Interview with Largest Retro Video Game Seller in South Africa

In recent years, interest in retro video games has increased significantly. This has created a new marketplace consisting of buyers and sellers who exclusively focus on video games that, until recently, have been considered obsolete. I recently conducted an interview with Kristy Anderson who started a company a few years ago that focuses on selling retro video games and has subsequently grown to be the largest seller of retro video games in South Africa.

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How did you get into the business of selling retro games? 

Well, it’s a bit of a long story! I was big into pc gaming as a child, but the only retro console that I can vaguely remember playing was a golden china type with Mario bros and Circus on it. So I didn’t really have any retro consoles that were familiar to me, unlike many other South African children from the 80s and 90s. I also went to boarding school in my high school years and as a result, I stopped gaming for a very long time. It was only in 2008 when my husband and I went to Australia and stayed with a friend, that I discovered console gaming again. This friend had a Wii console and I was fascinated with the technology and played Wii sports for ages, getting really into my tennis game and nearly taking out the light fitting at the same time. We enjoyed the console so much that we decided to invest in one ourselves. Suddenly my love for gaming was re-ignited and I found myself taking a greater interest in all things gaming. The pivotal point was when I was looking for some hard to find Wii titles and the only place I could find them was online in East London. The only catch was that I had to buy the Wii console and all the games as one bundle and obviously, I had to find a way to get it to Durban. Taking a big leap of faith, I paid this random dude via EFT and then organized for a courier to collect. I then sold off the rest of the items and kept some of the games for myself. I ended up making a bit of money on the stuff I sold and a fledgling idea seemed to take hold. I found myself searching online for other gaming bundles and then began buying some of them. Soon I was hooked and spent all my free time bargain hunting and discovering more about the gaming world. I slowly diversified into Xbox 360 (had a learning curve with an ROD console along the way) and then started buying other consoles like PS2 and PS3. In early 2009 it started to become a regular thing and I was trying to juggle this sideline business with my full-time job working at a local vet. This became more and more difficult to do and I started to get very stressed out, as there was simply not enough time in the day to commit to both jobs. So I had to make a difficult decision – was this fledgling business viable enough to leave my full-time employment? It was a hard choice to make but I convinced my boss to let me work half-day for a few months so I could train my replacement and then in early 2010, I left the vet and committed to my business full-time. Around that time I also discovered a box with my husband’s old PS1 console in it and a ton of PS1 games. I sold these off for him and discovered they were quite popular. My sister also unearthed her old Dreamcast console (she used to work for Dreamcast in the UK) and I bought that off her too. It turned out that she had some limited release white label games (only given to staff and advertisers), which were very rare on eBay, and this prompted me to start selling internationally as well. Since then, my business has been growing considerably every year (especially the retro section) and we are always diversifying into new areas. Several years ago we started importing retro items from the UK due to the high demand for them and now we get regular shipments in. There has been a lot to learn, as we stock a lot of diverse gaming products, but it has definitely been worth it! I get to work from home doing something I’m passionate about and really enjoy, and I have the most amazing customers too 🙂

Have you seen an increase in interest in Retro gaming as of late?

Yes definitely. It used to be a slow progression over the last few years, where I would occasionally get customers enquiring about certain retro consoles and wanting advice on them. Suddenly though, last year, retro seemed to become the “in” thing. LPs were being released again and certain retro items seemed to be making a comeback. This has taken off to such an extent in the last 6 months or so, that demand is starting to outstrip supply. Prices have skyrocketed and it is becoming harder to find items at reasonable prices. We are constantly searching for new suppliers in order to try and keep up with the demand.

What are the most popular systems people are collecting for?

Considering that retro has become so popular of late, I have noticed a large increase in purchases of specific retro consoles. These are mainly consoles that were predominant in South Africa in the 80s and 90s, namely PS1 and 8 bit consoles like the Golden China or Nintendo Famicom. There is a huge nostalgic element associated with these consoles and as a result, I seem to get many requests for them. Also popular is anything retro Nintendo, especially all types of Game Boy consoles.

Where do you get your stock? From local sources or more imported items?

I get my stock from all over – both locally and internationally. That’s the reason I’m called “The Source” as I spend a lot of time trying to source rare items, good deals and new suppliers for my stock. A lot of my customers also like to do “trade-ins” on their old consoles/games and duplicate items.  I have managed to locate some suppliers in other countries like Japan and I just received my first Japanese shipment last week. This will become a regular thing along with my UK imports. However, imported items are constantly being affected by the exchange rate, which seems to be doing worse every year.

Do you collect retro video games?

I have never been much of a collector as I’m a very practical person and don’t like having too much stuff around me that I don’t use. I do have a few first edition books that are especially important to me (one is signed by the author), but I’m not sure if you could call it a collection. In saying that, I do enjoy the process of finding new and exciting items and having them on display to show others. In that respect, my stock serves as a collection in itself, as I can fulfill my need to discover new and unknown elements of the gaming world and teach others about them, and yet they don’t go unused and will eventually land up in a good home. I am actually strangely protective over my retro items. I feel like finding them and making sure they go to someone who appreciates them is sort of like preserving history. I once had a photographer who wanted to buy a Gameboy console for a shoot and I didn’t want to sell it to him as I was concerned it wouldn’t be used and loved (weird, I know). Anyway, after being in this industry for over 7 years and seeing the passion that my collectors have for gaming, I fear it has rubbed off on me a bit. I have recently acquired a few collectible items like the Fallout 4 pipboy, vault boy bobble head and fallout fridge and I also have a fairly large selection of “special” mugs which include Mario, batman, superman and other geeky and gaming themes. I use a different one of these mugs every day so they do serve a practical purpose as well. I also own a Halo 4 edition Xbox 360 console and a Forza 6 edition Xbox one console which I use on a regular basis.

Do you play video games?

Of course I do 🙂 It would be a travesty to be in this industry and not enjoy video games or play them. Obviously we have to test a lot of our games to make sure they are working, so I do play a large selection of games for work, but I also like to play my own games on the weekends and evenings. I am currently playing Fallout 4 (I believe I’m on level 38 at the moment) and its been very absorbing. I have found myself playing quite late into the evenings sometimes as I “just want to finish this one quest” which turns into another hour of gameplay before you know it. You may have gathered from my previous comments that the Fallout series is a favorite of mine. I love the concept and enjoy exploring and interacting with this post-apocalyptic world.

What is your favorite video game of all time?

That is a tough one. I don’t know if many people have an outright favorite. I will break it into different years of my life:
Childhood: Kings Quest series and most specifically Kings Quest 6. Also played a lot of Mario bros, and enjoyed Resident evil 2 and the crash bandicoot series on PS1.
2008: The Legend of Zelda Twilight princess and resident evil 4
2009 to 2010: Fallout 3 and Red dead redemption
2010 to 2011: Fallout new Vegas
2011 to 2012: The Witcher 2 and Skyrim
2013 to 2014: Tomb Raider (2013) and The last of us
2015: The Witcher 3
2016: Fallout 4
I’m sure I’m probably forgetting some but these are the ones that stand out most in my mind.

Have you ever considered opening a brick and mortar shop? 

Yes, briefly. Truth be known, I enjoy having an online store. Some of my best and favorite customers live in other provinces and I also enjoy being able to work from home. If I had a physical store I wouldn’t be able to have the luxury of rolling out of bed and being at work 5 minutes later, being able to sit outside in my garden on a rare lunch break, having a swim in my pool when it gets hot or having a cat sitting on my lap or watching them hide and play in my empty boxes. Most importantly, I don’t know if I would have developed the friendships that I have with some of my customers in other provinces. Brick and mortar stores limit your customers to one area whereas online stores allow you to sell to anywhere in the world (I do sell internationally as well). Most importantly, you are constantly being introduced to new and different people and relating to them on an intellectual level without knowing what they look like or what their background is. We are all equals online and are judged by our opinions, how we act and what we say, as opposed to what we look like. Many people think it’s strange and dangerous to deal with so many people you don’t really know, but I like the possibilities it creates. I also love the way that gaming transcends all barriers and brings different people together.

Are you planning on having a stand at any of the local expos? (Like Rage or GeekFest?)

I have strongly considered this and I’m sure it will happen in the near future. There are a lot of weekend markets in my area and I have thought about having a stand at one of them occasionally. Rage is also a massive platform to market a business and I definitely aim to be there one day soon. The practicalities are preventing me at the moment, as obviously I can’t bring all my stock with me so would have to limit the stock I transport. Not to mention the costs involved with travelling to Joburg for Rage and accommodation while we are there. Also, a lot of our items are pre-owned and I usually like to polish discs and test games before sending them, to ensure they are working properly. So I have to figure out a way around this and also overcome my crowd phobia when it comes to Rage. I did visit it a few years ago, but the amount of people there was very intimidating for me. I am actually quite a shy person when it comes down to it but have become a lot more confident since starting my own business.

How would you describe www.thegamingsource.co.za

An eCommerce business that supplies a large selection of pre-owned games and consoles for all platforms at reasonable prices. We are also one of the biggest retro gaming suppliers in South Africa and are able to source and/or import almost any gaming item required.

If anyone is interested in buying anything related to retro gaming, you can visit The Source website at www.thegamingsource.co.za or contact Kristy directly at thesource100@gmail.com.

Interview with Largest Retro Video Game Seller in South Africa

Why Collect Retro Video Games?

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I often get asked why I collect Retro Video games. Some people I have met find it bizarre that anyone would want “old” video games as they think anything other than the latest and greatest systems are simply junk that should be thrown away.

The reasons why people collect anything differs greatly, however I think it is safe to assume that anyone who collects something has some form of personal connection to the items being collected. For me personally video games are something I grew up with and I believe a large part of the reason I collect is an element of nostalgia. Many items in my collection reminds me of fond memories when I was a child; I believe this is a reason why many people collect a variety of things, the items act as a keep sake of a time period in someone’s’ past that they have a favourable connection with.

I also believe there is an element of unfulfilled childhood wish fulfilment when it comes to collecting; getting things you wanted as a child but could never have. This is a common reason for collecting video games that I have heard from many collectors.

On top of all these reasons I also collect video games because I love them. I enjoy playing them and I also play and collect current gen video games, not just retro. In my opinion video games are a form of art, how can anything created with such passion and talent not be. Only in very recent times have video games started to receive some of the recognition associated with being an art form, but this has come too late for enormous amounts of items that have been branded as trash and ended up in landfills. That is why many collectors of video games see themselves as curators; saving something they love from ending up in a dump and being lost forever.

I take a great deal of pleasure in owning and adding to my collection, and also to play and experience the games therein, be that a latest release or a game that is 25 years old in the same way that someone may listen to modern and classical music and appreciating both for what they are.

So why do I collect video games? And why do some people collect toys or records or comic books or anything really? Because of a love for something, be that video games or toys or comics books or something completely different.

Competition!

So I have another PS3 download code to give away! This time it is Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. So get your comments in before 31 October 2015 to stand a chance to win!

Why Collect Retro Video Games?

Retro Video Game Collecting Tips

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.

Retro Video Game Collecting Tips