Welcome to Game Collecting 101. In this series we will be looking at every facet of game collecting. From how to start your collection, to keeping your games in peak condition, this guide give you the tools of the trade.
Today we are going to build upon what was previously discussed in our first article (if you haven’t read it, you can check is out here), by taking a look at the invaluable tools at your disposal as a game collector.
By this point your collection should be coming along nicely and you will find yourself looking for a good way to catalog your collection. Here are a few free programs and websites available to you that will do nicely:
Backloggery is kind of a dual functioning website. Originally developed as a way to catalog the level of completion you have attained in each game you own, the feature have expanded to allow comprehensive cataloging, game rating, and even tons of social networking capabilities. Not to mention going with a readily available online database makes it easy to check in the wild when double checking your collection while game shopping (you don’t want to know how many times I have accidentally purchased a duplicate copy of a game). This is my personal choice for a catalog, but it doesn’t come without its’ complaints.
First off the site relies on a sort of honor system when inputting your games. In lieu of an extensive pre-existing database, inputting your games is all done manually. This negates a standard in both identifying and properly documenting your collection, which can trip you up and cause a lot of headaches if you skimp on the details.
Secondly the lack of true mobile version or app can make loading this site a bit of a pain(the same could be said about any online database). This fact can be paramount when you are in the heat of the moment and need to jump on a game asap. It would be nice to see this problem remedied soon, especially with how many users Backloggery has.
It would be an injustice to not mention a possibility nearly all of you (Windows users at least) already have at your disposal. The powerful database program that comes with every copy of Microsoft Office can be an amazing tool when cataloging your games. With search functionality, macro capabilities, and versatility, it is a strong contender. The only reason I would shy away from using this option is the lack of social capabilities, and the obviously less user friendly interface. If you are not really interested in showing off your collection, and don’t mind doing a bit of work, then this is probably your best choice. If you are a cheapskate or just don’t run a Microsoft OS, might I suggest Open Office as a nice alternative.
I know I said that you should never be afraid to pass up a game if it isn’t in the condition you set out for, but lets be real for a second…It’s gonna happen. So now you have this loose (game without box) copy of Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing for the Master System, and you would like to restore it to its’ former glory (for some reason…just bare with me!). Here are some great sites that will help you along that way.
A long standing pillar in the game community, The Cover Project is a community driven attempt to upload high quality boxart images for archive, and reproduction purposes. Their extensive (and growing) collection should be more than helpful in your quest to restore your beloved game. This can be exceptionally nice if you have loose handheld games you would like to display as purchasing a DS case and converting it is a fairly easy task.
While there are tons of these kind of sites available I am specifically recommending GameReproductions, as I have used them before, and they provide great customer service. While this site’s bread and butter is the process of creating accurate reproductions of unreleased, untranslated, and ROM hacks, they also offer a great price on incredibly professional labels for your classic cartridge games. So when you turn that copy of Buster Douglass around and see that little Stevie dropped his John Hancock on there you can breath a sigh of relief. Not to mention have a good place to snag a well done English translation of Mother or Sweet Home for NES is always a great resource.
This is a topic I plan to go into in much greater detail in a later article, but feel free to play around with any of these more useful sites to price check from.
Ebay, Half, Amazon, Craigslist
I am going to lump all of these together as they all mostly accomplish the same thing. These site give private owners and small business the ability to sell or auction their games, and will more than likely represent the strongest market for used games available. In regards pricing, be very careful to use a price off here as the end all be all. The market fluctuates greatly here and you are dealing with titles of an incredible range of quality. If you are dead set on using any of these to help argue your game’s value, may I suggest toggling your search to include completed auctions. Either way, compared to your other options, this is a breeding ground for $80 copies for “super rare” copies of Final Fantasy VII and $30 copies of old Mario games.
Long considered a mainstay in the game collecting communities, VGPriceCharts is an aggregator for all of the aforementioned sales sites (sans craigslist), and can be a great indicator of price. You can track games sales trends over several years, and even compare current auctions on all logged sites. Again this shouldn’t be considered the end all be all, but this is an amazing tool to get an educated guess on what condition the market is in. I have this site bookmarked and favorited on anything capable of displaying a web browser.
This site allows you to do searches on Craigslist in a much broader search area than a single city. While I intend to elaborate more on this site in a later game collecting article, I figured it was handy enough to at least mention here.
(Disclaimer: This list isn’t meant to be definitive. The sites mentioned are merely the ones that I frequent, and have stood out to me as valuable tools in game collecting. If you have any you would like me to check out or add, mention them in the comments below)
Perhaps the most relevant of the game collecting sites, Racketboy have proven time and time again to be an amazing resource for classic gaming and game collecting. They offer great introductions to many game collecting topics and feature a mostly friendly community of forum goers, who are eager to share their knowledge. No complaints here for this one.
Not as much a community as it is an organic gaming encyclopedia. This site is teaming with great articles about everything gaming. Be prepared to learn things about games you’ve never heard of, made by companies you’ve never heard of, for consoles you’ve never heard of .
I am mentioning this site solely for the few of you daring enough to adventure into collecting arcade machines and memorabilia (another topic to be discussed later). This is a great forum full of very knowledgeable gamers who are sure to help with anything. Be it a stray capacitor for a vintage Sega monitor, or the dip settings for a cocktail cab, they have never let me down. Just don’t be afraid to tell them to translate their advice into Layman’s terms every once in a while.
These sites and programs should give you an excellent start on your adventure into game collecting. Keep in mind that these sort of things take time, and try your best not to get frustrated as you research. Patience, and consistency will go along way in your game logging and before long you will be the one giving advice to some young aspiring game collectors. Feel free to comment below if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions!
Shawn Murphy is currently the Director of Media for Substance TV. Gaming has always represented more than just a hobby, and his devotion to gaming as a culture is just what you can expect from his unique and personal content. He also owns all 97 NES games, so you just better back off!