Nostalgia is ultimately why most people collect PC games. But, there’s something more going on here.
Someone asked a question at one of our Sunday hangouts that got me scratching my head. “Do you guys know if your disks even work?” Why do I collect PC games?
Truthfully, I have no clue if most of my disks work. There are a few 3.5″ disks that I have checked (and subsequently backed up), but 5.25″ disks are a mystery. This will likely remain a mystery because I do not collect hardware, and my modern PC does not have a floppy drive controller in it at all.
For playing these classics, I have my trusty GoG.com, Steam, and Origin copies which have been finagled to work on modern setups. Physical copies are no longer a necessity in this modern age of digital distribution
Therefore, I have determined that I collect these physical relics of a by-gone age for the physical… relics. My passion is in the boxes, manuals, catalogs, flyers, install instructions, and even the often forgotten registration card. That’s merely a statement of fact that will probably not surprise anyone on the outside looking in. The way I fret over boxes and their contents is almost hoarderish in nature.
Let’s go back to nostalgia for a bit, though. I’ve been a gamer for as long as there have been video games (in a mass market sense). Video games and I have figuratively grown up together; although, it sometimes seems like video games are stuck in the teenage years. As an adult gamer, there’s something shallow and overly easy for me in pressing a button and downloading those digital gems from online sellers. Yes, I had to walk to Babbages uphill both ways in the snow back in the day. But, there are experiences that modern gamers will not get to have.
I’ll never forget unwrapping King’s Quest V, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades for Christmas. I booted up the old Tandy 1000 SX (with a VGA card, mind you) and began a multi-disk installing extravaganza. As the old drive churned away on disk after disk, I had there a plethora of stuff in impressive boxes to read, flip through, and otherwise admire. See, back then we actually read the manuals because we had to wait on the computer to do stuff. In a way, the game developers were even entertaining us when we couldn’t play their games.
I’ve told the story several times about my wife (then girlfriend) and I driving a couple of hours to pick up my Dragon Edition Ultima IX. We obtained it from Babbages (or EB, can’t remember which) and I had the pleasure of sitting on a bench in Sears admiring all the kick-ass stuff while she shopped in Sears for clothes. You may be thinking “that’s a strange thing to be nostalgic about”. Maybe. But, it’s often the anticipation of things to come that we enjoy more than the things themselves. Nothing in this modern age of immediate entertainment can beat eating a cheeseburger in Burger King while flipping through a game manual.
I think this is one reason why modern Collector’s Editions appeal to me so much. They scratch that itch of cool game related items to mess with.
One day, none of the disks we collect will work anymore. It’s the nature of magnetic media to degrade overtime. The games are only half the story when it comes to this hobby. But, I’ll still be able to read those books and study those maps. That’s what PC game collecting is all about for me.