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Great response, Bill (as usual). Don't get me wrong. I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here. I have only one unopened piece of software here (Tomb Raider collection), and that's just because I haven't gotten around to playing it yet. The same with comics. Some comics come shipped in sealed plastic bags, such as Ren & Stimpy #1. When I opened the bag, the part that had been obscured by the bag read, "You idiot! Now this comic is worthless!" I thought this was brilliantly funny, and I didn't take it seriously at all. It'd be worthless to me if I DID keep it in the bag; it was only after opening the bag and reading the comic that it was worth something to me.
I also thought about the "how many is enough" question. If I have, say, an Apple II still in its original packaging, never opened, and then acquire another one in the same excellent condition, then can't I just keep the first one and actually open and play with the second one? I mean, I can justify it the same way folks do who buy two of the same comic--one to "collect," the other to "enjoy." I've seen people do the same thing with everything from stamps to Barbie dolls to those silly Beanie Baby things.
The point is this. Right now, most of this stuff is common and can be found and had for a fair price. If you want a Commodore 64 in its original box and in mint condition, and if you want software still in the box and so on, you can have it for a price. There will be a time, though, when either (a) you can only have these things for an ungodly price or (b) you can't have them at all, period, because there are none left. I'm sure that a videogame historian in the year 2500 would be perfectly willing to give his front teeth for an Apple II in its original packaging or possibly even just a single unopened Atari 2600 game. Such finds would tell the historian a lot more than any badly used and damaged units would.
At any rate, at some point we have to ask ourselves, "Do I collect videogames just for fun, or am I serious about preserving these things for history?" To my knowledge, only museums are good at #2. Everyone else is either doing it for money, nostalgia, "cool factor," or to actually play them. Is there anything wrong with any of these motives? I don't personally think so. If you want to collect Apple II games in pristine condition because you think they'll be worth a lot of money one day, why not? As long as you aren't wantonly destroying things that might have historical value one day, I don't see any reason to get upset.
Did you see this story about a tycoon who accidentally put his elbow through a priceless Picasso painting? I can't read a story like that and not cringe. It's painful to me to think that such a work was damaged so irrevocably. On the other hand, it is an original, unique work, and, as you say, most games and hardware was mass produced.
Still, I must disagree about re-writing the software to the disk. While the practical effect might be the same, I'd still argue that there are technical differences there that can't be overlooked. It's just not the same.
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