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Old-school video games hold some nostalgia for collectors

Old-school video games hold some nostalgia for collectors

September 29, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - To some, a video game isn't worth owning unless it comes in a large plastic cartridge, has shoddy graphics and is at least a decade old.

Just ask Mike Schindler, 23, of Greencastle, Pa., and his buddy Steve Cool, 24, of Chambersburg, Pa. They each own about 300 original Nintendo game cartridges and roughly 200 Atari games.

"If we're hanging out, we're playing something," said Cool, from the couch at Schindler's house after a bout of Super Mario Bros. - the original version.

Cool and Schindler are part of a small segment of gamers who are willing to pay top dollar for the latest gaming system but are just as willing to spend a weekend scouring pawn shops, thrift stores and flea markets for vintage game cartridges and platforms.

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"The new games are fun, but back in the day they had to focus on game play," said Schindler, who owns at least 14 game consoles, including Nintendo Wii.

According to data from the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, the average video-game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.

Video-game makers are catering to their needs.

Old-school versions of games such as "Mortal Kombat" and "Sonic the Hedgehog" have been re-released for modern platforms. Visitors to Atari's Web site, http://games.atari.com, can play online versions of "Asteroids" and "Missile Command."

"I think a lot of it is flashing back to when you were a kid," said Schindler, who said he spends 20 hours a week playing video games.

Cool, who still has his original Nintendo system, said it has a lot to do with sentimental value. "It's hard to get rid of something you always loved," he said.

They both put their love for gaming to good use as employees at Game Crazy, a video-game shop off Wesel Boulevard in Hagerstown. But working at the store doesn't give them much insider information when it comes to scoring vintage games.

"Anymore (old video games) are hard to come by," Schindler said.

Game Crazy no longer sells the old games, they said. Vintage games aren't available at video-game retailers in Hagerstown, based on an informal survey of local video-game outlets.

The best bet is to go online, to sites such as eBay, where vintage games can fetch anywhere from $10 to $30 a cartridge, Cool and Schindler said.

They come cheapest at garage sales and flea markets, Cool said. Just don't ask where they go to find them.

"That would be like giving away the stash," Cool said.

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