Monday, October 14, 2013

Philosophy and the Art of Video Game Collecting

As I fall deeper and deeper into my collecting hobby (I recently bought three Japanese systems . . . but I already touched on that in my previous post), I've started getting philosophical about why I collect and what value a complete-in-box (CIB) game has for me.

When I was a kid, I remember reading a riddle book with a paradox that I guess has really stuck with me. I'll summarize here: A man builds a brand new wooden boat. Over the years, as it ages, he starts to replace each of the boards as they break, one-by-one, until he reaches a point where he's replaced every single piece of wood. Now, is it still the same boat that he originally purchased? Or is it a brand new boat altogether?

I think about this tale whenever I see a CIB game. Does it matter if the box and manual/inserts are what was originally sold with the game? Would you care at all if it were rather piecemeal-ed together? I like the idea better that this is the box that some kid opened 20-whatever years ago and this is the cartridge they took out and put in the system and this is the manual they read when they couldn't figure something out. Collecting is more to me than just plain fun; it's about nostalgia and history and sentimentality. I may never possess the exact consoles from my childhood (I still have yet to fully dig through my dad's basement), but if I can piggy-back off of someone else's memories and objects, why not?
One of my favorite boxed games that I own. With original receipt!

This isn't to say that I, myself, wouldn't piecemeal a CIB game, but I do wonder about a game's origins . . . mostly just for the sake of wondering. There's so much (monetary) value attached to a game's condition and look. I say, take a moment and consider its sentimental value. That kid popping in this copy of Super Mario Bros. for the first time, that could've been you. Are you the first one to blow on the cartridge to get it to work? How many times has someone bowed their head over this controller, praying to the video game gods that they'll survive the boss battle this time?

Go ahead, take a minute and look at your collection. How many people's childhoods do you own a piece of? How many hours in front of a tv does it represent? Who else coveted their Vectrex and its bright, clean lines the way you do? Was the person who owned this Sega CD just as entranced as you to hook it up for the first time?

These are the strange things that go through my head sometimes when I think about video games. I can't help getting excited over little things. It's what makes me smile.

No comments:

Post a Comment