Why Collect Classic Video Games?

One of the things people always ask when I tell them that I collect classic video games is "Why?". There are many reasons why a person goes backwards in an age when all it seems that people want is what is new and improved. So I compiled a list of reasons why someone would choose this hobby. You can print this list off and hand it to your spouse, friends, family or whoever else gives you a weird look when you brag about how you finally picked up a copy of Crazy Climber.

1. NOSTALGIA - Video games are the one connecting thread for our generation. For a majority of the people who are nearing or just over thirty, video games were a recreation of choice during our childhood. Almost everyone seemed to own at least one system. There were 25 million Atari 2600s sold alone, so it wasn't a small fad. Many of us remember certain games we enjoyed and playing these bring back the fun times of our childhood. Many of my fondest memories have video games as part of them. Plus, unlike the 60's, we didn't exactly have great music.

2. EASE OF PLAY - One of the best points of early video games is their ease of play. Almost anyone could learn to play games like "Pacman," "Galaxian," "Q*Bert" and others. Most of the early games, due to the lack of technology and because the industry was still in its infancy, were simple to play. Many only needed just a joystick or a joystick and a button. This makes classic games excellent systems for young children, who aren't so critical of the graphics and sound.

3. ORIGINALITY - Another of the pluses of early games is the originality. Without FMV, 3D graphics, and stereo sound to fall back on, early games had to create unique and fun to play games. Since there wasn't enough memory to create large, multi-level games, they had to be addictive. This is an era where you could be a bartender (Tapper), a fast food worker (Burgertime), a frog (Frogger) or even a plumber who had to fight a giant ape. One gripe I hear constantly about the new generation of games is how everything is either a "Doom" clone or a "Mortal Kombat" clone. While there was cloning back then (many Pacman and Space Invader clones), it was not as prevalent as today.

4. AFFORDABILITY - With new video game systems breaking the $200.00 price barrier and video games going for anywhere from $50.00 - $100.00 new, not everyone can or wants to afford them. Plus, new systems have shorter shelf life and their resale value isn't very good. Try taking a used game to one of those video game resale shops and see how little you get for it. With classic games, you can buy a system and anywhere from 10-50 games for the price of one new game. While the graphic and sound quality isn't as good, there is still plenty of gameplay to be found.

5. LACK OF TIME - One of the main reasons I am a fan of the classic systems is that I don't have a lot of time to spend playing games. Many of the newer games take considerable time to learn (especially with all the buttons) and to play. I have friends who have spent whole evenings playing a single game. With the classic games, your average game is much shorter. In an evening, you can usually play a bunch of different games.

6. STILL A HOBBY - While this may change in the future, the classic (or retro) gaming industry is mostly full of other collectors who are willing to trade and swap stories and high scores. There isn't a legitimate price guide to ruin this hobby like many others have been. Plus, you can usually find stuff at much cheaper prices than they originally sold at. Try saying that about most other hobbies.

7. RELIABILITY - Most of the early systems were built well. I am still using a Coleco I bought back in 1983. Same with a Vectrex I bought and took with me to college in 1984. Will the owners of these new CD ROM systems be able to make the same claims? I doubt it. Don't get me wrong, there are some poorly made systems and accessories from the past (just ask any retrogamer about the 5200 joysticks), but they are the exception. A sure sign of the difference of newer system from classic ones is the original Nintendo and the terrible flickering problem it has.

8. CHALLENGE - While new system have a lot of games made for them, will any of them ever top the 1000+ games made for the Atari 2600? If you add in all the label variations, you have the making of a extremely hard, if not near impossible task, to get all of them. While I don't strive to do it myself, it is something many collectors would like to do.

9. Historical Perspective-Even if the games are simple, there is alot that can be learned from studying classic games.   First, you get to see the evolution of an industry.  You can see how far it has come from the simple pong to the extremely sophisticated systems of today.  You can see the start of trends that are still prevalent today.  From clones, to licensed games and more all got their start in the classic era and are still used today.   Plus, you get to look at a period of time that is sometimes reflected in the games.   Would Missile Command be as gripping today in a post Cold War era?  Would a game like Texas Chainsaw Massacre be as appalling today in this era of more blood and guts?

There are nine reasons why classic gaming collecting can be a fun and affordable (unless you try to do #8) hobby. So don't worry if your friends think you are crazy. Just invite them over for a few games of Joust or Robotron and see if they don't have fun.


The best place now to find classic games is ebay.  Click below to begin searching:



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Tom Zjaba 1997 - 2015      

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