Bye Bye Collection! Does Starting A Family Mark The End Of Your Retro Gaming Life?

Family-Vs-CollectionAbout 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.

All gone.

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).

All gone.

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!

Last Updated ( 11 May 2016 )  

Ian Cortina

Ian Cortina is a 36 year old curiosity from the UK and Catalunya. He likes computing, pretending to solve complex problems, anything analog and will not eat anything round

Other recent articles:


+1 (Link to this comment) Zelkian 2016-05-12 16:25
I couldn't tell from your story about some specific details, but in my case my wife and I planned for a while to have two kids and the second one was just born a month ago. You also seem to have had a bigger collection than me, but I got a pretty sizeable amount of games and all the systems I grew up with as an 80s/90s kid along with the new stuff (not long ago I got an old arcade machine too). For me it wasn't a big change beyond the amount of time I could spend to game and not buying as many games as I possibly could, but that was something I stopped doing many years ago after having too many games that never got played.
+1 (Link to this comment) Zelkian 2016-05-12 16:26
Didnt know there was a limit so here's the second part.

When I saw that quote from Satoru Iwata about having a heart of a gamer years ago I thought that was how I felt exactly. So I still have a passion for gaming along side my dedication to family and of course my job, which I like. I was lucky in that I didn't need to sell my games for any particular need or reason and still have the ability to buy some more when possible. I might be unique in that regard, but as you mentioned, kids are a life changing event that your world revolves around. I'm sure its a common fear for anyone having kids, but I was relieved when after having a baby for a while that I didn't change. I imagined things would be totally different in that I would be different, I would think different, I wouldnt be myself, but its true: wherever you go, there you are.
(Link to this comment) paradiesel82 2016-05-12 21:38
First of all: thank you for "this lengthy commentary-cum-confessional"!

Me and my wife had planned to be parents, when i was around 30 years of age (i am 36 now). Luckily enough, this plan came to life (literally) and my son was born in 2011.
I knew it would mean that my priorities would have to change, and it took me a surprisingly short amount of time to adapt to the new situation.

In fact, i was becoming much more aware and selective of what i was collecting while also selling stuff that i wasnt all that heavily tied to (personal feelings-wise).
I still have a decent collection, even though there was not much "use" for it recently. But not long ago i started playing simple retro games with my son - its the best! To see him laughing, enjoying the same games as i did is a fantastic feeling and a trip to my own past! :-)
+1 (Link to this comment) Niffy 2016-05-13 11:25
I sold a load of doubles and some consoles when our second girl came along – I don't regret selling any of them except for I didn't get anywhere near what it was worth, the main sing was space with all the pink gigantic toys. I have kind of decided to keep a minimal collection but really have run out of space and have also discovered the girls like retro games (watching or having a go). I want to cut down my collection a bit further and only own good games but I don't think I will ever be able to sell the Megadrive games I owned as a kid – the nostalgia is too strong.
+1 (Link to this comment) BuckoA51 2016-05-14 08:50
Scary stuff! Good article though, lucky for me the other half doesn't want a family :D
+1 (Link to this comment) jashod 2016-05-14 09:59
When my family started I decided to turn the collection I have into a business. I'm also a DJ so had a huge collection of vinyl (round about 100000 albums, singles etc) and was a huge 8-16 bit computer/software collector who dabbled in consoles. I was a bricklayer who worked my nuts off saving money for the new arrival and started selling some of my items to earn extra money. These items sold quickly and made a good profit. I put a suggestion to my Mrs, let me open a Ebay shop, list more items and see how they go. They went very well. I then put another suggestion to her. Let me start a company selling my items, she can return to work if she wanted after the maternity leave runs out and i'll stay at home looking after our son. Six years on, I have my own website, another son to add to the collection and I get to see them everyday growing up. So far it seems to be working well, i'm not a millionaire, but I make a profit and a living from it.
+1 (Link to this comment) Noobsaibot21 2016-05-15 19:56
Are you from the UK or Ireland? :P

I will be keeping my collection (which is not as large as your sounded to be fair) but I will likely just keep the hardware and flash cards/disc emulators. After all, I see myself as more of a retro game PLAYER rather than a retro game COLLECTOR.

I will sell of valuables when a kid is in sight to help financially but I want to share my retro gaming experiences with my child. I would much rather raise him/her on Sega than whatever the games industry might look like down the years.

As for me, the missus knows I like games and wont to try to change me (i'm not a "project" to be fixed or "mold" waiting to be sculpted) as this is her changing the person she fell in love with. I feel we only get one go round and, to quote the title of 'Jimmy's joke book' from 2fm (circa 2001) "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time".
+1 (Link to this comment) Taucher1979 2016-05-17 16:01
Great article. I am Dad to a 8 month old baby boy and I have not found that being a Dad has altered my collecting too much. I mainly buy fairly cheap stuff and ask for more expensive items as presents etc.

My collection is not huge, however, and I only got bitten by the bug a couple of months before my wife became pregnant. I have found that I am collecting and playing my Nintendo DS more though - there are some great games, it is still cheap and I can pick up and play for short bursts. Also, I can take to work and have a go on my lunch break.
(Link to this comment) arober4 2016-05-27 14:53
I grew up with a Genesis, but it wasn't until my dad busted out his Intellivision and Commodore 64 that I became a true gamer. I remember being bummed when he told me he used to have an Atari and ColecoVision. Just save that shit, your kids will love it!
(Link to this comment) mynameisrod 2016-06-05 21:39
even if buying a flat with my wife ... and even if having the most evil cat all around the different universes, I'll never sell my collection.

But I understand totally your point of view.

By the way : congrats ! :)

Retro Game Database Search

Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they discuss our gaming past in the all new RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast.

Retro Games on eBay now

About RetroCollect

RetroCollect is your one stop for everything retro games and retro gaming. Featuring the latest classic gaming news around, informative reviews and an ever active forum, you'll feel right at home with other retro gamers.

RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they talk their way through the wonderful world of retro gaming.

Listen to RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join RetroCollect on the web