There’s a growing trend in the game collecting genre to keep games in their sealed state. Keeping them boxed and wrapped in plastic, never to see the light of day or more importantly, the cartridge slot or disk tray of their intended console. As a video game collector I find this one step too far. Set the games free and let them do what they were intended for, to be played.
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with collecting a series of games or consoles but I find it almost unthinkable that these products that were intended to be used and enjoyed and instead left stagnant on a shelf or worse still, boxed up and hidden away for years being little more than a tick in some collector’s inventory. I constantly use my collection. I play the games, I use all the consoles and more than that, I gain enjoyment from watching other people try out the consoles and games. Some relive memories from their past, some find new favorites for the first time. Ages young and young at heart can come together in a single love in games and gaming. To have these games wrapped in plastic and never to be opened would in my eyes destroy this side of gaming.
Yes, I know the counter argument would be that the games can be played on emulators and therefore dispelling the need to open the pristine cases and risk scratching the disk or burning out a component in a console. It’s a fair argument which holds up to most debates but falls short on the physical, tactile nature of opening the box or case, sliding out the game, holding it in your hands and then placing it into the console before turning it on and watching it all come to life to bring the player a nostalgic, physical, and tangible experience which just can’t be had any other way.
Retro gaming has become increasingly popular lately and with everything that becomes popular it has also become increasingly expensive to indulge in. Consoles that once cost anywhere in the region of £10-£30 now trade hands upwards of £80-£100 and if you’re looking at boxed consoles with all the paperwork, demo games and such paraphernalia then you can look even higher than that. Make it a sealed console and you might as well write a blank cheqeue. The same goes with games. Games have skyrocketed in price. Some trading in the £100 arena with ease. I have no problem with paying for a popular or sought after game but the thought of paying out a substantial amount of money to own a video game that I have no intention of not only never playing but never even opening or looking at is just alien to me. A game or a console is a physical object the grants enjoyment when used. It’s almost criminal not to let these objects of vast potential fulfill their destiny.
Unfortunately I have already seen this collecting and hoarding mentality move over to the latest generation of games and consoles. Limited edition consoles such as the Uncharted PS4 and more so the 20th anniversary PS4 have been trading at prices well above their original value. During the first few months after launch for the 20th anniversary PS4 you could find prices ranging in the £2000-£3000 range that were actually selling. The majority of these consoles will never see the light of day and end up in their sealed boxes stored on someones shelf or vault never to be used. The same can be seen with the recent uptake in the range of ‘Limited Run’ games. A series of indie titles that have been given a smaller physical release. Prices for these new sell for about the £30 mark but are being bought up in their 10’s just so people can sell them on to collectors for 3,4,5 sometimes 6 times their retail price. All so they can be placed on a shelf never to be opened. Perfectly good games with hours of enjoyment just sitting there doing nothing.
Now yes it’s obvious I would love to get my hands on some of these games and consoles. Hell, I spent more time than I should have trying to justify paying an extortionate amount for a 2th anniversary PS4 but if somehow i would have managed to get one then it would have been unboxed like a kid at Christmas and played and used and enjoyed. The same goes for the more traditional retro games. Would I leave a copy of MarioKart on the Super Nintendo on the shelf in its box and never play it? Not a chance and the same goes for any other game, good or bad that I get my hands on.
I know that a lot of the classic games can be found on emulators and played in ways that don’t involve the original console, cartridge or disk but that just isn’t the same. The enjoyment of firing up the classic console, the nervous anticipation as you wonder why that black screen is taking so long to go. The wonder of your all important save file not being corrupted and other such fun, tense and overall, satisfying moments just can’t be had with emulators.
I do get that there are some games out there that are just too rare to play. Some limited editions or one off titles that are not just collectibles but video game history. Games such as that legendary Nintendo World Championships Gold cartridge. For those few of you out there that don’t know about it, let me explain. Way back in 1990 Nintendo decided to hold their world championships to find the best Nintendo gamer out there. Nintendo created special cartridges for the NES (Famicom) system to be use in these tournaments. Each cartridge housed 3 games, Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris. The idea was that competitors had 6 minutes to gain as high a score on the games and to become the overall winner. Nintendo made 26 special gold versions of this cartridge to be used as promotion along with Nintendo Power magazine. Now to date only 13 of these 26 cartridges are known to exist. 13 more are either hiding away in someones garage, loft or worse still, been destroyed and lost forever. These 13 gold cartridges are valued in the range of £14,655 ($18,000) so understandably, these aren’t games that should really be played. More so the fact that you can find those games included on that special cartridge far more easily on ther own standard edition cartridges for the same system.
Games like that and there are a good few exceptions such as the Nintendo World Championships Gold cartridge that do become far more than a video game. But lets be honest, just how likely is it that us mere mortals will ever get a chance to see one of these games out other than in a specialist museum. They aren’t the kind of games that are going to land on our doorsteps after a fortuitous purchase on eBay! (although i’ll keep checking just in case). 99.99% of the games out there just aren’t rare enough to in my opinion warrant them being hidden away and never used. I guess you could argue that rarity and popularity are only a product of the people that collect them and that the prices are set by those willing to pay for said products. In some ways yes I agree but there are those out there that seem to have no concept of money or are willing to pay way over the odds to buy a game to maybe finish off their collection just so they can say they are complete. That’s ok in theory but once they have paid their outlandish price for said game, that them seems to become the benchmark price that everyone attempts to sell them for and will accept nothing less no matter what the condition. Damaged box, same price. Missing manual, same price, broken or discoloured console, same price. Come one people, if its not he exact same condition that the perfect, untouched by gamers hands, hermetically sealed item was then you just cannot expect to sell it at the same price!!
Yes playing games can lead to the wearing out or running the risk of being damaged, corrupted or gathering wear and tear. Yes consoles run the risk of failing and damaging components or to a lesser extent as we see with consoles such as the Nintendo snes (super famicom), a discoloration of the materials used. Does this mean we should hide them away
so that future generations can also do the same. I for one say no. Unbox them, look at them, play them, share the experiences with others and let these objects of our gaming past have a life again away from the box or the cellophane wrappers with extortionate price tags.
I applaud any of you out there that collect games and consoles with the intention of playing them. The Gran Turismo fanatics that get together to break that lap record. The Final Fantasy aficionado that has all the games and paraphernalia and shares their love with friends and fans alike. The Halo marksman that plays all the games on the relevant consoles with friends to see who’s best. The group of friends that still to this day discuss and argue over which is better, Nintendo or Sega while they play on their beloved consoles. To you I say that your gaming collections are the most valuable.