In the final installment of Save State, Dan Taipua gets right to brass tacks. Dan lays out the five key elements any video game collector will need to create and maintain a video game collection. Heed his words well.
5. Into The Wild
If you want to collect old video games, the easiest way to start is to already have some. As a beginner’s guide, check your lounge, bedroom and garage. If that doesn’t pan out, or you want to expand, you’ll have to go into the world and find some.
TradeMe is a fine place to start but it has a few drawbacks: 1) It’s so easy to use that it’s crowded with other buyers, so the odds of a cheap find are pretty slim 2) The odds of finding a really rare piece are diminished by time, as they’ve been filtered through the site over time. The best bet is also the most fun – digging in secondhand stores, pawn shops and garage sales. Charity shops are good for finding boxed consoles that have lived at a grandparent’s house past their use, while pawn shops like Cash Converters in particular excel in portable games.
The best, cheapest way to find old games? Ask around. Most people have lives that don’t require electronic toys from 20+ years ago and are quite happy, or happily indifferent enough, to give them away. In the past year I’ve been given a PS1 and PSP from friends – proud taonga that now live in their same boxes but inside my garage.
If you can’t find the real thing, you can definitely find the not the real thing instead. Counterfeit or ‘clone’ consoles and games are cheap and widely attainable on AliExpress, ebay and even Amazon – and the savings will soak up the heavy shipping costs. Some people look down their noses at crime, fraud, piracy and illegal trade, but these are mores for people that haven’t spent a year trying to find a region-free loader for their GameCube.
If you’re a serious collector, bootlegs are a decent stop-gap in your collection – they’ll let you play the games you already have while you look for an original console, and can sometimes provide spare parts like controllers or AV ports. Bootleg consoles are always a better option than emulators which, while free to download and crime with, can suffer from performance issues.
Remember blowing on your Nintendo cartridges because they wouldn’t work and they’d make the screen flash on and off? What you were really doing is coating the circuits of the game in a fine coat of mouth-temperature spittle, which gave the cartridge temporary conductivity but eventually gave it a layer of rust and human grime. Good one, child you.
A basic cleaning kit will consist of:
- Air Duster, available at computer stores or somewhere like Mighty Ape
- Isopropyl Alcohol, found at any chemist or online
- Cotton Buds, found in your bathroom
- Blow the carts with the can of happy gas, then rub the circuit boards with alcohol, and pay for the crimes of your youth.
You can use these three things to clean basically any part of any video game console or other piece of electronics in your home or workplace – it is literally infallibly safe to dust with air and pour alcohol on electrical equipment, so get right in there and swab.
2. Maintenance + Repair
Every hobby has a turning point, where it progresses from a pastime to something that requires research and skill. What a hardout. The hobbyist’s aim is to DIY as much as they can without resorting to professional gear, opinion, or safety regulations.
The number one thing you’ll need to cultivate as a DIY electrician is a lack of fear. A broken console isn’t getting any more broken, so just get in there and have a go. The only equipment you’ll really need is a pack of funky-ass screwdrivers, after that there’s hundreds of different YouTube tutorials you can follow for almost every game system on the planet.
I recently repaired and softmodded a PSP and feel like a million bucks, or at least $259 RRP.
Video games come from Japan.
Nintendo is Japanese, Sega is Japanese, Sony is Japanese; if you have an interest in video games predating the Microsoft XBOX, you have an interest in Japanese video games.
Japan is Mecca for gaming collectors, offering about 2x the amount of games for every system and about 200x the amount of crazy in its diversity. Instead of pokey op-shops and garage sales, modern day Japan offers multi-story shopping centres dedicated to video gaming, like the Super Potato franchises in Tokyo and Osaka.
If you visit a metropolitan centre, you can get anything you’re looking for – which is why I’ve traveled there previously, and plan to return in April this year.
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