Interview with a Retro Game Collector: Aaron Stapish, from The NES Pursuit
I am 28 years old now and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I do remember the night my parents brought home the original Nintendo Entertainment System. I was disappointed that my dad took so long hooking it up and my sister and I fell asleep. We woke up to the sounds of virtual ducks being shot down by my dad, and I was immediately hooked. Something about how this era in video games made us feel always draws us back to these games. I know I have brought out my old Nintendo to play Tetris, my all-time favorite game. For Aaron Stapish, one of the hosts of The NES Pursuit on YouTube, it is a whole lifestyle.
GameDynamo: Hi Aaron, thanks for talking with us. The NES pursuit has been my latest addiction on YouTube.
Aaron Stapish: Sweet! And thank you!
GD: So how old were you when you first started playing video games?
AS: Well, if you're talking about seriously playing video games, I would have to say about 8 or so.
GD: But you've been kinda sorta playing video games before then?
AS: Yeah, for sure, more of a curious bystander watching my older brother play the Atari, SEGA Master System, and NES mostly.
GD: Did you play a lot of video games with your brothers growing up?
AS: Oh yeah, playing with my brothers was a HUGE part in my childhood, even when we would play single-player, normally a brother would be right there watching and helping give advice.
GD: That must have been fun. Do you guys still get together and play once in a while?
AS: We do, my oldest brother lives in Oregon now but when he comes over, one of the first things we do is set up a Street Fighter Tournament! My oldest brother actually won a Street Fighter Arcade Tournament in the 90s and he is still just as good... hahaha! Fighter games are NOT my strong point.
GD: I feel you on that one. It seems like against the computer I feel all confident, but when I play against someone else I get destroyed!
AS: I agree!! Hahah! I don't have much skill in Fighter games. I feel my strong points are in side-scrollers and platformers for sure, that's pretty much what I played all my life and still enjoy the most.
GD: And based on the basis of your show, The NES Pursuit, are you mainly playing more of the classics, or do you play some of the games on the current consoles?
AS: I don't really play New Gen at all, to be honest. I have nothing against them, I just get a rush and feel like a kid again without a care in the world when I play retro games. I play my Wii often but it's usually to play retro games I can't get in cartridge form on the virtual console.
GD: Looking at your wall in your videos about how many games do you have?
AS: Oh man... haha! I wish I knew. What you see in the show isn't even near all of it. If I had to guess, I would say close to the thousand mark. And the crazy part is storage for all of it. And remember I also collect consoles, controllers, boxes, booklets, random game-related toys and weird or unusual items game-related, so there is so much! Hahaha.
GD: I was actually going to ask about the storage. As a fellow married guy, my wife calls all my games clutter. How did you get your wife to let you keep all those games and where do you keep them?
AS: Haha! Oh, man! I feel you on that! Well... we have a shed that was literally a piece of junk (but pretty roomy) and she said, "Here, you can have this shed. Do what you want to it, but it's yours." So I remodeled it insulated it (poorly haha) and just made it into a game room. I actually have another spot for my really rare games that I don't (and won't... haha!) say where they are. I just have to keep it clean and organized so it doesn't look like clutter. Haha.
GD: Thanks for the tip. It doesn't really look like stores like GameStop sell retro games. You and your, I guess co-host? Ricky seem to go all over the place to find games. Where are some good spots to find these games?
AS: Swap meets, flea Markets and thrift stores. It's really important to check bins and buckets and spots where you think you won't find games. Everybody looks in the spots they think games will be. One time (on video in an episode actually) I went to a swap meet and I found an old beat up trash bag at a person's booth. He was selling mainly tools. But I decided to dig thru a trash bag. I found about 7 games including Street Fighter Alpha 2, Turtles in Time and a few others...I ended up getting the games for about 2 dollars each. ALWAYS take the time to dig thru the junk.
GD: I'm getting all kinds of pro tips from you. You and Ricky seem pretty close, was he basically another brother playing video games with you guys growing up?
AS: I actually met him through my brother, Adam. And they were big into Final Fantasy. Ricky and I became REALLY close short after that and honestly spent ever day together in high school. We are really close and it's really cool because our wives are SUPER close also. I see him and his wife probably 5 days a week. (They live about 3 minutes from us.)
GD: There’s a whole culture behind collecting Retro video games, right?
AS: Oh yeah, there is a huge community for it and culture. There is actually a lot of drama also, but when Ricky and I started the show we decided to NEVER get involved.
GD: How big is the culture, are there conventions and stuff strictly for retro games?
AS: Oh yeah, dude! There are tons! We are going to Portland [Oregon] in October for the "Portland Retro Gaming Expo."
GD: Is your brother going to tag along?
AS: Yea! He is going to be our 2nd cameraman for the trip!
GD: Very cool. Do you and Ricky ever get into fights or arguments over a game? I remember one episode Ricky caught you slipping and came up on a very nice Demon's Crest for the SNES.
AS: I will be honest; I was actually pretty upset by that. But I can't hold it against him because I do it too sometimes. Haha.
GD: So that was a pretty big find for him, tell me about your biggest find.
AS: I walked by a booth selling routers and Ricky and Chris (the cameraman) walked right by and I almost did as well...I did a double take and couldn't believe it. It was a PC Core Grafx II (basically a turbo Grafx 16.) The smallest home console ever made. I asked the guy, "How much?" He said "for the router?" I said "Uhhh yep" he said "2 dollars".......... MY MIND WAS BLOWN!!!
GD: About how much is that thing worth?
AS: Well, the dollar value may not be too much (maybe around 100) But I know guys that have been doing this for 20 years and said, "That just doesn’t happen, you don’t find these ever!"
GD: Wow, and for 2 dollars, that's quite a come up! What's the furthest you've travelled to get a certain game that's missing from your collection?
AS: Actually, not very far. I have learned to take things slow. I know I go game hunting every week, so I don't rush or get too excited when I see a game. I am very stern with paying under 5 bucks. I came across Turtles in Time like 10 times for like $30 and everyone kept telling to buy it...and I kept saying, "NO!" I will find it cheap someday and hey... 2 bucks a few months later. Hahaha.
GD: That was the one where Shredder is like, "I think tonight I'll dine on turtle soup!" Right?
AS: "Turtle Soup - My Favorite"
GD: Haha, I loved that game! Have there been any games out there that you really want but just haven't been able to find?
AS: ...Demon's Crest...Let's not go there.
GD: Fair enough. Haha. What do you think drives you to collect retro games? Is it like you mentioned earlier the rush and feeling like a carefree kid again?
AS: There is something special about the games we played as children. It takes you back to that state of [childhood] wonder where everything seemed so huge and epic! It takes you to the times where you had no worries, no problems and your biggest worry was Dr.Wily. When I think about playing games like Chip n' Dales Rescue Rangers or Life Force or Star Fox or River City Ransom... I truthfully just smile.
GD: Okay, last and most important question, can I have some money?
AS: You can have my copy of Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt... most rare game on Earth.
GD: Haha, well those are all the questions I have. Thanks for taking the time.
AS: Thank You! And if you need me, just look in the dumpsters at a swap meet in Orange County.
If you want to check out Aaron in The NES Pursuit, you can check him out here.
|Exequiel Roman III
He has been gaming since before he could spell video or games... or even his own name. While he can find a game he enjoys in any genre, he cites Tetris being his all-time favorite game. Oh yeah... he writes stuff too.
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