Collecting almost seems like a geek requirement these days. I’m not sure what started this “Collect All The Things” mindset, but it does seem inherently geeky. Lots of people collect things, sure. Bottlecaps, bottles, clowns, novelty items mostly. But it’s the geeks who tend to be in collecting things that they personally feel has some actual value.
Book readers collect books, and want a massive library. Gamers collect games and consoles. Comic book readers have shelves of the things.
Or at least, most of them do. Outside of the pirates.
I used to have quite a game, book, and CD collection myself. I lost all of it. But that’s not what turned me against owning so much of it.
This post mostly focusses on collecting video games. Books at least are a decent pathway to a good conversation. They’re usually a much more intimate experience, and as such, coming across a book you like in someone else’s home is often a good way to feel this extra bit of bonding. CDs, again conversation starter, plus you can put the music on in the background.
Unless you collect vinyl records or something. Vinyl is only useful if you really like the extra hassle of dealing with dust, flipping the record over the other side, and have too much spare space to store things in.
And before I continue, I do want to say that if you’re one of those people who is picking up those old games and systems because you grew up with them and want to experience them in their original format, then good on you! Keep that up. That’s a good reason.
No, my problem is with collecting for the sake of collecting. Gigantic game libraries just simply do not impress me. In fact, they often end up annoying me. Here you have all these games you’re not playing. You didn’t grow up with them so there’s no nostalgia factor, you don’t intend to ever play them, you just want them to be there. These games could have gone to people who actually care about games and love to play them, but instead they’re just here gathering dust because you want to show off.
It aggravates me when I’m talking to someone who literally has thousands of games, considers himself an expert on gaming, and yet only gets his information from second-hand account on the internet. The games are right there in your house. Play them yourself. Get your own opinion. Be passionate about what you’re spending all this time, effort, and money on collecting.
If you really give a damn about gaming, you play games.
The worst thing is that people with massive collections, because they have a bigger collection than others, like to spout nonsense about how sickening rereleases of old games are because they pander to people who don’t give a damn about gaming. Despite the fact that rereleases give people a chance to play some old titles they might have missed out on before, playing into their love of gaming by adding extra availability.
You don’t become an expert on something simply by owning as much of possessions related to it. You can buy a bookstore, but without reading the books, you’d never say you’re an expert on literature. If you want to be an expert on gaming, you need to play the games, plain and simple. Saying you know what you’re on about when you haven’t gone out of your way to play some of the more experimental titles to get a deeper understanding of gameplay mechanics, what gaming can achieve as a medium, and to simply experience something new and fun, you can’t call yourself an expert. And yes, that does mean that often enough, you’ll get stuck playing something you don’t really enjoy either. That’s what seperates people from who really care about and understand gaming from the people who enjoy it casually. Not the size of your gaming library.
And please, don’t go buying old Atari systems without playing them if you didn’t really connect with gaming after the 16-Bit era. That’s just not your area. If you’re actually going to spend time on it, and like the games, then go for it. But if it’s just going to sit around and collect dust, leave those consoles for people who actually do care about the older eras of gaming. You wouldn’t give an original first edition print of To Kill A Mockingbird to someone who only reads science fiction released in the last five years. A person like that wouldn’t understand what he/she’s got in his/her hands. So don’t go buying up what other people can enjoy.
The last thing you should do is discuss unique gaming mechanics when you haven’t played the actual unique games yourself. When you do this to someone who actually is passionate about gaming, and actually has played all the games, you’re not going to come across as impressive.
A short list of games you should have experienced first-hand to be able to discuss them?
Rez, Gitaroo-Man, Ossu Tatakae Ouendan, Kirby’s Superstar, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, Gunstar Heroes, Turtles in Time, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, The World Ends With You, Perfect Dark, A Link to the Past, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness, Dark Cloud 2, Disgaea, Fire Emblem, Cave Story, Metal Gear Solid 3, Rock Band, Assassin’s Creed 2, Metroid Prime, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dwarf Fortress, Dragon Quest V, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Morrowind, Baldur’s Gate, Comix Zone, Viewtiful Joe, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, Kid Icarus.
And that’s just for starters. Half of these are major games that had a massive impact on gaming, if you haven’t played them, you’ve got a lot of gaming to do. And even if you’ve played all these, you’re still nowhere near a level where you can say you understand gaming, or are really into it. I don’t care how big your collection is.
A massive gaming library just shows off how much money you have, not how much you care or know about the subject.