A Boy and his BlogA Boy and his Blog

Posted on Jul 15th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under value, definition, money, find

Eric and I hitting the sticks in the NanerCade during his recent visit

As game collectors, one of the things that crosses our minds on an almost daily basis is "value."  Often, when out hunting for games, systems, toys, etc., we have to weight out the estimated monetary value of a game with amount the seller is asking for it and the amount we are willing to pay for said item.  This is always quite the juggling act, and one in which we are always working toward being the primary beneficiary of the "good deal."  However, when it comes to value, it doesn't mean that we maintain a spreadsheet of what we spent on games, determine what they are currently worth, and adjust monthly as the prices go up.....well....maybe some of you do.  For most of us, games aren't merely a monetary investment, but an investment in something on a grander scale. 

Webster's defines "value" as: (1) a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; (2) the monetary worth of something: market price; (3) relative worth, utility, or importance.

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a visit from one of our German site members and all-around great guy, erikescapade.  He had contacted me a few months prior to his visit to let me know that he would be in North Carolina with a friend and was hoping that we could meet up.  At the time, I had my 3rd kid on the way and his visit was nervously lining up with my wife's due date.  Luckily, the baby came on time and I was able to offer Eric and his friend Alex a place to stay for the night; we also managed to work in some shopping at a few game stores, a stop by the local arcade, and a nice Vietnamese dinner.

When we got back from our nightly escapade (see what I did there?), the first thing Eric wanted to do was see my gameroom.  Upon entering, I watched as his eyes as they wandered frantically around the room, much like all of ours do when we are checking out someone else's collection.  We spent some time talking about a few games he saw and it was nice hearing about the differences in what was released in Germany and what we got in the U.S.  Before the story goes any further, it's important to note that Alex isn't a gamer, but was a great sport when going out to the game stores with us and was interested enough in our hobby to ask me some thoughtful questions. However, one of his questions really took me by off-guard and even rattled me a little: "So, what's your highest valued item?"

My Vectrex collection is one I value most. It harkens back to the vector arcade games I loved so much as a kid.

I have to admit, when this question came out of his mouth, my tongue was stun-locked.  The first thought that entered my mind, as I image would be that of many of you was, "Which game do I own that I could sell and get the most money out off today?"  My second thought was, "Does this guy want to rob me?"  I'm joking of course, Alex and Eric are super classy guys and even brought flowers and candy to my wife who just gave birth. If they are in your area, I suggest that you host them too. But I regress.....

So after Alex's question, I started racking my brain about which NES game in my collection was next in line in terms of value behind the two remaining titles I still needed (Little Samson and Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak).  "Well, Panic Restaurant is up there, but I know that Bubble Bobble 2 or Bonk's Adventure have jumped in value lately as well.  Geez, I dunno."  While all of this information was going back and forth in my head, my mouth seemed to frantically utter, "Uhhhhhh... Uhhhhhh...Uhhhhhh"  Eric's friend, realizing that maybe his question had been lost in translation, clarified it by stating, "I mean, which item do you value most?" 

At that moment it hit me, his concept of "value" had nothing to do with worth, but instead, what piece do I like most.  This question was much easier to answer, and in response, I quickly spun to the shelf behind me and pulled down my Atari 2600 Gremlins Loaner Cartridge.  As I handed it to him to look over, I explained that there were three reasons that I like this piece: (1) My first gaming experience was on the Atari 2600, (2) it was a cool piece of video gaming history and I liked to imagine whose hands it might have gone through in Sunnyvale, and (3) I told the story of how I found it locally.  I also explained that it wasn't worth an extraordinary amount as one might think, because the game was in the final stages of completion.  However, other than out of curiosity when I first found the game, the monetary value of this item is something I've never really thought about too much, and it's certainly an item, due to it's history and mine with it, that I would never part with.

My Gremlins loaner cart.

Answering this somewhat simple question within the timeframe of merely a few minutes was something that oddly stuck with me for several days.  And what confounded me the most over the passing days was, "Why have I been thinking about Alex's question for so long?" (and thus the reason for this article).  Though I probably haven't arrived at a solid conclusion yet, I think that the multiple definitions of "value" are something that we as collectors sometimes get caught up in the crossfire of.  Let's face it, there's nothing better than going out game hunting and coming across a high monetarily valued item at a super low price.  A lot of us have had this experience and if you keep plugging away, others of you will someday as well.  These moments are extraordinary and become great tales that we convey to basically anyone who notices this game/system in our collection.  Thus, something that has great monetary value, also becomes something of great personal value to us.  But what happens when we already have a piece our collection or an item's "value" far exceeds its worth to us? 

The Negative Side of Value

I think I'd be remised not to note that as collectors, it's often difficult for us to remove ourselves from "value" in terms of it's relation to profit, and sometimes that nasty label of "reseller" comes into play. But what defines a "reseller?"  If I purchase an item that I already have in order to trade for another item does that make me a "reseller?"  Or, if I make a profit by selling an item and put that money back into my hobby, does the definition stick?  Or, am I only a reseller if profit, am not a collector, and the profit is the only means to the end?  I'm not here to argue for or against this definition, but merely to point to it as we consider the term "value" and how it pertains to and shapes our hobby, and to discuss an incident that recently affected me. 

Recently, I went into a pawn shop that I often frequent and came across copies of Mike Tyson's Punch Out and Tecmo Bowl for the NES.  The shop owner, who I am familiar with and have told about my collection, has always been friendly to me and has even allowed me to look at his "eBay inventory" that he keeps in the back.  I've pulled a lot of good things out of there for good prices because the owner likes me and knows that I'm not a reseller.  However, on this particular day, I wasn't so tactful.  After the shop owner offered my both games for $5 (yes, total), I gleefully mentioned that I already had the games, but was going to grab them for a friend who had recently introduced his childhood Nintendo to his son.  The story was true and I recently gave the games to my friend; however, what I didn't realize at the time was that I had negatively impacted my relationship with the shop owner by relaying this story.  Looking back, I can see how my story sounded like bulls@#t, and since then, I've been told that there isn't any "eBay inventory."  When it comes to matters where value is involved, sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut...lesson learned.

The Positive Side of Value

While some items that we collect have high monetary value, there are also those things in our collections that aren't rare or highly sought after by fellow collectors, but are items that we hold great sentimental value for.  For instance, my copies of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and my CIB copy of Grand Prix for the 2600. I've detailed this significance of these items HERE before, so I won't retell those stories for the sake of brevity. However, I am including some pics of my most prized items in my collection throughout this article, and I'd love to hear about some of your most "valued" gaming items in the comments below.

A game storage center in the form of a FDS Writer that I recently picked up. This item is pretty rare and brimming with history.

A few weeks later, I finally came up with the answer to Alex's question.  Over those weeks, I somehow remembered a question that my wife asked me a few months ago, "How much was my collection worth?"  After an "I don't know", her guesstimate of $1000, and a concealed snicker on my end, I realized that I had never thought about it as a whole before, but quickly dismissed it until recently. I thought about this question several nights ago as I was sitting in my gameroom all alone, and I came up with an answer: "This is what it's worth."  For me, that "value" is sitting in that room by myself, with my kids, or with friends and being surrounded by my past.  Having the ability to enjoy these things (the exceedingly vast majority of which I never owned as a child) and share them with others who had a similar love of gaming growing up, or a kid who is experiencing these things for the first time, gives me great joy in life.  And maybe I'm alone in this, but the smell of old cardboard and plastic is pretty pleasing too! 

So the next time your significant other or friend asks you about the "value" of your entire collection, just say, "You know, I've never thought about it, but let me show you what things in it mean the most to me."

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I have to admit, after reading the title my mind went to the same place yours went, but it was a nice surprise to see that the body of the article went somewhere else.  My value is the memories that each item has attached to it.  Picking up UFO! and thinking about my first moments in gaming, or laughing while I run around in Tail of the Sun, wondering about my old game store friends and what they are doing.  That FDS Writer storage unit brought be back to 2001, when I first read about those things on tsr's NES Archive (still on the web!).  Great article, Rich.  I really enjoyed it.
Very interesting article. For me, I have a hard time separating a 'valued' item from it's cost. After all, most games that are expensive are expensive because they are rare and owning something rare is something to be proud of. Also, unlike a lot of people at RF Gen, I don't have many interesting stories behind any of my games. I don't know where " the wild" is. Still haven't found it. Explaining how I waited to bid till there were only 15s left on an eBay auction won't raise any arm hairs.

I think the fact that a non-gamer asked you "What do you value the most?" makes the whole scenario different. Sure, the items that I treasure the most aren't that expensive (Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star II CIB if you were wondering), but I'm sure those games aren't impressing too many collectors. Perhaps to someone who doesn't know any better, it's a different story.
Very interesting article.

My most valued item is my copy of Earthbound with the manual/guide that still has the scratch and sniff cards in the back.

While that is a somewhat pricey game, it's the game itself that really is worth it to me. It was one of the games that really got me in to RPG games. I had played some before, but the setting, the quirky humor, and the story had me hooked.

The first time I played it, I rode my bike in to town to the grocery store and was able to rent it with the guide. Made my way through a lot of the game and really enjoyed it.

Later on, my brother-in-law (best friend growing up) was getting rid of some of his games, including his copy of Earthbound that I had also borrowed and played. He gave it to me. This was an incredibly nice gesture to allow me to get a copy of my favorite game and it was from my best friend.

I have some other stuff that's neat or possibly worth something, but that cart means the most to me.
I think that many of us would refer to this as "prized", rather than "valuable".

Oddly, one of my most prized items in my collection is my strategy guide for Phantasy Star III. Honestly, I don't remember how I came across the guide, but I remember it was in 4th grade. I owned a Nintendo NES back then, and was already reading over my copies of Nintendo Power and GamePro looking at all of the new systems. I didn't own a Genesis, but the cover looked interesting, and the concept of the game and the artwork made it feel like I was reading through a novel. I must've paged through that guide for the entire school year, wondering about the Phantasy Star series and how it played out.

I own all 4 Phantasy Star games now, and have yet to even play one. I'm not sure if I want to break the illusion that 4th grade me created based off the guide.
@Shadow Kisuragi:  I think you need to start a Phantasy Star Imaginary Fan Fiction thread on here. Inquiring mindz want to know. Smiley

@JerryGreenwood:  I agree that it is sometimes hard to separate valued (or prized item) from its cost. I wanted to talk a little about that when writing this, but it didn't make the cut.  I think a lot of times it depends on what weighs out more importantly to some people, playing games or collecting them.  And to each their own, neither is right or wrong. They are truly two separate entities, even though they go hand-in-hand for a good many of us.  While I think it's cool to own an item with high monetary value, the item means more to me if I have a cool story of finding it to go along with it.  Sending good vibes your way for better luck on finding "wild" items Jerry! Smiley
one of my most valued games is a cib copy of hyper stone heist. it was one of only a few games i remembered playing as child that i didn't own myself. luckily i have kept all of my games from my childhood so i didn't have to go and re-buy everything. i loved the ninja turtles when i was a child but i wasn't able to afford the game. it was also one of the first games i remember beating. i was so glad when i found my copy for only $35 a couple years ago. it not worth too much but is a game i with never part with along with my original games from my childhood.
The individual item I cherish the most is my copy of Tomba! that I've had since it was new and barely relevant. The reason is because my oldest sister bought it for me randomly one day. We had rented it before and passed the controller back and forth when we died or got stuck. Both of us liked it. But, she's a lot older than me, so she bought it with her high school job money. For years I was unaware of the fact that it could be somewhat uncommon or end up holding its value. It was when I was actively hunting down Tomba 2 that I found out what my sister had gifted me so many years ago, on top of the great game and nostalgia.

She also helped me score an $8 black label Xenogears in the early 2000s when she worked at the CD Tradepost in town. Its a fairly localized chain in the midwest, so don't be surprised if you've never heard of the company. I also got to try stuff for free back when she worked there, which was sadly before I got my PS2, so I was limited to PS1 and SNES.

In terms of dollar value Tomba! has been destroyed by copies of games like Suikoden II and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. The overall winner for this monetary value category that I own is Panzer Dragoon Saga. I need to review the second one before the end of this year so I can replay Saga.
My most valued items are the ones I kept from childhood. Many disappeared over the years by being broken, parents sold, "lent" to friends, roommates stole, and many other sad stories. The games that survived all that and multiple moves and relationships are very special now.

When I've been asked that question I usual show off my Lunar 2 for the PS (with omake box still sealed Wink ), Final Fantasy IX, Mega Man 3 and TMNT for the NES. Childhood favs that have stood the test of time both as great games and special parts of my life that have survives the years.
I am jealous of Crabby. I have very few of the original items from my childhood, as I went through a very destructive phase in my early teens, and have spent a lot of time/money in reacquiring.

Its a good article. My first thoughts go to monetary value when discussing value, but in retrospect, I understand that this is much broader.

For me, the items that stand out as having value, are sometimes both sentimental and monetary. One such item that comes to mind, is the TurboDuo system, that I bought from Crabby at the "OG" Game Quest location. I will always associate that item, with meeting Crabby and becoming his friend. I will also never forget the awesome deal he gave me on it.

Speaking of Crabby. Another item that I got from Crabby, which most would disregard as NOT having any value whatsoever, is my CIB copy of Festers Quest. Crabby opened up his store, in the late Summer, early fall. By Christmas that year, we had established our friendship and had a good rapport. In the week or two before christmas that year, I had wandered into the store to hang out (as I often do).

I was pleasantly surprised when Crabby handed me a box, that brought back memories for me, of the Christmas of '88. Up until that christmas, all I had for my NES, was the Duck Hunt/SMB cart, and Spy Hunter. That xmas, I got Fester's Quest, Blades of Steel, and the still new, SMB 2. But Crabby didn't stop there!!! I opened the box, and inside, he managed to fit a copy of LOOM for TurboCD!!!

So yeah, my TurboDuo and my CIB copy of Festers Quest, are my most valuable items. Both in value, and nostalgic goodness.
Awesome stories everyone!
Great article, dude.  I love reading these kinds of things, because it gives the hobby that much more weight and validity.  Suddenly, we're not just "manchildren" longing for the days of youth, but we're layered, complex, emotionally aware people connecting with our past, and sharing experiences that mean something to us.

My most prized gaming possession is probably my copy of Lightening Force.  I bought it as a new release, and fell in love with it.  My copy is still in good shape, complete, but I have several scores written in the back of the book from when I 1CC'd the game a number of times.  I dumped hours into that game, and it remains one of my all time favorites.  My NES is also a prized possession, because I found a CIB NES at Electronics Boutique back in 2000, while out shopping with my wife and some friends, and I snapped it up immediately.  After years of playing other people's NES consoles and loving the library, I finally had my own console.

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