Game collecting

I mentioned before that I donated a bunch of my game collection to the CVGA. I decided to keep the systems that mean something to me. I wanted to clarify that a bit more because there actual method to what I decide to keep and I think it's important that we understand clearly what we've let into our lives and why.

Here's my rubric for what remained:

  • Making games for it doesn't require breaking encryption, copy protection, or require some special hacks. This excludes the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast machines, which require some form of authentication in order to authenticate that the discs are genuine. There's also no way to create a GDROM for the Dreamcast so you're limited to about 50% of the storage capabilities of the system. And while the 7800 had a 960 byte encrypted hash that needed to match the cartridge or it would only boot in 2600 mode. That encryption algorithm has been sufficiently reverse-engineered for almost 20 years now, so it's safe to say it's no longer an issue.

  • The emulation is simple. This is specific to video and computer games. I enjoy having the hardware but sometimes I'll be somewhere where carting around a large collection of tapes, cartridges, and disks is not feasible. Having the ability to emulate the system without having to go trough hoops is a nice thing to have. You'd be surprised how many systems don't have great emulation under Linux.

  • The machine is simple to program. The Sega Saturn was notorious to develop for, as it had a lot of custom chips that needed to work in harmony. The Dreamcast is also not simple to develop for but folks have managed to figure it out. And while the Atari systems are not 100% fall-off-a-log-simple they are simpler machines than the Sega machines. Also the Sega machines had dev kits that had special hardware for development.

  • Space. These things take up space, both with the number of games, the cases, the controllers, etc. As I'm getting older I want different things in those spaces. 'nuff said.

  • It needs to be an open system. This is one of the things that I decided was most important to me. It needs to have a certain amount of "hackability" to it. This meant that most of the computers that I kept met this criteria because they're well-understood machines (and in the case of the Atari ST there's EmuTOS, which is a GPLed version of the TOS operating system). The Sinclair machines have all of their source-code published and annotated in books. The Atari 8-bit machines have technical reference documentation along with comments. The Vectrex was opened up as a platform by GCE. And few machines are as well understood as the Atari 2600 and its 7800 progeny. There is also a vibrant community for the Neo Geo platform and the machines seem to be well documented and not require specialized hardware to program. For RPG systems it means a core that can be adapted because of an open license or is simple enough that I can play with it and adapt it to my needs. For board games this manifests itself with pieces that can be used to build other games (The White Box, Pyramid Arcade, etc.).

Now, not all of the things in my collection fit these requirements. There are RPG and board games that are purpose-built for their intended purpose (Carcassone is hard to adapt into something other than a tile-laying game). That's OK. Not everything needs to match this rule exactly. But I'm aware of the reasons I'm keeping them. Sometimes "I like it" or "we have fun playing it" is reason enough to keep something.

The main rubric; the main thing that really is important to me for what I want to collect / keep in my collection is my affinity for that particular game / system. The Sega / 3DO systems were a big part of my formative years as a collector but over time I've just not found myself hooking them up as much as the Neo Geo / Atari systems. That and as I'm getting older I'm finding myself wanting to focus more heavily on the things that bring me joy. Adding all of these things up the Sega machines just weren't cutting it anymore. Nor was the 3DO (which was more of a curiosity than anything) or the Turbografx (which I never got the multiplayer tap, so everything was one player only). I've had more joy with the Atari machines as of late, and the Neo Geo systems.

Now, we do have several Nintendo systems. Isn't Nintendo one of those evil companies that shouldn't have made the cut? There's a simple reason for this. JoDee plays those systems more than I do so in a sense they are more "her" systems or "our" systems. So I'm not the sole arbiter of whether they stay or not. (Plus if she can't play Metroid there will be hell to pay.)

Anywho, that's a brief look into what my thought process was. I'm content with my decisions at the moment. Whether that changes in the future is left to the whims of my future self. For now what's there brings me joy. And in the end a game's only function in life is to bring joy. If it doesn't serve that purpose then it's time to let it go to someone who will enjoy it.