Sunday, July 5, 2009

Interview: Rare Game Collector With 16,000 Games

I had the opportunity to interview Jason Wilson, better known as DreamTR in the video game community. He owns nearly 16,000 games and has one of the largest collections of rare and one-of-a-kind items in the world. Below are excerpts from the interview with pictures of his collection and most valuable games.

VGPC: You go by DreamTR online, but what is your real name and where do you live?
DreamTR: My name is Jason Wilson and I live in Nashville, TN

VGPC: How many video games and systems do you own?
DreamTR: At least 15,000 games, which might be closer to 16,000 now. I have no idea how many systems I own. I also own about 100 arcade and pinball machines.
Huge Video Game Collection 1
Huge Video Game Collection 2
Huge Video Game Collection 3
Huge Video Game Collection 4

VGPC: What do you do for a living that lets you buy that many games?
DreamTR: I own a video arcade called Game Galaxy in Nashville.
Video Game Arcade 1
Video Game Arcade 2

VGPC: And how much do you think you've spent over the years amassing that amazing collection?
DreamTR: Not as much as everyone thinks. I think it is around $100,000 during my lifetime. The collection is worth 4 times that amount now.

VGPC: Of those 16,000 games, how many do you consider to be "rare" items. Things like test cartridges, games with only a few copies, etc?
DreamTR: I don't think test cartridges are tough to get. I have about 1,100 game prototypes for all my systems. I also own a Gold Nintendo World Championships, a Gray one, Blockbuster Genesis Competition cartridge, and the only Nintendo Campus Challenge ever found. I own the "rares" for practically every systems.

VGPC: Do you think you have the biggest video game collection in the world?
DreamTR: I am sure as far as "different" items go, I am up there. Anyone can pick-up multiples of games and count them towards their "collection", but my collection is of "different" games and not duplicates.

VGPC: What do you think are your 5 most rare items?
Legend of Zelda NES prototype because nobody else has seen that type of PCB before.
1990 Nintendo World Championships Gold. It is basically the "holy grail" of gaming.
1992 Nintendo Campus Challenge NES. This is the only one known to exist.
First production unit off the line of the Turbo Grafx 16 System
Sock the Cat Rocks the Hill SNES. The only known version of this in the world

Nintendo Campus Challenge Screenshot
Nintendo Campus Challenge NES

Zelda Prototype Cartridge
Zelda Prototype Cartridge

Nintendo Campus Challenge Cartridge
Campus Challenge Cartridge

VGPC: Are those also the most expensive items or are some other games worth more?
DreamTR: The most expensive are probably the Gold and Gray Nintendo World Championships, Nintendo Campus Challenge, and Tales of the Arabian Nights. Maybe the Virtual Boy TV Boy would fetch a high price too. I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting. It's hard to assign values on some items when there are only 1 or 2 ever made.
Gray and Gold Nintendo World Championships Cartridges Together
Gray and Gold Nintendo World Championships

VGPC: What is your favorite game in the collection?
DreamTR: 1990 NWC Gold because it took me so long to get.

VGPC: Is it true that you owned seven NWC Gold cartridges at one time?
DreamTR: Yes. I located everyone on the Nintendo Power list back in 1999 and bought as many as I could.

VGPC: If you had seven at once, why did the one you have now take "so long to get"?
DreamTR: The NWC cartridge I own now was actually in Iraq for a long time many years ago.

VGPC: What is the secret to getting so many one-of-a-kind items?
DreamTR: Having good contacts. Not low-balling people. And not alienating people that have these items for sale.

VGPC: Will there be rare games in the future or are they becoming a thing of the past because of changes to the industry like disc based games, downloadable games, etc?
DreamTR: It's definitely going to change, but video games will still be "collectible", just on a different level.

VGPC: Do you have any advice for collectors who are just starting out?
DreamTR: It's a lot easier to complete collections nowadays with the internet and the fact that high production numbers are all over the place. I would say scrounge flea markets, garage sales, and put WANTED ads up on Craig's List. That helps tremendously in this economy.

VGPC: Thank you for the interview Jason.
DreamTR: Thank you JJ


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Christopher said...

7.... hahahaha.... oh boy. still, i spose anyone can pick up multiples of games and count them towards their collection. so, whars me hunting gear, i'm off to find me some gold carts...

Dave W said...

It's safe to say that DTR has the largest collection worldwide. If you're going to go by pure volume, then Gamestop, Inc has him trounced. :P

Jason, about damn time you organized your collection. I remember the sideroom in LA with shit everywhere. Imo, half the fun of having a large game collection is creating a gameroom/library room that is comfortable and presents everything in an aestheticly pleasing way that you can relax and play in.

Yes, kinda hard with 2x-3x as many games as we have and yes, this is the comment of a collector too broke to collect anymore. Anyway...

Not to lick Jason's ass, he has played the collecting game smarter than anyone else. Yes, he may have spent $100k on his collection, but how much of that $100k was cash out of his pocket? I guarentee less than half. There is much more complexity to his response about his secret to collecting and I don't mean that in a malicious way.

ChrisD said...

So what happened to the original 7 NWC carts that he had at one time?

JJ Hendricks said...

ChrisD - Jason wouldn't give me the exact details of how he tracked down the games and he also wouldn't tell me exactly when or for how much he sold the games. It sounds like he sold off all of the original 7 he owned and then bought another one at a later date from the seller in Iraq.

I asked for more details but he said he doesn't want to share that information.

ChrisD said...

Interesting... crazy to think that someone would have that many and not hang onto even 1. Ya know, I know only 12 have surfaced, I'm sure of the other 14, some were thrown out/destroyed/'lost,' but I bet you there's still one or two that are just sitting in a box in someone's basement somewhere.

Maybe the gamer who packed away his nintendo games and hasn't looked at them since, and has no idea of it's impending value. Or the son that moved away leaving all of his stuff packed at his parents house. I betcha...

JJ Hendricks said...

I think of the other 14 NWC Gold cartridges as "Golden Tickets" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Some lucky person out there in the world will find one of these Gold cartridges at a garage sale, or flea market, or box in the attic.

Game collectors will think to themselves "now there are only 13 left, my chances just got smaller."

Dave W said...

After the fact, but Nintendo had a list of winners publically available for anyone to browse. Jason just tracked these people down and was the first to do so. He sold the first to Niels from the now-gone Nespit for $1k. One to buyatari for $5k, I think and then one to Captain Falcon for $7.5k. I don't know to who any of the other copies went. He always kept one for himself, the best looking copy out of them all.

JJ Hendricks said...

Dave W - Great information to know. I knew he used that Nintendo published list but wasn't sure exactly how he tracked the winners down. The prices are even more interesting. They definitely shot-up quite a bit between sales.

I wish he had told me how much he paid the winners for their games.

Anonymous said...

"I wish he had told me how much he paid the winners for their games."
In comparison, practically nothing. If SELLING one for a paltry $1k is feasible, imagine how many hundreds less the purchase prices were. "Not lowballing" - HA!
And when it comes to total investment, well it's awful hard to gauge when you're lining up suckers to pay you many times over your purchase costs to supply them with simple binary DATA COPIES and even gathering purchase funds from the gaming community beforehand for the same copy/backup service to fulfill your own selfish hoarding desires, and then turning around and reselling the same data to reproduction companies for further exorbitant prices so they can infringe on vacated copyrights and profit themselves. Pretty nice setup he's made himself over the years due to his "contacts," read:internet suckers like you who feed his habit with your dollars.

Pimpdaddysupreme said...

Sounds like someone is angry that Jason knows what the definition of capitalism is. The man runs a business. If he sold things for the same price he paid for them, you'd be calling him a lousy businessman.

I applaud him for taking something that is a passion for him and making it pay for itself. (and honestly, it probably hasn't)

Lowballing is not refusing to pay someone the eventual 7.5k you'll get for it later. I'm assuming he probably means he paid what they asked for it or offered up what he figured was a fair price. (and obviously they sold to him)

Watch "Pawn Stars" or "American Pickers" sometime. You'll get some perspective on finding a price between market and fair.

Anonymous said...

Touching the subject, how much is the pricing for these kind of items, i used to run a museum what alls kind of stuff on the web way back in 1998/1999. My knowledge on what the pricing could be is more or less nada as my driving scheme was the art on all item packaging.

Im about to sell my items out and i came up with an item with the sticker "sample'' on it, its boxed "Baseball Fighter" for Famicom, is this an item i should be cautious to sell?

/BR John Zukke

Hunting Gear said...

nice! those are really cool stuffs. I wish I have those arcade games on my room. :)

Anonymous said...

How much to release Socks The Cat Rocks The Hill finally?

BradleyP4 said...

From what I had read on the internet for the last few years and this article.

He owns "1 copy" of the Legend of Zelda prototype. I believe I read their were a couple others, because 1 guy is selling his for $150,000.

BradleyP4 said...

Well I guess that prototype in the link I had posted did get purchased by someone. I thought it was still for sale. DreamTR bought it. I remember reading about that prototype going on sale, and all this time I thought it was still up for sale. That NO ONE bought it.

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