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Posted on Mar 5th 2011 at 07:18:52 AM by (Fuyukaze)
Posted under gaming, collecting

Sitting here, not looking forward to the events taking place in a few weeks I find myself pondering the same question I always ask myself each week.  How and why the hell did I get so many games?  What does it mean to me?  Is it merely something for me to spend my money on to sit on a shelf?  Is gaming a trophy piece?  Is it something of bragging rights?  Can I, with all my imports I am unable to understand due to the language barrier still consider myself a gamer?  What do all these games mean to me? 

The questions, I always ask them.  Sometimes I have an answer, sometimes not.  The answer, it is almost always different though.  Sometimes it's a reminder of my childhood when I was still amazed and wowed by gaming simply for the sake of gaming in my own home versus an arcade.  Others, it is a sign of my ability to forage through countless thrift shops, yard sales, and flea markets to find stuff of value for a mere pittance of its current value.  Then there are the times when I look and find the answer in being able to see how gaming has evolved in both the medium of how it's delivered as well as the content it delivers.

Which ever meaning I find, one thing remains.  Gaming has become a deep seated part of both my time and interest.  In the words of an old Virginia Slims ad, Gaming, you've come a long way baby.  To the readers I ask, what does gaming mean to you?


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Comments
 
I'm going to separate gaming and collecting in my response, because IMO they're too wildly different activities, at least for me.

For me collecting is simple about collecting. For me, its not much different from collecting coins or stamps, its just that I can use these as they were intended when I want to. From searching garage sales trying to find another game I don't have for a bargain to cleaning up games and getting them looking like new to organizing and displaying them. I just love the whole process of it. And it doesn't hurt that I can sell any duplicates and turn a profit to pay for other games.

Gaming is more about just having fun playing the games, and in the case of classic games, reliving childhood memories or finally playing the games I didn't have back then. For me, gaming is not about completing each game, instead I just enjoy playing a level or two of a game (unless its something I really enjoy) just to experience it. Which is another reason I like selling duplicates, I test every game I sell, and the only way to test a game is to play it, so I have a valid excuse to play games I wouldn't normally try out, and occasionally it leads to finding a personal gem.
 
@NES_Rules:

Gaming is more about just having fun playing the games, and in the case of classic games, reliving childhood memories or finally playing the games I didn't have back then. For me, gaming is not about completing each game, instead I just enjoy playing a level or two of a game (unless its something I really enjoy) just to experience it. Which is another reason I like selling duplicates, I test every game I sell, and the only way to test a game is to play it, so I have a valid excuse to play games I wouldn't normally try out, and occasionally it leads to finding a personal gem.

That's pretty much my deal, too.

Methinks I've discovered a kindred spirit...
 
Unlike the above to posters my gaming and collecting are quite closely related to each other. I love finding out how games are on my own. I very rarely refer to reviews and like to play each game with minimal knowledge regarding it. I collect specifically to play new games. Once and a while I will sell off some stuff that I will not play again and the collector in me doesnt mind that much. I hold onto any game I've enjoyed with the full intention of playing it again in the future, even if that may be many years away.

A tiny percentage of my collecting habits are probably nostalgic, but I like to think I'm objective enough to not let nostalgia cloud my judgement of a game most of the time.

I have a few items that I keep as "trophies" mostly because I think they make the room look a lot more fun and unique.
 
I agree with NES_Rules in many ways. Fuyukaze, you seem to be talking of "collecting", rather than "gaming" itself. Collecting is fine, and a great hobby, as long as it can be contained. If you can't resist buying dozens of games each month, maybe one needs to stand back and take a look at what they're doing.
Often people have been collecting for a few years only to realize:
1. How much space it all takes up.
2. How few of the games actually get played.
3. How much money you've spend on all of these games that rarely get played.

This realization usually leads to a massive collection dump on eBay (or somewhere else) only to start collecting again a few months or years later.

I myself am starting to focus more on quality, rather than quantity. Great games, games that I actually want to play. I could start buying sports games for next to nothing and "add" a lot to my collection in terms of numbers but what would I really gain? A bunch of games that won't get a second look (or even a first look...).

Also, I've noticed that collecting can stand in the way of gaming. All the time spent looking for games, buying games, selling games, checking prices, ... is time not spent gaming. I want to make an effort spending less time collecting and more time gaming. If your hobby however is collecting, and not gaming, and you actually enjoy it, more power to you!
 
@Sirgin: I agree with you, but I'm on the other side of the fence in that I'm definitely more of a collector than a gamer. The three points you brought up are definitely true for me. There have been a couple times when I realize what a huge ball and chainl I've created for myself with all these games. When I go to move, I'm going to need more space to move my game collection than all my other possessions combined.
And I definitely play less since I started collecting. I started collecting in 2006 and while I had kept all my old consoles, I only played my newest: the GameCube. I only had a handful of games, and I played them all as much as I could, even games I didn't enjoy much, because that was all I had. Now I have thousands of games, but I can never decide what to play, so I just do something else instead.
There have been many times when I think of all the games I've bought and how much I've spent on them. I could have bought a lot of other stuff with that money, a new car? A house? Who knows. But then I think about the other side of my collecting, I actually make money doing this. While most other purchases would have just cost me more money in the long run, I'm buying lots, selling duplicates and keeping the others and ending up with more money than I spent. Sure, its only a couple hundred dollars a year, but I think I could do very nice if I wanted to sell the stuff I've been keeping.
 
[Again, something went wrong with my previous comments, please delete the above. ^]

@NES_Rules: When people get to the point where their collection isn't a collection of a few hundreds of games anymore but rather a few thousands of games, is the time when you need to start thinking where all of this is going. Me personally, I wouldn't want to wake up one day to realize I have a collection of several thousands of games. At the end of the day...what's the point?
Space increasingly becomes an issue with collections that big...it almost becomes a constant quest in search of more and more shelf space. When it gets to the point where one needs to start boxing things up in order to make place for more games is really a good time to start prioritizing.

The bigger a collection gets, the more time it takes away from gaming (aside from the "collecting" activity itself). Ever tried clearing a whole bunch of games of your shelves to clean them? Or to clean the shelves themselves? Hell, I find this to be a chore even with my tiny collection (less than 500 games), I couldn't imagine what it must be like with thousands of games. Everything gets dusty after a while which isn't very pleasant.

I'm not worried about people like you (NES_Rules) who spend a few hundred dollars a year buying games. You do buy a lot of them (probably too many, in terms of # of games) but as you say, usually in lots, and almost always at below bargain bin prices. Tongue
The people I'd worry about are those that collect the more exotic games (imports), sealed games, CIB games of old systems, or those obsessed with getting complete collections of certain systems. Once you go down that path things can get very expensive very quickly. I never understood the "going for a complete collection" thing to be honest. 60% of games on any given system are shovelware trash anyway, why would I want to own them?

Also, never kid yourself that you are making money by collecting games. You aren't. There's a big difference between "technically I could sell these games at a profit" and having actually done so. Until the collection is sold and the cash is in your hand you haven't made anything. And even if you do actually sell off your entire collection and make some money; consider the time you spent looking for/buying/cleaning/talking about/selling games and see if that time could've made more money by doing something else with it. Usually it is. Wink

Often, the people who are experiencing buyer's remorse use the "collection as an investment" arguement as a last resort justification for their mad spending habits. Having money in a savings acccount and investing in mutual funds, stocks... or whatever are making actual money. Collecting games isn't.
 
I'd have to disagree on a few points.  While I don't collect for the sake of investment, I've known several people make money off their collection.  Not enough to live off of, but these folks just did it for fun on the side, and knew the market well enough that gaming was both a hobby and a way to make spare money.  Like any collecting hobby, it's all about careful management and knowing the market.  I'm sure most who get into it more for the money loose out in the long run, but that isn't a universal truth.  I know two different friends who have been steadily selling their video game collection in between jobs, making a surprising amount more at times than what was originally paid.  (We all worked at the same place years ago and still keep in touch.)  I wouldn't ever tell someone video games are an investment, but money can be made in the correct circumstances.

And speaking as one of those folks who own thousands of games, there are a number of points that make the collection worthwhile;

I don't know how many people have come over, seen the various shelves of games, and asked, "do you have X game?  As a kid I loved/never played/always wanted/could never afford/was curious about/lost/missed that game.  Even the crummy ones, and naturally the esoteric ones. 

It makes for excellent theme nights, such as 'rush through every educational title on NES before the other team,' 'let's play through every Hudson game on TurboGrafx 16 this month,' or one of my favorites, 'pick five games from X system and have your team finish all of them before the other team and their choices.'  That one requires good knowledge of a system's library, various sets of skills from your teammates, and can lead to comic gold.

I'm not a CIB person, so I can't relate to their mentality, but as for imports, I find them a fascinating study on the differences between regions.  It's very interesting to see how Europe's Probotector replaces all of the humans from Contra with robots, or how Japan's Famicom Tetris controls compared to the NES version.  (The buttons and d-pad are used completely different!)  Not to mention, of course, all of the excellent titles that are region specific.  Radiant Silvergun may have been pricey, but as a shmup lover it was worth it.  Same with Recca, a game that's worth owning just to show off how much an NES can be pushed with sprite counts and effects, making every other game's efforts on the system seem downright sloppy.

And as for complete collections?  Sure, a ton of it is likely to be shovelware, but in the true spirit of collecting, half the fun is the 'hunt,' and the other half is the display, and finding neat ways to put everything together.

We all know there is plenty of worthless games in the NES/SNES library, but let me tell you, the first time someone comes into my living room and sees those collections on the wall, it often turns into a late night gaming binge where I continuously discover games I had written off are actually pretty fun.

The space thing?  Sure, most collectors end up with boxes of gaming things that have to wait until they can be properly displayed.  But most collectors are dreaming for that final, ultimate Room-O-Doom to display and play.  Many, maybe most of us won't get there.  But as long as we're having fun and being responsible about it in the meantime, there's plenty of fun to be had in gaming beyond just simply playing the games, and shuffling boxes is often a small price to pay for knowing you still have the games you want.

There will always be unhealthy hoarders, people who spend out of control, and gamers that end up with 'buyer's remorse.'  But these folks are going to find something to be unhealthy about, be it Magic: the Gathering, Baseball Cards, AD&D, music, MMOs, sports, cars, sportscars, any number of things. 

I guess my end point is one against judging others.  There will always be those who approach things irresponsibly that tend to ruin good things for the rest of us.  Owning, collecting, buying lots of games isn't in itself bad, even when the numbers go up into any high range.  Being unhealthy with your money, living space, and time is a danger when plugged into anything, gaming or otherwise.  We're all in different situations, so it's not usually safe or accurate to simply blanket a judgment call.

Please understand that I'm not trying to argue, but give my own point of view.  Your critiques are certainly valid for some individuals I've known.
 
@slackur: Don't worry about it. I love a good discussion and enjoy reading the opinion of others. I always respect someone's opinion, but will never be affraid to voice my own. I do have a problem with people presenting their opinion as fact, or those who base their opinion on wrong information. (Btw, I'm not talking about you, slackur, just in general) Note that I didn't judged anyone, rather I was speaking in general terms. There are always exceptions.

Anyway.

Although, as you say, it is in fact possible to make money off of collecting, the time spent is usually far greater than the money gained. Answering the question "Would I have been able to make more money if I used the time I spent on my collection doing something else?". The answer is almost always "yes". Making money off of a collection is nice, but a person getting into collecting with a main motivation of making money will always be dissapointed.

I certainly agree with your statement that it depends on the person how far the collection will go. Most people get into the hobby (whatever it is) fairly innocently and slip towards the obsessive almost unnoticed. There are far more people like this than many of us think. Nobody likes to admit they lost their house/car/job because they couldn't control their spending, but that happens to a lot of people (unfortunately).

I do believe that (very) large collections tend to lead to this behaviour. Not always of course, but it's a lot more likely than people with small collections. After you've already acquired a large collection and all the easy to get games are in your possession, what's left to buy? That's right: expensive games (rare, CIB, sealed, import, ...).
 
@Sirgin: I have to disagree about making money on game collecting. I know I'm never going to get rich or even make a living doing it, but it puts a bit of extra spending money in my pocket. And its something I can do when I have the spare time to do it. If I have a few extra hours in a week, I can test, clean, and list a few auctions and then get the money in a week or so from them.
I started keeping track of my buying and selling habits in 2007. From 2007 through 2009 I only sold occasionally, mostly just what I could on the forums here. In 2007, I had a total loss of $918.64, in 2008 it was a loss of $683.62, in 2009 it was a loss of $250.07, in 2010 I made a profit of $620.15 and so far this year I've made 431.38. Which comes to a total loss of just over $800. Which I know isn't making money, but this was from selling games that are more common and in worse condition than the ones I kept, and I've kept well over 2000 games, not to mention countless pieces of hardware. And I intentionally try to only buy things I don't own. If I were trying to buy things to make a profit, I would be doing much better.

And I know the "its not worth anything unless you actually sell it" saying, but the same can be said for anything else, including known investments like property and gold.

Long story short, I don't collect because I think its a good investment, I collect because I enjoy collecting, and if I can make some extra cash in the process, I like it even more.


And BTW, dusting (and keeping a large collection looking clean in general) is a huge pain in the butt. I set up this game room a year and half ago, and meant to do a video tour of it when it was done. But by the time I had it set up, the dust settled in and I wanted it to be clean for the video. So now its been 1.5 years and no video because the room isn't as clean as I would like it to be. Mind you, its not really my collection that is in the way, its everything else in here that is, especially the games that are to be sold.


"When it gets to the point where one needs to start boxing things up in order to make place for more games is really a good time to start prioritizing. "
I'm not yet at that point, but very close, as I have some things I'd like out but are in the closet instead. But I don't see that as a huge problem. Museums do it all the time, at any given time they probably have way more stuff in storage than they do on display. So they either rotate their displays or only display the best stuff, which is more or less what I plan on doing when I run out of room. Since I'm not a huge fan of pre-NES games, I have no problem boxing them up and storing them away until I have room to display them. Nobody would say to a museum "hey, you have more Egyptian mummies than you can display, you must be a hoarder." Well, some of those people on the TV show might say that.


"After you've already acquired a large collection and all the easy to get games are in your possession, what's left to buy? That's right: expensive games (rare, CIB, sealed, import, ...)."
I think that's the best part of collecting, when you're done with all the common stuff and can finally focus on tracking down the rare stuff. And I don't consider buying stuff on ebay to be "collecting" that's just buying. You don't have to spend a lot to get rare games, just patience and determination.
 
@NES_Rules: I think you have a very healthy attitude towards collecting games. Especially what you said about the rare games (patience & determination). I like that way of thinking. Looking at your numbers, you're doing amazingly well, financially, which is awesome. Like I said in my previous comment, there are always exceptions. Keep it up. Your way of collecting is definitely more satisfying and in the long run you're far less likely to suffer buyer's remorse.

The reality however is that many (maybe a majority? - but that's just guessing) of collectors DO take "shortcuts" and DO use eBay a lot. Once these people acquire all the common games things can get ugly because they're used to buying everything on eBay and tend to talk themselves into expensive purchases. "Oh, it's only $50 for this import game and oh, it's $90 for this rare import game - yeah, $90 is a lot but it's totally worth it!" People start lying to themselves in order to justify their expensive purchases, often reinforced by talking to other like minded people on niche forums doing the same thing. (Just look at neo geo forums)

It's a free world though, people can do what they want. If you're a millionaire and want to buy crazy expensive games, by all means, go ahead! Often though, the people buying these crazy expensive games have a very moderate income, a house & car to pay, a family to support, ...

---
By the way, thanks for deleting my messed up comments! It turned out the comment section doesn't like the "lesser than" symbol and refused to post the rest of my comment that followed said symbol.
 
@Sirgin: IMO, people that use ebay solely aren't collectors, they're buyers. Sure, they can be gamers, but collectors they're not. I just don't see any fun from typing in what you want, clicking "Buy it Now" and then waiting a couple days for it to arrive. No thrill of the hunt or having the feeling of flipping through dozens of sports games to find that one game you've been looking for for years.

There have been times, when I've thought about what I would do if I won the lottery. One thing that pops in my head is buying these "every game ever made for X system" lots on ebay. But then I think, what's the fun in that? It'd probably be cool for a couple weeks, but there's not much else to do with them after you've played them, and most aren't going to be good games anyway.
 
@Sirgin -

I think because of the overlap your blending Collecting habits with Gaming habits when your making some of your statements. I mainly collect to game, but I also very much enjoy a lot of the collecting side of things. Reorganizing, displaying, archiving, researching, cleaning, and repairing (and occasionally reselling/trading) are all things that I really enjoy doing. I love spending time with my collecting even when I'm not playing them. I take pride in being able to restore stickered boxes or get consoles running more smoothly. While I dont actively collect things like Sealed games I can definitily see the appeal to those who do. Its probably not about playing the game, but they are still getting a similar joy out of finding/displaying/grading/etc the game the same way I do. It just happens to be with games for whatever reason as opposed to sports cards or something else. I thinks its fantastic that I've found many ways to enjoy my games beyond just playing them.

And to mirror what Slackur said, sure most people that want to make a profit reselling games dont, but there are definitely cases where people do. Sosafan and Pedrogames (off the top of my head) on Ebay have made a decent living buying and reselling games for years now. Not to mention the tons of locally owned retro shops scattered around.

@NES_Rules -

I love using Ebay to help supplement/achieve my collecting goals. It definitely doesnt have the same feeling as scoring a game locally, but it can still be rewarding. One of the ways I make Ebay work for me is to set a price I wont go over for a specific game and play the waiting game. If I'm lucky enough to beat X amount of other people to a reasonably priced copy of a desireable game I feel quite proud of my perseverence. Even if I was using Ebay for 90% or more of my collecting I think I would still consider it collecting since I'm piecing together smaller units of somthing to make a larger goal (such as getting all games by a specific developer or for a specific system).

I would agree with your second point though of buying a completed set of games as not being collect"ing" even though you now have a collec"tion".
 
I found this article with a google search and I was interested in reading it along with the comments.

I often forget that there's people collecting a lot of video games a little bit everywhere in western countries...

I used to have a small collection of games, maybe around 60 games. A lot of them were RPGs.
I decided to sell almost everything on eBay and in small ads. It took time, but it worked.
At first, I thought it could be hard to sell everything but it gave me only happiness!


With the time, I opened my eyes on a new lifestyle that makes me appreciate more life.
Now, I live in the countryside with a lot of friends in different houses. Baking bread, growing vegetables, play and repair accordion.
Keeping video games for me has been something more to bring in a new place to live.
I feel lightier without these. Don't need a television, don't need material consoles...

I figured that with my collection, that I was unable to play all these games in my lifetime probably. I tried to play one at a time but it was really difficult and I wanted to live something else. It gave me an empty feeling in my mind to do that.


I still have an interest about gaming. I appreciate a lot to listen to video game music. I learned a couple of these on the accordion and made a music album with some of them.
But for me, gaming is not essential in the life of a person.


I would be happy if the video game industry crashes someday.
There's enough video games to play in all the universe.
I think it is important in the era we live, to focus on more essential things like being more autonomous in our society: learning how to repair clothes, growing our food, solidarity, etc...

I don't mean that we should stop playing. We have all our interests and it's a good thing to be open to new life opportunities that tickles our curiosity.
I would encourage indie creators instead of the gaming industry.

I did worked for Ubisoft for 3 months as a game tester and it was a great job I had there.
But now, with all I discover and invest my energy in, I would not go work there again.


Gaming means less for me now.
I admire the work of a team on a common project like creating a video game.
I encourage indie creators to create a video game if it's something that really make them shine.

Because in life, we just need to do what in our hearts, we really wish to do and be.
This is how happiness is shared!


Well, that's it!


 
@Benoît:

Fascinating reflection, thanks for sharing!
 
For me, collecting and gaming are separate.  As a kid, I enjoyed every second I was allowed to play.  I wasn't allowed to play games regularly, and the few games I did have gave me joy.  Nowadays, I have free reign to play whenever I want, but more often then not I find myself burned out and end up doing nothing instead.

Spending money has always been cathartic for me as I never had money as a kid.  I think that simply the act of buying something and owning that thing that I purchased with my own money is a unique experience that I had "missed out on" as a child.  However, I have since grown weary of owning all of these games that I never have the chance to play.  After a few months of thought, I have finally decided to sell off a large chunk of my collection, as seen in my For Sale thread (shameless plug!).

I want to cut down my collection to probably only two hundred or so games eventually.  I want it to be very mobile, and only contain stuff that I actually want to play.  I've spent hundreds of hours throughout my life enjoying the amazing experiences that gaming has to offer, and I want to get back to that.  For me, I am unable to continue both collecting and gaming at the same time efficiently.  So, my decision to stop collecting will hopefully lead to me finally getting through the massive backlog I've acquired.

@Sirgin: It is definitely possible to make money while collecting.  During downtime at work, or when I'm bored, I usually check for deals on video games.  Using that time (time which would be spent doing nothing else anyway), I'm able to pick up a current generation game for dirt cheap and flip it for a decent ($15-20) profit.  Granted, this method is entirely dependent on actually being able to acquire said games, but I treat it as a game and have fun doing it.

So far this year I have bought over 60 current generation games, and through selling some of them, I have currently made around $70, plus the 30 or so games I still own from this year.  The best part (the holiday season) is still a few months away, as well.

I do agree with your thought on how most will never be able to profit, and how the time could be spent on better endeavors elsewhere, though.  For me, however, that time spent is usually when I can't do much else, anyway.

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