About 24 months ago, everything (and I really do mean everything) in my life changed. Forever. I recall where I was, not necessarily what day, other than it was hot (that being a miracle in itself in Ireland), or what time, other than it was bright-ish out and I was standing in our kitchen; when my wife delivered the news that we were expecting our first child.
I'm reasonably confident that many of you reading this have been on the receiving end of, or have even delivered that important, life-changing set of words. I'm reasonably confident that many of you reading this have also at some stage owned, or presently own a large video game collection (given where the site this article has been posted to). I expect that the majority of you, like me, upon discovering such news, began to wonder what effect the upcoming expense of welcoming a child would have upon your current and future financial situation. I certainly did. The first thought that entered my mind was "the collection has to go".
And go it did.
A PC Engine collection consisting of rare, boxed Micomsoft arcade sticks, an RGB-modded Duo R, piles of Hu Cards, Super CDs, an Everdrive and other misc items. All went in one fell swoop to one lucky punter with a sizeable wallet. Items that took several years to curate, even a trip to Japan in 2012.
In some cases for less than I paid out for them as at the time, and in large part due to my niche tastes, the market just wasn't there. Rare posters, merchandise, even a New Astro City arcade cab and several PCB's, including my much-coveted Hyper Duel board (which now resides in Dubai last I knew).
In return for such drastic measures we received a cot, a travel system and numerous other bits and pieces that, as time passed, my wife became ever more 'expecting' and my collection shrank, actually changed my thought process in its entirety. Here was a collection of items that for a part of my life meant so much to me (on a personal interest level) and yet even though it was all leaving our abode in droves by the week, I actually didn't (and still don't) really care. In fact it was quite liberating.
I'd guestimate that many of you reading this may have a similar background to myself when it comes to collecting and retro gaming. You were a child of the 80s/90s and during those precious, golden times of yore and wonder, you, like me, coveted the gaming press and television output. Being drip-fed tantalizing titbits of information from the Far East, the USA and good old Blighty and Europe. Hazy, blurry screenshots of sizzling new games would appear in print and set your pulses running. Big news, big previews, glittering reviews and succulent £100+ import prices courtesy of Project K, Sheffield Space Centre allez the rest of the collection of black and white 'pop up shop' classifieds at the back of Super Play, Commodore Format and so on which would send waves of rapture through our young minds.
Glorious worlds of gaming goodness that looked so stunning in badly photocopied black and white small ads which, in all honesty, very few of us could afford to enter in to. We didn’t even have a National Lottery to enter in the hopes of spending our vast fortunes on video games!
Is it a desire, now we are older, and have a disposable income, to obtain what was once a mere pipe-dream for us as children, at any cost? 'At any cost' referring to some of the ludicrous sums some retro gaming items command today. I think in my case this did play a part in my beginning a collection. Once I knew I was going to be a father, my mind-set changed entirely. Not overnight, but as the collection began to downsize. I'm not saying my collection was my be all and end all, that's wrong, that's not how I think at all. That's ludicrous. It's just that maybe it takes a sizable event such as this to put things in to perspective should you have reason to believe your hobby is starting to get a little out of hand.
So it was that time passed and eventually a good 75 to 80% of my collection had been sold or donated, raffled, eaten, melted, fired out of a cannon in to the sun and so on. It was now significantly less than the gargantuan mass it had peaked at.
I felt indifferent.
Everything was now focused on our new arrival, who by the time my collection had been sufficiently downsized was imminent.
Again, I felt indifferent towards the recent downsizing.
The community told me "you'll miss X, you'll want to buy X back" and "you'll just buy it all back" and so on. Doubts, however, never set in.
My son arrived in March 2015. It's been just over a year since that life-changing March day and I still don't regret parting with my collection. In fact since the time pregnancy was announced, I've had very little, and now even less (!) time to dedicate to my hobby. However...
Starting a family doesn't mean your love of video games ends there.
Video games played a massive part of my early life. I made, argued, lost, made up with, lost and rekindled again several friends, some of them life-long, thanks to video games. Video games stirred my imagination, got me thinking, creating and exploring unlike almost any other medium available at the time. For something that played such an important role in my childhood and teenage development, I think it's redundant to just toss aside something that means so much to you and never revisit it again. What will you tell your own children about your childhood when they are old enough to become curious about what you did for recreation at their age?
Today I still have a small, but perfectly manageable collection. It is mostly comprised of books, merchandise, a couple of modern handhelds, a PS2, an XBOX 360 and a Dreamcast. I'm not really sure why I held on to the Dreamcast, I'm not even that massive a fan of it, but it's there, sat on my desk, in my cramped shoebox office connected to a Framemeister, an HDMI switch and an LCD monitor for a dust off once every 6 months or so. As for retro games, emulation is my staple these days. Retropie and a GPD XD are my platforms of choice. What income would have previously been spent on sealed copies of Gaia Seed and Battle Garegga is now spent on Pampers Jumbo packs and multibuy tubs of Liga. So emulation for me is a key access point for my retro gaming needs.
I still think I have too much stuff. But that isn't really the point of my writing this lengthy commentary-cum-confessional. Parting with my collection, becoming a father and now entering the spectacular suffusion of tiring 2 hourly feeds to watching my son begin to take his first steps has, in its own chaotic way, provided me with an entirely new approach to my relationship with retro games and personal interests. For those yet to experience the joy of parenthood, let it be said that there are no truer words than "your life revolves around your children".
This is gospel. This is fact. It's not a ploy or scare tactic. It's actually a genuine heartfelt feeling that will find a way to rise to the very summit of your soul and innermost thoughts no matter how deeply locked away you think it may be.
What it does not mean is that 'your' life stops right there.
I have a new relationship with video games, collecting and making time for personal interests now. What little free time away from my family I may have I consider being precious. After all it's what makes me, me. Keeps me, me. With that in mind I've taken an entirely new approach to retain and maximise my interests.
I run a personal blog. I printed a one off fanzine. I involve myself in social media, a resource which has proven to be invaluable over the past decade or so. I've also developed a keen interest in archiving and preserving retro games and related items manufactured on susceptible storage formats. I don't get so much time to play games any more, but I do have enough time to soak up more knowledge and, I hope, help play a part in preserving even just a fraction of history for future generations.
Starting a family didn't stop me from enjoying the hobbies and interests I love. It helped me approach them in new ways that have helped take my passion even further and toward new avenues. Starting a family, for me, did not mean the end of my interest in retro gaming.
What about you?
Have you been affected by a significant or life-changing event? What impact did it have on your hobbies and interests? Are you a parent that loves retro gaming? How do you find time to maintain your hobby? I would love to hear your stories so make sure to leave a comment below!
|< Prev||Next >|