Monday, March 21, 2011

World 3-1: Tools of the Trade Part 1

I know it has been a little while since my last post, but I had some unforseen issues take up all my free time. I am back and lets get right to it.

Video Game collecting is a great hobby, but it can also be difficult, expensive, and frustrating. In an attempt to minimize these feelings for others I am going to list some of the basic tools I use to make this hobby easier. The tools I use are broken into 2 sections, Obtaining and Keeping. These two sections will detail how I go about finding games, and then how I organize and store the games once I have them. I know it sounds basic enough but a good system will help you save money and keep you organized. I know a few collectors who have no idea exactly what they have, of course they have a general idea, but if a fire occurred and they needed to claim everything, they would be in a tight spot. Worst case scenario situations are not the only reason I suggest listing and being organized, simple lists will keep you informed about your collection and help you if you suddenly need to sell it all off, but more about lists later.

Section 1: Obtain
Most of you already know where to obtain games (Obviously), but I am going to share a few that hopefully you don't know about or just forgot about. Lets run down a basic list of where you can search for games: Forums, Online Retailers/ Auctions sites, Local Game Stores, Garage Sales, Flea Markets /Swap Meet, Goodwill/Salvation Army. I think those are the basic categories, now lets talk about each one a little bit more.

A great place to get with collectors and find some sweet deals are forums. Forums can be found for whatever system you desire (I will list a few links), just be sure to follow the forum rules for posting. Forums usually have prices below eBay but above flea markets, as you are dealing with collectors they tend to know the value of their goods. You can trade in forums which helps you build connections and also eliminate extras. Sometimes in forums you will find people who have picked up games for systems they do not collect and simply want to pass a great deal on to other collectors. Another benefit of forums is the raw knowledge of the people there, and also the ability to post exactly what you are looking for and have the games come to you.
Some forums to make use of: All Nintendo Products (Nintendo Age), Sega Master System (Sega8bit) Sega 16 bit era and Sega in general (Sega Age) (Sega-16) Video Games for all systems
(DigitPress) (RacketBoy), All Atari systems (AtariAge) NeoGeo Stuff (NeoGeo), Playstation (PlaystationCollecting), and last but never least Turbo Graphx / PCE (PcengineFX). I think that covers forums for most of your needs, but a google search for your system of choice will land you with tons of other options. Most of these forums also have main sites as well, so be sure to visit those for tons of great info.

Online Retailers and Auction Sites
There are many sites dedicated to the buying and selling of video games. Finding sites that specialize in our hobby is not very difficult, a simple Internet search and voilĂ  you have options. Given that their are so many I am just going to list one or two and a tick I use. You can find many recommendations in forums as where to shop if you need more info. So one site I really like is Estarland, they have many options for a good variety of systems, and the other one I like is Amazon. Amazon is often overlooked, many times have I found what I was looking for on Amazon for far less then what it was going for on eBay. Amazon does have its problems, like a lack of real pictures, and sometimes they suffer from really inflated prices or sellers who have moved stock and not changed their Amazon store. Okay now for the tricks, when doing a google search, type the name of the game you want and buy as the search topic. Doing this will cause you to see results with more stores and it will also prompt Google to show you its shopping results. If you didn't know when doing a Google search, you can narrow it to shopping results buy clicking the shopping tab at the top of the page, the same way you would filter image results or video results. The other trick I use pertains to Amazon. When you look search out a game on Amazon you often buy from people who have their own store on Amazon. To see an example go here. These stores all have their own names, Gonzo media, That's What She Said Games, and so on. Many of these stores have brick and mortar locations or other Internet locations. Google the store name to hopefully find their main site. When you find the main site search for whatever you were looking for, and you may find you save 10% because you are cutting out the middle man buy not forcing them to sell through Amazon.

Auction Sites.
eBay, is the big guy in town, and provides ease of search and the ability to determine market value for your games. Some people hate eBay and they have their reasons, but it is still a great tool to find whatever you are looking for at a competitive price. The thing I like best though is saved searches. Saved searches allow you to be notified daily when new items are posted, this is an excellent tool when you are searching for rare games that don't come up very often. You are allowed to store 99 saved searches and if you are serious about finding games i suggest you start using them up. Go here for a tutorial on how to create a saved search. I am not going to go on an on about eBay, most of you I am sure are familiar. Okay so I know I said I was done with eBay, but let me touch briefly on Half.Com. This is one of my favorite places to find online steals. The structures is the same as eBay as far as searches, and saved sellers, but all of it is buy it now, and the results are displayed by product with individual sellers listed on the product rather then independently. Half.Com is where I go when something gets hot on eBay nd the prices starts to climb, Half.Com doesn't fluctuate as fast so you can find some sweet deals on rare and hot titles. So now that the gorilla is out of the room lets talk about the other auction sites. First off Game Gavel, this site is dedicated to video game auctions, and that's pretty much it. It is a great resource and because the fees are so low, unlike eBay, sellers pass those savings on to you. Another reason to consider game gavel, is the fact that it has less traffic than eBay, which means you aren't fighting as many people in open auction; however, the sword cuts both ways on this issue, because their are less people that means fewer results. Game Gavel is a great idea, but I do find it needs more support, so please consider it next time you are going to put an auction up on eBay. The last site I want to mention is Shop Good Will is a nonprofit auction site run by the Good Will, I am not going to get into causes or morality here, I have no personal feelings for the Good Will one way or the other, and truthfully I have no idea where their money goes, for me the Good Will is a resource for games. ShopGoodWill has some pretty interesting stuff as far as video games, you can find great deals here. As far as the site it is a bit clunky but you can have saved searches and you can shop by category. Video Games do have their own subcateogry the break down looks like this: Listings > Computers & Electronics > Home Electronics > Gaming Systems & Games. I usually just do a generic Nintendo search then pick an auction then click the subcategory from that to see all the results. This site is a mixed bag and you can find some real gold here but you need to be willing to sort through the garbage.

Local Game Stores, Garage Sales, Flea Markets, Goodwill/Salvation Army
Well I can't really advise everyone where to look in their local surroundings, but in general here are some tips to find local games. The easiest way google video games and your zip-code together and check out the results. The way I prefer is to open Google Maps and search my zip and video games. On smart phones you can use the same map search, but you can generally eliminate your zip-code and have it search the surrounding area for you, this is a great trick when you are traveling. Other ways to find local games are via newspapers, where you can check for garage sales, and the classified section under miscellaneous. A google search or phone-book search will also tell you where your local Salvation Army, Good Will, pawn shops, and other such consignment stores are located. Craigslist is the greatest and easiest way to find local games. I know searching Craigslist can be tedious for multiple cities, but here is a tool to make it easier, it's a site that searches under specified parameters on Craigslist Another way I search Craigslist is via an app on my Ipad and phone see it here. It cost one dollar and it is money well spent. Searching locally is harder then browsing eBay, and nets less results, but when you do find something the prices is usually cheaper. So local means lower yield, but higher return.

Collecting is more than just finding the games, it is very much a knowledge arms race. What I mean by the last statement is don't go into the hunt blind, you should know the basics about whatever you are looking for. What are the basics, well how much are the games you are looking for on eBay and forums? What are the rare games for the system? Which titles are going to be hard to find in the future? Also you should narrow your specifications as well. Do you want Complete in Box ,or are carts/disc only titles fine for you? Remember complete titles fetch far greater prices than loose, and sealed prices are far higher than complete copies. When hunting complete titles make sure you know everything that a game must include to make it complete. I have seen a few collectors think they have obtained a complete game because it had the box, instructions and cart, only to find out later that the game also came with a map, or insert, or letter. You get the idea. The more information you arm yourself with, the better deals you will find, you will also protect yourself from getting ripped off. Like with all things, some people are just out to make a buck and they may make fake inserts, repro carts, boxes, and reseal games to try and pass off as the genuine article. These people are few and far between but many a collector has been suckered. Knowing how to spot fakes will save you money and hassle. A side note on reproductions. Many people make reproductions of various game articles and state upfront that they are in fact Repros. Repros in general are not bad, it's only those trying to pass them off as genuine that are the problem.

So that's it for part one, stay tuned for part 2 where I go over how I keep this stuff organized once it's obtained.
Thank you for stopping by ~Johnny~

PS. As far as recent finds I wanted to share this.

I know their is a lot going on in this picture. This was all obtained at a video game collectors show called SC3 or Sothern California Classic Collectors. All of this was obtained for $60, please note all the Game Boy stuff is box and manual only, no carts. All of the Sega and Nintendo stuff is complete, except Bomberman N64 which is box only. This was a a nice haul at a great price. I also got to see a few reputed Chiptune Artist play live Computeher and 8 Bit Weapon. Their were other artists as well but by far these were the acts to see. If you love the sounds of video games check out their music. A note to anyone who attended this event or to any of the organizers. This was my third time going to an SC3 party and while I understand the venue change, it felt very sterile and far less comfortable then the other shows, their was less socializing and less fun, the edition of live bands was great and the highlight of an otherwise lackluster show. Sc3 in its new iteration is no longer a party it is now just another mini-convention. If thats the way it needs to be, then you guys really need to provide more, you are all talented and hardworking people and I have the utmost faith in you. Just My 2 Cents. If anyone is interested I have some videos of the show floor, the bands and the trading area just let me know.

No comments:

Post a Comment