Last weekend, I went to the Barrie Game Exchange, in Barrie, Ontario, a venue where vendors (who are gamers themselves) sell off pieces of their retro gaming collections to other gamers. Haggling for the best price is on the table, and there are possibilities of swapping out games for other games of equal or lesser value.
I am very new to this whole swap meet experience. It being my third, it might sound unusual of me to say this, but I have not caught the game collector fever like some other people I know, and don’t really have a desire to seek out hard copy retro games from a bygone era (SNES, Sega, Atari, etc). My focus is predominantly casual adventure PC games for the most part, and not necessarily in physical form. At any rate, most boxed PC games are no longer for sale in physical format; but are available online via sites like Steam, GOG and Big Fish Games. I think nothing of thinning out my stack of games if I have played a game and don’t like it or I get tired of it. That said, I do have a stock of games that I haven’t played, including boxed PC and Nintendo DS games, but I wouldn’t say I am out to collect every game in that format.
My intention of going to a game swap was initially to keep my husband company, as cramming into a room full of strangers for an afternoon (some of which can be smelly and sweaty…) is not really my idea of a good time. But, having weathered three of these now, I can say I have found ways to
survive enjoy my time while attending. The last couple of swaps have been fun, especially meeting up with other members of the Cartridge Club (of which I am a member) who have turned into friends over the past couple of years. Now, I am actually looking forward to the next swap meet.
My very first swap meet was the Barrie Game Exchange last July 2015. I was only planning to keep my husband company, but before we headed up to Barrie, he said that I should compile a list of games to look for while at the show. This would engage me in the whole swap experience. This was difficult; I was honestly blanking out on what games to look for. Along with the challenge of not collecting games, odd boxed PC games was the first thing that came to mind, and my husband said that likely no one would be selling those (Yeah, yeah, boxed PC games are dodo birds, ok, yes got the memo…). So what do I do then? I got some random games together on my list, but didn’t really find anything that time.
It was the second gaming swap meet: the Waterloo Game Swap last September 2015, when I got my act together. Beforehand, my husband had me play some SNES and NES games in emulation to pique my interest in searching for some games in that platform. Specifically, I started getting an interest in Kirby and decided to focus on that character’s games. I went into the Waterloo Game Swap, armed with a small list of games. I didn’t leave with much, but at least that gave me games to look out for.
My list for last Sunday. I write notes on paper, then take pics of them with my phone. I do this a lot. 😉
Last Saturday, in preparation for the Barrie Game Exchange, I armed myself again with a list of the Kirby games I had (because it is A LOT shorter than what I don’t have!) and what I didn’t. Along with it, I compiled a list of desired crime and adventure Nintendo DS games. Since my experience playing Unsolved Crimes on the system, I have been chomping at the bit to find some more rare titles like it. Again, not to collect per se, but to play.
We had VIP tickets to the game exchange, which allowed the first 65 people access to the tables a half an hour ahead of the rest of the crowd. This was great, to be able to scope out the tables before the deluge. It also allows you to test out your haggling skills before the pressure of crowds upsets your smooth haggling flow. My skills were rusty going in, to be honest. And, unfortunately for me, some vendors were not open to haggling at all. “Nope, that’s a fair price.” No, I can’t go any lower.” They wouldn’t even knock $2 off. A couple of tables didn’t have their prices at the ready and were actually checking prices online. I hate that. Come on, folks, this is not eBay, and I am standing right in front of you. That being the case, I moved on to other tables that would more reasonably accept my patronage.
A challenge I faced was knowing what was a good deal. I don’t have much of a gauge where that is concerned. Prices for games have fluctuated wildly over the years, and no two games are created equal. To that end, one game’s price at the Exchange could be $20 at one table, and $8 at another. It was wild! I would ask my husband about prices, but we weren’t always together. That said, most things I bought were going by my gut. Am I willing to pay $10 for this, $15 for that?
I had some good fortune on the Nintendo DS front. My first purchase of the day was Kirby’s Mass Attack for the DS, sold to me by a couple of dudes from my hometown of Sudbury who are also running a gaming swap in Sudbury in October, and invited us to come up. Among other DS purchases, I got the Legendary Starfy (never heard of it before), Kirby’s Canvas Curse which looks cool, Pokemon Ranger and a crime game called COP: the Recruit. The priciest game of the day was a rare DS game called Electroplankton, a game I had never seen before ($30, fetching $60 on Amazon).
The last half an hour of the show is often a good time to get a deal on some games. I had my eye on a Mario Picross game for the GameBoy for most of the show, and decided last minute to purchase it. The very last thing I bought was Alone in the Dark for the GameBoy Color for $3 (any good?).
There was also a vendor at the Exchange selling super cool gaming mugs. I picked up one depicting a Pac-Man eating coffee beans for $10. Awesome!
Overall, I am quite satisfied with my finds. I think for the next time I will pay attention to the going rate of some of these games, so I can go in better armed.
It also appears that this year will be quite active in terms of these game swaps – coming up:
Waterloo Game Swap in May 29, 2016, (Waterloo, Ontario)
Durham Video Game Convention June 5, 2016 (Oshawa, Ontario)
Barrie Game Exchange in August (Barrie, ON)
Northern Game Expo in October (Sudbury, Ontario)