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Game Collections - waste of money or valuable investment?


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Recently, someone told me that I have 'wasted money' buying games when I could have used the money for 'better things.'

When I was growing up, I had very few games to play (mainly because my folks were haters), but the games I did have I played over and over again just to squeeze every bit of enjoyment I could out of them. I bought my first SNES which I bought with my own money on August 24th, 1994 - including Super Mario World - and I have been building my collection ever since. I now own about 140 hard copy games ranging from SNES to PC to PS3, 6 consoles, and 200+ soft-copies of games for both PSN download, PC games, and emulation ROMs... and let me tell you, I love my games and value them highly. I can still get excited hearing a Mega Man boss intro, listening to the intro to the boss theme in Link to the Past, or listening to the opening Corneria theme in Star Fox.

I like to game for many different reasons, but they reason I tell most people is because I liken playing a video game to reading a book - an interactive book which to have to work at to see the next page and build your understanding along with the characters. I like playing the same game more than once, not just for the nostalgia of experience, but also because you never get everything a game has to offer with one play-through. For example, I played SaGa Frontier for the first time in 2000 and I HATED the game. Too confusing, no directions, battle system frustrating. So I put it down - but I didn't sell it. Three years later, a buddy of mine told me he had a copy of the strategy guide and let me leaf through it. Suddenly armed with a little bit of knowledge, I picked up the game again and this time, I got it. Seven different plots, lots of different ways to develop characters, open-ended setup to build them and your story how you want them to be. Today, SaGa Frontier remains one of my favorite games (Asellus' story rules!) and I still pick it up from time to time.

Most of the friends I had who were gamers growing up have either stopped playing regularly or long since left gaming behind. When I talk to gamers who are younger than I, most of them don't own more than 5 or 6 games at one time, because they tend to trade them in after they're bored with it or they've beaten it once. Mainstream game stores rarely if ever carry games older than the current generation of console, because no one wants to hold the inventory. It seems that most people treat gaming as a 'plug in, play, then throw away' activity these days - and to me, this is disappointing considering all of that effort that when into the development and release of a unique story. Even nostalgia gaming isn't as popular for the PS2 or the Saturn as it was for the NES/SEGA or SNES/Genesis eras - old-school game stores in my area have tons of old PS2/X-Box games these days.

My questions: Does anyone else feel the same way? Are there any other collectors out there? Does anyone else still enjoy playing older games? Or has gaming really become so disposable? 

Am I the curator of a library that no one cares about anymore but me?

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The value of any object or collection is only worth what someone is willing to pay you for it.  If you don't plan on selling any part of your collection, then yeah waste of money.  If no one is willing to give you money for your collection, then yeah waste of money.  If you gain personal satisfaction or joy in your purchases then sure it has enormous sentimental value, but you're still wasting money.

In terms of a gaming collection, I would guess the value of old school games and system are pretty low simply because anything that was popular back then these companies simply remade and ported to whatever is being used to play games now, so it boils down to you owning something that is rare and is in high demand, otherwise I don't see how an aging game collection would really be worth anything.

I still have an SNES and say 12 games for it.  I haven't touched it in years and I feel if I tried to sell it I could get maybe $50-$75 bucks?  Considering how much it cost to purchase that stuff way back when it would have been a horrible investment.

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Game history and preservation is a thing that (some) people care about. A lot has been done for early games; atari, colecovision, etc. Modern games are fairly secure, in that organizations no longer throw away the source after titles ship. There is a period of about 20 years (~1980-2000) where preservation efforts have been somewhat lacking and organizations often did not care to archive their work. Eg, the source to Panzer Dragoon Saga has been lost (which is one of the reasons it hasn't been released elsewhere).

Another concern is the loss of online services and online games. Blizzard has indicated they did not preserve historical DB schemas/data for WoW, so old versions are lost to time.

There are interest groups and preservation societies working to record games history, though their funds and industry buy-in are severely lacking compared to film. If this interests you, you can reach out through your public or a nearby university library.

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It's not a waste if it adds value for you.

I don't think I've ever sold or let go of any game I bought, apart from a bunch of DOS games, since the boxes are so big it's a storage problem. Most of those I'm now bummed I threw away (but I really didn't and don't have space for them, so..). I've started messing around with the old 486 and there's just something about it compared to messing around with DOSBox that's quite pleasing. It'll be interesting to see if any of the floppies for my remaining DOS games still work and I can install them from there. This is fun to gush about when you do have friends that care about the same stuff (plus there's Twitter and stuff online), social context for this sort of thing is quite good to have.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for all the responses.

To be frank, I really don't care about the monetary value of my games - if I did, then I wouldn't have opened the box or plastic to begin with. Apparently mint boxes are almost worth as much as the game these days; I get the 'collector value' side of the equation but I will NEVER pay $450 for an original, unopened box of Earthbound. That being said, instead of original box, I would track down an emulator, just for the opportunity to play the game - because that's where the value is to me, the EXPERIENCE of the game, not how valuable or rare it is. I've done this with lots of games, like Seiken Densetsu 3 or FF5 (pre-PSX release). Once again, it's like a good book. You read it then put it down for a while; when you open that book again, however long later, you'll find that not only are there parts you've forgotten, but parts you missed the first time around. I've read Lord of the Rings at least six times, and I still find passages I have no memory of.

Games can tell you a story, teach you, inspire you, motivate you, or give you another perspective on life ... why would I trade these works of art in for a few bucks at my local game shop?

On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2016 at 1:14 PM, Skrypnyk said:

If you gain personal satisfaction or joy in your purchases then sure it has enormous sentimental value, but you're still wasting money.

You're not wrong from an economic perspective, but I knew that going in. I used to frequent a used game store when I was a young, impressionable gamer and it always amazed me that if I waited long enough, a game like Dragon Warrior could be purchased for $10 - knowing that if I ever wanted to trade it back, I would get $2. It's never been about the money.

On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2016 at 3:49 PM, Newt said:

There are interest groups and preservation societies working to record games history, though their funds and industry buy-in are severely lacking compared to film.

Well, I'm not interested in donating anything I own now, but perhaps this is something I should consider for when I have to set my affairs in order. Thanks for the tip, I'll take a peek at what's out there.

On ‎9‎/‎17‎/‎2016 at 6:05 AM, evktalo said:

I don't think I've ever sold or let go of any game I bought, apart from a bunch of DOS games, since the boxes are so big it's a storage problem. Most of those I'm now bummed I threw away (but I really didn't and don't have space for them, so..). I've started messing around with the old 486 and there's just something about it compared to messing around with DOSBox that's quite pleasing. It'll be interesting to see if any of the floppies for my remaining DOS games still work and I can install them from there. This is fun to gush about when you do have friends that care about the same stuff (plus there's Twitter and stuff online), social context for this sort of thing is quite good to have.

Hear hear! I'm glad I'm not the only collector here. :)

Someone mentioned the Oregon Trail at work the other day and I think I still have a copy of it and some other DOS games somewhere. I seem to remember I also had Choplifter, Montezuma's Revenge, Karate-ka, and Taipan. Gotta dig out the 286 and monochrome monitor and see if my 5" floppy drive still turns!

On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 6:38 AM, OA said:

If you enjoy it, then it's not a waste.

I think so too - I just wish I had more people in my life who care that I can 'gush' to, as evktalo said.

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Game collections are a tough call if you treating them as an investment. On the other hand if it's for personal enjoyment then go nuts. There's always an outside chance that it could be worth something eventually.  I've always wondered if my collection of everything sega would ever be worth anything since sega pretty much outright refuses to keep up with the rest of the nostalgia market in re-releasing some of their major titles.  

Even with all of the digital re-releasing (legal or otherwise) going on these days Panzer Dragoon Saga may be one of the few games worth investing in.  Somehow it's managed to appreciate by a few hundred bucks over the past decade.   

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Panzer-Dragoon-Saga-Sega-Saturn-Complete-Tested-/331985026026?hash=item4d4bd97bea:g:tqAAAOSwPCVX7D~Z

To go off on a tangent, I remember walking into software etc. with enough money for one saturn game.  I narrowed it down to Panzer Dragoon Saga and Sonic R.  Spent many years wishing I could somehow undo that one.  

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