Walk into almost any household and, chances are, you'll find the TV hooked up to at least one video game console—a sleek black PlayStation3 or a soft white Wii. Wireless controllers accompany their respective devices, their buttons ready to navigate the Web, watch Netflix movies—oh yeah, and play video games.
This wasn't always the case.
Not that long ago, video game consoles were clunky boxes. The harsh, always-on lights that beamed from their front panels were a far cry from the soft, pulsating glows of today's consoles. The controllers were bound to the devices by a tangled mess of wires. Now, games' graphics are so crisp and detailed that they make Hollywood blockbuster movies look like Flash cartoons by comparison. But before, the games that these consoles brought to life were heavily pixelated, sometimes scrambled.
The subreddit r/gamecollecting lives for those days of gaming.
The "Community for Video Game Collectors" has collected more than 10,000 redditors since its debut in December 2010. Each day, photographs and discussions surface on the subreddit that detail games, consoles, and accessories largely from yesteryear. While default subreddit r/gaming may find its page filled with trailers for the latest Halo release or memorable World of Warcraft moments, a quick glance at r/gamecollecting will treat your eyes to older finds.
While an unofficial line between "then" and "now" is drawn somewhere in the vicinity of the first PlayStation's 1995 release, moderator Informationator told the Daily Dot that it varies from person to person.
"It's really up to the individual to define what they want and what they value in their collection," he said. "I take that same attitude toward modern consoles. If you want to collect it, go for it! I couldn't be less concerned about when 'vintage' or 'classic' starts and ends."
Fellow mod maverickrenegade agreed, stating that collectibility value can be applied to those devices that, while modern, saw limited release—or market failure.
"These outliers would be certain rare/sought after games, limited box sets, collector's editions, console color variants and elusive gaming hardware (like console development kits and controllers), among other things," he explained.
That said, maverickrenegade acknowledged that the r/gamecollecting community tends to prefer the classics.
"We mods already welcome in newer consoles and their respective titles, but I know that there are some that are stalwartly opposed to them being lumped into the same collecting category due to age," he said. "It's kind of unfortunate in my opinion, but I can understand why. Nostalgia and sentiment play a major role in that mindset."
Personal collections are of course huge on the subreddit, and maverickrenegade points to NintendoTwizer as a prime example.
"NintendoTwizer has one of the most impeccably laid out collections I have ever seen," he explained. "It's truly breathtaking from a game collecting standpoint and there's a reason that he has the top post (over 860 upvotes) by a huge margin."
Photo via NintendoTwizer/imgur
Aside from personal collections, members' rare finds, accomplishments, and bargain deals are also popular within the community.
"In recent history, Byuu posted about his SNES full set and that's garnered an incredible amount of attention," Informationator revealed. The post displays Byuu's success at scoring copies of all 721 commercially available Super NES titles and has received more than 300 upvotes.
"One of the large things that comes with this forum is deal hunting," moderator humanman42 said. As the creator of the subreddit r/ThriftStoreHauls, which collects amazing discoveries at thrift stores, he is no stranger to deal hunting.
"All those Earthbounds for under $10. Those seem to be the crowd favorite."
Collecting video game-related relics does a lot more than satisfy a nostalgia itch. For at least two of the moderators, the practice is much more personal.
"I had what one might consider a tough life growing up," maverickrenegade revealed. "I went through the wringer as a child. Divorce, foster homes, the death of a parent at a young age, social outcast, depression because of aforementioned items, etc. Video games were my means of escape and that's where my passion for them developed."
"I would love to thank my dad for buying me that Sega Genesis during those hard times," he continued. "Your sacrifice may have gone unnoticed when I was kid, but it definitely doesn't as an adult. If it weren't for him introducing me that new world, I may not have made it out of my childhood as unscathed as I had."
Informationator's passion also developed under less-than-ideal circumstances.
"When we were young, my family wasn't very well off financially, but I never knew it because of how much effort my parents put into providing for us, loving us, and instilling joy in our lives," he said. "On one very special Christmas, that took the form of an NES; with a little help from our grandparents they managed to buy us a system and a few games and man did we play the snot out of that thing! That was the start of something beautiful."
"Here's how awesome my mom is," he continued. "Back when we were poor and living in middle-of-nowhere Texas she managed to—over the course of YEARS—track down every single Mega Man game for the NES. It took many birthdays and Christmases, but she managed to find all six for me. It's a testament to the kinds of lengths she would go to in order to make her kids happy."
Whether it's the thrill of the hunt, the thirst for nostalgia, or touching on something far more personal, the r/gamecollecting community manages to satisfy the needs of its members and moderators alike.
"Gaming is something that can easily bring the two most unlikely people together," humanman42 proclaimed. "The simple mentioning of Mario or Sonic can spark a conversation."
And that is a feat even more amazing than, for example, coming across rare Chrono Trigger test cartridges.
Photo via freespamfree/Flickr