CCAG 2014. Cleveland's annual Classic Console and Arcade Gaming Show.
An event so enjoyed by my Beloved and I that we plan half a year in advance and spend the whole day getting the most out of it. It is mainly a vendor event, but it also has arcade and pinball tables set to free play, old PCs and consoles set up for fun, tournaments and competitions for prizes, and a Chinese auction spread throughout the day. We've been going for over a decade and have yet to be disappointed.
This year was particularly memorable for several reasons. We nabbed five (!!) more NES games for our set, over 50 PS2, GC, and Xbox games for a buck apiece, several C64 and Bally Astrocade carts, more systems and parts for our Xbox LAN (yay original Halo LAN!) along with lots more goodies. We got to reconnect and chat with several convention buddies, and we tried Colombian cuisine for the first time, which was absolutely delicious.
Also, for the first time I found myself in a pseudo-argument with a gentleman selling me a game.
Because I have the memory recall of an amnesiac goldfish, I can't recall the exact conversation verbatim, but here's the gist;
Me: Oh cool, I don't have this game for Atari 7800. Do you have a loose copy, or just this sealed box copy?
Vendor: Nope that's all I got. I'm letting it go for cheap, though, it's only $12.
Me: That's a good price, but I'd almost rather let it go to someone who wants to collect sealed games.
Vender: That's all I got. You want it?
Me: Yeah, I do, thanks. (hands over $12.) I always feel a little bad knowing someone may be looking for this sealed when I'm just going to go home, open it, and play it.
Vendor: (eyes furiously burrowing a hole through my skull via angry willpower) DO NOT TELL ME YOU ARE GOING HOME AND OPENING THAT.
Me: (uncomfortably adjusting to new hole in skull) Do, uh, you want it back? I really am planning on taking it home to play it. If you know someone who'd rather have it-
Vendor: (recognizing psionic rage must be kept intact to continue business in public settings) No, no, you bought it. It's just beyond stupid for you to go home and open it.
Me: I have to disagree. I mean, you're here to sell games, and so we're looking at this differently, and I respect that. But to me, one of the greatest tragedies in video gaming is a sealed game. That's a game that has never fulfilled its primary purpose, which is to entertain, to play, to be enjoyed. To put it on a shelf and treat it like a rare object robs a video game of its reason to exist, and strips it of the primary difference interactive entertainment has over any other 'thing.' I understand why someone would pay more for a game that has never been opened, because that guarantees its condition, to a degree. But to set it on the shelf never to be played? That's very sad to me.
Vendor: Yeah, well, don't tell me if you are going to go home and just open it. That's just stupid. The only reason that game's valuable is because it's sealed. Once it's opened, you just lost money.
Me: (trying to ignore my Beloved who is waving at the vendor through the new hole in my head) Well, unless I'm spending that money to play the game and have fun. Then I think it's worth it.
Vendor: It's stupid. Just don't tell me if you plan on going home to open it.
I've had similar conversations with folks ever since sealed games became more of a 'thing' over the last few years. And having worked in video game retail for a decade and a half, part of me understands. The rest of me wants to take that part out back and rough it over, but still, I know basic economics. In fact, for years I've considered setting up a vendor booth at CCAG and selling the doubles and extras we've acquired.
Not pictured: my extras and doubles. Bonus caption: "In case of emergency, break glass. Running also advisable."
This year 'sealed' my decision not to get into the personal market of selling games. And here's why;
If I were in the market to sell video games for money, then every game I look at would turn into a dollar sign. I wouldn't look at Earthbound, Aero Fighters, or Metal Marines primarily as excellent SNES classics, but instead as games I'm looking to flip.
Not pictured to left: a fabulous game everyone can enjoy.
I know the thrill of finding a copy of Secret of Mana at a pawnshop for $5. I was excited because I had a buddy who never got to play it, didn't own a Wii for the eShop version, and I had a SNES in a box waiting to surprise him as a replacement for his childhood machine. I try not to by materialistic, but if I'd have thought first about how much closer to a Beyond Shadowgate I could get by flipping that great find, I'd have struggled to give a good friend something he'd not likely get otherwise.
In fact, working game retail has revealed a sort of 'dark side' to how focusing on a game's monetary value changes folks. I managed a mom-and-pop retro-focused video game store for several years, and when I first started working there, the owner was much like myself; enthusiastic about most kinds of gaming, willing to try just about anything, and enjoying the hobby in multiple ways. As the years rolled on, however, he just began losing interest in gaming to play. It started with apathy towards any newer games, and slowly spread until even the classics weren't much fun anymore. There was some MMO action, but retro-themed gaming nights and LAN parties that were once such a source of incredible fun no longer held appeal. The business focus and profitability aspect appeared to slowly seep away his enjoyment of video games in general. Obviously there were multiple factors contributing, but I realized without a doubt in my mind that making video games a business destroyed his overall ability to enjoy the hobby as he once did.
Now as a small business owner whose livelihood is tied into seeing games as money, that naturally affected him differently than a gamer who makes profit on the side of gaming. I hold out hope that Crabmaster and our fellow games-as-business entrepreneurs here at RFGen will not be affected the same way. However, now that I've been working for a gigantic corporation whose primary business is used games, I've witnessed the same pattern in my co-workers over the years. The part-timers are affected the least overall, but it does typically parallel that the more time a retail person spends around games-as-money model and less around the play-games-for-fun intent, their demeanor changes accordingly. Not universally, but typically. Most of my co-workers hardly play video games much anymore, with the occasional mobile or big budget release being the biggest exceptions.
As I reflected upon this trend, it reminded me of how metagame rewards once began taking away my play-for-fun gaming. The more I became interested in achievements, the more it forced my gaming perspective and limited my enjoyment; for awhile I wouldn't even play non-360 games because it seemed needless to play something that didn't add to a meta-score. After a year of intentional disconnection, breaking the 'chieve hunting' meant I enjoyed games much more thoroughly once again.
But Slackur, you're saying, does that new hole in your head whistle when riding a motorcycle, and also didn't you say you worked in gaming retail and still do? Well, silly, I wear a helmet, so no. Oh, about working in game retail; I buy, sell, and trade for the store, not myself. Now I certainly pick up nifty stuff that comes through at discount, but I've been careful to place a professional wall of separation between work and home, and that includes my perspective on games. It colors my perspective, sure; I have even less incentive to buy new when I see how quickly the value drops on a weekly basis. It greatly helps to inform my purchases. But if anything, working video game retail shows how fickle the entertainment market value is, and the importance of placing perspective on what I'm willing to spend.
I'm not going to blow $60 on a new game unless there's a special reason I want it out-of-the-gate. It does happen; games I want to play with friends when it comes out, (Destiny, Evolve) games that won't quickly depreciate in value and several friends/family want to play together, (Smash Bros. U, Mario Kart 8 ) or even the occasional crazy Collector's Edition, (Sturmwind FTW!) but out of our collection, the vast majority was purchased at a steep, steep discount or special exception. So while working in game retail for so long has indeed changed my take on gaming, I'm doing my best to reign it in toward the positive.
I'm not beyond basic psychology, though. My enthusiasm for gaming flows on the same type of ebb and tide as anyone else's. While I think I enjoy most aspects of video games as much or more as the average gamer, I'm not assuming I'm beyond the ravages of time or retail pressure.
But then that conversation with the CCAG vendor snaps me back to the now, and I recognize that my appreciation, respect, and overall enjoyment of the hobby is so entrenched, I'd rather open a nearly 25 year-old game and play it than worry about a video game losing value.
And I'm perfectly fine if you disagree. Just don't stare a hole in my head when I tell you, cool?
I'm with you, I might personally be selling something to make profit on what I have, but it is not up to me to decide what the buyer does with his purchase. I sold it Sealed, good for me. If I wanted it to stay sealed and develop more value, I should probably hold onto it longer and not sell it instead of telling someone who buys it they have to do the same thing.
Great article slackur! You and I are definitely in similar camps when it comes to sealed games. I've opened many sealed older games, but nothing that was of any significant value. The one thing I got yelled at for was opening my vinyl of Guns & Roses "Appetite For Destruction." I still have no regrets.
Also, I can vouch for slackur's generosity. I have a sweet NES repro of RECCA to thank him for.
I'd like to hear from other members regarding what the most valuable item they have ever opened is, or what the "coolest" (not necessarily most expensive) sealed item is in their collection.
I always like reading your posts. Keep up the good work!
I've stopped buying new releases until they are $20 or less. Most of the newer stuff drops in price too fast and can usually be found at the local library.
As far as sealed games go... it's your property you can do what you want with it.
Kingdoms of Amalur Signature Edition, still sitting in the shipping box at home:
I don't buy sealed for the same reasons as slackur mentioned, and essentially follow his same policy when it comes to purchases.
I have a different feeling towards brand new older games. It feels more like im preserving history by not opening it, since as the years go on it'll be harder and harder to find a sealed copy. I have many sealed games and no plans to open them. If i really want to play those games i could always get a cheap loose copy or an emulator. And if I really want to play a game and cant find any other copies besides brand new, im probably not buying it, because i know I wont open it.
It's kind of the same as people that collect older expensive cars, they usually dont take them out of the garage because they're irreplaceable in that condition.
@thegreatska: I disagree with the car analogy. People who own classic cars do drive them some (they have to in order to keep them in shape) and they are getting some enjoyment out of driving or taking them to shows. I'd equate this to collecting loose games. Sure you have a game, but you don't play it all the time. There is no enjoyment gained by leaving something in packaging (except maybe personal aesthetic enjoyment). With that said, I'm not criticizing anyone who wants to collect sealed items, to each their own, but removing a plastic wrapper does not make anything less historical. Unless, for some reason, thin plastic will soon be a thing of the past.
Also, please watch your language on the front page. Out of respect for all of us, please do not use the "E" word (i.e. em*#@$or).
I wish I could high five you through the Internet. I nodded and laughed whilst I was reading, drawing the attention of a few co-workers. I'm pretty sure they think I put stuff in my tea (or perhaps think badly of Mr. Earl Grey in general). I'm sad that this man ruined the groove that I imagine is going on in that room with his haterade. I confess that I've not run into this yet, but I've not purchased anything in a minty box or something sealed in a good long while. Perhaps if I went down to the local game store and suggested that I purchase that expensive game so I can finally play it I can experience the haterade, but then again maybe I don't want to. Link to the Past looks just as good sitting on my couch opened (with posters spread out) as it does on my shelf. Plus, I can't giggle like the 13-year old that I still am at the character name "Pea" if the game isn't opened.
Actually the more I think the more I find this distressing. Just the other day I heard that people seal and rate games all the time now, just like with comic books! Does anyone know if that time machine in Costco actually works? If so, me and the fam are going back to 1999, before GameStop thought it would be cool to price Super Mario 3 at $15.
I certainly have no issue with flipping items for profit. While I wouldn't open any older sealed game, I don't feel the need to condemn others for it. In this case I would sell a sealed copy, buy a loose copy to play, and profit.
I do a fair amount of selling, and do buy lots specifically for this purpose. It doesn't sour me on gaming, but instead allows me to take something I am knowledgeable about and use it to earn money that can fund purchases for games that I want in my collection.
The good news is that everyone here is passionate about the hobby, wherever they approach it from.
If it were me, I woulda opened up that bad boy right in front of the putz while taunting him with, "Whattaya gonna do about it, b*tch? Ya gonna cry now, wuss-boy? Yeah, freakin' EAT ME, douchenozzle," all the while hoping to see him keel over from a heart attack from the horror he just witnessed. 'Cuz that's the kind of caring, compassionate, salt-of-the-earth type of guy I am.
Or, how about the paranoia angle: after he told you it would be stupid to open up the game, you should have replied with, "Why? did you already open it up, take out the real game, put something else in there, and reseal it? HUH?! DID YOU, DIRTBAG?! YOU TRYING TO RIP ME OFF YOU FREAKING SCUZZBUCKET ?!" You shoulda made a big scene that woulda completely embarrassed the seller in front of everybody. Man, that woulda been freakin'-a entertaining.
Come to think of it, someone should make a game out of messing with vidya-con dealers...
As someone who has always had games in their life but have become new to the whole collecting aspect of video games, I found this a good read. I have only very recently started to acquire and leave games sealed. Not out of any other reason than, I don't have any immediate plans to play the games. With a huge backlog of games that grows larger by the days that pass, I don't feel the need to open stuff up when I am not going to commit time to playing.
The part about that story that bothered me, was that the game in question was $12. I eat a meal for $12. I might be surprised at someone deciding they want to open a sealed copy of say Stadium Events to try the game out, but we are talking THOUSANDS, not twelve bucks. Maybe to some people, $12 is a lot of money and not a disposable amount of their income. At the end of the day, we all collect for different reasons, and there is no right way or wrong way to collect. If someone wants to break the seal on Stadium Events to play it, so be it. It's their money, their choice, and their game to enjoy, however they see fit.
@Zagnorch: That is why we love you, Zag. But be careful what you wish for, someone might start testing that game on you as a seller. Then again, I have a feeling you could probably handle the situation in some entertaining way.
I really enjoyed this article. You gave a great perspective of both parties involved in the sale of a sealed game and I can understand the point of each side.
I don't actively seek sealed games, but if I came across one at the right price I would buy it to play it too. Just like you I feel these games were made to be played and enjoyed. Sure they have monetary and sentimental value while still sealed but that is really determined by the goals and intentions of the individual collector.
Mike brings up a good point about the price of the game in question. The game you described was $12 and your intention was to play it. Even though it wasn't a no brainer to simply open the game you didn't anything wrong. Yes, you may have stolen a chance for a sealed game collector to find that item but that's kind of how collecting goes. If the game was hundreds or thousands of dollars, though, it's staying in its original seal.
Thanks for the great read Slackur!
Awesome vendor! That's how I get all my return customers too. By calling them idiots for buying from me....... wait a minute.
It may happen over time, but so far I don't feel like I've become dissinterested in games by dealing with them at retail. I don't take most sales as an opportunity to make money, but as an opportunity to talk with someone about something we both share a passion for. I've made more good friends and casual acquaintances in the last year of running my store already than I have in the previous 10 years of my life.
My gaming habits have definitely changed though. Instead of playing solitairy NES fairly constantly I've been learning to pass the controller and enjoy multiplayer gaming (even on single player games). My competitive side has also been diminished and I'm ok heading over to a game night that I know I'm going to place last in or close to it.
As a vendor I love just seeing what games people are intersted in any why they love them. Its been a fascinating experience. I take great pleasure in being able to learn a customers interests and then surprise them with a solid recommendation.
I'm very pro sealed collecting as well. I don't have the funds or the drive to collect the sealed games I want, but I do have well over a dozen games I NEVER plan to open. I find something very special about games that are 10 or more years old that have never been touched. Like they've been lost in time and finally recovered.
A few of the sealed games I have are kind of like trophies for me as well. I have a sealed copy of TMNT for the NES I bought shortly after setting my speed record and won a sealed copy of King of Fighters XIII from a tournament I entered and won. I also purchased a sealed copy of Mass Effect 2 from the EA employee store when visiting Ray and keep it as a momento of my trip.
I own several sealed ATLUS games that are the highlights of my ATLUS collection. I have opened counterparts to all of them should I wish to play as wel. I love the idea of a person owning an untouched copy of an important game to them just to show to those who enter their game room what kinds of game take priority for that person.
And just the rarity of some sealed games is of interest. Opening your $12 7800 game doesn't have the same impact of someone opening something like the one verified sealed copy of Flintstones Surprise at Dinosaur Peak for instance. If that game were opened I would consider it a major loss to the collecting community.
I like Duke's stance very much in that he will pass the game along to someone else who can enjoy it for what it is and still find away to enjoy it himself. I fully agree that once its in your possession you should do whatever you want with it, but in some ways I find it selfish to not pass it along to someone who is going to appreciate that item that can never again be returned to the state it was in once you open that wrap.
I am a gamer, it's right there in my user name.
My house is more like an arcade than a friggin' museum!