Learning how to let go

James Matson discovers that parting is such sweet sorrow. Except when it’s parting with retro gaming systems. Then it just blows.

It’s wonderful having all this retro stuff, isn’t it?

You’ve dedicated serious time – and money – to amassing an impressive display of boxed gaming consoles, cartridges, merchandise. You’re the envy of your friends, and even though you’d never tell anyone, you’re almost positive in your secret heart of hearts, that your general health and well-being has increased since you picked up your first NES cart from the local trash n’ treasure market.

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Unfortunately, things have to change. Maybe you’ve got an overdue car payment or need cash for a trip overseas.  No matter the underlying reason however, you’ve come to a painful, gut-wrenching conclusion. You’re going to have to sell something.  That’s right, you’re going to have to violate the carefully constructed collection you’ve sweated over for so long. You’re going to have to part with some goodies. Hell, it might as well be giving away your first born for all the pain and emotional torment this decision will put you through. Fortunately Retro Domination isn’t just a retro gaming website.

We care, we want to help. (Okay, most of us. That Tim fella is a bit of a surly cretin.)

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So how do you go about deciding what to part with? How do you look up at that wall of Nintendo 64 consoles, Virtual Boy games and an immaculate copy of Castlevania IV for the SNES and work out what goes and what stays? How exactly do you become judge, jury and executioner?

The first question has to be “what do I have that I don’t really play?” Now we know your first instinct will be to emphatically tell us that you play everything. You play it all.  Don’t kid us. We’re on your side, remember? You don’t play all of it. There’s either some games or machines floating around that just don’t get real love, or there are some you refuse to play because they’re in pristine condition and even thinking about playing them might somehow cause their VGA grading to waver.  Keep the pristine goods back, we all know you won’t want to part with those, but grab the stuff that’s been played but doesn’t get played, and throw that into a pile.

That’s the beginning of your ‘things I can sell pile’. It should contain the games and systems that collect dust on a shelf. Maybe you loved them once, but now they’re just an echo of better days. A bit like Sega really.

Next, you’ve got to think about the things you’d regret selling. Oh, that’s a long list, isn’t it?  There are plenty of games and machines that could net you a tidy sum in a pinch, but are you going to be sobbing in a corner after a month, haunted by that eBay listing?  Think carefully before you make any decisions.  Fast forward to your own future. You’re sitting by an open fire, adorned in your smoking jacket with pipe in one hand and a tablet PC in the other, browsing Retro Domination. Your son – only a little tike – approaches, looks up at you slowly with those huge eyes full of hungry wonder and innocence and says “Daddy, what was the Milton Bradley Vectrex like?”

You look down at your boy, trying hard to hide the pain in your face. You can’t show him. You can’t take out a Vectrex, put the Minestorm overlay on the front, power it up and let him play away in a wonderful world of vector based shooting.  No, those options don’t belong to you, because you’re a bad Father. You’re a bad man. You sold the Vectrex back when you needed some bucks to pay for a new car, and now your son will grow up disadvantaged. Stunted.  Okay, so maybe that’s taking it too far, but you see the point – right? Be careful about what you sell, and make sure you can bear not only to see it leave, but also to never see it come back again. The law of Retro dictates that anything you sell and then try to buy again down the track will cost you more than you sold it for. Beware.

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So now you’ve got a pile of things that you don’t really play a lot, and added to that pile are things you can bear to part with forever. So what’s left? Well, logic dictates that you should try and sell things that are actually going to sell and going to make you money. Yes, yes, you probably thought you were super duper clever nabbing a stack of Japanese import Dreamcast titles a while back for next to nothing, so maybe just sell those on for a profit and be done with it? No big deal because they cost you very little and you’ve never properly played them thanks to the fact you can’t read or understand a freaking word of Japanese.

Got news for you bud, everyone else bought those same Dreamcast titles, and no one else can play them properly without at least a basic grasp of the Japanese language. It’s doubtful you’re going to find a lot of willing buyers who’ll pay much more than what you paid originally.  That means you’re going to have to sell attractive stuff, things that people desire. That means your Zelda’s, Donkey Kongs and your obscure machines like the Virtual Boy and 3DO. That’s how you’re going to make sure you actually get the money you need, and quickly. You can put a Playstation and two controllers up for sale, but it’s not going to look that sweet next to the other eleventy billion six hundred and forty nine Playstations currently on sale.

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So with all this in mind and if you’ve listened to our sagely advice, our calculations say that  you should have a pile comprised of stuff you don’t think you’ll use, stuff you can bear to part and stuff that’s attractive and desirable to everyone else……..

Your pile is empty, isn’t it?