Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Dark Side of Collecting...

Imagine as a kid walking into your local arcade. You walk up to your favorite game, pull out a light saber, and put it right through the screen. You come back with a second swing that leaves a jagged hole through the lower front of the machine. Another strike slices through the side art like it's warm butter. Hard to imagine isn’t it ? Well it’s hard to imagine that any kid that spent any amount of time in an arcade could grow up and destroy a game as an adult either. It used to be that the collecting community was all about saving the arcade games of the galaxy. Now unfortunately, we have a “new breed” of collectors that appear to be turning away from the rest of us. This new group of “hack collectors” as I like to call them will buy a game for cheap and part it out without giving it a second thought. These games had enough enemies as it was. Time and neglect eating away at resistors, capacitors and cabinets. Operators converting machines into hideous new creations. Weather taking its toll on machines left outside by clueless civilians. Now we can officially add greed and instant gratification to the list.

These new hack collectors will see a cheap game, buy it, and harvest off its organs without a bit of remorse or care. Greed and instant gratification has lured them to the Dark Side of collecting. The dollar sign has become mightier than the nostalgia for these guys. I understand some games are beyond saving due to water damage, infestation and so on. I’m not talking about those. I am talking about perfectly good games or games that could be saved with minimal effort. I see hack collectors trying to justify their greed all the time. Excuses like “I need the space “or I can’t find a buyer for the complete game “. Some don’t even bother. For some they enjoy the power trip of being “the guy that has what you need”. Guess you can add egos to the list of threats too. As a collector, when you buy a machine, you have an obligation to preserve it. That means sitting on it until you find a buyer if needed. Most of the time when they need space it’s so they can pick up a different machine. They just don’t have the patience to find that unwanted game a new home. They need instant gratification so they just part the machine out. “Gotta get that other game right now ! ”

The people that claim to love and restore these machines have become the biggest threat. Greed and instant gratification, the Dark Side of collecting, probably kills more machines in a year than all other threats combined. I remember the days when I would be glad to see these machines make it into the hands of fellow collectors. I knew they would be preserved. Not anymore. Now we as collectors have to identify the collectors who have turned and be careful who we sell to. It used to be that we tried getting games away from the operators, now we have to keep them away from the Dark Side.

It’s not too late. It’s not too late for the games and it’s not too late for you if you are one of these hacks. You can change your ways. Somewhere deep down you have a connection to these games that brought you in to the community. The temptations of greed and instant gratification corrupted your previously good intentions. All it takes is some discipline and patience. Discipline to say no to the dollar signs of the Dark Side and patience to find the right buyer for a game you no longer want. Remember the scene in “Return of the Jedi “when Vader realizes he is killing his own son, has a moment of clarity, and turns on the emperor ? That could be you! Put the light saber down and step away from the game. Search your true feelings. The machines are counting on you. Do not let the power of the Dark Side take control. And may The Force be with you, always…

"No Father ! I will never part out an arcade game ! "

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