; hell I've had a family for the past eight years and they've always been supportive (to a crazy degree) of my hobby.
So what is it then? Why now? Why quit? Why not keep going? Sure I'm technically out of room, but I could always get a storage unit. That's what I tell myself, anyway. To be totally honest, that's what my wife tells me as well. You see, my collecting has been sort of a family thing for the past five years. It's not unusual for all of us (my wife, my daughter, and myself) to pile in to the car and hit up all the local Goodwill stores and other various thrift stores in the area.
This is when it hits; when you know you have a problem.
I'm getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
I had quit gaming for a long time. Before the Wii was released, that last console I actually owned was a Nintendo 64. I had an original PlayStation for about a month, but traded it for a guitar. I went through a phase in my life where videogames just didn't seem important to me. I was starting my professional career and found myself doing other things that took up any free time that I would have had for games. I tried to keep up with the whole gaming scene for a while, flipping through gaming magazines at various stores, glancing at games when I would go to Target or Walmart, but I just didn't have that urge to play, to get back in to gaming. I just didn’t care.
Fast forward to November 2006, and there was a new buzz on the playground. A new "hit" was sweeping the videogame nation. Nintendo had apparently released a machine that was blowing people's minds; so much so that you had to stand in line for hours -- days even -- just to try to get one. This piqued my interest. I had been thinking about possibly getting back in to gaming (after a brief stint with some PC gaming), and this seemed like just the thing I needed, or at least wanted. At least I thought I wanted it. I mean, hell, who wouldn't have wanted it when all you would hear about is how Nintendo was changing the way we thought about playing games? How they were changing the landscape of gaming forever with their new-fangled motion controls?
After a little research I started to feel that itch again. It was familiar; I wanted to play a videogame. More to the point, I wanted to play a videogame on the Wii. So out I went, into the cold, November breeze, on a mission to get a Nintendo Wii. As luck would have it I didn't have to wait long. (Well, not that long.) A local Toys “R” Us was “getting a shipment in” (according to the store manager); all I had to do was show up at 6:00 a.m. and patiently stand in line. I showed up, stood in line, froze my ass off, almost left from frostbite, and then eventually left with a brand new Wii and a couple games. All it took was three hours.
After a week or so of playing the Wii pretty much non-stop I wanted more. If gaming had come this far, at least in my mind, what else was out there? What was I missing?
I had to know.
I made a trip to my local GameStop, and after talking with a few associates I decided that the next step in my return to gaming would be a brand new Xbox 360. I was told that Halo and Gears of War were games that I absolutely had to play, and who was I to argue? These guys worked at GameStop for crying out loud; they knew everything about games! (Oh how naive I was.) So I plunked down a few coin and headed home with my new toy. This is pretty much when it all happened. I found myself plowing through games; I'd finish them as fast as I bought them. I went from owning two games to ten. From ten to thirty. Next thing I knew I was buying a new shelf to hold all of my games. I was going out of my way to look for deals, games on sale, clearance items; hell, I was even stopping by flea markets and yard sales, whatever I could do to find good deals on games that looked interesting, or interesting enough to pick up.
Next thing I knew I was bidding on older consoles on eBay and shopgoodwill.com. Super Nintendo, the original NES, and the Sega Genesis... hell, I didn't care. I wanted to relive my childhood; I wanted to play some of the classics that I loved as a kid. I went from owning one console (the Wii) to almost ten within the first six months. I couldn't tell you how many games I had -- a hundred at least, maybe more. No, I'm sure it was more.
One of my first "haul pictures". I was so excited to be collecting and gaming again.
Eventually my love for playing and collecting games had turned in to a hobby; no, it turned in to an obsession. It didn't help that my wife (girlfriend at the time) encouraged me every chance she could to "bid on this", "stop at this store here", "check out this clearance rack over here". To be totally honest, my collection wouldn't be half as big as it is now if it wasn't for her and her unrelenting drive to help me find and get everything I could. This went on for a couple years. Eventually, I started meeting people on Destructoid who shared my passion for collecting (I'm looking at you, Funktastic). I started trading with them, buying games from others, asking people in different countries to pick this up for me in return for something else. My collecting had gone from a literal handful of games to an entire master bedroom full of junk. It never really hit me though, just how much stuff I had amassed over the years until one day, about six months ago.
My family was getting ready to make the move from Chicago back to Orlando. We (my wife and I) were both from Orlando and thought that we had been away long enough (almost eight years). It was time to pick the family up and make the move. We had a good reason for this; we were in Chicago so that my wife could finish her PhD. Once she was done -- or at least done enough for us to not be there anymore -- we started packing for the big move. This is when it hit; and let me tell you, it hit like a ton of bricks. Seeing as we were moving ourselves, it fell on me to pack up my collection to get it ready for the move.
I couldn't believe what I was staring at.
Boxes, Tupperware bins, storage containers; you name it, I had games in it. And not just games, but toys, posters, clothes, hats, buttons, stickers -- AHHHHH! So much stuff! I had a small panic attack. Had I really collected this much stuff over the years? Did I really spend god-knows-how-much getting all of this? How the hell was my wife still with me?! Better yet, how the hell did I let my collecting get so out of control?! When did I hit that point where it all became spend, spend, spend and not moderation, moderation, moderation? It took me a couple of days to actually get around to going through everything. I didn't want to look at the pile of stuff there, in the corner. I didn't want to think about how many boxes and poster tubes it would take to get it all in to a moving truck. To be totally honest, I wanted it all gone. I wanted to take it all to the dumpster and just leave it there. And you know what? Some of it I did.
One corner of our master bedroom before we moved.
Before I took on the challenge of packing everything away I started going through the posters and pre-order items that I had amassed over the years. I was giving stuff away to kids in my apartment building, and some of the bigger stuff like standees from GameStop I threw in the dumpster -- and I did so when it was raining out, so that I knew there was no going back. Yes, I got to the point to where I was purposefully throwing stuff out that would pretty much be instantly ruined because I knew that I would have second thoughts. Once I felt I had whittled the pile away enough I started the task of packing everything away. I have to give so much credit to my wife for helping me with this; she sat there through the whole thing and helped me inventory everything that went into a box. It took us two weeks to get everything sorted, inventoried and packed.
From that point forward I knew I was done.
Just starting to load the moving truck.
Once we made it to Orlando and to our new place I unloaded my entire collection in to the garage. It stayed there for a week or so. I didn't really feel like going through it, and I sure as hell didn't want it in the house; it was nice living clutter free for once. Eventually, though, I broke down and moved some stuff in; I didn't want certain things to get damaged by the Florida heat and humidity. We had a small closet that no one was using so I turned it in to my "Game Closet". I put all my consoles, handhelds and Xbox 360 games in there. The rest is still in the garage.
My "Game Closet".
Honestly, that’s where I want it all to stay -- for now, anyway. I do have other reason for “slowing down” though; it’s not all because of space (although that’s a pretty big part). You see, it looks like we may be moving again (I say “may” like there’s still a chance we won’t). In a few days my wife leaves for the Czech Republic. She has accepted a Post Doc position with a school in Brno. This is a three year deal and in August my daughter and I will be following. I can’t take all of this stuff with me, and I don’t want to have to shell out for a large storage unit to keep it safe until we return.
I’m not going to stop completely, however, I have no intentions on quitting gaming or buying games -- not at all -- I’m just going to go about it in a more responsible way. My love for videogames has never been stronger. I was excited for the Wii U and bought one on launch day; hell, I even have a handful of games for it. The one thing I am done with, though, is the need to always have everything. Since I've been back in Florida (since late August) I've purchased less than a dozen games. This may still seem like a lot to some but for me it is a major step back, especially when you're averaging 20 to 30 games a month.
I still plan on picking up the games that I really want, but I'm no longer going to buy every game just because everyone else is playing it. I've also decided to stop buying collector's editions just for the sake of having the collector’s editions. Right now, every collector’s edition of a game I have is in a box, in the garage. It doesn't make sense to me anymore to spend that much money on something that's just going to be packed away.
So I guess that's it. I'm done. It's over. My collector’s hat has been officially hung up. It's been a hell of a run; I've made some amazing friendships along the way, found some pretty sweet games and old consoles. I want to give a special thanks to the Destructoid community for putting up with my haul blogs over the years. I appreciate all the feedback and comments that have been left.
Thanks to Funktastic for being my bestest collecting buddy, Occams electric toothbrush for being my gaming dealer, Gareth, Lenigod, SuperMonk4Ever, LawofThermalDynamics, and everyone else who has helped me grow my collection.
I couldn't have done it without ya.