Some people like to buy the latest video games, play them and then either sell them on or forget all about them. However, as with just about anything with this many different things to choose from, it is possible to build up quite the collection.
Most collectors don’t start out like that. Indeed, even if you don’t consider yourself a collector now, you’ve probably got enough video games for someone that doesn’t play them to feel like you’ve got quite the assemblage growing. If you’d like to take things to the next level, these tips will help you start and then build from there.
1. Take Your Time
What differentiates a true collection from someone who just owns video games is that the games in a collection often span generations. Computer game generations aren’t as long as their human equivalents, but what we today consider as video games have been around since the 1970s. If they’ve lasted this long, the chances are that they’ll last a bit longer. Unless you spot a rare gem at an unmissable price, you don’t have to fill an entire cabinet on the first day of collecting so take your time and think about how to approach the collection over the long term.
2. Don’t Overspend
This tip applies to collecting anything, but it’s easy to get carried away with what you spend, especially if you reach a point where you compete in online auctions. However, while most things you buy will hold their value if you’re sensible, it’s best not to plunge too much cash into your collection until you’re sure that you’ll stick with it.
3. Start with the Bargains
You’ll ultimately judge your collection on the basis of quality over quantity, but you don’t have to start that way. Full shelves can provide the spark of motivation you crave, so you can start out in second-hand stores and similar places to find some hidden gems and start to work on a theme.
4. Let People Know You’ve Started a Collection
There’s virtually no stigma around video games nowadays other than among parents that would rather their kids did something else. Therefore, you should ensure that everyone knows that if they have something they don’t need any more, they should let you know. In fairness, most old video games and their respective consoles don’t hold much value and many people would rather throw them out than list them for sale. If they know someone will take it off their hands, and it might gain a second life, everybody wins.
5. Collect What You Like to Play
When you collect video games, you’re not collecting paintings. They’re not just there to look pretty and hold value. You won’t collect every game ever made right off the bat, so your collection can gain steam and an instant structure if you focus on games that might see play. This is a true test of even seasoned collectors, as it’s hard to play and enjoy older games outside the absolute classics. However, if you can stick to a theme in the early stages, you’ll have something to build on before long.
6. Set Up Online Alerts
The more you learn about the hobby, the more likely you are to find certain pieces you just have to have. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the essentials tend to be the rarest and most expensive pieces. They don’t come up often, and there’ll be a flurry of activity when they do. You could sit on eBay all day waiting for results, or you could get the hard work done for you and set up email alerts through Google and shopping services whenever anything that matches your keywords comes up.
7. Visit Fairs and Amateur Sales
If you want a video game collection that spans decades, you won’t forget the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure in a hurry. We mentioned previously that anyone that doesn’t collect games might not know the value of their older items. Some will throw it out, while others will attempt to sell it on. When you shop in this way, you’re at the mercy of what’s there. If you still have a lot of gaps to fill, you’ll probably find something of note. If you’re after a specific piece, you might come away empty-handed. However, it can often be worth the effort as your competition is limited to people at the same venue.
8. Keep Track of What You Have
We’ve all seen the movies where collectors try to corner the market and buy up every copy of something in existence. This is rarely the case in video games. Even the rarer titles were mass-produced and there’s little merit to owning more than one of something. Therefore, you’ll need a spreadsheet or app, or an excellent memory, to ensure you don’t waste your cash on duplicates.
9. You Don’t Have to Keep Everything
When you start out, you might feel that any and every video game will slot seamlessly into your collection. However, this is rarely the case. Most collectors are prouder of a curated collection than one that covers every base. Once you've found your rhythm, you shouldn’t be afraid to cash in and make space in your collection for something better. If you don’t want something any more, don’t dwell on getting rid.
10. Try to Think About Goals and Milestones
A true collection is never finished. However, it’s easy to get lost in the hobby and to amass things for the sake of it with no payoff. Meeting goals can focus the mind, not to mention the money. If you’re part-way through the collection of every game in a franchise, put everything else on the back burner while you finish it off. If you’ve got a load of games for a system but nothing to play them on, spend your collector energy on finding and acquiring a pristine console.