Ten years ago you could walk into a used game shop and buy a box of NES games for a buck each. Five years ago you could still find great deals on SNES bundles on eBay if you kept a casual eye on newly listed items. Today, with flea markets drying up and even Craigslist sellers wisened up to going prices, it can be hard to find great deals anymore.
One group of collectors, the Denver Retro Gamers (DRG), has noticed this trend and taken matters into its own hands. Once a month, this Facebook-based group of retro-game aficionados gathers together to buy, sell, and swap games with each other. In their early days, they’d get no more than 4-8 people to show up, but the group has steadily grown into the hundreds and nowadays they often reach upwards of 40-50 for each event. Whereas early meetups were held at the lunch tables of Addenbrooke Park in Lakewood, CO, recent meetups have been hosted by local gaming shops such as Buy Back Games and Game Force Aurora whose managers are ecstatic to attract their business as well as curious passers-by wondering what’s going on in the stuffed store with the packed parking lot!
With such well-studied attendees you might think that there wouldn’t be enough deals to make it worth it, but that assessment would be wrong. DRG members aren’t just online acquaintances but instead have great report with one another thanks to the monthly gatherings. Collectors who’ve come across great N64 games know they can cut good deals with other collectors who might have Genesis games they don’t care so much about. Just ask Ken who concurs, “The best thing about meetups is turning the items you don’t need into items you do need.”
And that’s just the beginning of it. Making sales or trades at the meetup bypasses the 13% fees that eBay imposes on its auctions and saves members’ gas, time and risk for all those Craigslist deals they’d have to commence with. Established connections and that you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours attitude lands members big hauls for great prices among this easy-going community. As long-time member Miguel puts it, “It’s very satisfying to help a buddy get something they’ve been seeking.”
“I don’t run across people who like video games that often so it’s really nice being able to share a passion of mine with others who have that same passion for gaming,” says member Jesse who’s an avid collector of RPG’s. “Some of the coolest people I’ve met have been at these meetups and through Facebook gaming groups.”
What makes the DRG a special new breed of gaming group is that they’re built on human connections that go far beyond the growing number of retro Facebook groups. The members exhibit great cooperation with each other to track down the latest hot items. In fact, as a member myself, I was able to pre-order one of the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask 3DS‘s only because someone posted about it being newly available on Best Buy that very minute!
To keep a group like this tight and trustworthy takes a lot of work, though, too. Members who don’t demonstrate co-operation with others are removed from the group. Anonymity is also disapproved of. A faux name won’t get you into the group anymore. This shared attitude towards collecting keeps the group tight with each other and always gives them a sense of trust when conducting deals. You see it every time a seller bargains a price down for their seller!
Be sure to check your local area for game clubs with your own shared interests. Encourage them to consider meetups in person so that they, too, can establish those same close connections that will help everyone grow together. Collectors, when working together, can find what they need and the hobby/passion/obsession will become a far more enjoyable journey.