Video gaming is a hobby, even a passion, for millions of people. A Pekin man said he stepped into its world “before I could walk.”
Now Martin, 37, has set out to capture that world’s history with a passion he inherited from his father, who collects increasingly rare items – jukeboxes, drive-in movie speakers and the like – from the 1950s and ‘60s.
Martin’s goal is simple, yet immense.
He’s using his skills as a website constructor to build what “hopefully will become the all-encompassing Blue Book” not of autos, but of video game merchandise, Martin said this week.
“My ultimate goal is to document every video game-related action figure or officially licensed merchandise there is,” he said.
He’s done so for about 400 items since June 1, when he opened his website – vgc2.com, short for his Video Game Collection Catalogue. He hopes to chronicle 10,000 within two years.
Martin is not in it for profit – and he’d prefer his last name remain unknown.
He’s closely familiar with the darker side of the internet, where “there’s a lot of immaturity” aimed at those who discuss interests and hobbies with others through live streaming. He's concerned that he could be victimized by “swatting,” in which pranksters, if they learn the streamers’ identities, harass them in mid-stream, often in extreme fashion.
Martin played an example on his computer. A streamer hears noise outside his door and turns to confront a team of heavily armed police officers who bash their way in and take him to the ground. “Someone probably phoned in a bomb threat” at the man’s house, Martin suggested.
He wants to avoid that kind of harassment as he spreads the word about his project. Online, he calls himself VG.
Martin wants to preserve the history of the video game era that predates the internet – his childhood introduction to it was an Atari game played on his TV – but constantly evolves through it. Many of the items he’s chronicling “won’t be around someday,” he said.
He has his own collection, some of it from one of his favorite games, American McGee’s Alice, “a nightmare version of Alice in Wonderland.” Martin displayed several of the game’s characters, including a dinosaur-like monster called a Jabberwacky.
His website collection, however, is that of photos of game figures, documented with details including their game of origin, year of issue, manufacturer and level of rarity. Martin obtains the photos and information, and permission to display them, from their manufacturers and, increasingly, private contributors.
He hopes the latter’s numbers will grow. “The site will be driven by other people submitting their collectibles” with photos and details through the internet, he said.
Collectors seeking to buy game figures and merchandise can find them on his site with links to their manufacturers.
“If you have a friend who’s interested in particular game, you can go to the site, find something he might like and contact the manufacturer” to make a purchase, he said.
Martin, however, is building his site “to pursue my passion,” and to preserve history.
“I couldn’t find a resource that was out there” with details about video game materials and value similar to what the auto industry finds in Blue Book listings, “so I decided to build one myself.”
He’ll use social media, including live streaming and video game playing, to spread the word about vgc2.com, he said. Look for the man who calls himself VG.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin