One of my vices is collecting video games, mostly retro, but current generation as well. My collection spans close to a thousand items, and ranges from the 8 bit era (NES and Master System) to the current generation (PS4 and WiiU). My collection is mostly focused on Nintendo, but I have branched out into collecting Sega, Sony and Microsoft as well.
So today I will share some things that I have learned over time collecting video games.
1. Know what to collect. By this I mean that depending on your region (PAL or NTSC) some systems might be easier to collect than others. For example, generally in PAL regions Sega had a much bigger footprint in the 8 bit and 16 bit eras than Nintendo, so finding Sega games and systems are a lot easier and less expensive, whereas in the NTSC regions this applies to Nintendo in general. This does not mean you should not, for example, collect Super Nintendo in a PAL region, it just means that if you do you should realise you will probably struggle to find items and will also pay a premium price for them when you do.
2. Know where to look for items. So if you decide to collect for a retro system, you can’t exactly go to a normal video game shop and pick up items for the system, you will need to look at places that have second-hand goods. Thrift stores, pawn brokers, second-hand and charity shops are all good places to check, and check these places on a regular basis, things come and go quickly especially if there are other collectors around. Online shops, such as eBay, are also an option, however this can get very expensive as prices are quite often seriously inflated on online auction sites, so if you decide to go this route check prices very carefully as you might end up paying way more than an item is worth.
3. Check item condition. This is most relevant for disc-based games, as they scratch and damage relatively easily. Cartridge-based games tend to be a lot more resilient, however it is still essential to check for label damage as this can greatly affect the value of a game. In general you also do not want to buy video game systems that are not working, except if they are really cheap, in which case it might be worth taking a chance and attempting to fix the system or using it for spare parts. This leads us straight into our next point.
4. If you are scared of a little bit of soldering and basic electronics then collecting any old electronic items (like video game systems) might not be a great idea. Sometimes you will have to get your hands dirty when trying to get a 20-year-old system up and running.
5. Have a short list of items to look out for. Have a general idea of what the very rare or expensive games for the systems you are collecting for are. I have on a few occasions picked up rare games with list prices of over $100(USD) for not even 5 percent of that cost, because I knew what to look out for.
6. Catalog your collection. When your collection is small it is easy to remember what you have, but as your collection grows, tracking what you have becomes a lot more difficult. So doing this from the start makes your life a great deal easier in the long run. Anything from a spreadsheet to specialised software can be used for this. Besides providing a quantitative view of your collection, this will also help to prevent unintentional buying of duplicate items.
7. Don’t be scared to pick up good items for trade. On numerous occasions I have run into rare items I already had in my collection at very low prices. I pick these items up and use them to trade for items I don’t have. This can be done directly with other collectors or with dealers where games can often be traded in for credit. By doing this correctly you can quickly double or triple you investment in trade credit.
8. Enjoy the hunt. If you don’t enjoy going out and looking for items, this is probably not a hobby you will enjoy. A huge part of the fun is looking for and finding rare and expensive items at a fraction of their value.
I hope this post gave a bit of insight into the addictive hobby of collecting video games.
Lastly I have a PS3 Minecraft download code to give away! All you need to do to stand a chance to win it is to leave a comment to this article. The best comment will receive the download code, so be creative. The winner will be announced on 1 September 2015.