Feature

Ignoring Amiibos And The Video Game Collector Itch

by Kyle Hilliard on Feb 28, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Like most kids growing up, I only got a few games a year on birthdays or Christmas. I would inhale video game magazines to try and soak up information about every video game I could, confident I would only truly get to play a few. It was my way of getting as close to playing a video game without actually touching it as I could – something I think today’s younger generation gets from watching Let’s Plays.

When I finally had an income unguarded by my parents, an embarrassing amount of it went to recovering all the video games I missed out on, and making sure I didn’t miss out on any more in the future. I loved collecting and tracking down hard to find games and would seek out mom and pop video game shops, purchase games from flea market video game vendors, and later pay probably too much on eBay for the hardest to find games.

My wife (girlfriend in those early days) was more of a collector than I with a far grander collection. She often jokes that the reason I married her was for her video game collection. I remember us visiting a flea market and tracking down a copy of Chrono Trigger sealed not behind a locked glass cabinet, but a cabinet that was literally nailed shut. When we expressed interest in buying the game, the owner pulled out a screwdriver to open his cabinet, not a key. I’ll never know if he just didn’t want to buy a lock, or just wanted to make it as difficult as possible to get to that game.

For one anniversary, I bought my wife a CD-i and copies of two of the Zelda games that released for the console. Her opinion may have shifted over the years, but at the time it was the greatest gift she ever received.

One day, however, my wife and I looked at our closet of mostly sealed video games, and finally admitted we would never find time to play most of them. We decided it was time to cut back. We opened an eBay store and started selling off all of our rare Japanese PlayStation RPGs and hard to find SNES games in bundles, recovering nothing close to what we spent on the collection.

It stung at first. I remember organizing the PlayStation games, and popping in Wild Arms to watch the game’s opening cutscene while we worked with the idea that it wouldn’t be in our house much longer, and my wife welled up with tears with the knowledge that we were selling off the collection. We didn’t immediately need the extra room (children were being discussed, but not in the works), it was just time. It was cathartic.

We still have a large DVD shelf nearly full of video games, but our collection is about a quarter of what it was in the past. We now try to only buy games we intend to truly play, and with rare exceptions, pricey collector’s editions are a thing of the past.

I can’t deny however, that the itch to collect still exists.

I am not collecting amiibos, I keep telling myself and the clerks ringing me up at the store, but I love trying to track them down. On the day they launched, I made a trip to a nearby Walmart expressly to see what figures were available after the initial rush. That’s when I tweeted the tweet below, and will forever regret not buying everything they had (even though, I swear, I am not collecting them).

When Andrew Reiner tweeted he was on the hunt for a Mega Man amiibo and I learned there was one possibly nearby, I immediately made a trip to go track it down – and I did. I never had any intention of keeping Mega Man. I am trading him to Reiner for a Sheik amiibo. I just wanted to see if I could find him.

Again, I am not collecting amiibos. But I do want all the Zelda ones.

I have arguably and with some difficulty, overcome the itch of wanting to own an impressive collection of video games, but I haven’t overcome the desire to happen upon rare or hard to find items in a store. It’s a strange subset culture that certainly isn’t exclusive to video games – the art of collecting – and it’s one I don’t know if I will ever be able to totally give up. But I am going to try.