- December 17, 2020 (Updated January 25, 2021)
The 7 Types Of Video Game Collectors
This is a list of the 7 different types of video game collectors that exist along with a brief description/synopsis of each. If you're a video game collector, you may fall into as little as 1 or as many as quite of few of these categories. Which ones do you feel that you most closely relate and fit into?
This is based on similar lists that exist for other collectible hobbies such as comic book collecting, but this one is specifically for the types of video game collectors (which differs in quite a few ways from other collectible hobbies). In addition, here is an article written in 2011 on the subject by my friend and colleague The Great Johnny Iucci, which I used as a basis for helping to begin mine, though a lot has changed since then, and the content of our lists is quite different (mine is not just a copy/paste re-gurgitation).
1) The Regular Joe Collector - These are basically the majority of collectors, figure probably 95% (maybe more) of collectors fall into this category. They have some sort of love/appreciation for the games, most likely related to a feeling of nostalgia of when they played the games or experienced it with someone in the past, and they have decided to start picking up some of the titles that they love and enjoy. They generally want games in good quality and condition and of popular/desired titles. They want to have a game because they love it, both to play, and also as an item to have when it is not being played.
Regular Joe collectors are often lacking the experience/knowledge as more experienced/established collectors, but they also often tend to have the strongest passions/interest than anyone, and they are usually interest in the games for the correct reasons, regarding the real intrinsic worth of the games more than anything. These are the types of people that are fun to be connected with and see their progress, and these are among some of my favorite types of collectors that exist. I always learn a great deal from the "Regular Joe" type when I connect and become friends with one of them, and am happy to share knowledge/info with them I have as well. They often are so grateful that I help them out and share info with them, but don't usually right away realize that I am learning things right back from them too, and it's awesome. These are good people, and their interest in the games comes from a place of purity.
2) The Full Set Obsessive-Compulsive Collector - These are people that obsessively try to get "all of them" of a specific set of games, which is defined by them. Traditionally, in the early days of video game collecting (circa ~2000-2012) the vast majority of collectors in the "scene" were full set collectors, in a time where all the games were a LOT cheaper and way more plentiful than they are now; though, over time, as games have become a lot more valuable monetarily, it's led to people more often just getting titles that are important to them, and a decline in full set collecting. However, a lot of people are still full set collectors too. Usually, a "set" that a full set collector will try to get is "all the games" that were released for a system (in a specific region), so for example, "every N64 game" to a collector in USA is typically defined as all 296 of the Nintendo 64 games released in North America, and the North American version of each of them. The specific definition of a "full set" will vary to some degree from collector to collector. Full set collectors can decide if they want to collect just the loose games only, or the games in complete-in-box form, or even brand new/factory sealed. Furthermore, full set collectors can decide how "deep" they want to go for their specific arbitrary set, for example, it can include or not include things like budget releases (e.g. "Players Choice", "Greatest Hits", etc), it can have specifications and guidelines on what the cosmetic conditions need to be for them to consider it "acceptable", it can include or not include things like "Special Editions", "Collector's Editions" releases of games, and pretty much any other variable you can think of, it's all really up to the individual collector how they define the set they are working towards to get. I've also heard of a few instances of full set collectors that defined their arbitrary set a list of games they decided are "good" for a system, and decided to get just those games (and they had a checklist and everything, and they worked toward that goal of completing it over a period of time - NOT just buying random titles). Full set collecting is fun because it has a defined "finish" line, and working toward getting to the finish line is something that is fun and enjoyable. Although there are games that aren't really debateable if they "count" or not for a given subset (e.g. "Super Mario Bros" you can't really say doesn't "count" for a "full NES set"), but it's also basically all arbitrary too based on what the individual collector has decided is important to "count" for their arbitrary full set.
3) The "I Wanna Make Fuckin Money And Get Rich And Buy Lamborghinis" Investor "Collector" - These people are more or less missing (and could care less about) the point of why collecting is fun in the first place, and tend to not have very good functional working brains, usually they were dropped on the head a bunch of times as a baby, if they're male they often have an abnormally small PP, and they usually smell bad, and/or have a highly contagious case of chronic diarrhea and/or herpes. It's easy to make money off them when they FOMO into something and it's hilarious, and I love to laugh my way to the bank about it when that happens, which seems like it's all the time these days. These people probably and usually have some sort of appreciation for the games, but it's usually to the extent that they feel the games might be valuable and might be able to make some of that sweet sweet cold green DOLLA DOLLA BILLZ from, or can be used as a way to help demonstrate to other of their fellow mostly-male collector peers that they do actually in fact have a very large PP (which of course they don't). Favorite catch-phrases include-but-not-limited-to: "first appearance", "early print", "historical impact" and "rare", which they'll arrange into different patterns with some other words that they figured out about the games by looking it up on Wikipedia for a few minutes real fast, and it's generally pretty easy to tell that they don't know that much about the content of the game itself or what they're talking about at all, for that matter. They'll VERY SELDOMLY except in rare moments of candor admit that they basically know nothing about the games, because that makes them look bad, so instead they'll generally talk about how much of a profound impact some arbitrary game they own has had on them and the world and how it's basically a Pablo Picasso painting that had sex with the Mona Lisa and out popped the video game that of course THEY own. They'll ask questions like "What's the first Spyro The Dragon game?" if they think Spyro is "important" and that it could be a good investment to help diversify their retirement and/or kids college funds, and then they realize that the first Spyro game is indeed called "Spyro The Dragon" (Insomniac Games, 1998, PlayStation), and then they feel silly, and it's like you couldn't write a script for this level of idiocy if you tried, and if this was part of an episode of "The Big Bang Theory", the laugh track would be ~48 minutes long. In addition, since they don't really care about it outside of for money, they usually suck at it too. These sorts of collectors also tend to obsess over things like "population" sizes of how many exist of a certain game, since what they care about most is rarity/perceived value when comparing "theirs" with "others", and they'd much prefer that a game they own has a low "population", rather than a game that has a larger "population" even if it means that more people would have been able to enjoy it (since they don't care about that).
Usually if you see someone with some pretty nice games, and also things like graded basketball and/or Pokemon cards (likely that Gary Vee and/or Logan Paul on YouTube said was valuable so they just bought a bunch up like herded sheep), and/or graded comic books, and/or other collectibles, and graded games too, it usually means that they don't really care about the games for their actual intrinsic worth, and that it's more about money for them. So, when dealing with the investor type, treat them the same way they treat the games and try to make as much fuckin money off of them as you can, which is extremely easy to do, all you have to do is say a game is "important" and price it high and make up some excuse about how much of an impact it has had and they'll salivate over that shit - then you have to say you aren't sure if you wanna sell it (which is usually true) and if they make you a lower offer say "sorry I can't" (even if it's a good deal - who cares - just keep it - price will go up later with time anyway), and they'll often either decide to pay the full asking price right away, or, more commonly, come running back to you later when the market changes to see if it's still available for the price it was previously (which of course it isn't because the market changed, and now the price is higher, and they should have bought it then, but they didn't, sucks for them), and if they wont pay the full price then who cares just keep it anyway. These types of people will often come running back to you later to see what you have and they'll let you know they have money, and if you make a post somewhere to show off what you have in your collection (which you actually care about based on the intrinsic worth), their first thought is "is it for sale?" and it's like "no bitch this is my collection", because they don't actually care about anything you're doing to the extent that they think it could possibly help THEM make money, since that's the only thing they care about. These are the types of people I enjoy dealing with the LEAST and the ones I always try to make sure I'm well connected with are NEVER these sorts of people. They tend to hit you up when you have something and it is more business oriented, and not actual friendship (which is easy to have actual friendship with other collector types). One other thing, since they view games more as if they were stocks on the stock market that rise/fall (but mostly rise) in value, some sort of standardized system is needed for determining the condition/quality of the games, which is where the standardized grading companies come into play (e.g. Wata Games, VGA, etc), and these are the types of collectors that tend to use these grading services the most. They buy up games and once they get slabbed into that permanent case, the game basically becomes an item that has a different purpose than it had before, it becomes an item with a more defined monetary value that can be traded accordingly or held onto for its perceived worth or speculated on, in a way as close to resembling stocks as possible but in nerd video game collector form.
However, it should also be noted that despite all their silliness and lack of the majority of their mental brain capacity, the investor types also serve to help "legitimize the hobby", sometimes also referred to as "moving the hobby forward", which is true, and I guess is good. It is probably overall better that a lot of people care about games and that their values are high, rather than the alternative of nobody caring about them and the values being worthless. The "investor" type collectors are a relatively small group of people that tend to all know each other, that have among the nicest, "highest-end" items that exist in the world, and despite all my trash-talking in the previous 2 paragraphs, many of them are extremely smart and know what they are doing very well (but not all), and their activity greatly effects the prices that collectors across the board will be required to pay as well for lower/middle-range items, which greatly raises the barrier-to-entry for new collectors to get started that would be interested from a more intrinsic purpose. The rising prices make things WAY harder to acquire items you still want, which is highly-annoying, but when you realize that it is a hallmark trait of a healthy, vibrant hobby, it makes you realize that it is what it is and maybe perhaps it's even good. People that see investment opportunity is a human-nature thing that signifies that people care about something. The markets changing and prices increasing often causes more established collectors to remember and fondly-reminisce about the "good old days" of how "cheap" stuff in an arbitrary amount of time in the past used to be, which has been a constant thing, and many of the "Regular Joe" (and other types) of collectors that view games with a more intrinsic purpose often will often have a very negative/condescending/dismissive attitude toward the investor types, which if they express this feeling publicly, the investor types will usually just brush off and say it's rooted in jealousy, which sometimes it is, but often it's not, or that they're just being "haters" (which they would be), but you can understand why they would feel that way. The result of this "legitimazation" of the hobby definitely prices a lot of people out of it or discourages newer people from participating in this extremely fun hobby, or makes it much more difficult for a lot of people that have been in it to be and remain competitive. So, like everything it's all good and bad, and depends on the perspective that you are using to look at it with.
4) The Quick Buck/Flipper/"Dirty Reseller"/"Asshole Scalper"/"Thrill Of The Hunt" Collector - //TODO I'll write this later but for now pretend I wrote something awesome here like the rest of the article.
5) The "Person That Actually Plays Their Games" Collector - Wait a second a collector that actually plays their games?! It's a novel concept, and a seldom seen occurrence that is studied closely by doctors/scientists when this rare thing happens, which of course the result of this important research always ends up in academic journals later for the betterment of mankind. These types of collectors are also very similar as the "Regular Joe" types of collector, but what they care about most is getting good games that are fun to play and have value from their game play standpoint. They often might have some condition guidelines, but often wont, and many times will be perfectly happy with just any game in any cosmetic condition as long as it works, and they want to get a nice collection of games that are fun. These types of people might also buy digital games that don't even exist in physical form, and consider the digital game that they purchased to be a game that is part of their collection, despite that it can't be re-sold later or that it basically doesn't exist in actual reality as a physical artifact. These types of collectors are interested in games for a very pure, good reason - to play and be able to enjoy them, to become immersed into a story, and/or be changed in some way or form through their experiences from playing it.
6) The Curator/Preservationist Collector - These are the types of people that want to acquire high quality, interesting items that might have a great deal of historical or intrinsic significance. Think the types of items you might see in a museum. Not necessarily rare/valuable, but could be. Could also be common/cheap, but as long as it has meaning/significance or is interesting in some way. These types of collectors can be interested in things like systems, merchandise, posters, or anything with historical value, not just game software itself. These types of collectors have big PP.
7) The "Someone Died And I Inherited It" "Collector" - Self-explanatory. There aren't too many known examples of this in the video game collecting world currently since the hobby is newer than other more established collectible hobbies like comic books/baseball cards, though there are certainly a few notable examples. What comes to mind first is The Great Syd Bolton, who owned the largest game collection in all of Canada and ran the Personal Computer Museum, which publicly-funded elementary schools in Ontario would regularly schedule field trips for their students to go to, to learn about the history of personal computers, and he was very passionate to share that with as many people as he could. He sadly died and I guess his family inherited his 30,000+ piece collection which included some of the nicest/rarest items in the world in addition to all the common/most-fun too (he had basically everything and didn't discrimate whatsoever in regard to monetary value/rarity), or I have no idea what happened there. Truth be told I'm not even sure if this should be considered one of the "types" of collectors, since when it gets inherited, the new owner isn't really the person that was the collector but the deceased is/was, but I guess it should count also because they own a collection and usually are trying to figure out what best to do with it. These collectors will generally lack the collecting-knowledge, but are trying to learn it, and are trying to figure out what best to do with the collection, and they often aren't sure right away who to turn to that they can trust. Generally these people are interested in preserving the legacy of the deceased, while also a combination of figuring out how to best sell them for the most money that will be used to benefit their family. Maybe they will want to sell the collection all as a whole and be done with it (which is a TERRIBLE idea for maximizing monetary value), or maybe they will want to sell the individual pieces separately and get way more money, though selling individually takes a lot more time/effort. A person with a large collection like Syd's selling it off could easily be a full time job for multiple people that pays them very well for a number of years before it's gone entirely. Or they can take the "lump sum" and auction it all off to get rid of it and just "be done with it", depending on what the inheriting estate/family decides to do.
What's your opinion? Did I miss any collector types that should be here?