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  • Writer's pictureBill Barber

It All Started With A Dreamcast: How My Collecting Journey Started!

After 14 years and over 3000 games collected, Bill (also known as thebarberwhogames) talks about how it all started!

In recent years the hobby of video game collecting has become a massive fad with people, quickly becoming one of the most expensive hobbies, and is quite intimidating for newcomers. But in reality, it wasn’t always like that. Back in the day, it was still niche and realistically was much more approachable (although still expensive to a degree). That’s where my journey started, as a kid who had already gained a strong love for gaming back in the day, when on one fateful day I happened to come across a certain YouTube channel which would open the doors of gaming for me… and let’s just say nothing was the same after that.

As a kid who was fairly awkward and didn’t have many friends growing up, YouTube was one of my few forms of entertainment aside from gaming. While I watched a large variety of different videos on the site, one would completely change my viewpoint on video games, showing me that gaming history went back much farther than I was aware. The channel in question was known as Classic Game Room hosted by Mark Bussler, who would review a number of different games and consoles in quick, fun little videos. One of which showcased the ill fated Sega Dreamcast console, a system that I vaguely remembered from its initial launch, and outside of the launch, it had completely faded into the background of my consciousness.

For whatever reason rediscovering the Dreamcast triggered something in me, and before I knew it, I was browsing eBay and Amazon to see just how much a console would cost. While I couldn’t afford one at the time (mostly due to being a freshman in high school circa 2009), my birthday was coming up, and when my mother asked what I would like this year (I was notoriously difficult to buy for), I decided to ask for a Dreamcast along with Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2; which my mother would agree upon (she is the best). The day soon arrived and I received the console and both games, along with a controller and memory card (known as the Visual Memory Unit), and after a week of nonstop play something clicked inside me, and I started wanting to learn and experience more.

Now following my Dreamcast rediscovery, I soon began a long period of research and learning about gaming history, along with checking prices online. While deciding what console I would like to obtain next, I would also assess all my current consoles I had in my collection (like the PlayStation line of systems up to that point, along with Nintendo handhelds, an NES, and Wii), to see what other games I’d like to obtain for each respective collection. Eventually I settled on picking the Sega Genesis, although as a high schooler with little money, I’d have to figure something out, and that’s where I would first experience the stress of an eBay auction.

"Within months, I would be . . . embarking on a crazy adventure where I traveled to over 20 different GameStop's across Massachusetts."

Now armed with $20 (it was a lot at the time), I managed to find a listing for a Sega Genesis with controllers and a stack of games including the classic Sonic titles, at only a starting bid of $1! Soon after, I negotiated with my mother to see if she would let me use her account to place a bid, which she agreed to as long as I could keep the bid under $20. After that, I put my starting bid in, and began the dreaded wait and see process of eBay. Little did I know, this would end up being one of the most stressful two day stretches of my collecting journey, having to check the bid on repeat constantly upping it as others also joined in with the price slowly approaching the elusive $20 limit. As I went to sleep with only a few hours left in the auction, I would just have to see how it went, and to my delight, I was greeted as the winner the next morning! This only further ignited the collecting bug in me which had quickly become my biggest hobby.

As the years went on, I routinely collected for different consoles, games of all different genres, and regularly frequented flea markets and retro stores while also keeping an eye on gaming trends. My collecting passion accelerated to an insane degree once I started working and making my own income plus gaining some transportation. Within months, I would be traveling across the state to find new stores to check out, even embarking on a crazy adventure where I traveled to over 20 different GameStop’s across Massachusetts to hit up their clearance racks for Nintendo DS and Vita games!

Now in a roundabout kind of way, while collecting has had its ups and downs, including rising prices, increased competition, and a large number of fake games to dodge, there has also been a number of positives I’ve reached through the hobby. Including all the cool store owners and fellow collectors, plus my gaming blog on Instagram @thebarberwhogames which would indirectly lead to me starting my own podcast meeting a ton of awesome people along the way, and forming new friendships.

Who would have thought, it all started with a Dreamcast.


About the author:

Bill Barber is a long-time video game collector and enthusiast of all things gaming and anime, aside from collecting Bill cohosts the Gaming And Collecting Podcast with his sister Alex and runs the Instagram blog @thebarberwhogames.

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