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March 2017 Retro Gaming Article

March 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Why are classic video games treated so poorly when comics and cards are white-gloved?

comic books
When you compare a bagged & boarded comic book to a rotting box crammed full of video games, it makes you wonder how can people be so carless about the treatment of games?
When you see how a comic book collector treats his collection, it's very telling of his commitment and understanding of the print medium. He will carefully remove a book from it's plastic sleeve, wearing thin gloves to prevent transfer of oils from his hands, and gently turn the pages. His care also speaks to the value he places on these items.

This care is remarkably different from the way a 7-year-old tears through a Batman comic his Mom bought for him at the corner store. As the child ages, he'll begin to place more value on the things he cares for most. It may be taught or self-realized. Either way, you have to wonder about the way adults treat video games - whether it's daily use or long term care.

I grew up near some of the best museums in the US. While each school year there were field trips to these places, my parents took me frequently. As a little kid, I was excited to see so many fascinating things. As I grew up, I became excited about the astounding number of one-of-a-kind items I'd seen. Being able to touch a moon rock at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum was the highlight of every visit!

Learning The Value Of "Finite"

I didn't care for art museums. Space was cool, but paintings didn't excite me much. However, I was keenly aware that one single person had painted this one painting and I was standing in front of it. THAT was cool! I knew this was special when I likened it to the infinite copies of comics at the local store. It became obvious to me that duplication was a large part of our daily lives. As products are purchased, more of the same are put back on retail shelves.

What if that painting - although I found it boring - was sold in a store? A replacement would not appear. It was one of a kind. This was reinforced in the museum gift shop where you could buy posters and prints of some of the paintings. This was my first realization of the "finite" concept.

One painting = one sale. The prints held little value versus the original, but I was understanding how the comics I bought as a kid were more plentiful than the original artwork, but still finite in quantity. I began saving all of my comics. I would later be enraged to discover most of my collectibles were discarded when I was away at school. But the lesson had been learned.

My First Games

When I bought my first Atari 2600, I kept all the boxes. I've always kept the boxes from my new video game purchases. I also was careful about how I stored my games. Like any kid, I had a stack of games I was currently playing, but the others were carefully stored in my room.

To this day, I keep my childhood 2600 games separate from those I've acquired over the years. The one's I saved up for and carefully chose at the store are special to me as they are unique to my first gaming experiences with my first console.

ET Atari 2600 cartridge dumped in a landfill

"Rare" and "Common" Status Changes With Time

As I expanded my 2600 collection, I came across many Combat carts - and kept them all. As I branched out into NES, the SMB/Duck Hunt carts were everywhere - again I have quite a few. People described them as common and easy to find. This translates into: undesirable. But just wait a while. I rarely see either of these carts in my travels these days. Are they rare? No, but certainly less plentiful than before.

Things come and go. people are fickle and they like change. Things once deemed useless can suddenly become highly sought after, to the chagrin of those who never discarded those "useless" things. Video games fall into this cycle, but like anything, they are finite. While companies like Atari, Coleco, and Nintendo still exist (in varied forms) none are making the cartridge games we loved in the 80s.

In 2017 There Are No Plentiful Video Games Or Consoles!

Those who don't know any better may say that some of those old games and consoles are still plentiful. what does that mean exactly? How plentiful is an Atari console made 35 years ago or an NES from the mid-80's? The answer is: not very!

Consoles more recent than that are in short supply! Some folks don't realize that game consoles and video games are disposed of by three large groups: Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers.

Manufacturers dispose of over produced items. Retailers dispose of unsold inventory. Consumers clean out attics and basements, disposing of all sorts of treasures - including video game consoles and games. A game console that makes it to a yard sale is lucky. There are far too many other fates that will remove it from existence.

The growing size of the video game industry demonstrates it's growing role in many more people's lives than in the Atari heyday. With an influx of gamers and the introduction of video game museums around the world, one would hope the two will correlate into a better understanding of gaming's past and the importance of preserving that past.

As a gamer, you don't have to open a museum or store games in controlled environments, but let's start out with not tossing them in the trash. Let's stop making lamps out of NES consoles with box-art shades. Raspberry Pi computers sure are small, but lets stop gutting NES game carts for SBC housing. Don't recycle any game related item into something else. Even a broken console has some functional parts! this all goes back to these items being finite and dwindling.

Attics continue to be emptied. Basements get cleaned out. Many folks prefer the ease of a dumpster over a yard sale. Don't discard any gaming items. There are plenty of gamers and groups who would love to take these things rather than see them lost forever in the trash.

Game Preservation Begins With Respect

The first step toward preserving video games and taking proper care of them is instilling respect for the medium. Almost every used game at GameStop is scratched to some degree. Some are so bad, I've returned them upon discovering they won't play. Respect the games. If a disc isn't in the console, it should be in it's case. Don't leave games overnight in the console - the heat build-up is bad for their longevity. You paid a lot of money for each game - take care of them!

Simple small steps can lead to much better treatment of game discs and carts. This leaves them in better condition if you want to trade them in or sell them.

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