James Matson examines one of the hardest, most emotionally tumultuous things a retro gamer can do in their lifetime – parting with their gaming collection. It’s a journey of ups, downs and empty shelves that has left more than a few souls misty eyed and deeply reflective (though seemingly far better off financially…..) There are certain moments in ones life that present themselves as game-changing. Total 180 degree turns that alter your whole perception. These are the moments when you have a sudden realisation about the direction your life is taking, your future or your past. Like when you wake up shirtless underneath your own couch after a heavy night of boozing, covered in glitter and toilet paper with a petite transvestite Go-Go dancer running amok through your house shouting “Steve! Steve! The salamander brandy is empty!”
Except your name isn’t Steve.
There are also life changing moments when dealing with retro gaming, and one of the biggest is when you’re standing in the middle of your gaming room and suddenly, a strange – almost alien – thought descends upon your brain: “What the hell am I doing with all this crap?”. You might laugh, you might scoff. You might feel that you couldn’t even part with the dust that settles over your Super Nintendo boxes, let alone the boxes themselves, but there may come a time when you too could feel the urge to sell. That’s right, clear it all out.
There are various reasons for this shift in feeling about ones game collection. Firstly, you might need the cash for something else, something seemingly more responsible. Some of us have sunk a fair degree of cash into our gaming collections. A decent swag of Sega, Nintendo and Atari kit occupying a single space can easily be worth $1000, $5000, $10,000 or even more depending on what you’ve got. That’s serious money, and it can be tempting to look at the collection as something you can turn into cash should the need arise. There’s also the chance that you might come to realise that all your collection really does, is gather that aforementioned dust. When you gain perspective like that, it becomes easier to see that while you have shelves and shelves of cartridges and consoles, you maybe actively use 5 – 10% of it. So what then, about the rest? Are you running some kind of weird one person museum? Are you content to just let the stuff sit there unused and collect for the sake of collecting? Maybe, maybe not. If not, then your thoughts could turn to selling. If that’s the case, we’re here to give you a little insight and a few tips if you go down that road. It can be a tough journey, but as per usual we’re willing to hold your hand the entire way.
(Not creepily though. Except for Tim. Tim will hold your hand creepily. If that happens, look for a building with the ‘Safety House’ sign out the front. You’ll be safe there.)
1) Ignore the haters.
Lesson number one in selling off part or all – or a large chunk – of your gaming collection: reactions from other retro gamers will fall into three distinct categories. 1) They will be positive and respect the fact you’re doing what you’re doing for your own reasons. These are the people you don’t need to worry about. 2) They will be positive about what you’re doing, then immediately and systematically attempt to swindle you out of everything you own that they want for some kind of bizzare “mates rates”. Deal with these people how you choose. 3) Perhaps most bizarrely of all, you’ll get those who think you’re somehow abandoning your love of vintage and retro gaming. To those people, we say this; The enjoyment of retro and vintage games is a state of mind, not an artificial way-point that occurs once you’ve reached a certain threshold of gaming hardware. Plenty of people love playing vintage games on a Super Nintendo or old Atari 2600 when they get the chance, they just don’t go the extra step of owning the consoles, or shelves of games. Having a collection of vintage gaming gear shows a lot of love, we grant you that, but at the end of the day enjoying retro, playing retro and talking retro are all things you can do without amassing a small warehouse of material goods.
2) Sell smart, have a plan.
When you begin selling, it’s important to have some structure and organisation about how you sell, particularly if you’re selling a lot of stuff. Our recommendation is to start by listing on a free site like Gumtree, or on Facebook Buy/Sell Groups. The logic here is that while they don’t have the reach of eBay, the fact is they are a zero investment endeavor. If you write up your ads well and take good photos, anything that doesn’t sell on a free site you can then transplant most of the ad to eBay with minimum fuss. This works really, really well. You clear out what you can at no cost, then move what remains to a fee based site. Make sure your ads are clear and descriptive. Remember when you were collecting, what things would you have wanted to know about the Super Nintendo you were interested in. Does it comes with the power supply? How many controllers? Are the games loose or boxed? Are there manuals? What rips and tears are present on boxes. Take a bazillion photos. Then take some more. You know the mind of the ardent collector, to some people details are everything, particularly if they’re on some holy quest for a perfect PAL boxed collection of <insert console here>.
3) Get ready for the freak show!
Be aware that no matter how polite or well worded your ads are, you’re going to attract some downright loonies and crazies. Particularly on Gumtree.
The below is an actual excerpt of conversation between us, and a complete whackjob who was on a one-man crusade to rid Gumtree of “junk”. We admit, we had a little fun with this:
Crazy Man: Don’t ask telephone number prices for junk $50 is a realistic price or give it to charity
Us: Thanks for your interest in the ad, and your suggestions, they’re appreciated (although I’m unsure what ‘telephone prices’ refer to). Should you be interested in purchase, please let me know.
Crazy Man: Wake up stop flooding gumtree with your kiddies games which are now land fill
Us: Thanks for your continued interest in my ads. While you are quite correct, these are in fact kiddies games when released during the 1980s and 90s, the interesting thing about children of that era is – well – they got older. These older people came by disposable income and enjoy reliving parts of their youth through these games. It would be a shame to force those kids who are now adults to rummage through landfill to find these games. It seems like a messy affair. Should you be interested in purchasing, please feel free to let me know.
Crazy Man: Are u sick or something all u got is junk. Grow up
Us: Hi there, thanks for your continued interest in my ads. It’s very perceptive of you to realise that I was in fact – quite recently – ill. I had one of those cold style bugs that go around. You know the ones? They come, clog you up for a while, then move on as though nothing happened. It must be the season for them! I’ve also noted your suggestion to grow up and fortunately, like most entities who walk through linear time, I must in fact continue to grow up. There’s actually very little I can do to stop it. Nonetheless, I appreciate the suggestion. Should you be interested in purchasing this item, please let me know.
Crazy Man: Get off the drugs. It is all junk.
Us: Hi there, thanks for your interest in my ad. Again, you are very perceptive. You should think about a career in counselling, you’d be very good at it! I actually just recently got off the drugs, which I’d been taking for my cold. Your suggestions as always, are appreciated. Should you be interested in purchasing this item, please let me know.
Crazy Man: Are you in Nintendo world or something there is a world out side you window to explore.
Us: Hi there, thanks for your interest in my ad. Unfortunately, I’m not in Nintendo world, but it sounds like a very exciting place. Can you tell me more about it? Is everyone allowed to go there? Can you stay, or only visit? I have so many questions, but I understand you’re likely a busy person so I understand if you can’t answer them all. Should you be interested in purchasing this item (or providing some directions or Google map coordinates for Nintendo world) please feel free to get in touch.
Crazy Man: Junk junk and more junk u are un real.
Us: Thanks for your interest in my ad. While there are times when I wish I was un-real (such as Monday mornings when I have to get up for work) the truth of it is, I am – in fact – real.
Crazy Man: Do you go threw the tip or peoples rubbish to collect this mass of old console games you must have never left the 1990s
Us: Hi there, thanks for your interest in my ad. You’ll actually find the word you’re looking for is ‘through’. You go through the tip or peoples rubbish. “Threw” in a sentence would be – “I threw the ball to Timmy for a while, but then Timmy had to leave as his parents were taking him to Nintendo World”. That’s okay though, we all make mistakes. If you’re interested in purchasing this item, please feel free to get in touch.
4) Be clear about how you want to move your stuff
When dealing with large amounts of anything, there are two ways to move it; individually or in bulk lots. On the surface it seems like selling items individually is the more financially rewarding path. You can probably let go of individual NES cartridges at between $10 – $20 a piece for common games, but would find it hard to move 50 cartridges at 50 times that individual cost. There is a lot to be said however, for selling things in bulk lots. If you’re selling off a large collection, haggling with the thieves, con artists and re-sellers that populate our merry hobby over single games over and over again is going to get tiresome, and when that happens you might want to look towards saying “Right, this is all my Sega Saturn stuff, in one big lot. Have at it!”. The trick here is to price everything individually, add it together, then shave enough off your asking price to make it attractive to pick up a bulk lot. Be patient too, some stuff will go quickly (Super Nintendo) and some stuff may take time to find the right buyer (Commodore Amiga as an example).
More important than any of these tips or observations however, is remembering that your ability to be a part of the scene can continue unabated without even a single Sega Master System or Game Cube title to your name. The fact is, you’ve got the memories, the love, the adoration for vintage games. You’ve thrashed out round after round on Street Fighter 2 arcade cabs, you’ve gotten emotional while watching The King of Kong: Fist full of Quarters. You’re a retro gamer through and through.
You’ve just got a hell of a lot more shelf space now.