Game Collecting: How the Internet Changed the Hobby
I’ve been a collector all my life. My largest collecting phase began when I was 7 years old and initially became fascinated with baseball cards. Once the baseball card market became oversaturated in the late 1990’s, I eventually withdrew from the hobby, but the experience taught me a number of life lessons in business, personal networking, and what is important in life.
In the past (with any of my collecting hobbies), people were mostly limited by your local resources. In the case of baseball card collecting, the cards I had were only a result of
- Cards I got in a pack
- Cards I traded with my friends
- Singles I occasionally bought from the local card shop
- The occasional sports card show that came to my area
At this point, you may be wondering why I’m ranting about collecting baseball cards when this site is about video games. When you stop and think about it, there are many similarities shared between hobbies such as baseball cards and collecting old video games.
These resemblances continue when you realize everything changed when the Internet made the world “smaller”. Things such as message boards and auction sites have allowed us to purchase virtually anything quickly and easily in order to build our collections.
It used to be the only people that had truly impressive collections were those that physically traveled the country or even the world tracking down the elusive items to round out their collection. However, now the only thing that really keeps the average Joe from having the perfect collection is the size of his wallet (or his credit card debt).
As long as a person is willing to shell out the money, all they have to do is search on eBay or Google to find the item(s) that they want. They can now survey the entire planet for items with a relatively small amount of effort and cost.
While building my various collections over the years, I used to dream about how cool it would be to be able to have a nice display of my collection on a wall of a room. This may have consisted of many shelves full of items in addition to my favorites predominately displayed on the walls.
I eventually found this idea to be impractical for a couple of major reasons. First of all, after shopping around for my first house, I now realize how much more it would cost to have a dedicated room for a large collection. Also, in most cases, it would be rare to have more than one or two friends that would truly appreciate visiting such a collection. Maybe you are luck and have a lot of local retro-gaming friends; however, I have yet to meet any in my area.
There’s also the thought that you might want to take pictures of your collection and post them online. However, I can guarantee you that there will always be somebody online that has a more impressive collection than you. For the same reason that collecting is easier, it’s also very easy to find pictures of many impressive collections. As more and more people post pictures of their massive collection, the less impressive yours will be.
I don’t intend to discourage you from collecting. My intent is quite the opposite. Instead the bottom line is that you should not collect simply to build up a valuable or impressive collection. It will never be as valuable or impressive as you think it will.
The only person you should try to impress is yourself. Collect the games the YOU enjoy. Collect games from a certain genre that you enjoy. Collect games with quirky artwork. Collect the games that define your favorite console. Find out what REALLY makes you happy and build off of that.
You can now also read my follow-up post, “Don’t Invest In Vintage Games”, and as for this post, I would love to hear what you think about either the post or about game collecting in general. I’m sure there are many other people that have differing views from me.