Monday, December 20, 2021

Buying old stuff


When I was younger, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the Atari 2600 went anywhere from $40 to $200 on eBay. It didn't go for much more than that, nor did it go for less. 
  I always wanted it just so I could say I owned it, yet I never bought it. Being a lower-middle-class kid, $40 seemed like a lot of money. For a game that consists of one repeating screen, $40 is a lot of money. And, anyway, I thought I'd buy it someday when I made my own money. 

Well, now I do make my own money and I could afford a frivolous $40 purchase. Now, however, the game costs a grand total of $125,000-$200,000. To be perfectly clear, that's more money than I spent on college. That's more money than I'd spend on a car or a house. There is no chance I will ever own Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Atari. 

Basically, the lesson I've learned is this: When something is new, it is outlandishly expensive. Likewise, when something is old/vintage it is even more expensive. However, there is a brief period between "new" and "vintage" when things become outdated, and that is when you want to buy them. 

Just recently, I bought a Panasonic AG-DVX100. This is a camera from 2002 that uses miniDV tapes and shoots in standard definition. When the camera came out, it was worth about $5000, now it's worth anywhere between $1000-$100. I got mine for $198. It had a few spots that showed its age, and I had to use a cleaning tape before I could use it, but generally, it works great, and it's probably my favorite camera for creative projects. I've gotten great use out of it so far. 
I will note, though, that its previous owner left a tape inside, and apparently, they used it to shoot porn. Weird stuff. 

So, aside from the functionality differences between the Texas Chainsaw game and the DVX100, there's an even greater cultural distinction; things from the early 80s have a retro mystique, while things from the 2000s are just sort of... outdated. 

When I was a kid, the 80s were only twenty years back. The young adults of the 2000s had memories of the 80s. Ergo, the 80s were not yet properly retro. Now, however, the 80s are forty years behind us. As a young adult, I can firmly say that I have no memories of the 80s because I was not alive yet. This is why all the movies, TV shows, and music reference the 80s now. By contrast, 2000s pop culture was distinctly anti-80s. The 80s were cheesy back then. 

I guarantee, in at least 10 years people will start using standard definition cameras again. The price of a DVX100 with a cracked zoom button and porn inside the tape deck will be in the $2000-$10000 range. Five years after that, the same product will be $10000 over its original price. 

What inspired this post was my sudden desire to buy Silent Hill 3 on the PS2. Ten years ago, back when I first became interested in the series, PS2 games were totally outdated. The PS3 had just come out, and hipsters were just becoming interested in "retro" gaming because of The Angry Video Game Nerd and internet phenomena like that. Essentially, there was no room for interest in mid-era computer-generated games. People either wanted the hyper-realism of the PS3 or the simplicity of the NES if you were a hipster.
I own Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, and Silent Hill: The Room. I have played Silent Hill 3, but I don't own it. I've been playing the first game and I decided that I want to play through all of the original games. 

The last time I checked, Silent Hill 3 cost a maximum of $45 if it were factory sealed. I expected to see the same price range when I checked eBay this morning, but what I found completely floored me. 

The price for a Silent Hill 3 disc -- without the case, the manual, or the bonus soundtrack disc -- is over $90. What happened? 

Well, for one thing, Silent Hill 3 is rare now. It's also close to Christmas, so the prices are probably jacked up a bit. The biggest factor, however, is Silent Hill 3's cultural significance. 

Ten years ago, it was just an oldish game with outdated graphics. People were more excited to play Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009) or Silent Hill: Downpour (2012) because of their enhanced graphics. A game from 2003 just didn't do it anymore. 

By constant, now Silent Hill 3 is entering the "retro" canon. Right now, hipsters, collectors, and Silent Hill fans are the only people who play the game, but it's nearly entered the cultural realm of nostalgia. It's at a place where people look back on the game as foundational for horror games to come. 

Of course, Silent Hill 3 came out a year after the DVX100. Despite that, it holds more cultural significance because it functions as a cultural text, not a tool to create texts. In other words, Silent Hill 3 is a tool for consuming culture, which makes it more valuable than the outdated camera. 

Basically, to own anything good, you need to beat culture by ten years. You should have been vegan in 2004, and rejected veganism in 2016. You should have loved the 80s in 2010, and been fully sick of 80s nostalgia by 2015. You need to use blogger in 2021.

Likewise, you must dismiss new things. So, don't buy any new cameras, and don't get a PS5. Wait a few years, then you can get a professional 6K camera for $250.

Also, in case anyone was worried, I will bite the bullet and get Silent Hill 3 now before it's worth more than my college education. 

No comments:

Post a Comment