Ah, game collecting. It’s one of my biggest hobbies and I love doing it. Thanks to my video game collection, I’m able to talk about so many games on my blog and have so many different experiences. While I’m not the most hardcore of collectors, I do want to share some stories and advice if you want to start collecting retro and modern games. If you have any questions or you have advice yourself, feel free to leave a comment down below, I’ll do my best to help and love to hear the advice of other collectors as well. Also, know that this is some general advice. If you want to start to get really into collecting, then this article can serve as a nice base but videos like this one from MetalRockJesus are a great help as well.
You will need space!
Do realize that you will need some shelving space when you want to start collecting. Personally, I wish I had more room in my room to build more cabinets and shelves to store my collection.
There are various interesting cabinets that game collectors use. If you look at various pictures of people showing off their collection, you get a great general idea of what sort of space you can use for your cabinets.
Something I personally do is, storing my cartridges in plastic containers. This is to avoid dust and other damage to them. I also sort my games per system. So, I have a PSP shelf, a GBA/GBC shelf, Wii (U) shelf… This makes it easier to find a game when I’m looking for them.
I can speak out of the experience of collecting games all my life, you will need a lot of storage space. Better workout a good storage system before you start collecting. Otherwise, you will regret it extremely fast.
My budget & thrifting.
If you are worried about the cost of collecting, well, know that thrift stores and garage sales exist.
Here are some tips at garage sales. I personally trained myself in the ability to spot games by just scanning the stalls. It can really help if you are able to recognize the shape and colour of the system you are collecting for. For example, I know that most PS2 boxes have are blue and/or have the name “Playstation 2” on top.
Another helpful thing to know is that resellers are a plague at garage sales. Here in Belgium, they arrive at the crack of dawn to buy every game they can get their hands on, while meanwhile, another person is setting up their stall.
The best way to do deals is to buy from people who sell from their garage or don’t have a lot of gaming items. Those people really want to get rid of the games and will let them go for a really cheap price. I have bought a ton of games for a really cheap price. For example, I was able to buy GTA 1 (PS1) for 1€ or Outlaws (PC) for 2€.
While you can haggle, don’t overdo it. For example, if they sell PSP games for 3€ a piece, I usually say, what if I buy 5 of them and pay you 12€. Try to check if they are willing to go below their asking price before you continue to haggle.
I ran the risk of looking around for a cheaper version various times at garage sales. Sometimes I get lucky, other times, I got unlucky and saw some nice games get sold before my eyes.
Since I personally collect Gameboy games, I always have a Gameboy Advance in my pocket with me. Do test your games, if possible, before you buy them. To avoid regretting buying a game.
If you are buying PC games and such, check if all discs are there and if they don’t have a lot of scratches. I always check the games for any damage or missing parts before I buy them. I haven’t done this in the past and had missing discs and discs that weren’t able to be read.
Also, keep an eye out on people trying to sell their physical copies of Steam games. Or any other online distribution platform for that matter. Since you need that key to be able to activate the game, but if you buy it in a thrift store or in a garage sale; you have high risks that the game is already activated and the disc will be worthless. Unless you bought it digitally and you want a physical copy to add to your collection.
What do I do when I go thrifting and/or to a garage sale? Well, I take a bag or two with my handhelds (charged of course) to be able to test the games, I bottle of water, my wallet with the budget I want to spend, something to eat and my smartphone. I also try to not wear much game related items on me. To avoid giving away that I know what I’m buying. I have seen too many items that people raise their prices because a gamer needs to pay a more fair price for their games…
I like to leave in the morning to do one round and I do another round around midday or in the afternoon. Why in the morning? The earlier you leave, the more chance you have to be before the resellers. Also, you will have the biggest selection of them all. Yet, you do miss a big advantage of something you have in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, some people are getting tired and sick of standing with their stall at the garage sale and start lowering their prices. Most of them are happy if they are able to leave the garage sale with less stuff then they started. So, take that into consideration.
Index your collection & how to collect?
While I have quite a good memory in which games I have in my collection already, it’s always a great idea to have an index. This way you can easily look up if you already have the game or not.
Do put this index file in an easily editable file somewhere in an online storage. Personally, I have the games I really want to find in a text document stored in my Dropbox. This way I can easily check while I’m walking at the garage sale which games I’m looking for.
Something I still have to do is make a huge list of all the games that are in my collection. Since I actually want to know how many games I own and how many games I own for each platform. It’s something that is on my bucket list for 2018. This will take quite a lot of time since I have big plans in mind.
Besides physical games, I do collect the merchandise. mostly figurines, clothing and various other pieces of merch. I have one big glass cabinet for all my figurines. I actually enjoy from time to time figuring out how to display them.
So, how can you start collecting? Besides going to garage sales and thrift stores, you can look at 2nd hand websites for people selling their games. Sometimes I buy “a lot”. This means that I buy a bundle of games that somebody doesn’t need anymore. In various cases, I buy games that I already own but I use these games to sell again or to trade.
Trading can be a great way to get rid of your duplicates and get new games into your collection. This is why networking is so important to collectors. I’m in a group of retro game collectors on Facebook and I follow various retro game reviewers on Twitter and YouTube. This way I learn from their experience and stories.
Do network! For real, almost all my coworkers know that I collect games and I have gotten so many games from coworkers who cleaned up their attic or their kids didn’t want their games anymore. One time, I actually was called up by a store that somebody brought in a lot of big boxed PC games and this way I was able to buy a game I always wanted to have.
Anyways, that’s all the general advice I want to give for now. I hope you that you learned something about the art of collecting games. While I can tell and teach you a lot more, I’m going to close off the article right here. Maybe I write a follow up article to this one with more advice and some stories of garage sales.
In any case, thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!