Like any hobby, collecting retro gaming paraphernalia comes with a loose set of rules or guidelines that you’ll often find over zealous members of gaming forums espousing at any chance they get. Some of them are common sense, helpful bits of wisdom that have no doubt evolved over many years and from the experience of many collectors, but a handful I’m willing to challenge. At least in so far as to say they don’t suit me personally…
Only collect what you’re going to play
If I collected only what I play, then I’d have a smaller collection (and a heavier wallet, but that’s beside the point). I do understand why people say you shouldn’t bother collecting what you don’t play, having games that just sit on the shelf seem harder to justify than those you’d actually fire up and enjoy, but for me the act of collecting is a big chunk of the joy itself. I like finding games and systems, I like finding them at bargain prices, and I like setting them up on shelves, or firing them up just to see what they’re like rather than to play them for hours on end. It’s okay to collect for the sake of collecting, and I think if I only gathered up what I intend to actively play, I’d have a less impressive collection and feel far less immersed in the history of gaming as I do – sitting in this office – right now.
Only collect the good stuff
The successful gear (the SNES, the Master System etc) is the less interesting part of the retro gaming world. The failures, oddities and mutants of the gaming world help to define its history and – despite commercial failure – should be just as much a part of your collection as anything else. Don’t look past the Sega-CD, the Virtual Boy, the CD32 and all the other failures that litter the roadside. These are arguably more fun to collect and in some ways, more prized. When something fails commercially, it’s less successful, which translates to less sales and less availability now (try finding a boxed Sega 32x for cheap). Don’t stick to just the major players, do your research and uncover a world of possibilities.
You only need one of everything
Ludicrous! Folly! Downright bollocks! One of my favorite corners of my collection piles was occupied by no less than 3 boxed Nintendo Entertainment Systems and I can tell you it wouldn’t have shone nearly as bright had there been only one. Well, okay, it didn’t actually shine at all, but you know – metaphorically speaking and all that guff. While you need only to keep one of everything for a collection, it never hurts to acquire doubles, they make perfect trading fodder and while they’re not doing that they look damn impressive on the shelf ;).