Wednesday, September 04, 2013

It's Not All About Nostalgia

If you’ve read a decent number of my posts, you’ll likely know that I grew up playing video games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy VII, and Super Mario 64. You’ll also know that I committed the cardinal sin of selling off almost all my consoles and games years ago and have recently begun rebuilding and expanding on that collection. This initially began as a way to rekindle some of those old feelings and good times with the games that shaped my childhood. I wanted to help ToeJam and Earl escape Earth, help Sonic defeat Dr. Robotnik, and rip One-Winged Sephiroth a new one like I did so many years ago. Nostalgia can be a powerful driving force, so much so that it can even shape the economy (just look at retro game prices these days). However, as I’ve continued this journey of game collecting, I’ve shifted my focus a bit from strictly games I’ve owned or played before to games I’ve never heard of or always wanted to play.

This shift wasn’t intentional – in fact, it was completely accidental and took me by surprise entirely because I didn’t realize what I was doing until I discovered my bank account had taken a hard hit (something I’m sure most gamers can relate to). While participating in a fun contest on Twitter in which you see how much you can buy with $30 on eBay* (not counting shipping), I realized that I was looking to buy obscure titles I’d never ever seen before. Most of them seemed to be late PS2 releases, and they were going for cheap despite their critical acclaim or cult following (according to my research). I just couldn’t help myself and ended up buying more of these unheard of games than classic retro titles – and how could I not with them going as cheap as 0.06 (~$2 including shipping)?!

[*You can check it out by searching for #ebayanonymous on Twitter.]

It wasn’t until I checked out and was waiting for the games to ship that I realized what I had done. My original intent of collecting was to relive my childhood wasn’t it? However, I came to realize that, while nostalgia is important, game collecting, particularly games from previous generations, is about so much more. Take the PS2, PS1, or N64 for instance. For me, those systems were from a time when I was either too young to have a job, or was “raking in” no more than $500/month from paper routes and working odd hours at Dairy Queen. Because of this, I had very little disposable income to spend on $50 games and relied heavily on birthday and Christmas gifts for adding to my collection (that or I would hope my dad would buy a title I wanted and I could just mooch off of him). As a result, I missed out on a lot of games that I would have loved to experience growing up. Eventually, I stopped reading gaming magazines because the pain of not being able to play all the games was too much.

Fast forward to today, and I believe I’m finally making amends for that younger, poorer time in my life. More modern games like Jet Set Radio Future, Final Fantasy XII, and Tomba! are making their way into my collection, as well as some older titles like Maniac Mansion, Ninja Gaiden, and Super Ghouls ‘N’ Ghosts. These titles have no real value of nostalgia for me like Final Fantasy IX or Earthbound, but they equally represent a time in my life when responsibilities were fewer and I was more relaxed, bills were paid by someone else, and the world was a simpler, kinder place (save for some schoolyard moments, but that’s life). Sure they may not rekindle a fire in my soul that longs for those bygone days, but they remind me how far I’ve come in life. Sure, not everything in one’s life improves over time (who wouldn’t love to have that summer freedom back just once?), but for me, building my game collection is now just as much about giving forgotten games of the past their fair shake as much as it is about travelling back in time.
Graduated Gamer understands that people collect games for so many reasons, which makes it a very personal and unique experience for everyone who partakes. Feel  free to share what drives you to increase and improve your collection in the comments.

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