11. The Art of Collecting



11. The Art of Collecting


Smitty, Erik and Dan talk about the games they've been playing lately, then dive into the DNA of collecting.

Games You Deserve is a weekly podcast from Special Reserve Games that celebrates the digital art of video games. Join us for gaming industry interviews, insider perspectives, and interactive content. Production by Dan Vadeboncoeur. Music by Jesse Hamel. New episodes drop Sundays at 9:00 a.m. CST.

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Dan: Welcome to the Games You Deserve brought to you by Special Reserve Games. This week on the show, we talk about which games we've been playing lately. Plus, we'll dive into the DNA of collecting.

Erik: I've been playing Shining Force II on my Mega SG which is so much fun to go back and play the old Genesis stuff. And so, I pulled out Shining Force II a while back and I'm not doing it in one long sitting, I'm playing it in little bursts. So, now Smitty probably hasn't played this game, right? You haven't played the Shining Force games, have you?

Smitty: Is it one of the secret bunkers in Call of Duty: Warzone?

Erik: Yeah, no. I know that's all you do.

Smitty: Then I haven't played it yet.

Erik: No, this is an older game on the Genesis. And it's a tactical RPG, where you have a group of guys, a group of players on your team of different character types. So, some of them are knights, some of them are wizards. Some of them are monks or centaurs that type of thing and they all have different abilities.

And when it's battle time and you're faced off against an enemy, it's a big giant play field that's drawn out into essentially squares. And your players, each player can move a certain number of squares. And when you are in attack range of your enemy, you can initiate attacks and then whatever the attack for that one is because you might have an archer let's say.

And so, there are two spaces away, you can fire your arrows at the enemy and it'll do the math for you and show you a little animation and you play against it. But behind the scenes, behind the play mechanics of that, it's an RPG. So, you're going from area to area, learning story, that type of thing. It's one of the classics, it's probably one of the best classic tactical RPGs there is on older systems.

And the Shining 4 series is definitely a favorite of mine. One and two were on the Genesis/Mega Drive. And then, the third one came out on the Sega Saturn. And in the United States, we didn't get all the discs that Japan got. So, if you have a Saturn, if you wanted to play the extra scenarios that type of thing, you had to get a Japanese one or you had to mod your Saturn and then play a Japanese copy on there, that type of thing which sucks.

Dan: Yeah, I wonder why that happened.

Erik: Well, the Saturn, yeah, wasn't quite as popular here. And then, there's the translation that a game has to go through with localization to come across. And I mean, Smitty, we deal with things about translation localization on games at times.

Smitty: I'm going through it right now, trying to... did you ever know that the words Mother Russia Bleeds do not have a translation that anybody can agree on and for the Russian language of – 

Dan: In Russian?

Smitty: Yeah, "Mother Russia is bleeding" but it means "there's death happening" and that's the closest we can get. So, something about by the way, just those specific three words do not translate into Russian.

Dan: That's interesting.

Smitty: For a game that's called Mother Russia Bleeds.

Dan: Very ironic.

Smitty: Yeah. We've been trying to do that for an alternate, for in an interior cover spine. Erik, we were going to do the Russian translation of the game and just simple, that's it. I'm not trying to translate 100,000 words.

Dan: No, you just want the three words, boom.

Smitty: But those three words don't go together. So, I guess if we said, apple slice jackass that's how it translates apparently over there they go, "What are you trying to say?" We're just trying to say Mother Russia Bleeds. Well, that's not what it says. So anyway, it's strange. Yeah, translation.

Erik: Yeah. Localization is such a weird beast. So, Dan, what are you playing?

Dan: Well, I bit the bullet and got myself a Nintendo Switch a couple weeks ago. And – 

Erik: Welcome aboard.

Dan: Thank you. And so, I've got a package deal that came with Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I tried both. I started with Super Mario Odyssey and it's fine.

Smitty: There's two of the best games ever, dude, come on.

Dan: They're so good. I just cut it. So, I just started with Super Mario Odyssey and I really enjoyed that. I know I'm late to the party here. This has been for years and people have already gone through the games and found everything. But the minute I plugged the Breath of the Wild and I have not been able to put that down for weeks now.

It's insane how good that game is. And I was never really a huge Legend of Zelda fan, I played the older games a little bit and I didn't always finish them. And I'm aware of all the stuff that happens around that.

But I never really have gotten into a Legend of Zelda game as much as I have enjoyed Breath of the Wild because it's just so huge. The in-game is just immense. The amount of work put into that, building that world it's unbelievable.

Erik: Yeah. What's crazy is that those games were released within the same year and faced each other for game of the year. And it's a Mario and a Zelda – how often would that happen that those two games of that caliber released in the same year and face each other for that and they're both incredible games.

I mean, what you ended up with was the perfect storm for Nintendo as a company, right, that I don't even... you don't want that in a sense because you're competing with yourself. But at the same time, it's not like they were released at the same time during the year.

Dan: Well, technically, I think Super Mario Odyssey wasn't launched. Breath of the Wild had come up for the Wii U already, right? They were already – 

Erik: Another way around – 

Dan: What?

Erik: Breath of the Wild was actually a launch title and launched simultaneously for the Wii U and the Switch on the same day the Switch was released, Super Mario Odyssey came later in the year. But yeah, I mean, there was a gap it's still in the same year of groundbreaking games. Super Mario Odyssey though, as great as it is. You're right, there's this big difference between the two.

You go to Breath of the Wild and you've got this very different Legend of Zelda than what you're used to, right? It's definitely an open world. To me, the physics engine is fantastic. You end up with these interactions between the environment, the items, the character that all feels very, very natural.

The best example I can think of that is that when you're in a, or standing near, a body of water that has fish in it, if you want to kill the fish and it's raining and there's thunder and lightning, one thing you can do is grab a metal item you have, a sword or a shield, that's metal. You can take that throw it into the water and then when the lightning strikes that metal item, the fish in the water will die. Because – 

Dan: I didn't know that.

Erik: ... yeah, lightning will hit the water. All of that – 

Dan: That's awesome.

Erik: ... it's not like they coded that specific thing. They just coded everything to have the interactions you would imagine. Lightning attracted to the metal and then having lightning in the water killed the living things that were in it.

Dan: Wait, oh crap, I just thought of something. Then I have this lightning rod that I got when I fought off this crazy thing that was floating around zapping me. So, I was a little late. It's not a very good weapon. It's only got a five rating But I think I could shoot electricity with it. So, I could just do it myself, right? I could probably just do that and zap a pond and get all the fish out of it.

Erik: Yeah, I mean, but lightning is going to be stronger like actual, the one from the sky. But I mean, the idea is, is that when they coded this engine, it generally makes sense in what would really happen. It's the same reason why when lightning hits the grass on the plains in the game, there's fire, right?

Because after lightning strike, that's what you have and it shows that in the game. I think that's the stuff that makes that game even more brilliant. I will agree with a lot of the fan base though that the lack of dungeons in the game is something that's missing. It would be nice to have the classic Zelda dungeons.

Dan: They've got the shrines with the puzzles and that stuff but it's not the same and yeah, you're right, there should be more dungeons. But anyway, I'm having a great time with it. It's been pretty much everything. I was in the process. I almost finished Metal Gear Solid which I have on my PlayStation classic and then... what are you holding up? Oh, there you go. Smitty is holding up to the camera for us to see.

Erik: This one is Breath of the Wild character – 

Dan: There you go. Yeah. So, I was almost done Metal Gear Solid and then I just dropped it to start playing Breath of the Wild, so I have to go back to Metal Gear Solid and finish that. But it's such a good game. And there's so much, I'm just getting started. I'm a certain degree and I've already got one of the Divine beasts going. But it's just crazy. You move on to the next world and it's so different. I mean, the hot lava world or whatever the hell it is, it’s very hot and I burned up – 

Erik: There are – 

Dan: ... because I don't have the proper clothing.

Erik: I think what ultimately just makes that game so brilliant is not, I mean, it's not flawless. There's definitely gaps and there's definitely issues with it. But you see what you can do and you see how they coded each interaction with the people and the environments.

And like I said, that's what makes that a brilliant game. The things you think you can do, you can pretty much do and it makes sense. It acts the way you would imagine. You get in cold weather, you get cold. And the less clothes you have on the colder you get and the faster. It's all of those little things which are brilliant, so.

Dan: And you can't climb in those arena, which sucks.

Smitty: Reminds me of Call of Duty: Warzone. Yeah.

Erik: What a segue, look at that.

Smitty: In Call of Duty: Warzone, you can buy different skins and weapons and sounds almost like the same game. But I've also been playing Carrion  because there's a beta demo if you will that's been going around for quite a while but because I know people. Oh, my gosh, because I know people, we have special codes that we can see current versions of the game, hello.

And that thing is pretty fun. I mean, I didn't really know. It looked beautiful. I didn't know if the mechanics or the game, how the monster flows through if that would be, I'm going to use basic words like intuitive or whatever. But would it make sense on a PC.

Or I want to plug in a controller to my PC. I try to play all my games on pc because I'm an old PC gamer. I mean, I have a Switch. But man, Call of Duty: Warzone I would never even think about playing again on a console nor would I play it with a controller.

And I know plenty of people like controllers. But I mean, W, A, S, D and my mouse man, and the spacebar, that's all I really need, right? But that's how I play first person shooters for sure. But anyway, so big love to Call of Duty: Warzone. I mean, I have a couple people that we play with.

I like Plunder Quads. I like Blood Money. I wish they bring back duos for Blood Money or Plunder because now they went to trios, now to quads. And still JR from Devolver, he and I or Jason that works with us, we can go in as duos into quads.

And still, we haven't finished first but we finished as a high second place doing that. So, we hustle. We hustle. And then, Battle Royale is just a whole other animal. But they had Battle Royale classic. And if you aren't a BR fan, I won't get into the whole thing. But BR classic was pretty fun as well.

So, I'm having a lot of fun with Call of Duty: Warzone. It's weird, I had this talk with a couple of people that we play with, Nigel and a couple of great guys, Nigel from Devolver. And it's always interesting to hear people who see a lot of games start getting addicted to just this one game.

And that's something weird just for a few of us Call of Duty: Warzone is that game. We didn't make it. I don't know anybody at Infinity Ward. And I think I know one guy that used to be Raven back in the day. No connection to this game at all. And I barely play Call of Duty games and normally and in general at all. But some about Call of Duty: Warzone maybe because it was free.

Dan: That always helps.

Smitty: Yeah. It was free. But and so, it made the barrier of entry very low. But it was something that a couple of us and especially young guys, older guys, all kinds. I hear some girls in there too. I say guys in general to human beings. But all ages are in there.

And there's no rhyme or reason why each of us are so addicted to it. But there's a group of us that this is our thing. And sometimes we do work together and we like to play games. And so, we merge them and we lovingly call this work zone. And so, we say hey, it could be in the middle of the afternoon like, "Hey, you guys want to work zone for about 20 minutes, work zone for an hour?"

Yes. "Want to work zone for two rounds?" Yes. And there's actually work zoning that's getting done. I just want to point that out. And so, anyway, that's what I'm playing. Carrion, a little bit of Fall Guys beta. And you're playing that too, Erik?

Erik: Yeah. I can't wait to see what they do with that on release and how many people jump in and that's going to be nonstop action right there for Fall Guys. Nonstop.

Smitty: Going to be fun.

Erik: So, I want to add one other thing, tomorrow, the third Switch in my household will arrive. I got really lucky and was able to snag one right off the Best Buy retail price. No other games. Didn't have to buy any extra games for the wife. And she's going to start playing some games.

I spent some time today going through the collection and plucking out ideas and saying, okay, you like this, try this. You like that, try this. And I got a whole list of stuff. And she went out and started going on YouTube and looking at trailers and was like, "Oh, yeah, that's totally me." Or, "I'm not sure about this one." And I'm over here going, yeah, just try it.

Smitty: See, I think you're discovering a whole new job there. It's called Erik the game concierge.

Erik: Well, no – 

Smitty: And I'm being 100% serious. You need people to know your personality, know your things that you like and don't like from previous, from what you just told me now and then be able to give you recommendations toward games because most of the algorithms on Steam or so...

Dan: Yeah, those are – 

Smitty: I mean, they're just sales tools. Even Amazon who I used to trust to only serve me the items that it really thought I needed. But yeah, there are so many great games out there especially the indie games, right?

Erik: Have you seen, you've seen the pictures of the shelves where I have all the games, right. I've set it up a little bit like the old blockbuster thing where it's got them all set out. And I was thinking maybe I'll rearrange a little bit and put a couple of shelves there with a little sign, Erik's recommendation.

Dan: That's right. Yeah.

Erik: ... all of the selections there. Yeah, exactly.

Dan: Why not.

Smitty: Yeah, just take some pictures and post that each week.

Dan: I will also say that yesterday was my daughter's birthday and we got her a Switch Lite and Animal Crossing. So, she is – 

Smitty: What color?

Dan: Yellow.

Erik: Hey, that's exactly what Smitty has.

Dan: Well they only had yellow and gray. I'm like, well, she wants some color. So, but yeah. She really wanted Animal Crossing so we got her that Animal Crossing. So, now, she's stuck into that game and I'll have to check in with her.

Smitty: So, what color of Switch do you have?

Dan: I just have the regular one. Red controllers.

Erik: So, you've got the blue and red and the yellow in your house. Smitty's got the yellow lite over there.

Smitty: And the, and the black. My Switch is just the regular, I – 

Erik: The gray.

Smitty: Not colored.

Erik: And you're talking about color for all these things. I got the original gray one. When we got my son his, we got the gray one that's the Pokémon lite one but it's still gray. And then, when I got my wife hers the gray. Everything's gray. I got no color in my life, it's just gray, so...

Smitty: But see then it's a good base for you to build upon. So, your travel bag, it could be fuchsia and it wouldn't clash.

Erik: That's right, no clashing. I wouldn't have to worry about that.

Dan: And you can always buy new Joy-Cons and change the color up for that thing.

Smitty: Yeah. See, there's a simple pleasure – 

Erik: Stretching that one a little bit, yeah.

Smitty: ... black and gray. I mean, most of them – 

Erik: I like the basics.

Smitty: Yeah. Most of the clothes in my closet are black or black.

Erik: Shame.

Smitty: I do have a blue shirt on that is today because it's a Return of the Jedi shirt but it's just the way – 

Erik: And I have to commend you on that. At least it's the original trilogy right there.




Dan: Now, I don't know about you guys, I don't have all my systems hooked up to my TV. I've only got the, I think two systems right now hooked up to my TV and I don't keep them all hooked up. But I still keep like, I've got my old Xbox 360 and stuff like that.

My son dug up the old Wii, original Wii which I have not hooked up forever. But he's going down memory lane with these games. And these are the games that the Wii came out the same year he was born in 2006. So, and all these games he played as a five, six-year-old.

So, he's playing all these old Bakugan games and Mario Party and stuff like that. And it just made me realize that that's his childhood system, right? That's interesting to me that that system is the one he's growing up with. So, it's the same as our Super Nintendo or Nintendo.

Erik: Yeah. You know what you're going to need to do, you're going to need to take all that stuff though and pack it away later when they get bored again. And then, dig it out in another 10 years.

Smitty: Well, my mom packed up my 2600 and my 5200 and she put each in their own box, each with their own games. And she labeled it and she kept it at her house until I got married and I had my own house. And then, she said, "Hey, I've got a bunch of your stuff that I want to give you."

And now, that you've got an attic to put it in, it'd be nice. And so, what she brought down was that plus all my Star Wars toys and my GI Joe toys, and she had kept all that stuff. And so, some of it was heavily played with. And then, she had some Star Wars that were still in blister packs man that she absolutely... and I asked her, she told me about those and she said, "I always thought that these would be valuable."

And she was saying "I remember your father was not happy with all the toys I was getting you but I knew that these were an investment." And there were some that stayed in blister packs and then some for me to play with. So anyway, I don't have a whole complete set of every character ever made in blister packs or whatever. But yeah, that was my mom who was a public-school English teacher who saw a value in the collectability of those Star Wars items, the Kenner figurines.

Dan: Now, we'll get into the video games in a second as far as collectibles go, but is there a value to the original? I have an original Wii. It's the one that was, had the – 

Smitty: Ask Erik.

Dan: I mean, there's probably millions and millions of them out there, right? This was the most popular console ever.

Erik: Yeah, the original Wii there were so many different, so many of them made. I mean, the only time it was really valuable was about the first three months. And then, they made 100 million of them. So, if you want one, you could pretty much plunk down 1050 for it now.

Smitty: And in all those designer colors too, white and white and white.

Erik: And wait, red. They did make a red one.

Dan: It was the red, yes, that's right. Yeah. I remember that. Yeah. And so, they hadn't quite figured out the whole color schematic thing. Now, of course you've got every system available in every color under the rainbow.

Erik: Well, Nintendo does that with all the Joy-Cons, right? I mean, you see all these Joy-Cons there's 30 different kinds of Joy-Con color out there that you can buy from whatever region you want. But they haven't been great at doing that with systems. However, look at how many special edition PlayStation whatever or there's 50 PS4s of different styles, Microsoft does it.

Smitty: Hey, but just do me a favor. I'm curious about the PS4. Go through from PS1, can you name the system including the mobile ones, name them in order. Do it, Erik.

Erik: Of each of the systems?

Dan: Sony – 

Smitty: Yes, Sony systems. Starting with PlayStation 1 and including mobile.

Erik: Including mobile. Okay. So – 

Smitty: And you can call it “Vee-ta” or “Vi-tah”, we won't hold it against you once you get to that.

Erik: Order is going to be a little difficult for me because that's not my strong suit. But what? Are you trying to call me out on Sony here?

Dan: I can't do it.

Smitty: I just know that you were just one of those students in class who says like, "God, dang it."

Erik: Yeah, I sat in the back. I sat in the back for sure. Because I had a PS1. I had a PS2. I had a PSP. I still have a PS3, it's sitting in a cabinet right now. But I didn't get rid of the PS3 and it was the fat one too, it wasn't the reduced size. It was an actual original 60 gig PS3.

I didn't have a Vita. I don't know why I missed out on that. Plus, the PSPs and the Vita and there's different models of that. Because yeah, their original fat PSP, right? Then they redid that a couple of different times. Plus, you had the PSP Go.

There's also the PS TV. Obviously, the PS4, PS4 Pro, the upcoming PS5. The only thing I didn't really like about Sony with their systems was they always had a proprietary memory card format for their portable stuff. I had to buy the damn Sony stick for that.

Smitty: Oh, yeah, right. Exactly. Oh, the Sony stick.

Dan: Well, that goes back to the original PlayStation. They always had those memory cards and stuff they had to get for that, so.

Erik: But at least with those though, those had their roots in earlier systems that had proprietary memory stuff. Because the Dreamcast has the VMUs that would plug into the controllers and you had the different systems that had different memory packs that would plug in different ways.

So, there's a lineage of that. But when they got to the portables, Sony stuck, even though SD cards and compact flash were all common, they stuck to their own proprietary Sony cards. And so, the same memory. You could buy. This is dating things but a whole 16 meg memory thing stick for them. Their proprietary little memory card cost five times what an SD card would have cost.

Smitty: I see. Okay. Interesting.

Erik: Because they forced you into that. But eventually, people came up with clever ways to make little adapters where you could take a micro SD and stick it in the adapter and then plug that in.

Smitty: Sounds like someone had a side business in college. No? Okay.

Erik: No.

Smitty: Wouldn't you?

Erik: No.

Smitty: Wouldn't you, Erik?

Erik: With me.

Smitty: It wasn't you, Dan?

Erik: I wasn't that smart to do that.

Smitty: Dan's Canadian. So, whatever he did, he is not liable for probably half the laws that we have down here.

Dan: That's very true, actually. And in fact, the Wii that I just mentioned, it's actually... I don't know if it's jailbroken or whatever. I've got the Homegroup thing on it because – 

Erik: You hear? This is hacking. He's hacked it.

Dan: So, listen, it's an old... it's a 14-year-old system – 

Erik: I'm calling the cops.

Dan: But the reason I do this, I told you guys in a previous episode that I purchased Xenoblade Chronicles, I was mistaken, it was actually the original Xenoblade Chronicles, not Xenoblade 2 for the Wii, but that was never released in North America, right?

So, that one I have is the version from Europe. And I had to do that to my Wii to get, to be able to play it on my Wii. So, that's another game my son was playing over the weekend as well. He fired up that one and started playing Xenoblade Chronicles again, which is an excellent game.

Smitty: I was doing Nokia work when helping them launch, hello, the N-Gage and the N-Gage QD which they were the first cellular devices that were made specifically for gaming and then they also have a device called the 3300 which was all blue and that was for music. And so, they had Qwerty keyboards on that one because it was made for – 

Dan: It was flipped up and you can have the keyboard inside of it?

Smitty: No. These were all US based. There were some European models.

Dan: I'm going to look at it.

Smitty: But look at the N. And so, it's N – 

Dan: N-Gage?

Smitty: ... as in Nancy dash G-A-G-E, N-Gage and N-Gage QD and then the, 3-3-0-0, 3300 for the music.

Dan: Oh, wow. Oh, look at this thing, that looks cool man.

Smitty: And using cartridge based. And the problem was with those they didn't... I think we covered this in a previous episode where they didn't have the network for the store. They didn't have an iTunes. iTunes wasn't even launched yet and iPod didn't exist yet.

Erik: There wasn't a thing.

Smitty: It wasn't a thing. And, but therefore, the store where everybody went, Facebook didn't exist. I think Myspace was around. There's very few community points but it was mainly a portal for how to disseminate, how to sell that content. How to get rid, whether it was music, movies, or video games, or just – 

Dan: And it was a phone as well? Was it also a phone?

Smitty: It was a Nokia phone. And Nokia phones, number one, had battery life for days, battery life for days. So, my daughter who's now 17 has seen some of these phones that I was working on in 2004 and she was very much a child, baby, baby. And that was a motorcycle.

Erik: Or lunch.

Smitty: Oh, who's coming by? But she would find my old drawer with these phones because I just kept all these phones. I was never a guy that traded my cell phones in to get another phone. I would just buy phones. So, I was either buying unlocked phones from Europe.

And this was back when it was either code division or time division, CDMA or TDMA networks, that it was Sprint, it was AT&T, you didn't have 4G. We didn't have 5G. There were no Gs. There was no G. But anyway, data was also very slow for all of this and I think that was probably part of the reason.

But nonetheless, the collectability, the value of these phones, they seem to never increase, if you will, but they maintain aesthetic value to certain people. I kept these phones because I think they're beautiful designs. I thought they were really neat.

I can look back at them and, oh, that represented my first year at Gathering of Developers. Or, oh, I bought that phone the year I got married or something like that. So, each one of those phones marked something because how... and then once the gaming element came in with the cell phone with Nokia, that was just the coup de grace for me, man.

And but so anyway, I kept all those phones. My daughter's fascinated by them. So, she's a Generation Z kid. She looks at those things like they're the coolest thing ever. And if they would work, she would love it. But she doesn't necessarily want to use it as a phone, she sees it as a museum piece. And so, my – 

Dan: So, a gaming system, yeah.

Smitty: Yeah, it's a gaming system, museum piece, an OG thing that just... and it does show the evolution. So, if either one of you guys, if you look back at one of your older systems, I mean, there's your value that you hold of whatever game system you've been lugging around for 20 or 30 years. You think it's worth I don't know. It's not worth money. We don't think stuff is worth, oh, that's probably worth 100 bucks. That's probably worth 500 bucks. 

Erik: No, it's worth memories.

Smitty: Yeah, exactly. It's worth my memory.

Erik: Time. Yeah.

Smitty: I know I still have it and it's mine, it's actually mine. I'm not looking at a picture. I'm not looking at yours and saying, "Oh, I had one like that." I'm like, "No, that's mine." So, there's a weird like that's the collectability of some of these games and some of the physical stuff.

And then, it parlays into the video or I mean, into the cell phone world through the Nokia connection with the N-Gage devices, but that was about it. Because I rarely play games on my phone. In an old man way, I look at some phone games as just a waste of time. It's like – 

Dan: That's the point.

Smitty: Yeah, exactly. That's the point. But I've looked at them like that. And I'm like, sure as heck would not want to pay to waste my time. I'd rather be sending emails or texts or looking at stupid memes that change the world. And just until I can get back to my computer.

Erik: Those engaged phones came at the strangest time too when you think about how that worked. Because there was, right towards the end of the life of those kinds of phones, that static hard button device, right? I mean, you saw these – 

Smitty: It was all operating system driven, that was the Symbian operating system.

Erik: The Symbian operating system from Nokia. And they got lucky in a sense that they figured out how to make that and put that out before the death of that type of phone. But it was still a little late. It was still just a little bit too late. Had that happened a couple of years earlier, there would have been a little bit more life to those.

And who knows what would have come from that. I did have an N-Gage and somewhere I have a picture I can prove that. It was just a cool device. I can't tell you the difference between them. Mine was the one that looked like almost a smile and had the buttons like that. You probably –  

Smitty: I've got one sitting over here.

Erik: Yeah, I was going to say you probably know which one that is, of those. Yeah. That's the one that I know.

Smitty: If it had orange on it, you got that orange on – 

Erik: I couldn't tell you that right now. I don't remember it.

Smitty: Also, don't forget, that was when the color combination of orange and blue. That was cutting edge and freaking everything became orange and blue – 

Erik: And now, that just gets overused on movie posters.

Smitty: Yeah. It reminds me of those Ocean Pacific shirts that I wore when I was a young kid.

Erik: Ocean Pacific, definitely.

Smitty: OP. But anyway, getting back to the value of all this, you know?

Dan: Well, I was going to ask Erik. You've been collecting video games for most of your life. When did you start realizing that that's something you were doing? I know you play video games but did you just keep your systems and start the collection there?

Erik: I was worried you were going to start putting numbers on how long I've been doing it.

Dan: Well, I don't know. I don't know that.

Erik: I'm old but –

Dan: Most of your adult life.

Smitty: 64 years I've been – 

Dan: Right? But was it Smitty said when his mom kept all of his GI Joes and the Star Wars figures, did you just keep the systems you had as a kid and build from there? Is that how you started your collection?

Erik: I am jealous of what's, I don't know what Smitty is doing right now. I'm jealous of the fact that his mom had some foresight to stock some of that away.

Dan: Most people didn't at the time, yeah. Most people didn't think of that.

Erik: I blew my own chances to do that. I ended up selling a lot of that stuff when I was a kid on my own. But most of the time, it was to raise it to buy whatever the next one was. I mean, just like a lot of us, right?

You had the Nintendo and the stockpile of 20 games or whatever, right? And then, you took that down to wherever store and you turned it in for that Super Nintendo or the Genesis or whatever the next. You took what your stockpile was and you turned it in probably for the next thing.

It wasn't necessarily as common for a lot of people. And I do know a few collectors that they and they kept every box, kept every manual, kept every insert and they just put that stuff in a box somewhere. But those guys are few and far between. Almost everybody didn't do that.

Smitty: I had a neighbor who loved to collect my video games, yeah. But he never seems to have any of his own. Didn't you have a friend like that? Don't you remember that, let me borrow that game? Okay.

Dan: And you know what that meant. You knew what that meant eventually.

Smitty: Sure. Just like – 

Dan: Give me the game is all they're asking for, yeah.

Smitty: When we go over to somebody's house, I seriously remember having these... I'm having a flashback not from sixth grade where it was like, "Hey, Dan, I'm having a sleep over tonight. Do you want to come over? And you say yeah. And then, you say, can I bring Erik?

And say yeah, Erik's got a Super Nintendo. Yeah. Tell him to bring his Super Nintendo over. Those were the days or, oh, let's go stay the night at Erik's because he has a PlayStation. Those were decisions that actually meant something back in the youth.

And let me borrow that game. When was the last time you've heard that one from anybody? I mean, even as an adult, how many friends who share, hey, let me borrow that movie. You're like, nobody. You can buy it yourself because I'll never see it again. And if I do come over and I ask for my game back, you act like I'm a selfish butthole. So, that was the game. Remember this people – 

Erik: I haven't finished it yet. What do you mean? I'm still working on it.

Smitty: Yeah, you've moved. You moved to another state.

Erik: Yeah. Completely across the country, exactly. Yeah, I think everybody had that friend.

Dan: So, Erik, when did you start collecting in earnest would you say? Because I'm now a video game collector. I'm going to start keeping these. Or is it just something you started in – 

Smitty: And what's your endgame too? How did you establish that, right? What's the endgame for you too, beyond being – 

Erik: I mean, to be honest, I went through this period of time where once I became an adult, and realized, oh, I now actually have some money to spend on that type of thing. I went and started looking backwards in my life and going, what do I miss? What did I have that I miss having? What shouldn't I have gotten rid of? Yes. Smitty is flashing Amex black.

Smitty: Dangerous cards.

Erik: The temptation is there though when you realize that you have grown up and you can go back. So, I went back and I got that Odyssey 2 again. And I went back and I got that MES again. And I went back and I got that – 

Smitty: But why? Why did you do it? To fulfill a childhood emptiness in your soul or just because you wanted it and you wanted to play it now?

Erik: I missed having them. I mean, when you look at what gaming was for our generation, we were the first. We were first kids to have that, right?

Smitty: We invented video games. I – 

Erik: Pretty much.

Smitty: I mean, we did it. I mean, starting with Nolan Bushnell, invented video games.

Dan: But he was an adult. He was an adult and we were children. So, the previous generation invented it, we were the ones to grow up with it is what you're saying.

Erik: And we're the ones that forced our parents to spend the money on that. I mean, we all whined and bitched and complained so much that they did it, right? And so, we as a generation made it popular and it's lived on ever since. And now, we're in the position to be able to do the things like make the games and bring the games to the people and talk about the games and all that.

So, for me, looking back once I had that opportunity was like, oh, man, I really miss having that. And as much as I do love emulation and I do love remakes and all that thing. But as much as I love those, I also love playing the originals. So, having the ability to go out and go pick up that Odyssey 2 and grab a copy of Pickaxe Pete.

Dan: That must have been hard to find. Was that hard to find?

Erik: It really wasn't at the time because that's a little bit more obscure but still common enough. So, not too many people were looking for it. It's pretty easy to find it when it was out there. But that's what started that for me is to look back and say, "Oh, God, I wish I had that again. And so, I went and got it again and that was the beginning of my collectors' journey. It wasn't when I was a kid although that planted the seeds.

Smitty: And it's not our collection, it's my collection, no offense.

Dan: Do you collect things because of the value, the monetary value? Or do you collect because you want to have a physical possession that reminds you of something else – 

Erik: I feel very strongly about this one because anybody that's collecting whether it be toys or video games or whatever for monetary value, it's a terrible investment. If you're going to go out and you're going to buy a bunch of different things for a collectible reason, in an investment stance, you end up spending so much on all the ones that aren't going to be worth anything.

They're going to end up being a bunch of dust collectors on your shelf for a lot of those things. And frankly to me, that's just not the motivation that I could see myself doing this. There has to be a love for what you're doing in order to really want to collect it.

And there are ways that you can lose that love too. I was going really, really hard on the Switch collecting. And I got to stop looking at Smitty when I say things like that. I was going really hard into the Switch collecting for all of the different games that had English on the cartridges.

And the first year easy, no problem. Second year was definitely tougher but I managed to stick with it. And the third year, I didn't make it all the way. There were so many releases, there was so much material made that I couldn't keep up. And I took a really hard look at what I was doing and what I wanted to do, where I wanted to spend my money, where I didn't.

And I've changed my strategy on that which is something that I think a lot of people that collect things for nostalgia purposes go through it at some point in time. They take a look at what their strategy has been, why they're doing it and what they're doing and sometimes just reevaluate that. And there's nothing wrong with that there's absolute good reasons to change what you're collecting. And I'm sitting here – 

Smitty: Well, so, what did you change? What's your new trajectory? Don't keep us waiting any longer.

Erik: To be honest, I don't know that I've found the new trajectory yet. I'm still in a space right now where that's in the air for me.

Dan: So, just explain a little bit. What about these cartridges made them special? They had English on the cartridges?

Erik: Yeah. Originally, the goal was to pick up each of the Switch games that had playable English right off the card. So, I've been living in North America, I was going to start with the ESRB rated stuff. And then, fill in around that from other regions. So, if the game didn't come out in the United States, I'd import it.

So, I've got, I've got Japanese games. I've got European games from the UK, from Germany. I've got Korean copies here, just whatever was available out there that was not released in the United States. Because I thought it would be just really cool to have this massive library of Switch games that was available.

Because the Switch has such a broad library grew in a lot of different directions really quickly. And there's a lot of remasters. There's a lot of newer games. It's got a great mix. But yeah, just sheer volume became untenable for me, I couldn't keep up. So, I stopped. And yeah, I mean, I'm in this weird phase right now of trying to figure out which direction I want to go.

I did know that there were some things that I wanted to do. I want to go. I really enjoy the products that analog is putting out with some of their consoles. Their new high-end HDMI, connectable versions of things an NES or Super NES or a Genesis, that type of thing. So, I'm putting a little energy into that. I also started going into modding old systems.

So, I picked up a Dreamcast which I've owned before and it's a great system. But modern television doesn't have the inputs for that or you have to get a little box to go in between. So, I've modded my Dreamcast to have native HDMI using a wonderful hardware mod. And they now call that the DCDigital. I want to actually give little props to the guys that work on that.

I think that they're doing some amazing work there. The collector flame in me is starting to look in a different direction and I don't really know where it's going to take me just yet. I do know that I will still pick up some Switch games but I think it'll probably be stuff that I just have more of a desire to play and not just have on the shelf.

Dan: Yeah. See, I would say the only thing I've really collected in depth was when I had a comic collection when I was younger. And my reason for collecting those comics was because I loved the stories. I read the stories. I wanted to see what happened next, I bought the next issue.

And I did that with dozens of titles, mostly Marvel comics to be fair. I don't know why. You are a DC guy or a Marvel guy. I find you gravitate toward one or the other. And I was a Marvel comics kid. And then, I lost all that, it got destroyed in a flood 20 something years ago, '97, flood in '97. It's a huge thing here.

Erik: If I say cry me a river, is that too cruel?

Dan: Yes, it is. Because it was a river. It was really bad. The entire freaking and almost the whole city was underwater. But anyway, so, but once I lost it, I had no desire to rebuild it. It was like, you know what, I'm going to move on. I'm going to do something else. And I guess I moved more into the realm of DVD collection.

At the time, I was working at Blockbuster videos so I could get by movies for discount stuff. So, I buy DVDs and stuff. And I moved to that but it never got as big as my comic collection did. So, I guess, you lose interest and you move on after a while, right? You just have to change what you're doing to keep yourself interested in it.

Erik: I think there's a lot of different reasons to change do you know, to switch directions. It's really unfortunate I make a joke, but it was really unfortunate that you had to lose that investment because – 

Dan: I didn't think of it as an investment though.

Erik: Well, it was personal investment.

Dan: Yeah. I just kept them. It's not like I read them, put them back in their bag and I bring them out every once in a while. I'll read them again just like you would with any other book or anything like that. But if you don't think of it in terms of money, you just say, okay, well, this is my entertainment for the week, I'm going to go buy my comic books instead of going to the movies or going to a sporting event.

That's what you did. And that's how I justified it. But yeah, then at the point where it all got wiped out, the cost of comics had gone up, right? It was way more expensive. A lot of the stuff I bought when I was a kid was like 99 cents an issue or something like that.

Erik: Now, you can spend $5 on an issue.

Dan: Yeah, it's crazy. Man, I do read digitally, I read some comics digitally. And I also take comics to the library. Our local library here has a great selection of graphic novels and trade paperbacks. And I'll go there and pick out some and it's a lot of fun.

So, that's how I scratch that itch but as far as collecting things. When I think about what you did with your collection of retro systems, it's almost like you're building a museum, right? A video game museum.

Erik: I did. I had them all displayed in a nice wire rack that ended up being a really cool piece to have on display. The idea of seeing them on a shelf was part of that that appeal is like, oh, man, remember that? And being able to share that with people somebody comes over because I used to host these great poker games at the house where I had all things that – 

Dan: Oh, back when poker was a big deal. I remember when poker was fun, when that whole thing happened in the early 2000s and everyone loved poker.

Smitty: Texas Hold'em was a thing.

Dan: That's right.

Erik: That's what we would play, some hold'em. But I get to have all these friends come over and they see them, "Oh, yeah, I remember that. I remember that. That was cool."




Erik: My collecting is very cyclical. I'll go through these things where I'll pick a bunch of stuff up and then I'll sell it to do something else. I almost always turn that into some other thing like a lot of those old consoles, I turned into building my arcade cabinets. And I wouldn't trade that, you know?

Smitty: Yeah. I know. Because I think part of your collection Erik was at the beginning when I first met you, it was the mass of your collection that was your collection. That was the backdrop or the street cred, the legitimacy of you saying, "Yeah, I am a big-time collector." And then here, look, here's a picture and you could show, there, I do have everything I said right that I have.

And so, when I first met you, I remember let's say, the perceived value of your collection from someone on the outside was that you had every single thing, that the size of what. And so, and then knowing you over the years here and seeing what you're talking about with changing how you're collecting, that's what I was asking you earlier, the end game.

Is there an end game to you of, well, I'm going to sell all this? And I think, you were talking about it being a bad investment, if that's your initial purpose. So, I don't think that's your end game, right, is to sell this, make $10,000 extra or something.

Dan: It can't be that, it can't be.

Smitty: It can't be that.

Dan: It's not going to happen.

Smitty: Yeah. So, and I do want to throw in a plug real quick. This collector's therapy session brought to you by Nvidia, Creative Labs, whichever one – 

Erik: Creative Labs, there we go. Let me go back, let me go get my sound blast right off the box.

Smitty: I'm getting my Voodoo2 Extreme video card and graphics card.

Erik: With SLI, when it meant Scan-Line Interleave.

Smitty: Not interface?

Erik: No.

Smitty: Yeah, there you go kids. Look up those names.

Dan: I think everybody who collects something, it's an extension of their fandom of that thing. So, whatever it is you collect, you do it because you love it and you want to celebrate it and show off to people that you're celebrating it and just scream from the rooftops that you love this thing.

And for you as Nintendo and that came into other video games and other systems, I do agree that it's very cool to see systems on display, you don't even have to play them. For those old systems, you can just see them nicely. I remember going to World of Nintendo in New York when I went there, I don't know, eight or nine years ago.

And they had a museum of all the different Nintendo systems going back to the original Famicom and all that stuff. And one of the things they had that was really cool is they had a Gameboy that had been blasted in the Gulf War –

Erik: And it still works.

Dan: It still works. And they had that while it was on. It was on and playing the game and on the demo. And I'm like, that's so cool that they have that. And that stuff is I find really cool. That's history. It's video game history. It's very, very neat stuff.

Erik: Yeah. Plus, you get to see some of the more obscure things. And this isn't super obscure but a Virtual Boy for instance. Not everybody had one of those. Not everybody has seen one of those. Not everybody has had the chance to play one of those. If you have one of those and it's sitting on your shelf, people do look at it plus it's got that really cool red and weird look to it. And it's just like, oh, that's neat.

Smitty: What was the name of that thing they had for Super Nintendo that was the robot. And remember – 

Dan: Oh, Robby.

Erik: That's for the regular Nintendo. That was for the original NES.

Smitty: Is that what it was for? I couldn't remember. I was trying to – 

Erik: ROB the R.O.B., R-O-B.

Smitty: And it was terrible. It worked for one and a half games or something. And you could spin wouldn't it? You could spin tops or something. And – 

Erik: Yeah. It has these little spinny tops is probably the best way to put them. They were gyroscopic tops and they could be spun by it and sit on the buttons, push buttons on the thing.

Smitty: It never worked.

Dan: And the whole point of it, the one game – 

Erik: Gyromite.

Dan: Gyromite.

Smitty: Gyromite.

Dan: The whole point was to raise and lower these walls that you would play one side – 

Smitty: That's right.

Dan: ... to the other side. So, it was a gimmicky thing, I think. And that came up with the original system. That was the first launched thing.

Erik: There's also I think it's called Stack-Up. It's even more obscure but also used the ROB.

Dan: Oh, man, it'd be a good episode to talk about obscure video game peripherals and talking about all the weird stuff that's come out over the years.

Smitty: Well, because I think I still have that because I think I tried to sell it in a garage sale a long time ago and people were like, "Eh."

Erik: Well, you and I can talk about that one day and I'll just have to buy it from you.

Smitty: I told you when you just brought up a Sega Dreamcast, I told you I have a Dreamcast in my closet, still shrink wrap, never opened.

Erik: I know.

Smitty: That they gave me and – 

Erik: And for some reason you won't give it to me for free. I don't know why? I can't – 

Smitty: It's one of those things that I didn't, like Dreamcast I – 

Dan: Were these the ones gave out at E3?

Erik: You have to talk into the – 

Dan: He's nodding, everybody.

Erik: We're in a podcast and he's nodding.

Smitty: Oh, I didn't want anybody to know how valuable it really was. That was – 

Dan: I'll tell you this about the Dreamcast. I hated the controller for the Dreamcast that was really awkward to hold.

Erik: What's wrong with the controller?

Dan: The games were excellent. It's so bulky and – 

Smitty: It is weird.

Erik: Look, I know this isn't going to be something the people see but I've literally got my Dreamcast controller right here. This is comfortable. It's perfect.

Smitty: It had a tiny LED thing that really just showed the heart – 

Erik: It's the VMU right here.

Smitty: The VMU.

Dan: You can play a game on that thing.

Smitty: And but I do remember that back in the day when the video game business when E3 that stuff went you always wanted to go because you came back with swag, man. It wasn't just t-shirts, man. You came back with motherboards and graphics and stuff like 10. And then, I'll come back – 

Erik: Boxes of games too.

Smitty: Oh, everybody. Yeah, they're handing out games like candy. But they weren't this. They weren't always in boxes. And then, I'd come back. And half my guys at TRI used to be mad because I got to go to these big shows. Then they're the guys humping their ass off coding all the games.

I'm just chasing money and press stories, right? And so, I'd say, "Oh, yeah, I went to E3." And they're like, "Oh, yeah, and you had so much fun. And you went to all the big parties." And I said, "Yeah. And then, look." And they'd be like, "Oh, I love you, man.

You're the coolest man. Is that a whole box of Creative Labs speakers?" And I was like, "No. What I'm not telling you is the clutch PC speakers I kept in my office. You guys got the Creative Labs ones. But yeah, anyway, back in the day when you used to get swag.

But and then, we used to do flight simulators. And so, all this stuff that all of us used to collect, the desktop mount yokes with any your rudder controls for the ground, all that. Or if you're driving games and you had the total wheels with the shifter and stuff.

That was back in the day, remember, they used to clip to your desks and they weren't simulators but they were dang close. And I still have all those peripherals not because I thought they would ever be worth any money, but they are just too stupid expensive to throw away. Or I mean, most people, you try to give them away, go try to give that to goodwill. They'd look at you and say, "Ah, no, thanks," right?

Dan: So, you have to be a hoarder as well to be a collector, right? You have to be not willing to throw anything out.

Smitty: Well, I think that's the difference, right? And what makes a collector a hoarder and a hoarder a collector? It's the definition.

Dan: I've seen some pretty intense collections. I've seen collections where people just have everything stuffed in their closet and they don't have it on display. That to me seems a hoarder thing where they're just keeping it for the sake of keeping it. You have to be able to show it off and tell people about it, right?

Smitty: True. Yeah. I think a hoarder would be classified as someone who, like you said, doesn't have necessarily an organization to it or a purpose for having it, presenting it or anything but a collector. But then, there's levels of collectors just like Erik's been going through his different ideas of what a collector is from a monetary to just personal and an emotional connection.

And then, historical and documenting history. It's even what I do now with Special Reserve Games, right? We're always trying to, I would say, preserve digital art. And because I found that that's one of the things when you look back on some of these video games, we talk a lot about the systems and the hardware and all that.

We always have that physical connection. The arcades, we always have that physical connection. But you don't always have that physical connection with each individual game, right? That we – 

Dan: Well, not anymore. Not when they're all available digitally and you can just download it, right? So, that's the thing, yeah.

Smitty: Or on your phone. Gross. I mean, I still hate when people say, "Oh, I saw that game." I was like, "Where'd you play it? Oh, on my phone." I was like, "You didn't really play that."

Dan: It's not the same.

Smitty: Play the game, you just wasted your time at the bus stop.

Dan: Well, no but even ports of console games. I got Grand Theft Auto. I think I've got San Andreas, not San Andreas, Vice City on my phone. You can play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one I played on my phone. It's not the same.

Smitty: And then, from a competition standpoint, I know for a fact that Fortnite mobile was never allowed in any form with anybody of the big streamers or any competition. So, you couldn't play Fortnite mobile against PC or console players because everyone knows that it had assisted aiming.

Dan: Oh, does it really?

Smitty: Yeah.

Dan: Oh, shit. I'm going to play Fortnite on my phone now. I didn't know.

Smitty: Exactly.

Dan: That's going to do it for this episode of Games You Deserve. Thank you so much for listening. Let us know what you think of what we talked about today. You can follow us on social media, links are in the description or leave us a voice message. For Smitty and Erik, I'm producer, Dan. Game over.