Collecting for Beginners

Photo: Screenshot from Resident Evil 4
Written by: Elijah Blackwell

I don’t know many collectors personally, but after the formation of CD-ROM Fossil, I’ve heard a few friends mention that they would like to start collecting.

While none of them are collecting computer games, I still felt the need to give them some advice. Whether it’d be Nintendo, Sega or something rare like the Turbografx 16, the same core principles apply. So if you are wanting to become a collector in anything video games, follow these guidelines to ensure that you are not being cheated or taken advantage of.

Just a side note, if you’d like to see a video on how we go about collecting then go to our Patreon page. If we get 200 patrons we will make a full-length video following us around at flea-markets as we hunt for PC games!

Follow the link:

For now, here are the basics.

Know Your Budget

Before you can even consider going out and digging for gold, you need to understand your monetary limits. I would also carry cash so it is easily tracked, unless you plan on spending hundreds. If you are a hundred bucks or below, carry cash so you don’t accidentally spend over.

You may think I’m treating you like a kindergartener, but seriously, you would be surprised at how much you will over spend if you don’t budget.

When I go hunting, I set myself a limit and I do not go over (or I try not to anyway).

Know What You Can Afford

I messed up before the creation of CD-ROM Fossil. I tried to collect any and everything video games. Eventually, I stuck to PC after I realized the rest of my collection was abysmal. If you have the money, sure, go ahead, collect everything. However, if you are working a small budget, pick a console or two and stick with it.

I sold some of my other collections to start funding CD-ROM Fossil and it already looks better. Instead of having a couple Sega games here, a few Atari 2600 games there and some random PSP games under my bed, I have a good start to a collection. Last time I counted, I have 184 PC games. That may not be much, but it is better than having a few dozen and calling it quits.

To be fair, I don’t just collect PC games. I do have a small DS addiction, but hey this CD-ROM Fossil and not “DS Vault” or something.

Knowing what you can afford will help you decide what to collect. For example, if you can only spend a couple hundred bucks a month, then you may not want to pursue a Phillip’s CD-i or a 3DO Interactive Multiplayer collection. Because of rarity and people cornering an already small market, prices of those beasts tend to rocket through the roof.

A Sega Master System with 2 controllers, 1 light gun, 1 joystick and 2 games will cost you about $150. A Phillips CD-i will cost you about the same with no games and maybe 1 controller.

On top of this, the games for each system vary greatly in price. You can get a Sega Master System game anywhere from 5-50 bucks on average. However, CD-i games, on average, can cost hundreds.

Sure, a couple games for the CD-i can cost like 5 bucks. But go look at the average price on EBay. It can be anywhere from 20-500 bucks!

There are a lot of other variables involved, but the point is, get an idea of how expensive the hobby is going to be. Use that knowledge as a deciding factor.

Know What You Want

See that “Wish List” tab up there? It is there for us to prioritize what to buy. For the most part, 20 bucks will go a long way in my hometown when it comes to PC games. I frequent thrift stores, pawnshops and flea-markets. Last time I went to a flea-market, I got 16 PC games for a little over 20 bucks. There were no PC games left when I finished.

In that scenario, there isn’t much of a need for a priority list. When you do end up in an area with thousands of games (yes, I had that experience) you need to know exactly what you want. The worst part is standing at a table and spending an eternity trying to decide what to buy. Then, in the end, you make the wrong purchase.

Have a plan, know what you want and never settle. Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and never have the experience of having to sift through a thousand games trying to decide what you want. Oh wait! You won’t! Because you’ll have a plan now.

Don’t Be Afraid To Google

You are standing before a vendor and he has a game that looks pretty cool. Let’s say it’s Far Cry 2 in the box, used and no manual. He is selling it for $20. It is completely okay to whip out your phone and price check him. If you didn’t and you bought it, you would get home to appraise it and then realize you paid $10 more than you should have.

Sometimes there will be no need. Like if a vendor is selling something for $5, the chances of finding that same game online for that price with free shipping is slim to none. If a couple dollars makes a difference, then go ahead, but for me I usually don’t hesitate pulling the trigger on something like that. Some exceptions exist, but they are kind of a given already. Like, would you pay $5 for a poker game? No, you wouldn’t.

Examine the Product

Open the case, check for damage  and make sure all the discs are present. A horror story of ours is when we went to a thrift store where a game was taped shut and we weren’t allowed to open it. Every game was taped. Didn’t matter if it was Xbox, Ps3 or an old Atari box, this was their anti-theft system.

I bought The Operative: No One Lives Forever, along with about 20 other games. I waited till I got home to open them all up. Guess what? A disc is missing. I went back to get my money back but of course they thought I took the disc out and brought back the case.

From now on while they are ringing me up at the register, I pop everything open.

If you are unsure how many discs should be present, google the game on EBay and read the product details. It should tell you how many discs they have. That is the quickest way.

Have Fun

Yeah, it sounds cliché but it makes a difference. The experience of digging, bartering (which, don’t be afraid to do) and finding good games is amazing. Don’t let people tell you your collection is not valuable because, in the end, it is what you want. You should do this for your own benefit, not for others. This is a very basic list and only scratching the surface. Later I will do a more advanced guide.

For now, tell me in the comments what you are collecting or hope to collect! Also, if there are any questions don’t hesitate to ask!


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