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I’ve been staring at different listings for Game Boy Pocket consoles for about the last month or so. This week, I finally bought one.

I stared at it for about a day or so before pushing the button to make the purchase, but in doing so I think I might have unlocked something inside of me.

I’ve very much lived as an observer of collectors. I’ve collected things in the past, mainly comic books in recent years and pencils when I was a kid (I had a lot of pencils, close to one thousand in a tiny box). After reaching that quarter of a century mark, many of my favorite things passed similar thresholds. My favorite video games and consoles were crossing the line with me or around the same time. It became humanizing in a way to stare at these things from my past and connect the dots between myself and these things. However, as much as I’ve ogled at these items through glass cases and handheld screens I’ve yet to purchase anything.

Now, several months into kicking a tobacco habit and riding a bike to work instead of a car, I find myself with a little more disposable income. Suddenly, pressing the button that brings me my childhood from across the ocean isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s easy. Really easy.

I recently wrote about my desire and the availability of several modern consoles fit to play NES and Famicom titles. These new machines were, for a moment, the answer to my problem with retro video game collecting. They cut down on the need for keeping a CRT set around, removing the bulk of the problem with collecting.

I’ve spent the last four years largely digital with my media purchases. Starting with the Vita, where I avoided physical media entirely, I carried the trend onto my other platforms in the coming months and years after its release. When I had reached a point where buying digitally on my Nintendo platforms was easier than going to the store, it was a done deal for me. Combining this with my resignation of paper comics in favor of their digital counterpart, the idea of anything physical began to sicken me.

We parted ways with most of our stuff. We discarded hundreds of DVD boxes, leaving the discs in a giant binder (that we’ll never open) and I left a lot of what I had collected in comic book form with my parents after moving out. The ease of emulation on modern platforms can typically scratch the itch that arises when I have the need to play an old video game. Most of my game playing time is split between new experiences and replaying the same stuff I’ve played for nearly three decades; the latter being the more common experience.

I can’t help but admit that something fired in my brain after I ordered my new toy. I later won an auction, that I had forgot I placed a bid on, for a Game Boy Advance. I have a working Game Boy Micro and don’t need an Advance, and for my new Pocket I already have my old Game Boy Color (which will soon have a battery cover once again). Still, the variety excites me. The seller of the item has a lot of other items for sale, and I began to browse through them.

That same feeling you get when you eat something great for the first time or when you witness something again with new eyes occurred. I’m seeing Famicom cartridges and consoles; Game Boy Lights and Pockets; I’m looking for what feels like the first time at all of these things that have existed for as long as I if not longer.

I look around the basement where we record the podcast and I’m still picturing how I’ll put it all together later this year. When we first bought the house, I pictured the basement in a particular way but it never really realized itself. Now, I can see where I’d showcase my handheld collection. I know right where to place the boxed NES games and what type of shelf I’d like them on.

As I feverishly detailed my latest purchase during a conversation with my mom, I pointed out how easily we can rebuy our childhoods for a nominal fee plus shipping. As much as growing up can suck, for all of the responsibilities and things expected of you, the disposable income and freedom is pretty great.

I’m eager to see where this new hobby will take me, and I look forward to sharing the random items that I begin to acquire. After all, today is only the beginning of the fall.


Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.

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