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Why do YOU collect Atari 2600 games?


totallyterrificpants
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The VCS was 13 years old by the time I came along. I knew of Atari but it wasn't until 2002-3ish I started researching old games for Atari, Genesis, NES etc. I love the later 8 bit and 16 bit machines but the simplicity of Atari's arcade like games. I love them. I have collected for mostly Sega platforms but I feel with 2600 I find so many quirky games and I feel with all the label variants, cart shapes and obscure companies, it truly feels like the Wild West collecting and no collection is identical to another. For example a Sega Master System or NES has a set checklist while the VCS feels endless. Also Atari's history is so interesting which adds a story to the collection.

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It's hard for me to understand why anyone born in the mid to late 1980's or later would have any interest whatsoever in playing or collecting Atari cartridges. Compared to what a person growing up in that era was exposed to, (Nintendo & Sega), it would seem illogical for them to even have a curiosity about it.

 

As for myself, I can best explain it as a longing. One that I would compare to what that small group of people felt in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Before I knew of and/or met anyone else that cared about or had an interest in locating & acquiring these cartridges, I found myself passionately engulfed in what seemed like a calling.

 

Circa 1984: There was no internet. There were no books, or checklists. Magazines evaporated. There was no ability (permission from parents) to make long distance phone calls to companies. Video games just disappeared & were almost wiped off the face of the Earth.

 

All I had to work with was whichever catalogs companies made, and word of mouth between classmates at school. Every day I would ask anyone & everyone at school: "Do you have an Atari?" followed by: "What games do you have?" and finally: "Can I buy your games?". In my own mind, I was completely alone, nobody else cared or gave a crap about these now forgotten relics of a "trend" called video games, and I was the only one collecting them. But I felt compelled to do so. Not just because I still loved playing them, and it was hands down my favorite pass time, but because I enjoyed acquiring them and seeing them accumulate; much the same way as coins, stamps, baseball cards, etc.

 

I knew I was "collecting" video games. I understood it even back then. Nobody else in my life did. They thought I was crazy. Insane even. Obsessed with "garbage". Every classmate who sold me their games, sold them for just 2 or 3 bucks a piece. Sometimes just $1. It was junk to the rest of the world.

 

So, that's why I collect(ed) Atari. I grew up with it and saw video games blossom into what they became later in life. It has meaning & history to me. But I don't see how it possibly could have the same meaning to some punk from the 90's who grew up with PlayStation & Xbox. Those machines and the drink coasters that run on them are absolute garbage to me. They are not video games. They are interactive movies. Eye candy. No play control. No substance. No game play. They will never have any place in my life or in my collections. Video Games died for me when they went CD & 3D. Rest in peace.

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I was only 7 in 84 and I think I got my atari jr. when I was 9 or 10. I played on a 6 switch sears model at a friends house and he had a bunch of games.

I got my parents to buy me every month or so a new game for 2 or 3 years. Then you could not buy 2600 games as NES came out and took over the shelves.

I bought games from my friend who needed money for smokes. I remember buying vanguard with nickles quarters and loonies.

He died in 02 of diabetes was one of the few people I knew back then that would have found it interesting playing old games.

So maybe I keep this stuff to remember the past and agree never was any system made that highlighted gameplay. They did not have much to work with so they actually asked themselves is playing the game fun?

Too many games today the only question is asked if the graphics look good?

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Collecting 2600 is an easy trap- many games are common, inexpensive, and fun. Then one day you stumble across your first R5- next thing you know, you're up all night memorizing rarity guides and sniping eBay. Unfortunately, that R8 just doesn't have the fun factor of Demon Attack, so you keep pushing for your next fix.

Atari collecting is crack.

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2600 was the first system I ever played, other than a pong machine, which makes it one of my favorite systems. Many memories growing up playing it and still some of my favorite games are on 2600. Top 2 for me are Berzerk and Demon Attack. I still play them a lot. Still though, Dig Dug, Atlantis, Missile Command (I play more on the 5200 due to the trak ball), moon patrol, so many great games that you can pick up and play for a few minutes and enjoy. not like today's games where you have to sit for a long time before you can stop due to having to save the game.

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I got an Atari for Christmas around 1980 (give or take a year). My best friend got an Intellivision the same Christmas. We were in heaven. It was the Wild West back then also. Lots of stores sold atari carts but their selection was usually limited. I bought games from some unusual places. I bought Fire Fighter from an electric, heating and cooling place (it was the only place I knew that sold Imagic games at the time), I bought Donkey Kong from a Lowery's Music Center (lots of places sold Donkey Kong but they were all sold out), I drank lots of Kool-Aid and sent my proofs of purchase to get Kool-Aid Man, and I bought Gopher from our local grocery store for $5. We talked about games at school. I still vividly recall a discussion about a cart that played a game from each end (Xonox double enders). None of us had actually seen one but thought it sounded incredibly cool. I played Atari mostly on a small black and white TV until I received Starmaster for my birthday. I showed my dad that you had to play it on a color television (it said so right in the instructions). He didn't want me playing on the family TV so I ended up getting a small color television for my bedroom (thank you Starmaster!). I played a ton of Atari (and Intellivision) until I "upgraded" to a Commodore 64. I had a Vic-20 prior to the C-64 but it shared time with the Atari.

 

Sometime in 1991, a friend and I responded to an ad from someone selling an Atari and 200+ carts. We bought the whole lot for $200 and held a draft. None of the carts were rare but we didn't care (or even know about rarity at the time). I still see him at work from time to time and he still reminds me that I "stole" GORF from him by pretending to not be interested in it (we played lots of games before the draft) and then drafting it before he could (although I think it was my second round pick). It was just a ton of fun to play again. I also discovered the joys of flea markets around the same time. Back then I could find a bunch of games for $1 each. I'd wake up early on Saturday morning, hit a few flea markets and come back with a bunch of new games almost every weekend. I found stuff that I didn't even know was made back in the day (like Rampage and Double Dragon or games like Fire Fly and Sorcerer). I enjoyed collecting the games as much as playing games and when I did play, I still preferred the Atari (or Intellivison) because my time was usually limited and newer games were becoming more and more complicated.

 

Now my 10 year old and his friends have really gotten into playing the Atari. I bought a projector and we love playing playing them on a screen nearly the size of the wall. I also still enjoy spending time alone playing them on my smaller tv in the game room. It's nice to be able to get away and be 10 or 11 years old again even if it's just for a few minutes.

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The VCS was 13 years old by the time I came along. I knew of Atari but it wasn't until 2002-3ish I started researching old games for Atari, Genesis, NES etc. I love the later 8 bit and 16 bit machines but the simplicity of Atari's arcade like games. I love them. I have collected for mostly Sega platforms but I feel with 2600 I find so many quirky games and I feel with all the label variants, cart shapes and obscure companies, it truly feels like the Wild West collecting and no collection is identical to another. For example a Sega Master System or NES has a set checklist while the VCS feels endless. Also Atari's history is so interesting which adds a story to the collection.

 

My experience was similar. Born in '85 and raised on Nintendo and Sega. Since we were so entrenched in the Bit Wars, anything that wasn't Nintendo or Sega was fascinating. I heard about "Atari" from friends' older siblings but didn't really have a clear understanding of what it was. But it got me interested in old games. I loved playing the Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man machines languishing in the back of the arcade while I waited for a turn on Super Street Fighter II. I looked through those big Master Catalogs at Radio Shack (anybody remember those?) that had listings of Atari and Coleco stuff. I got updated versions of the classics for my then-current systems (Galaga and Arkanoid for NES, Space Invaders for Game Boy, etc). Then eventually I got the Feb. 1997 issue of EGM that had an article about retro systems, and that was it: I knew I had to get an Atari 2600. It was the definitive retro system in my view (NES wasn't retro yet, just old). I've been pretty much obsessed ever since. Reading about and discovering the old games of the '70s and '80s was like discovering lost treasure.

 

It's hard for me to understand why anyone born in the mid to late 1980's or later would have any interest whatsoever in playing or collecting Atari cartridges. Compared to what a person growing up in that era was exposed to, (Nintendo & Sega), it would seem illogical for them to even have a curiosity about it.

And yet, here we are. :-D

 

It's kind of illogical for anyone to still be interested in Atari when we have things like PlayStation 4, though, isn't it? :P

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The VCS was 13 years old by the time I came along. I knew of Atari but it wasn't until 2002-3ish I started researching old games for Atari, Genesis, NES etc. I love the later 8 bit and 16 bit machines but the simplicity of Atari's arcade like games. I love them. I have collected for mostly Sega platforms but I feel with 2600 I find so many quirky games and I feel with all the label variants, cart shapes and obscure companies, it truly feels like the Wild West collecting and no collection is identical to another. For example a Sega Master System or NES has a set checklist while the VCS feels endless. Also Atari's history is so interesting which adds a story to the collection.

 

Well said, i would also add for myself nostalgia. Whereabouts in australia are you from? Where do you mainly buy your games from? ;-)

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It's kind of illogical for anyone to still be interested in Atari when we have things like PlayStation 4, though, isn't it? :P

 

People at some level understand that Atari games are not just graphics and sound. They are a completely different type of gaming. You play Asteroids like chess. There's no beating the game of chess. You play for life.

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People at some level understand that Atari games are not just graphics and sound. They are a completely different type of gaming. You play Asteroids like chess. There's no beating the game of chess. You play for life.

Well, I think Atari fans understand that (and fans of pre-NES systems in general). I still get plenty of guff from non-retro gamers who can't understand why I bother with crappy old systems with such shitty graphics. :P

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I don't. I have a Harmony cart.

 

I used to collect them, but when the Harmony came out, I sold almost my entire collection here. I have about 10 or so carts now, and maybe half of them are homebrews/hacks (the other half being some of my favorite VCS games).

 

I was born the same year that the VCS was first released. My earliest home console gaming memories are of playing my best friend's 5200 in first/second grade, but I don't remember playing a 2600 until around 1986. I really like the system a lot, but I have no sentimental/nostalgic attachment to it. So a flash cart is all I really need.

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People at some level understand that Atari games are not just graphics and sound. They are a completely different type of gaming. You play Asteroids like chess. There's no beating the game of chess. You play for life.

 

You had me at Asteroids.

 

I was 10 when the VCS came out and never had one of my own during my youth. However, many of friends did, so I was able to play a lot of Atari. Fast forward to 2008 and that's when I started my collection. Although I have a Harmony, I collect because I like to have actual carts to go with the hardware. In this day and age, I prefer to swap out carts and run through the multiple game variations of Space Invaders, Asteroids etc. I also collect homebrews and am thankful to all of you that continue to create new memories for me as well as my family to share in. :)

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The VCS was 13 years old by the time I came along. I knew of Atari but it wasn't until 2002-3ish I started researching old games for Atari, Genesis, NES etc. I love the later 8 bit and 16 bit machines but the simplicity of Atari's arcade like games. I love them. I have collected for mostly Sega platforms but I feel with 2600 I find so many quirky games and I feel with all the label variants, cart shapes and obscure companies, it truly feels like the Wild West collecting and no collection is identical to another. For example a Sega Master System or NES has a set checklist while the VCS feels endless. Also Atari's history is so interesting which adds a story to the collection.

 

The VCS was 4 years and 1 day old when I came around. So, I was kind of late for the party too. I still remember it being our first console, playing it before the NES, seeing the games in stores, buying used ones at the flea market, etc. though. So, it is the console that got me started.

 

I think one of the main things that kept me from mainly being an NES kid was because on the Christmas of the NES's launch my older brother got the NES and forgot about the VCS. So, in a way, I got to inherit it and it was kind of like my kids console and I viewed the NES as the older kids console. It was probably something like a little kid today playing a Wii or Wii U and then viewing their older brother's PS4 as a console for older kids.

 

Also, my older brother became a major NES collector right away and the same for when the SNES came out. So, when I see pictures or YouTube videos with gamers with massive Nintendo collections it has less of that "Wow! What an achievement!" feeling to it because that is exactly what I saw throughout my entire childhood in my brother's room. Also, it makes the thrill of the hunt less for me because finding an NES or an SNES game in the wild feels like,"Oh, I remember my brother having that in his massive collection. Been there done that." To put it another way, when I see a massive collection of Atari games I think,"Wow! What an achievement! That is exactly what I wanted my room to look like growing up so I could have a room for what I was into to match my brother's room for what he was into!" Atari games just feel more collectible to me because my childhood with Nintendo made Nintendo collecting look too easy and the games too common. To use an analogy, it is probably like how a punk rocker would be less into the mainstream rock because everyone likes it and it is as easy as turning on the radio to get it. Nintendo is mainstream and Atari is punk.

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The VCS was 4 years and 1 day old when I came around. So, I was kind of late for the party too. I still remember it being our first console, playing it before the NES, seeing the games in stores, buying used ones at the flea market, etc. though. So, it is the console that got me started.

 

I think one of the main things that kept me from mainly being an NES kid was because on the Christmas of the NES's launch my older brother got the NES and forgot about the VCS. So, in a way, I got to inherit it and it was kind of like my kids console and I viewed the NES as the older kids console. It was probably something like a little kid today playing a Wii or Wii U and then viewing their older brother's PS4 as a console for older kids.

 

Also, my older brother became a major NES collector right away and the same for when the SNES came out. So, when I see pictures or YouTube videos with gamers with massive Nintendo collections it has less of that "Wow! What an achievement!" feeling to it because that is exactly what I saw throughout my entire childhood in my brother's room. Also, it makes the thrill of the hunt less for me because finding an NES or an SNES game in the wild feels like,"Oh, I remember my brother having that in his massive collection. Been there done that." To put it another way, when I see a massive collection of Atari games I think,"Wow! What an achievement! That is exactly what I wanted my room to look like growing up so I could have a room for what I was into to match my brother's room for what he was into!" Atari games just feel more collectible to me because my childhood with Nintendo made Nintendo collecting look too easy and the games too common. To use an analogy, it is probably like how a punk rocker would be less into the mainstream rock because everyone likes it and it is as easy as turning on the radio to get it. Nintendo is mainstream and Atari is punk.

It's like Nintendo is Bon Jovi and Atari is GG Allin. :P

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Many of the games hold up well as games of skill. I have never looked for or wanted the level of realism offered in modern gaming. For me, Atari games are addictive like facebook games or phone games can be. I like NES, but I don't really collect for it, per se. I'll go out of my way for Atari games, but I wouldn't go to such lengths for NES. I got an Atari in 82 or so, so I guess nostalgia is at play, but, really, it's the game play and the timelessness of many games that does it for me.

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I don't collect Atari games :)

 

I still have my old Atari from my childhood, and the games, for nostalgia, but they mostly sit in a box in the attic (other than right now while I'm developing a game and need to test).

 

It's just so much easier to use emulators. I don't have space in my home for all the games I'd want to play, and all the consoles. My kids and I just play the games on the new TV wiht an emulator and usb gamepads. It loses a little bit in the process, but I think it's totally worth it to keep from having to make room for so much STUFF.

 

(Maybe someday if I get a giant house with a cool tv/game room, it would make sense. Today is not that day)

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I got my Atari for christmas '83. Apart from a round or two of Pong at my uncle's place, I never had such an experience. It was new, it was interactive, it was... discovery. It was a venture into unexplored territory.

 

When I started collecting a few years ago, it was due to a huge shot of nostalgia, as for so many of us. In my case, I stumbled across three of my original carts while sorting through a drawer in my parents' house - and that triggered my interest again. Only after that, I learned about the crash, about the countless variants, about the countless hacks, clones and weird cart designs. Someone called it Wild West. I go a step further and call it anarchy. And I have this feeling of discovery again, the child-like curiosity I felt when I was young. Some call it childish, I deliberately call it child-like. There's a huge difference.

 

Collecting for the pure sake of re-living the excitement I had as a kid wouldn't have lasted long, I think. Of course I do play the games a lot (High Score Club ftw), but there's more to it that keeps me going: digging into the history, finding new, crazy cart designs, appreciating the great achievements made on this very limited piece of technology. And the wish to save some of this old technology from destruction or abuse and preserve it for the future. That's my motivation. In a way, it's just like my job as a scientist and curator of a fossil collection.

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