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Am I missing out by not having a collection?

Time and money. Money and time.

Two things I’m often very short on these days and work against the idea of harboring a collection. But it hasn’t stopped me from being wistful that, as a geek, I don’t really have a collection. I kind of wish I did. I have collected things to varying degrees over the years but not seriously and not extensively. I have some SNES games, but not really a collection. Star Wars Legos. MMO memorabilia. I tried vinyl collecting for a hot month last year. But not really having time to commit to cultivating a collection and the funds to support it keep killing it.

I feel like I’m maybe not as interesting or fulfilled without one, sometimes. I have a friend whose “thing” is collecting PEZ. He’s been doing it for decades now and has an amazing collection. He’s even got a tattoo. Everyone knows that’s his collection and supports him in that.

Lately I’ve been feeling a pang of envy when I watch YouTube videos of fans that have these amazing collections of various things (usually video games). I’m not envious of what they own, but that they have a thing. It makes me wish that I had collected cool art or had been more serious about accumulating a game collection back when I had a lot more time and spare income for it. Now I don’t know if it can ever really happen. The console game market seems a lot more pricey and rare now that people have been more aggressively collecting through ebay and craigslist, and I don’t even know where I’d start. Plus, with the re-releases like the SNES Classic, I wonder at the purpose of even having such a collection.

But I still kind of want one.

Another issue I have with collection is where to put one. I don’t have a lot of space in our house that is actually just mine. We have four kids and a smallish house, so my space is pretty much a desk and a bookshelf. We’ve talked about carving out part of a room as a den, but I’d feel selfish when the kids are already bouncing off the wall for lack of space. A physical collection of items would require a lot of shelf space no matter what it is, and that’s why I asked family members to stop getting Star Wars Legos for me. I just had no more space for them (and wasn’t super-interested in amassing a great amount of them).

Probably the one thing I do collect a lot of and organize is music, particularly video game music. This is not a boast, but I genuinely think that I probably have one of the largest MMORPG music collections out there right now. I’d be very interested to meet someone who has more (and peruse his or her library!). It’s satisfying to collect and organize and possess a wide range of something you like.

Maybe this ties into another part of my nature, that I get really excited about things I see that are cool and feel compulsion to do/collect/enjoy/practice that too. But really, we only have so much time and money to go around, and one has to make choices.

Perhaps one day I’ll focus on a collection and really go for it. I am going to set up my SNES again for my kids to enjoy soon, and there are several games that I would love to own with it. But I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford seriously collecting for it. Maybe a little at a time, see where that gets me.

Do you collect? How’d you get into it and why do you do it?

11 thoughts on “Am I missing out by not having a collection?

  1. Great post (as always). To answer your question: I am reverse-collecting these days. I used to have quite a collection of action figures and other toys: LEGOs, Transformers, GI Joes, Star Wars, etc. Then there were the comic books and other geeky delights. As I’ve grown up, gotten married, raised kids, the time and mostly money to continue has dwindled. And as you said, space to display has also been given over to my kids. I’ve also felt guilty at the thought of keeping a space for my stuff. So over time, I have given away or sold most of my collection and cherry-picked those items that I hope to keep for myself. The LEGOs were happily given over to my kids who have gotten a lot of use out of them and added their own to the collection. What is left of my collection sits in just a few boxes that I keep in a closet. Books are displayed on a bookshelf with some choice items to accompany them, and the rest are rotated in and out, often coming to work with me to sit on my desk for awhile, before eventually being changed out for something else. I often feel like the curator of a very small museum. And every once in a very rare blue moon, I pick up something new to add to the collection. These days it’s usually something small that fits nicely somewhere and doesn’t cost much. What I eventually discovered is that I enjoy those items I’ve kept far more than I did when I had a much larger collection.

    I think having a collection is a very healthy thing, and having some kind of focus is a great idea. Just so long as it doesn’t become an obsession that takes over your house or your wallet.

  2. Count yourself lucky you don’t have one! I have over 8,000 comic books in my house, 1,000 vinyl albums, who knows how many books… I break out in a cold sweat every time I think about what it would mean to move house.

    I bless the day I discovered EverQuest and stopped buying physical stuff almost overnight. Now my ridiculous, sprawling, unsorted collections just take up pixel space in imaginary banks across virtuality. So much better.

  3. No, not really. I’ve been a collector of something for nearly my entire life. Baseball cards and GI Joe figures as a kid, LEGO, toys, and the like as an adult. Pets and decorations in MMOs…

    And, as I’ve gotten older and older, I realize they are very cool for a few minutes and for the vast majority of my life, they mean nothing more than probably a bit too much money spent. There’s a little bit of fun for most of it, but it dwindles quickly and, ultimately, I’m wishing I had the money back (or staring at a credit card statement wondering what the hell I was thinking).

    Some of those things I’ve kept around because I have kids, and eventually can give them to them to play with. There’s some value in it being fun for them, but the days of me having it because I was trying to have them all are gone, and I can live with that.

  4. Yeah I kind of end up letting my kids play or have anything that I once collected. I like the notion that things are better used than put up as museum pieces.

  5. I wanted to start a collection but never did, tried few times but got bored quickly, then found Pinterest and started collecting there, digital collection is an easy way to collect stuff without taking space or money, that pushed me to start a real collection for something i’m passionate about but it may be boring for most people: calculators.

    I have few of them now, the oldest one is about 60 years old mechanical calculator from West Germany, without starting the digital collection i don’t think i’ll start collecting real calculators, starting digital was a good step to see what i truly love.

    Why i love calculators? who knows! i just do, i always admired people who collect stuff, it is lovely hobby, some collections provide a historical record, or become part of a museum (some video games collectors did that), i wanted to start one but never found something i like, tried coins, stamps, computers, that one was a big problem, too much space needed.

    One collection i regret not collecting is old computer magazines, i used to spend most of my money in the 90s buying them, oh how i regret not keeping them.

  6. Well, it sounds like you do have a collection already, so maybe the issue is that no one can see it. Could you burn the MMO soundtracks onto separate cds and make your own jewel cases for them using a wallpaper/screenshot from the MMO as the album cover? A single shelf above your desk area could house 30-50 of them I would think.

    Otherwise, I would be glad that I do not have the same OCD tendencies as many of the people who do have collections. Plus, think of the money you are saving by not having one. To draw from Les Mis: “Colleges are expensive, Monsieur.”

    If it is a matter of feeling inadequate as a “geek,” I would try not to give into the stereotypes of what a geek must look like.

  7. I’ve never had an urge to collect anything, and find it hard to see the attraction. I think it’s one of those fundamental forms of play that either is or is not for you, just like roleplaying or making stuff. Some people love roleplaying, others are mildly interested, many have no interest at all. The same with all kinds of making, whether it is inside Minecraft, or real-life woodworking or baking.

    I think it’s great to have “a thing” as you put it, a passionate interest / hobby. But it doesn’t have to be something like collecting. Some people’s passion is a sports team they follow, it could be a game they’re into, a genre of fiction they love etc.

    We know you among other things as a lover of MMOs, a connoisseur of game music, and a blogger. That seems like quite enough of “a thing” for one person!

  8. I find it strange that you talk about your music collection as if it doesn’t count. Does it have to be tangible “stuff” to count as collectible?

    My first boyfriend was a big Transformers toy collector and roped me into the hobby for a while, but in the end it just left me with boxes full of things I don’t quite want to part with but that don’t really serve any purpose either.

    At the risk of sounding like an anti-consumer-society hippie, I think our society in general is way too obsessed with buying things purely for the sake of owning stuff. I’m certainly glad that I care less about owning things now than I did fifteen years ago.

  9. I don’t seriously collect anything, either. I passively collect something not related to gaming, but gaming-wise I’ll pick up something if I think it looks cool. I’d rather have a few cool and diverse things than shelves of one particular thing, but that’s just me. Like you said, seriously collecting takes time, money, and space that I just don’t have right now.

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