Ode to the retro collector

James Matson pauses for a moment, to reflect on the reason many of us involve ourselves in the world of retro gaming. To covet and collect, to have and to hoard. Three cheers for the retro collectors!

So, you’ve finally got it. It’s in your hands. You’re holding it. Touching it. Its shapes and textures are yours to admire.

Maybe you’ve waited a while. Maybe you’ve scoured eBay auction after eBay auction waiting for the perfect price to show up. Maybe someone gave it to you.

Maybe you found it buried at the bottom of a pile of broken VCRs and analog mobile phones at a local trash n’ treasure market.

Irrespective, you’re now the proud owner of your first retro console. Is it a Super Nintendo with two controllers, all its cords and a copy of Street Fighter 2? Is it a boxed Sega Master System looking ultra deadly with it’s black and red facade and sharp angles. Is it a weird and wonderful Vectrex still boxed and unopened since 1983? No, it’s probably not, not unless you’re a rich bastard. If you do have one, then you should send us your address. Now. We’re coming to visit.

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But the particulars don’t matter, do they? What matters is you have it. It’s yours. Like a relic from an Indiana Jones flick, you’ve traversed ancient caverns, faced death at every turn and now come out into the daylight covered in cobwebs and rat-shit carrying your prize.  No one else gets it. It’s just a crusty Amstrad, it’s just an outdated ‘Six Sizzlers’ game tape pack for the Commodore 64 featuring Labyrinth.

You’ll have no idea now – in this moment – what you’ve started. As you sit on the floor busily making sense of the sprawl of cables so that you can connect it to the TV, you can’t conceive of how this is one small step in a very long collecting journey. If you knew then what you know now would you have changed your mind? Doubtful. But you couldn’t have imagined how one day you’d be surrounded by pieces of gaming history. You couldn’t have pictured how the walls of your office would look adorned with Nintendo boxes or Neo Geo cartridges.

In those first formative moments, you’re just concerned about how the hell to tune this ancient wonder into your TV. RF is a bitch.

Fast forward a Now that first console is just one part of a mammoth collection that consumes your house. Somewhere among the countless games, consoles and peripherals is that first machine you ever picked up, that one that made you feel as though you’d crossed some great boundary, discovered some long hidden gem.  Entered into the sacred covenant of the cartridge.

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But now you couldn’t easily count how many you have. You’ve got at least one thing from every era, and a bunch of games from every platform. Can you remember when you picked up that first machine? Your house looked pretty bare back then, didn’t it?

But not now. Now it’s a museum, with you in the middle as a living testament to the power and happiness that gaming in all its forms – from Super Nintendo to Supervision – can bring. You’ve cultivated a technological garden peppered with the great games and great systems since the dawn of the electronic age.

You’re a collector now. Be proud.