For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’re probably familiar with the “wardrobe”. For those not familiar, as a way to save space I converted a wardrobe in my spare room to shelving for games. It keeps them neat and tidy, as well as hidden from anyone who visits. I covered my games room here if anyone is interested. At the moment, my collection sits at over 1300 physical games as well as some digital ones on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, 3DS, Wii, Wii U and Switch. It is a hearty collection, with the Xbox 360, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 being the systems I have the most games for. I am slowly starting to run out of space in the “wardrobe” but hopefully we’ll be moving soon so I’ll be able to fit more stuff in (sorry Sharon). My collection is mainly bolstered by me never trading anything in, including games such as FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer. I have given games and consoles to younger relatives and while there are times that I do regret this, they got hours of fun out of it and that’s all that really matters. I have managed to replace most of the games I’ve handed down but am missing Mario’s Time Machine on the Super Nintendo and Back to the Future Part II on the Master System. I’m not in any rush to replace these but I would love to eventually. My game collecting can be split into three sections: pre-London, London and post-London. London was important as it allowed me access to a much bigger market but I will talk about each section.
Pre-London is the largest timespan. During this time, I was focused more on new games but towards the end my interest in retro skyrocketed. I would get the latest machine but often would hand off the older one. Its what happened to my Master System, Super Nintendo, Mega Drive and original PlayStation. I don’t know what happened to the Master System (I was too young) but my brother took the Super Nintendo and my niece got the Mega Drive. I would get a new PSOne shortly after I got a PlayStation 2 because I wanted to play my games on it. I could not part with my Nintendo 64 and I’m thankful to this day as to replace it would cost a pretty penny. It is the Ice-Blue version. I also had an Xbox and a GameCube during this time. I didn’t have a lot of games but I did enjoy what I had. This was during the Celtic Tiger so we had a little bit more money to spend. I would get a console for Christmas or graduation or just second hand. It wouldn’t be until I was working myself, that my collection exploded. When the Xbox 360 was released, I would purchase it with five games: Halo 3, Blue Dragon, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Forza Motorsport 2 and Viva Pinata. This was also around the time GameStop were selling off their PlayStation 2 games in an attempt to make room for the new generation. This helped me boost my PlayStation 2 section as I bought games for €1, in 3 for 2 and often got them for free with another purchase. It’s funny looking back now as I don’t think GameStop tried this tactic when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released and I know they haven’t with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series releases.
As I had a decent amount of disposable income, I would purchase a new game every so often. I would also get a job in Xtra-vision. This was mainly to pay for my college education but it allowed me to see what new games were available, get trade-ins before they went on the floor and gave me a discount (it was a measly discount but hey). I would also receive a PlayStation 3 from Sharon so I began to collect for that. My current gen collection took off as I began to enjoy the finest games the systems had to offer such as Uncharted, Lost Odyssey, Halo Reach, Saint Row, Grand Theft Auto, Tales of and Sleeping Dogs. To this day, the Xbox 360 has the largest library in my collection and I kind of gave up buying for it when the PlayStation 4 arrived. Around this time, a small Dublin store would open on Fade Street. The R.A.G.E. had a good selection of retro games to sink your teeth into and at the time they were reasonable priced. I would pick up games for my GameCube, the console I had neglected from that generation. I would also receive two retro machines as a gift. The first was a Nintendo Entertainment System. I got it as a Christmas present from Sharon (who really fuels my habit). She purchased several games to go with it including Super Mario Bros, Battletoads & Double Dragon, Castlevania and both Legend of Zelda games on the system. To show you how cheap it was, the whole lot game to just over €100. Today, many of these games are listed on eBay for nearly €100 on their own. The machine did have an issue with the pin connector but I fixed it and had a blast on Christmas day. It was a machine I’d never owned before but watching YouTube videos, I just had to have one. The second console was the Super Nintendo. Another present from Sharon, we got stuck into classics such as Super Mario Kart and Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures. I also began to buy off eBay at this time. The prices weren’t steep but the postage was (and still is). Nonetheless, we had a healthy selection of games to choose from. Sadly, in late 2013 I walked out of a job I hated and my collecting stopped. Little did I know that this decision would start me on a new and exciting path.
My background is in media, specifically broadcast media. It’s a difficult field to break into in Ireland and I had hoped that by taking on a job I hated, it would open a door for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen and so in November 2013, I packed it in and moved home. Over the Christmas and into the new year I didn’t know what to do but then a radio station offered me the chance I’d wanted. It was voluntary but it was something. I would travel up and down for three months before luck finally went my way. A television station in London offered me a role and I snapped it up in June 2014, I headed east for a new adventure. At first money was tight. I wasn’t ready for how expensive London could be but I finally found my feet. I also found some video game stores and the selection they had was staggering compared to Dublin. At first, I would travel to Retro Game Base but these would close down shortly afterwards. I then found a place in Kings Mall and then I would find my go-to store: Awesome Games. The selection available in these stores wasn’t the only difference between Dublin and London, the price of games was another major one. For Londoners these might seem expensive but coming from Ireland, they were a bargain. During this time, I would start to really boost my collection, picking up games for all sorts of machines. I would also purchase a PlayStation 4 but it wasn’t the only system I acquired while there.
The first Christmas I was there; I spotted a seller on eBay who had a Sega Master System II with 30 games for £60. This to me was amazing and so Sharon purchased it for me. My housemates and I would sit there playing Sonic, Ms. Pac-man and Jurassic Park. I would also pick up a few other games to add to it, bring my total to over 40. I would also find a Mega Drive on eBay with four games. I won the auction and paid a total of £10.50 for it. I then set to work buying classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Streets of Rage II and the Mega Games. It was exciting. Almost every payday I would buy a mixture of new and old games and still have a sizeable chunk left over. I would finally find a Saturn on a local site with a few games and on my 30th, I would get the Dreamcast. It had been a long journey but I finally had a very sizeable selection to choose from across multiple systems. London would also start to host its own gaming market. My friend would fly over and we’d go to it to see what we could find. I would pick up the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Phantasy Star and Earthworm Jim while he also picked up some classics. Honestly, he went a bit madder than I did because the price difference was huge at times. The London Gaming market was great but was always crowded and you often had to tussle to get a look in. It apparently smelled too but my sense of smell doesn’t work so I never noticed. Of course, there was a downside to this. London apartments are small and ours were no exception. As a result, we didn’t have space for anything so I sent the games home to my parents to store. As a result, I had games that I wouldn’t be able to play for years. I also needed a way of tracking what I owned so I wouldn’t buy duplicates. I downloaded VG Collection Tracker to help. This actually came about as I could never remember if I’d purchased Lylat Wars or not. After 5 long years, it was time to head home. Even up to the day I left, I was still visiting Reading and Crazy Thumbs in Tooting to pick up bargains. It was around this time that games would start to rise in price though.
We finally come to the current era in my video game collecting: post-London. In 2019, I packed up my bags and headed home. It was time to move on, buy a house, etc. I landed back to find that my collection was a lot bigger than I thought. I immediately began to play through everything (I still am. This is how my “Video Game Challenge” came about. I thought having so many to play would slow my purchases down but it didn’t really. I would go and buy some games from local stores but the prices were steep, especially for PlayStation 2 games, so I ended up sticking with newer games on sale. I also discover that the R.A.G.E.’s prices had significantly increased since I lived in Dublin but that was mostly because the market was heating up. I figured my retro collecting days would be slowly coming to an end but then I found Rewind Retro. Their selection was huge but they had reasonably priced stuff to help with my collection. I would make some purchases off them both before and during the pandemic (I still am buying from them). The pandemic would put a bit of a scupper on things. Prices rose exponentially (they were already rapidly growing) and my local game shop closed. This did present an opportunity though. A small retailer in Wexford moved online and this was how I discovered The Retro Gaming Store Plus. Now I had the choice of three retro stores and could continue my retro gaming hunt (sorry again Sharon). When the restrictions began to lift, The Retro Gaming Store Plus opened up but maintained its online store. This has allowed me to continue to purchase from Anthony (the owner) and I’ve gotten some real gems from him including Soleil and The Last of Us Part II. I even discovered a fourth gaming store in Roscommon last weekend and picked up some absolute bargains. This store, The Retro Game Corner, has also moved online. The selection across these four stores isn’t as deep as what was in London but we’ve come a long way from not really having much choice and this is in the face of a pandemic. Hopefully, when the pandemic is over, these will all blossom and we may get even more.
My collecting has slowed down, what with trying to purchase a house and all, but I still do pick up things on the odd occasion. Who knows, maybe when we’re all set up I might finally purchase a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X so I can have even more to collect for.