So, this is a topic I’ve wanted to write about since I started Retro Game SuperHyper, and now that we’ve just crossed the 6-month mark, I think it’s a good time to tackle it. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned this in a few posts. I want to talk about the process of downsizing my videogame collection.
It seems unthinkable to a collector — of anything, be it videogames, records, rare first-edition books, Star Wars stuff, etc — but priorities change as we age, and there comes a day when we realize that we gotta figure out what to do with all that stuff.
The reasons are myriad for all of us, but for me, I just eventually came to the realization that I had too much. When I was a single dude, I had a kickass bachelor pad with plenty of room for my collection of both console and arcade games. Once I was married with kids and pets and was sharing my home with a family, I no longer had the room for all of it, so much of it was in storage, and what good is it doing me there?
Below are a few pics of my collection at the height of its bloat.
First, the console game room:
And the arcade machines:
This isn’t even showing you all the stuff in the closet or the storage unit.
Of course I know lots of people have bigger and more impressive collections than I did, and cheers to you if you have the room to keep it all! But as cool as my two game rooms were — and I’m not saying I’m not proud of that collection — once I moved out of that place, that phase of my life was over.
To that end, I was also sick of moving the stuff. Every time I moved, boxes and boxes of cartridges, disks, and consoles had to be schlepped around and unpacked — to say nothing of the arcade games! I had about 15 arcade machines at one point. Moving ONE machine is a pain in the ass, but moving over a dozen and hoping to have space for them? Forget it.
Of course, another factor was that I no longer had as much time to play my games as I used to. I work very hard and long hours, so my leisure time is scant. So having shelves full of games that weren’t that good, but I kept “for the collection” became an absurd notion. I mean, who am I trying to impress by owning a copy of Chubby Cherub? I’m not gonna play it, it’s taking up space, and I can get at least, like, 18 bucks for it if I sell it.
A New Collecting Philosophy
Finally, I became intrigued by the idea of downsizing the collection. I wasn’t going to quit the hobby entirely and dump everything, though — never in this process did I want to stop playing and owning videogames. The “love” for the hobby never diminished. Rather, I wanted to streamline my collection. Distill it down to a lean, mean, high-end videogame library. “All killer, no filler” became my new collecting philosophy.
So, I started combing through everything. Right away, I knew my games all fell into one of three categories:
1) Keeper. No question, this game is not going anywhere, I love it and I want to play it again.
2) Seller. I’m never going to want to put this game in and play it. Not worth my time.
3) Up For Review. This is where things got time-consuming. Any game that I wasn’t sure about, hadn’t played in a while and forgot about, I put in and played for a while. If it didn’t grab me in the first few minutes, it became category 2. If I realized it was a hidden gem and I actually wanted to spend some time with it, it went in category 1 — but this was rare.
Now, these were not all easy decisions. Many of my early SNES games, which were all mint and complete in boxes, were hard to get rid of because of the nostalgia factor. Other games, while I did enjoy them, weren’t good enough to justify keeping when I could play them on an emulator if I really wanted to. I even got rid of a couple Neo-Geo AES games, which was hard just because of my love of Neo-Geo — but sorry, Baseball Stars, I’ve played you maybe once in the past 20 years, and Fire Suplex, you kinda suck. Out ya go!
A lot of games did not make the cut because I had superior versions. For example, I was not realistically going to play Gradius III on SNES when I could play the arcade version on the PS2 Gradius III & IV collection or the PSP Gradius Collection, both of which I decided to keep. Final Fight on SNES was a huge favorite of mine back in the day, but again, I could play better versions on the Capcom Classics PS2 disc or the uniquely awesome Sega CD version. Street Fighter Alpha 2, also for SNES? A very cool technical achievement, but if I want to play SFA2, I’ll play the almost arcade-perfect Sega Saturn version (or SFA1 on Saturn, or SFA3 on Dreamcast)…and the SNES version, CIB, went for big bucks. It became more about keeping the best versions of each game to play, rather than amassing multiple versions or keeping them for rarity.
All in all, I tried to use “quality over quantity” as my criterion for what to keep and what to sell. Using the SNES as an example again, I decided I’d rather have a small library that consisted of nothing but Super Metroid, Zelda LTTP, Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and other favorites, than a huge library of stuff I’m never realistically going to devote any time to.
So It Begins
Thus began the purge. I would sell off the games that were easy decisions, and then give the shelves another sweep to see what else I was willing to get rid of. I had to be honest with myself and realize that I was not going to assemble and play my Sega 32X stuff anymore, so off went that unit, along with a few games. Wave by wave, it took over a year of listing on eBay to get my collection down to a more manageable level. At this point, I feel like my post-NES collection (that is, NES through modern consoles) is about where I want it; almost every game I own has a reason to be on my shelf. To be honest, I could probably pare it down even further, and I probably will…I haven’t touched that copy of Virtua Fighter Kids for Saturn, and I’m realistically never going to sit down and try to figure out how to play Stack-Up on the NES. I’m not even sure where my ROB the robot is.
The pre-NES stuff was a little tougher. The collecting bubble for 8- and 16-bit games is huge right now; the pre-NES era has already had its day in the collecting market, I think. So I had some decent Atari, Intellivision, and Colecovision stuff that sold, but I also took a box of about 150 common and duplicate cartridges from my collection and sold them to a local videogame shop. I still have a large bin of pre-NES carts as well as a good collection of CIB titles. I will give them another sweep in the near future and decide what’s worth playing and keeping.
The process is not over. I have multiple consoles to get rid of — I don’t need five Atari 2600s, and as long as I have one each of a functioning Intellivision and Colecovision, I’ll be fine. But much of that is in storage, still, and requires a bit of time for me to unearth, bring home, test, clean, and put up for sale.
It Sucks Though, Right?
Let me be completely honest with you: It does not suck. The process is a little tedious, especially when doing it over eBay, but it can also be fun to feel like I’m running my own online videogame shop. I sure do like money, I can tell you that…and I made some good money selling some rare stuff. And my collection is, in fact, lean and mean…all killer, no filler. I am down to 6 arcade machines, and they’re all favorites: Donkey Kong, Centipede, Elevator Action, Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, and Space Invaders (plus a bin full of JAMMA boards, for which I may someday buy a SuperGun or a candy cab…or maybe I’ll sell them too). Instead of worrying about a dozen machines that are in various states of disrepair, I can focus on these few, maybe restore them, make sure they’re all humming along nicely.
It does feel good to have the “bulk” gone, and know that every game I own is one that I would be happy to spend time with. And as I mentioned in a previous post, I can still scratch that collector’s itch by picking up boxes and manuals to make my loose games complete, thereby not really adding to my collection, but improving it further!
And I still have all the eBay photos of the games I’ve sold, so I still have a photographic record of everything I used to have, if I really feel the need to look at them.
I’m happy with where I’m at in videogame collecting right now. I’m super proud of where I’ve been with it, but also feel great about being able to let go. And as it turns out, I don’t even miss any of the games I’ve sold.
…except Kid Niki. I don’t know why I sold Kid Niki for NES. I want that one back.