Collecting Dust

If I continue buying consoles and systems on a collection-only basis, this would probably be the best idea for my next birthday!

When it came to buying birthday presents recently, I found it extremely difficult to come with ideas that weren’t the proverbial chocolates and flowers.  I like to give people presents that represent them well, and which they wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves.  In the simplest terms, practical is out the window as frivolity leaps in to take over. As a gamer with a passion for retro and style, that makes it somewhat easier to deal with the pressure of gifting something different and something that will be appreciated… but when does frivolity become wasting money?  What actually constitutes as value for money – does the item have to be used in order to justify the expenditure or is the ownership justification enough?

When I look at my own gaming collection, I have to consider whether hanging on to all of the consoles or computers is actually worth the hassle as they rarely, if ever, see the light of day.

This isn't actually MY Vectrex collection, but it shows how much is out there if you wanted to take the collection seriously

To the right of my main work PC is my beloved Vectrex and yet I only ever seem to play the built in Minesweeper even though I have a drawer full of cartridges and overlays, and even then it’s maybe once a month while I wait on an inordinately large file uploading or a super high quality print that drains every ounce of available CPU power.  As far as my own collection is concerned, the Vectrex is the only item that is anywhere that I can actually see it or touch it, with everything else either being locked away in a cupboard or “that” drawer under the bed.

The number of unused items is quite incredible when you consider how much they would have cost at the time. While it may not seem like a lot to some gamers, a quick tally of the other games machines and retro computers in the house would have us look like The Science Museum compared to most households…

  • Amiga 1200
  • Commodore +4
  • Donkey Kong Jr Game & Watch
  • DS Lite
  • DS Lite Final Fantasy III Edition
  • DS Lite Final Fantasy XII Edition
  • DS Lite Pokémon Edition
  • Epoch Dracula (thanks Jace!)
  • Gameboy (original)
  • Gameboy Advance Gold Zelda Edition
  • Gameboy Colour Gold/Silver Pokémon Centre Edition
  • Gameboy Micro
  • Gamecube (x 2)
  • Master System 2
  • Mini Munchman
  • NES
  • Nintendo 64
  • Oric 1
  • Oric Atmos
  • Playstation 2
  • Playstation 3
  • PSP (x 2)
  • SNES
  • Spectrum 128+
  • Standard DS
  • Vectrex
  • Wii
  • Xbox 360
  • XBox 360 Elite (x 3)
  • Zelda Game & Watch

As great as it is to have taken little snapshots of gaming history and saved them from being recycled into mousemats or pencils, I do sometimes question the point of it all.  I scoured eBay looking for a mint condition Commodore +4 so I could relive those awesome years playing Icicle Works, Prospector Pete, Kickstart and Treasure Island and when it arrived I sat staring at it remembering how excited I was that first day I got it home and hurriedly ripped the coaxial cable out of the back of my portable TV so I could immediately start playing.  This time however, I was an adult… I calmly went to the back of the 32″ Hitachi CRT (the last CRT I ever owned, so sad) and plugged it in… forgot that you had to actually tune the channels with old computers… tuned it in and boot it up!  I played Treasure Island first, then Exorcist (Pac-Man where you could fire at the ghosts) and ultimately Icicle Works… my favourite.  I admit to being a happy man that night, but that was four years ago and my Commodore +4 has remained in its box ever since.

My first "real" computer, the Oric 1. Recently called the "poor man's Spectrum" but I will defend this machine forever - it was fantastic!

One of my earliest memories of REALLY enjoying tabletop games was when I had all of them out for my friends to play back when I was a kid.  Space Invaders, Monster Chase, Pacman 2, Puck Monster and Astro Wars were laid out and my friend Simon brought Dracula while Richard brought along Caveman.  We had a great night playing all the different games and, as simple as they were, the addictive quality managed to override what would now be seen as mundane gameplay.  Dracula stuck with me though – it had been my favourite book since I was young enough to read and I’d even managed to convince my primary school teacher to let us do Dracula as the school play one year, so to have a tabletop game of Dracula was incredible for me.  Only a few days ago, Jace sent me Dracula from his own personal collection and made my day.  I’ve yet to play it, but that’s been down to the holidays finishing and having to return to work… it will be played, oh yes… it will be played.

The question still remains though, as with my extensive DVD collection, is there any point to ownership if it doesn’t walk hand in hand with usage?  Is the point of a collection merely ownership and pride or should it actually be put to good use in order to justify the very existence of the collection?  It’s a question which I may never be able to answer, and an answer that I may not actually want to hear.

During my hunt for images, I found this absolute gem that I have to share with you…

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Kat says:

    I think having a collection is daft and you should give them away. I’ll take a DS Lite please cos we miss ours sometimes :( and a PS3 and an extra 360 cos you can never have too many of them.


    Seriously though you bring up some interesting points and I think I’ll have a biased view because I’ve never really been a collector, of anything. I try and buy things I’ll use and when I don’t then I sell them (partly for space, mainly for bill paying reasons). There is that thing of clinging onto something because “what if” you sell it then two months later want to use the item. I guess it comes down to the value you put on your collection. If someone took a bunch of your consoles etc without telling you then would you notice? In which case why hang on to them? But equally if the money and space aren’t desperately needed or the value placed on them is high then why *not* hold on to them?

    I do admit that I probably don’t fully understand the Collectors Psyche so coming at things from a practical viewpoint!

  2. Adam says:

    I’ve been helping a friend restructure his basement recently, he has a very similiar collection just collecting dust but as much as we were both trying to make space for the cinema room (and I was under strict orders from his other half to ensure the junk is black bagged), neither of us had it in us to send them on their way.

    I do love what a lot of the mod community do with old machines, retrofitting PC’s into NES’s and the like. It’s all a very important part of our heritage and deserves to be enshrined :D

    Great read.

  3. Pete says:

    I think Kat has hit the nail on the head there… it’s the value YOU place on the items! OK so you don’t have them out of their resting places often but you KNOW they are there and that you COULD if you wanted! If you got shot of them all what would you have? A bunch of memories with no tangible reference! Memory fades with time but when you have a collection of things you loved from over the years you can touch them and feel them and keep those memories alive much longer and easier than without!! ;)

  4. Adam says:


    I imported a DS from Japan I was that keen to get my paws on one. I sold it nearly a year later but then six months down the line I replaced it. Then having gotten quite fed up with it I traded it in once more for a PSP, which I also got fed up of and traded that for a DS Lite.

    Worse than that, I chopped it in once more for a 2nd PSP which I retrofitted the Firmware to allow PS1 games to be played on it (before the PS3 Marketplace). I sold that on for £50 more than I paid for it and so ended my run with DS’s.

    I really really really want another one now just to play my Japanese Mario 64 and my American copies of Pokemon Diamond, Animal Crossing and Final Fantasy.

    I just don’t quite have it in me anymore to face knowing that 6 months on I’ll be hocking it again so I sympathise completely with the non-collectorness

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    As someone who collects I know that it is tough. Not only am I guuilty for probably two thirds of that list cluttering up our storage space, but my love of collector’s edition box sets is also a burden. Ultimately though it is how much YOU love something.

    With my box sets for example…I have no idea what the rarest or most expensive is…maybe the limited and numbered FF3 DS or the Black Assassin’s creed 2 set….but I can’t help lovin’ and touchin’ that cheap twenty something quid Anno 1404 treasure chest with the Almond seeds and little compass in a wooden box. It may be cheap and still available but the sheer effort which has gone into actually thinking about the asthetics and content is invaluable to me. (I feel a blog coming on).

  6. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Heh heh, unfortunately all the DS Lites and the PS3 are Lorna’s, but I’m sure you could spike her drink and fill a holdall with as much as possible… we have had B0SS threaten to sneak Fred out in his bag so you never know ;)

    The thing is… I have loads of DVDs and when we moved from our last house to here, there was a pile of more than 120 that we decided weren’t going with us. They ended up in a charity boot sale, and when they were being taken away I wasn’t caring about the fact that the collection had been disrupted… I was concerned about how much money was spent on them and that it was a shame to get rid of them. Even if they were being sold on eBay, we’d have been lucky to get £3 or £5 each for them and yet they were, on average, £20 each at the time. That’s one reason I hate parting with collections.

    Several years ago, thanks to being screwed over by a prick of a business partner, I had to sell my movie props to pay a tax bill. I had one of the screen-used Golden Tickets from the Tim Burton Charlie And The Chocolate Factory movie, along with a full set of bars, a presentation box, a bag and… actually, now I can’t even remember what else I had. To see the collection being split up into separate items for eBay auctions and then being sent off to strangers all around the world was heartbreaking. I don’t deal with “Collection Disruption” very well :)

    Would I notice if someone took a bunch of consoles without telling me? Absolutely not. I probably wouldn’t realise until we were moving house and they needed to be boxed away again. Hence the article… my logical mind tells me that collections are a waste of time unless they’re being put to use. On the other hand, I don’t see many curators walking around with Egyptian death masks, swinging gold encrusted staffs around their head pretending to be pharaohs… and therein lies the problem!

    I know that a collection is just that, a collection, but it still feels dirty sometimes. :D

  7. Pete says:

    you don’t see the curators doing it but I bet they do when there’s nobody around!! :D

  8. [...] Collecting Dust « Gaming Lives Read [...]

  9. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Yeah, Lorna’s touched on an important point there… sometimes “worth” is different from “value”. I spent $380 Australian Dollars to get this fancy schmancy Tomb Raider Underworld set ( and when it turned up it was utter shit. Seriously. The outer packaging was thinner than the box you’d get tissues in, which really doesn’t work when you consider the size of the box, and the contents… wow… I can’t really describe how shit they were, including the “Lara Croft Figurine” was actually a tiny, thin, cheap plastic doll in a cellophane wrap the likes of which you’d find in some obscure cash and carry place… probably by the docks.

    In contrast, some of the cheaper sets have been SO much better… except Bayonetta, which is a pile of crap. SO yeah, collectibility really comes down to what you hold within the item itself rather than monetary value. In the case of the Tomb Raider set… I’d rather hang on to a snotty hankie.

  10. Adam says:

    Working in a game shop years ago, I saw alot of stuff come in that was “Limited Edition” or “Collectors Edition” that really was such shoddy quality as you found with the Tomb Raider set.

    My all time faveorite to date was for the Xbox: Steel Battallion Controller. Absoultely stunning piece of kit, damned expensive and mighty rare, but so firggin huge and complex it was hard not to be impressed by it.

    I’d like to see a return to that level of marketing in the industry and some ridiculous, limited, stuff rather than mass produced trash.

  11. Greg Greg says:

    Great read Mark. I have to admit that I am just as guilty of this – I hoard all of my consoles these days and refuse to get rid unless money demands it (which recently it almost did) For me, the main part of my retro fascination is that growing up my parents could never afford to get me consoles etc (I had a speccy, an original gameboy and a GX4000, none of which sadly do I still own) so its not just a nostalgia rush for me but also the ability to own stuff I couldn’t as a kid – the snes was a particularly satisfying purchase. Coupled with this afew years back I did have to get rid of loads of consoles (including the aforementioned and much beloved original GB) and I never quite got over the loss, so these days I hold onto stuff for grim death :D

  12. Rook says:

    Whenever I buy a new game, most of the staff always remind me to trade in my games when I’ve finished with them. They seem surprised when I tell them I don’t trade games as they’re part of a collection. This has happened many times and I always wait for the usual response of if I’ve beaten the game and it’s not being played again then I may as well trade it it and get money off another purchase (real reason: they can make more money off my pre-owned stuff). I have developed the standard reply that I don’t trade in my dvds once I’ve watched the film, so why would I with my games.

    It’s a collection. Whether it’s dvds, cds, games for a console or different consoles themselves, they’re your collection. Whether they are used or not, you bought them because you wanted them.

    My collections only last until I move onto the next stage. I have barely any videos (that’s V I D E O S kids – it’s what we had before everything came with a built-in dvd player) at home and consoles and games usually get given or sold cheap to friends when I have moved onto the next generation.

    If I set up my Commodore 64, can I have Shatner show me how to use it again?

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