***NOTE: The finds posted below are not intended to impress you. Just some examples of what you used to be able to find regularly while out hunting for games.***
If you’re into hunting for video games, you know full well that the glory days are over. You don’t just waltz in to a big flea market at 10AM and have your pick of the litter. There’s no more old ladies with cardboard boxes containing an NES and 12 games for the price of “I just want to get rid of it.”
Nowadays if you like flea markets, you’ll probably want to get there around 7AM. Most booths won’t be open mind you, so plan on getting your steps in. You’ll be doing laps around the entire grounds hoping to spot some games that are just being unloaded from a seller’s car. Even then, nothing is guaranteed. In all likelihood there are at least a couple others out there with you that have the exact same intentions. Maybe garage sales are more your speed though. You can still find some good deals at those.
Now the problem you’re going to have there is that it’s not as simple as picking out some Craigslist ads and jumping in the car. At some point people decided to not only get to those earlier than you, but to e-mail every single potential ad to ask if they were selling video games. If they got a “yes”, the next question would be if they could come over a day early to look at said games. It’s gotten insane to the point where your best bet is to take a leisurely drive around the suburbs and look for signs pointing to yard sales. That way maybe, MAYBE, you’ll find a nice sale that’s not posted on the internet. Doesn’t mean they’ll have any video games, but it’s worth a shot. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Long ago my first console I re-bought was a Sega Saturn and a few mostly common games for $35, which today looks like a steal. It wasn’t until just a few years ago I started to really get heavy into retro collecting. The first summer was great and looking back I should’ve gone out more. The next year was also good, although I noticed that if I didn’t want to lose out to another collector I’d have to arrive 30-60 minutes earlier than I would usually plan for. That was a sign of things to come.
The past two summers have been brutal, to the point where I had made a hard decision: There were so few games to find out there the last couple of years that my time was clearly worth more than scouring the town anymore. Sleep in both weekend nights, or not sleep in all summer and find one or two uncommon games every few weeks? The choice became simple. There were (and still are) just far too many collectors out there canvasing a 25 mile radius to make it even remotely worth it. I’ve spent the last couple of years treating myself to a reasonably priced eBay auction every month or two.
That was the extent of my collecting. I went from bringing home boxes full of games for all kinds of systems to having virtually no intake. My goals of complete Master System and especially complete Genesis collections seemed laughable. How can you complete a set of something when you never add to it?
It was only this past week that I realized I was going to have to get off my ass and find some games though, and guess what? I did actually uncover a couple things I was legitimately happy to find. Check out the podcast later this week for what I found plus impressions. Two games is two games. Nothing special, but it’s something. You have to be a little more clever these days to find gold and figure out how to zig when everyone else is zagging, or you can just fly in the face of it all and show up whenever the hell you want. Maybe a few sellers arrive later than expected, and maybe a few early bird buyers leave before something great gets set out on the table and you find it. Who knows?
The point is it seems like it’s still worth trying out there, even if it might not be as fruitful as it used to be. You might have to cherish those two games a week, or one game, or none, a little more. The best thing to do is still get out there but enjoy your time doing it. Maybe I’m old but I like just taking a drive, and if a friend or significant other comes with then it might not matter if you find anything. Maybe you’ll find something other than a video game that you could use *shudder*. Also finding a ton of games is preferred but it can also be diminishing returns. Again, I found two games this past weekend. I played one and figured out it was just okay. Played the other one and now it’s in my regular rotation. I wish I found more games but the silver lining here is I actually gave everything I found the time of day and really got to experience them. Nothing went on my shelf and was forgotten about five minutes after I got home.
What I’m getting at is that regardless of how many games you find it’s still worth it to get out there. I definitely was jaded for awhile there, but I’m going to try and get back into it this summer and so far I’m 1-for-1 on weekends attempted. Maybe the big scores are gone but if you let go of the pressure that comes with trying to rapidly acquire piles and piles of video games you’ll figure out that there’s still stuff to find here and there, and in some ways you might even appreciate those small finds more. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any other big fish out there to catch though. You’ll only find out if you make some kind of effort though, so get out there and find some games! I promise you’ll at least find something to make it worth your while. Well no I can’t promise that, but probably! Actually you know what? Sleep in. I have too much competition as it is……….