Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Collection Obsession (and The Hoarding Sickness)

*WARNING* This entry is video heavy

So, I’ve rekindled a hobby of mine recently. I’ve been picking-off video game items and related stuff here and there, online and in stores. While some of the older generations would scoff at this as spending folly, I’d like to think (if not justify) just how vintage car collecting, book collecting, toy collecting, stamp collecting, vinyl album collecting, even moth/butterfly collecting (tree huggers and environmentalists are probably outraged by this), among so many other “hoarding hobbies” come-off as silly pastimes in the eyes of the younger generations.

Thorough discussions have been made in other online articles regarding hoarding. Wikipedia defines this:

Compulsive hoarding (or pathological collecting) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.

I'm pretty sure though that I'm far from being a compulsive hoarder. I like to arrange my stuff as any decent collector does! While I was thinking about discussing the art of collecting stuff a few days ago, I recalled how surprised I was, a few months back, to find out that some TV show made a documentary on "hoarding" and it depicted hoarding as a psychological disability. As a word, of course, most people have had this in their vocabulary, but it's absolutely shocking to actually see this as a psychological phenomenon on film.

I suppose everyone really needs to have a hobby these days to keep them distracted and loose, lest binge drinking & eating, kleptomania-ism, relationship cheating, bullying, picking-up chicks (not that there’s anything wrong with this if it’s consensual! lmao), become the only pastimes all people around the world can pick from. From the eyes of different observers, there are seemingly dull pastimes, pleasurable pastimes, and even distressing or disturbing ones.

Watching too much of History Channel, especially episodes of Pawnstars, Real Deal, and the American Pickers probably shoved me to this direction. 

I find it interesting to note how “materialism” could ever be so captivating when put in the context of history

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People put meaning to items of history and things related to their lives’ past (whether personal or on a civilization’s context). We live on the best times of what we remember, we cherish the empirical nature of life through our senses, and we smile with our fondest personal memories in mind. Interestingly, we put value on the items that can be attributed to those memories, how important they are to us, whether to relive it or at least have a piece of what is personally dear in our minds. Thus there is a price for every item we perceive to be essential to our lives, even if it’s beyond biological necessity. There is a psychological pay-off to this condition of “meaningful materialism”

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Well here's a pretty shocking discovery. Some people are actually engaging in "video game dumpster diving". This practically comes straight from Frank Reynolds' (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) playbook! I can't say I approve of this method of finding value in items, especially when stuff have already been relegated to the trash bins, but if you browse through eBay, a lot of sellers are selling game CD-less cases with manuals and it's pretty disgusting to think that they would come from dumpsters. Hopefully they clean them first!


So another man's trash really is another man's treasure...but to what extent I am still too stumped to say after seeing people consider this as a "hobby". I know the first video was a spoof from SNL, but the second one I don't know if they're doing a comedy skit ala- Arrested Development/The Office/P&R


Interactive books, that’s what I have decided to call them from here on out. I remember how my uncle 20 or so years ago introduced me to his Atari 2600 Jr (rainbow) and how I eventually got it for myself (although I can’t recall if he gave it to me or I pestered him for it that he eventually had to give it away just to stop a kid’s persistence).

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From the simple pastime games of Galaxian, Pac-Man, and Pong, video game production and development have evolved to something more. The entertainment side eventually gave way to video games becoming more attuned to an ideologue’s role. Kids who have grown up through the decades of evolution of the video game industry would most likely agree that from silly interactive games, video games have become an effective medium through which to pass on intricate plots, ideas, and concepts on philosophy, theology, politics, morality, simulation, and the what ifs of alternate realities, societies, or civilizations.

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I’ve decided to Google-dig something about “Interactive Books” and look what I found!

Supreme Court: Books as ‘interactive’ as video games

(PAUL SAKUMA/ASSOCIATED PRESS) Odysseus and Snow White had a hand in striking down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors on Monday.
In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike the California law, finding that the law violates minors’ first-amendment rights as the state can't prove violent games directly harm children and are no different from other media such as literature or comic books.
The law banned minors from purchasing games “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being, if those acts are depicted.” Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto were singled out as examples of games that met this criteria. And, the state argued, games such as these are different from other media because they are more “interactive.” Basically, the ability to act — by proxy — as the one punching, kicking or killing in a video game distinguishes it from other media, the state argued.
In the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said that there is no precedent to shield children from violence, citing more graphic passages from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Dante’s Inferno as examples of violent books that are even taught in schools.
The government has the right to protect children from harm, Scalia said, but California did not prove these games show “a direct causal link between violent video games and harm to minors” any more than the gruesome eye-plucking scene with the cyclops from Homer’s Odyssey.
I, for one, agree with the court, knowing that I get shivers from imagining the torture in George Orwell’s 1984, but am somehow relatively unfazed by the spine-ripping, heart-tearing final moves in Mortal Kombat.
Whether those kinds of games are in poor taste or not is a different matter. I certainly think parents should learn about the games their kids want to buy — and understand the industry’s own rating system — to make their own decisions about what’s appropriate for their children. But I’d say that parents should make their own judgements about any other medium, be it a book, movie, play or art exhibit.
As savvy media consumers, I’m interested to hear what you have to say about the differences — or lack thereof — between video games and other forms of media.
Do you think a video game is ultimately more interactive than other media?

Sexual and violent content has always been a controversial issue in the video game industry. While concerned lobbyists believe that video game interactivity more effectively impresses upon the immoral concepts, that they are dreading about, to users (including children), books through the centuries have already done and are capable of doing the deed. I suppose it’s just that no kid would ever bother reading through piles of books these days. I do wonder if the reading speed of people has dropped significantly through the centuries due to the emergence of multimedia-fed information or if, thanks to the Internet, it has actually spiked due to the almost infinite amount of words composed for readers all over the world.

**Update 12/08/12 (because somebody has to say something about what we're seeing through media)
In any case though, the integration of the arts has never been more so enthralling than what multimedia has done through video games. The ultra rich get to be patrons of the arts, spending millions on paintings that are obviously beyond the basic necessities of the layman, especially for the citizens of third-world nations. Maybe if I win the lottery I can be a patron of the arts myself, although I'd definitely be biased towards acquiring video game related art.

Update 12/10/12

Browsing through the Internet and scouring the online seller sites, I thought to myself that I might as well go the whole nine yards on this topic. Probably the most time I spent reading or immersing myself in this industry was during the early 90's during the 16-bit console wars, so definitely any history before that I can't give any firm insight on, but I was able to stumble upon a blog article by a dude from Singapore (an ASEAN neighbor) and he did a pretty good overview of the history of consoles:

Of course, I give this blogger the thumbs up for thoughtfully mentioning who the father of this industry is, Ralph H. Baer:

 And of course, I have to sprinkle in some aspects on the engineering and technology:

As I've mentioned earlier, the guys hosting the American Pickers show on the History Channel have practically been the inspiration for this new hobby and there really is the adventurists' spirit in hunting down stuff at perceived-to-be amazing prices (or at least reasonable):

The Game Chasers

Watching these guys though makes me think that there's childish tension between them over who gets a great item first. The duo makes it entertaining to watch since we get more insights, instead of the man vs wild format (with just one dude doing monologues) but I find it confusing if they're really buddies sharing the game hunting experience or if they're rivals engaged in one-up-manship. In any case, this is pretty entertaining if you want to learn something about hunting things down. No boulders of death or Nazi armies after you in these adventures, but pretty cool to experience:

Captain 8Bit Youtube Channel

The Game Chasers Season 1 Episode 1

I suppose there’s a certain air of adventurism in not only playing the part of an explorer in a different world with varying rules applied to play the game (literally and figuratively), but also an immersive experience that could probably be characterized as a form of escapism.

The Indiana Jones-esque experience of hunting down legendary titles or items is still the best part of this IMO. In fact, I think I’ve already spent more than $4,000 $7,000 (did some accounting, not my most fave subject in college, but a necessary obstacle to conquer in order to enjoy college life many years back) in 3 months (not the most careless spending spree in history obviously, but shocking for someone who's extremely budget conscious) on stuff that I think wouldn’t even be played even if 3 years had passed. They’re that many. Kind of like hoarding a trunk full of 1,000 page books that you won't feel like speed reading through unless your life depended on it.

This is probably the one item that I bought that's already more than a decade old, but I'm still looking forward to play (err "read") through. Sega (the game developer) has apparently lost the original source code for this game, so they can't decompile anything and release a new batch.

All compositions, statements and opinions of the author are copyright © Earl T. Malvar 2009-2012. All rights reserved. There is no honor, respect, admiration, intellectual and academic dignity garnered through plagiarism.