['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


When I wrote in this column a month ago about how I wanted to give away my collection of old video game and computer magazines, I wasn't expecting much response. I never found that many people interested in my collection before, after all.

Back a few years ago, when I was accumulating the majority of my collection, which spans around 8,000 magazine, I felt like I was very much on a solo mission. Lots of people collected classic video games, but I only knew one other person in the US who specialized in game magazines and he didn't live anywhere near me.

It's always been a quixotic mission, one that a lot of people don't understand. Let's say, for example, I took my girlfriend home for the first time. If I had a large collection of NES games, maybe my girlfriend would look at them on the shelf and say "Wow! I had one of these as a kid! Do you have [game name]?" and I'd say "I sure do" with a smug look on my face. (Dork fantasy fulfilled.)

That same person, face to face with a room full of 25-year-old computer magazines and ferret toys -- her reaction could very well be "You must be one of those hoarders like I saw on TV," and her stance would be completely justifiable. Average people my age see value in old games, but not so much in the assorted ephemera that comprised the game scene as it existed in the past.

That's why I was surprised at the large response I received nationwide after writing that column, which described how I wanted my collection to be handled in the future. I'm talking, like, dozens of people, from large research institutions to university libraries to commercial outfits to random collectors asking of my complete GameFan run was for sale.

I expected some private collectors and was fully anticipating a long process of splitting up the collection and sending it to all corners of the globe, but the amount of attention I received from scholarly outlets wasn't something I was anticipating. I had to spend a few days sorting through all the offers and figuring out which one was the best thing for what I was trying to accomplish.

I could've just sold everything on eBay in piecemeal fashion, I suppose, but after around a decade of collecting, I'd like to think that the collection deserves better than that. I don't think it's going too far to say that not many other people have so large and far-ranging a collection. There are complete runs of game mags like Electronic Gaming Monthly, Nintendo Power, VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, Die Hard GameFan, Game Developer, Game Players, and a couple dozen smaller, less successful publications. (That, and a lot of incomplete runs. I never did quite finish up Game Informer. Those mid-'90s issues are downright obscure.) I have Edge from issue 1 until the year 2000, approximately half the entire run of Japan's Famitsu magazine (over 500 issues), every issue of Byte from 1974 to 1990, and hundreds upon hundreds of 8-bit computer mags from around the world, some in languages I can't even identify. You work in the publishing industry long enough, these things seem to sort of gravitate to you.

But enough bragging. In the end, I've decided to donate the whole of the collection to (drum roll) the Internaional Center for the History of Electronic Games, part of The Strong's National Museum of Play up in New York.

ICHEG is an institution that has a big-arse collection of games -- something like 25,000, according to their website -- and in addition to running public exhibits, they allow researchers and other folks to come up to the place and look at and/or play whatever they like. They have some game mags already, but my collection would definitely flesh theirs out a lot, judging by what I've heard.

Donating to ICHEG fulfills a few goals for me. One, it gets the collection out of my hair -- it wouldn't have been long, after all, before I woulda needed to rent out public storage to keep it all together. Two, it's a safe place, one where I can be sure the collection's available to all, in one piece, and kept in good condition for the foreseeable future. Three, ICHEG's agreed to help out with any efforts to digitize parts of the collection for easier access, as I discussed in my previous column. (I've made headway on this effort, too, but it's still a bit early to discuss firm details. It's really exciting, though.)

We'll probably be doing the big transfer of the collection to New York later this summer, once work settles down a bit for me. I'm very happy things are working out as they are, and I look forward to checking out ICHEG pretty soon. In the meantime, thanks again to everyone who expressed interest in the collection -- I'll keep you all updated as things progress.

[Kevin Gifford owns over 8000 video-game and computer magazines. Despite this, he is capable of sustaining a conversation with a woman for at least three minutes per go. He runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things, and in his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]