Destructoid Discusses! Should we collect videogames?

We’re back this week with another Destructoid Discusses!, our featured discussion among the Destructoid editors and staff. This week, Dyson handed the reigns to me, so I decided to poll the staff on a topic that has recently been a point of contention among friends.

Back in the 16 and early 32-bit days, getting hold of a rare, mint condition game was like another trophy for your collection. Geek cred, right? But now, these days, it seems that every good game is released as either some kind of download or on a compilation disc. Or even totally remade.

Remember when Rez was the pride of your collection? It ain’t crap now! Is it waste of money to invest in rare games?

Ready….Discuss!

Mike Ferry

Hell no! By no means is game collecting stupid. I am an avid game collector and I tend to frequent local swap shops to find rarities and oddities alike. It really is quite a thrill to collect a series of titles, or to find a game you haven’t played in ages.

Some people collect coins, stamps, movies, baseball cards… how is video game collecting any different than any of these hobbies? To be honest, it really isn’t. Just as Babe Ruth’s Rookie card is a gem to find for the avid card collector, Chrono Trigger in a factory-sealed box is an equally-valued gem to the avid retro RPG collector.

Now, there are some fine lines here where simple collecting turns into obsessive compulsiveness. I buy and collect games that I plan to play or have played. I do not buy titles or doubles of titles “just to have/show.” Though, I will admit that I’ve given much thought to purchasing various Famicom and Super Famicom games.

Anyway, to each their own. My hobby and collective vice revolves solely around games and gaming. To this very moment, I am still searching for a complete US version of Revelations: Persona… for under $80.

(Damn you, Atlus! Why can’t you print more than, like, five copies of your games?!)

Alan Johnson

It’s never a waste to collect something that brings you joy. It all comes down to three things:

Can I find what I want to collect?
Can I afford to buy what I want to collect?
Do  I have the room to house what I collect?

If you can answer yes to these questions (and it’s legal), go for it!

Jordan -Grim- Devore

How important is the condition of a game to you guys? If I see an extremely rare game for an unbeatable price, but it’s beat up (like the label of cartridge being ripped, for example), I won’t buy it. It’s sort of a dumb rule, economically speaking, but then again I never rent game nor do I sell any of the games I’ve purchased, no matter how shitty they are.

Mike Ferry

Condition varies from person to person, but I’m in the same boat as you. If I’m going to spend any sort of money, I want the best my money can buy; complete and minut, if possible.

But, sometimes, that just doesn’t seem to happen.

Dyson

I can’t see how game collecting could be considered stupid. People collect bottle caps, don’t they? Why not collect video games? Anyone who’s ever seen my room can tell that I collect like a madman. I have NES cartridges falling off my night stand and seven systems hooked up to one tv alone.

Do I think that it’s stupid to do so if companies keep rereleasing stuff? No. Even when Chronon Trigger comes out, I still won’t be able to play it the way it was meant to be played – on the SNES. That’s the main reason that I love to collect games. All games are designed to work best on the platform that they were made for, so that’s the way I like to play them. I don’t mind that rereleases come out, though, because then the originals drop in price 🙂
 
And as far as quality goes, as long as it works I’m happy.
 
Nick Chester
 
I don’t condemn anyone for collecting games, but I’m not sure I get it. Actually, that’s not the case; let me rephrase that.

As someone who, as a kid, used to collect comic books, horror memorabilia, and related toys, there’s a small part of me that understands the obsessive itch that collectors seem to want to scratch. It feels good to stand back and gaze upon a well kept, sizeable collection of anything. But as an adult, I’ve lost the feeling. Long gone is the sizeable collection of movie posters, props, bagged comics, and “celebrity” signed items.

What do I have to show for it? Nothing, really. Good memories and good feelings, but not much else (resale value of items aside, though it was never my intent to sell my collectibles). These days I’d rather play games or talk about then then stare at some pristine boxes that I own for the sake of owning them. It’s rare that I go back and play a “classic,” what with so many current games already piling up unplayed. Besides, with remakes and other ways to get me hands on such titles, they’re really never out of reach.

I simply don’t have the space or time to focus on stock-piling shit I may never play or use. It would be “cool” to have a massive classic
collection, but I don’t see the use beyond novelty.

 
Brad Nicholson
 
Exactly, Nick. I don’t mind people that collect things. I used to have quite the collection of Batman comic books myself, but honestly, I have nothing to show for it. In fact, I think my collection is what kept the ladies away. Sure, having the entire Knight’s End set in plastic and mounted is cool – but the females seem to be unimpressed.

That said, I used to collect my games. Other than my comics, I think my NES/SNES/GBA collections were what I was most proud of growing up. As I moved on to other consoles and had to start paying for the games myself, I found myself willing to trade in my old games for better ones. For awhile I did it at pawn shops, then I discovered Electronics Boutique and it ravaged every old game I own. I literally have zero titles for my PS1, like 8 for my original Xbox, and a smattering for the Dreamcast because of this. Do I mind? Not really. Yet, I still have a few golden oldies locked away that I can’t find myself getting rid of. Secret of Mana, Earthbound, and Tecmo Secret of the Stars are still in my closet. Is this collecting? I’m not sure, but I can’t find myself even selling them on Ebay.

 
Dyson
 
I used to collect comics, too, so I can understand both of your guys’ points. I only stopped collecting comics because the market became stupid and the quality of comics dropped. After getting jazzed about the limited edition holo-cover with the secret card attached version of every comic on the market, your enthusiasm fades. I still read comics, though, but I just don’t collect them.

That may be the difference when it comes to collecting old games. You might actually be someone who collects things in mint boxes and puts them on shelves and stares at them, but I’m the guy that buys the copy he finds — even if it doesn’t have a label and has “Mandy” written on the side — and takes it home and plays it. In a way, I’m just buying games to play and not collect. It just so happens that I don’t trade any of them in.

I like having a big library of games to look at and go through. It’s fun having friends come over and play Contra on the original NES, with the original controllers. Everything about the old games and hardware just feels right when I compare them to an emulator or XBLA/PSN/VC.

 
Jordan -Grim- Devore
 
For the record, I do play all of the games I collect, it’s just that I’m a little picky about how they look. Hell, if someone gave me an unopened copy of Earthbound or Mega Man X3, I’d pop that sucker open immediately and start playing.
 
Nick Chester
 
I see what you mean. But when it comes to novelty and nostalgia versus convenience, convenience wins every time. I can understand liking the feel of an original controller or the quality of an 8-bit system, but I hate clutter with a passion. Also, blowing into carts is not a fond memory, despite what some people might think. Shit was broken.
 
Topher Cantler
 
I’m with Dyson on this one. For me, I think the collector’s bug bit me when I was younger, and it started with records. I could not-download this stuff on the internet, but how many people can say they have an original 45 of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter? Or an original pressing of The Ramones’ Road To Ruin? Sure they’re a little scratched, and maybe the corners are kinda busted, but screw you, I can put it on a turntable and listen to it in its original state, crackles and all. I have one and you don’t. Nyah nyah.

Same goes for games. I never really got with the whole “mint condition, frozen in carbonite” set, because what the hell’s the fun in that? I take very good care of the games I do have, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have more than a few cartridges wrapped in plastic, but if it’s not in pristine condition when I find it, who cares? It’s still an original copy of the game, and that’s more than the guy wih the PC emulator can say. And just like listening to original vinyl on a turntable, there’s nothing like popping an old cartridge into an NES and hearing the nostalgic creak of the springs when you kachunk it down into the console. 

As far as keeping everything locked away on a shelf under a magic sigil, I think that’s dumb, too. I might step out my front door and get hit by a meteor tomorrow, and it would suck to die with a copy of FFVII sitting in my room unplayed just because I wanted to boost my nerd cred when other geeks came over the house. Play ’em, fuckers. That’s what they’re for.

 
Convenience, schmonvenience. There’s nothing stopping you from having them on your DS in addition to having the real thing on your shelf. Did you throw away all your old CDs when the MP3 player was invented?
 
Nick Chester
 
Actually, yeah, most of my CDs are in storage or have been sold (for
pennies, since they have zero resale value). My wife asked me to rip the CDs we still have so we could toss them; I’m all for it. We’re not there yet (keyword “yet”), and it’ll be awhile, but physical
media is going to die. That’s another conversation, though. But your comparison doesn’t work, unless you have some emotional attachment to the act of pulling a CD out of case, placing it into a tray, and pressing buttons with arrows on them.

And I already addressed what’s stopping me from having a DS version and another original version on my shelf: space and clutter. I own an NES, a Genesis, and a Super Nintendo and they’re not even hooked up to a television. I would like to have them set up, because I get the fun and novelty of playing the real deal, it’s just not necessary for me to enjoy a game.

 
Topher Cantler
 
Necessary? No. But it’s fun. I agree that physical media is on its way out (probably sooner than we all think), and truth be told, I’m all for it. But doesn’t the doom of the disc make it that much cooler to own these old games?

I guess I think of it with some kind of time capsule fondness. I get a kick out of people who come over my house and have never seen a working 2600 before, or an NES in its original retail box. That kind of thing is fun. It’s a history lesson for my younger friends, kind of like grandpa keeping his old Chevy in the garage. If you happen to still have something cool like that, why get rid of it just because there’s been better stuff since?

Also, your game library takes up half your living room, and didn’t Debbey just call me a couple months ago to tell me you guys found a R.O.B. for sale? Sure you don’t want to fill your house with dusty old carts, but you can’t tell me it’s not cool to keep at least some of that stuff around just for nostalgia’s sake. 

 
Nick Chester
 
I’m not denying that it’s “cool” or “fun” to keep nostalgia around the
house. The R.O.B. will never be used as a gaming peripheral, and will more likely find its way on to a shelf as display. The games I have that take up half of my living room I will have no problem trading in or selling when the time comes. I don’t play more than half of them anyhow, and have no intention of keeping most of them beyond this console cycle. That could change when I eventually move and have an entire room dedicated to gaming.

My point is that *I* don’t consider *myself* a collector, and *I* don’t generally hold on to things just to have them. But as far as arguments are concerned, my “the shit takes up space that I don’t have” stance is TOTALLY better than your “I just like them” position. I win. Throw out all of your games made before 2003.

 
Topher
 
You don’t win. I have a Sega CD. 
 
Alan Johnson
 
For me, condition is everything. It drives me batshit if I get something that’s in less than great condition, and I do everything in my power to keep in the same shape. I cringe when I see how some people are so carefree about their stuff.
 
Nick Chester
 
NIGHT TRAP.
 
Dyson
 
 
DOUBLE SWITCH, starring the Corey. Only for the Sega CD.
 
Joe Burling
 
Collecting “current” games just doesn’t seem appealing.

I used to have an epic collection, but one day I traded the entire thing in to buy a replacement PS1 when my first one broke. I really wasn’t that sad about it, though, because I didn’t look at it as an actual “collection”. It was more like an accumulation of games that didn’t appeal to me as much as they used to (mainly because, at the time, Resident Evil steered me in a whole new gaming direction). I had some good collectors items in there, too, which leads me to my point:

It’s not hard to find current video games these days. More and more copies of games are being pressed and they are getting easier to get a hold of. I remember a time when my video games came from either Toys R Us or Electronics Boutique. These days, we can get games ANYWHERE, including the internet, so if there is a current game we want, we can get it. Elusive game collecting always seems to pertain solely to hard-to-find retro games. Once games stop getting made, that’s when they start becoming collectible.

Each generation gives birth to more gamers, which in turn gives birth to more copies, which is slowly chipping away at the number of those rare collectible games. Additionally, as third parties shift away from exclusives towards multiplatform, collecting seems to be even more watered down.

Now, the trophies of video game collections are those rare older titles that aren’t being made anymore. Remakes just aren’t the same to a true collector. This means those few rare games from our distant past will continue to grow in value over time. This especially holds true to games in good to mint condition. This is great news for people who already have a solid collection, and bad news for people who are in the market for those rare games.

 
Dale North
 
It’s pretty cool getting the final word! I’m with Topher on a lot of this. Nostalgia is the key word for me. Condition doesn’t matter as much, as long as I can pop in that old game that I used to love and play it one more time. The remakes don’t give you that fuzzy feeling. I think that as long as your collection isn’t untouchable and pointless, and is really there as a library of games you’ve loved in the past, it’s totally worth collecting.
 
I thought it was interesting that this discussion didn’t explore imports. A very large portion of my collection is impored games, stuff that may never come out as a re-release or on a compilation disc. 
 
What about you? Do you collect? Do you think it’s a good idea these days?

Dale North