RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Jul 3rd 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Collection, Missing games,

We've all had that moment. You're reviewing your collection, maybe cross-referencing your database with the games you just pulled from deep storage. Maybe you're taking inventory of games, you're packing up to store in the attic, or maybe you're looking for one game in particular you have an urge to play for the first time in years. All of a sudden, you discover that a game your collection list (and your own memory) says you own isn't where it's supposed to be. Perhaps it's the one you've been wanting to play, or maybe it's the one that should be sitting right next to the one you're looking for, but isn't. To any serious collector, this is a heart-stopping moment of confusion, panic, possibly even rage.

I've recently just moved and had the pleasure (and by pleasure I mean stress) of packing up my entire game collection, along with everything else I own. Upon unpacking in my new digs, I experienced the satisfaction of opening up box after box of games and putting them lovingly back on my shelf where they belong. Out of the chaos, my life was starting to make sense again. But then there was that moment when the box I opened didn't seem to match up alphabetically with the one before it. The boxes were all labeled properly; how could this have happened?!?!

The next thing I know, I'm frantically searching through every pile of boxes I can see looking for the rogue games that somehow didn't stay in order. I imagine it looked like that classic cartoon scene of someone searching through a closet just off-screen, tossing one thing after another behind them in as dramatic and comically haphazard a way as possible. At last, the errant games are found and I start breathing again. But for that 30 seconds, which seemed like an hour, nothing else mattered except finding them.

This got me thinking about other times this has happened to me over the years. Generally I take pretty good care of my collections, but nobody is perfect, and there's always another eventual episode like this one. Just yesterday I had the situation in the picture below happen to me. It took me at least a couple minutes before I remembered that I'd removed the copy of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor just earlier that day so I could show it to my nephew, who'd never played it before.

A terrifying sight to any serious collector. A glaring blemish in an otherwise pristine display shelf.

One of the worst cases of this happened to me a couple years ago. I was transferring my collection from the old Excel spreadsheet I'd maintained to that point to some fancy new database software specifically made to catalog collections. In the process of doing so, I found that my copy of Super Mario RPG had seemingly gotten up and walked away from me some day without having the courtesy of telling me. I was less than pleased. Not only was I mad at losing track of such a coveted (and these days, expensive) game, I was disappointed at losing one of my favorite RPGs of all time. This was a game I'd beaten more than once over the years, and that I know for a fact I would never sell. To this day, I've yet to replace it, partially because I'm having a hard time coping with the idea of spending the money for it again, and partially because whenever I see it in a used game store I feel those pangs of guilt and heartbreak. I picture my own copy lost in some black hole of my old closet somewhere, scared and lonely, not able to find its way home to me. And now that I've moved, it'll never know where to look for me again.

I'll be moving again in about a year to a year and a half, and I know I'm going to have to go through this process again. I've been thinking of ways to manage the inventory better, and am thinking that instead of labeling the boxes with the name of the console the games are from, I should also list the title letters like the way library shelves are labeled. I'd be curious to hear from some others in the community that have gone through a move, or even just a mishap in their cataloging process that resulted in a missing game. In the retail world they call this "shrink"; the loss of merchandise due to theft, inventory mismanagement, damage, evil wizards, or who knows what else.

Does anyone else have any stories about losing a game they loved for no discernable reason? Did you find it again after a stoke-inducing search through your closests while the rest of your family wondered what the big deal was? I feel like collection shrink is an important enough issue that maybe there should be a support group for it. Consider this article my volunteering to speak first. Let us open ourselves up and cry for the games we've loved, and the games we've lost along the way.

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This is an article that covers a topic I have not seen other articles cover before.  I am fortunate at this point to not have an issue with shrink in my game collection (at least not that I am aware of).  I did have shrink with my DVD movie collection years ago where some house guests just helped themselves to my DVD collection while my roommates and I hosted a party.  Needless to say no more parties there.  Now that I live in my own house I don't worry so much about this issue as I am pretty meticulous about my games, not impossible though.  It would be a nightmare.
I often use my consoles and games for events I run through my store. At some point I either left or had stolen a copy of Tetris and Mega Man 2 both for the NES at one of these events. Not hard or pricey games to replace, but it did mean for a brief amount of time my full licensed NES collection was not quite a full collection anymore. Was a weird feeling when I realized what had happened. I was fortunate not to misplace anything in my move from house to house though.
Great article, zophar.  I think this is really something that most collectors can relate with.  While I haven't lost anything more than a strat guide changing house, I've lost stuff moving my collection from one side of the basement to the other.  To this day I don't know exactly how, but some of my games (most notably, Super Mario 64) just aren't there anymore.  Oh, well.
I've had cases where my list said I owned something that I was pretty sure I had sold off, but couldn't confirm. Luckily those instances were never games I really cared for. I think it's pretty important for accurate record keeping that collectors should do a complete inventory check every 2 or 3 years at least, to confirm what's on the shelves matches their lists. I have yet to move my collection to a new house, but from the sounds of it, it would be worth doing an inventory check just before and after moving too. Maybe a game had been lost before the move and you didn't realize.
@Gamer4Lyfe: Yeah, I'm a bit surprised I haven't seen this written about elsewhere. I can't be the only one who experiences this. I would be livid if some friends or guests helped themselves to my stuff. Makes me glad I almost never host at my place haha.

@Crabmaster2000: Man. With a collection as big as yours I'm impressed you've been able to move it all without losing anything. Props to you, sir! I imagine the panic effect would be even worse with a complete collection being broken up like you experienced, regardless of how easy the games were to replace.

Back b4 I had a smartphone to keep track of my games, my laptop broke down and I was "out of the loop" for months. 

Well during that time I noticed that my boxed NES games were looking like they were not as tightly packed on the shelf as I thought they should have been.  I never did find out if something walked off or not.  But I know that they weren't supposed to be loosely sitting on the shelf like that.
Good article.  I've been fortunate to not have "shrink" happen to my game collection, but I have had the occasional CD or vinyl album "walk off" here and there, never to be seen again.  Thankfully, those instances have been rare.  The few times I've had to move my collection, I made sure to label the boxes as to which console(s) each box had games for, but as much as my collection has ballooned over the last 3-5 years, I would be looking at a much expanded labeling system, much as you mentioned above.  Should that day arrive, I know I will be scrambling to get everything boxed up and labeled properly, and probably scrambling when unpacking, to make sure everything is in its place.

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