VIDEO-GAME EXPERT VALARIE McLECKIE RELISHES IDEA OF SHEPHERDING NEW CATEGORY
Not just a new category for Heritage Auctions, but arguably an entirely new market, video-game collecting was taken to the next level when Wata Games came on the scene in 2018 as the first significant and transparent third-party grading company for games. Valarie McLeckie joined Heritage in late 2018 to spearhead the auction house’s efforts to enter the collectible video-game market. A lifelong video-game enthusiast, she brought her knowledge, passion and work ethic to Heritage to help take this category and market to the upper echelons of collectibles.
Did you collect anything as a child?
My grandma would always let me get a small “treat” when she would take me grocery shopping with her when I was little. One day, I picked a booster pack of Pokémon from the Jungle set on a whim. Among the cards, I found a holographic Pinsir. I was instantly hooked on collecting Pokémon cards when I saw the holofoil!
Do you still have those collections?
Unfortunately, some of my favorite Base set cards were lifted from me when I visited the local Pokémon league as a kid. However, I still have some of my favorite holographic cards in a binder that has always moved with me ever since I left my childhood home.
When did video games come in?
It was a natural progression from Pokémon cards. Once I got hooked on those, I moved to Pokémon video games. My very first console (that I did not have to share with my siblings) was the Special Pokémon edition of Nintendo’s Game Boy Color. Even though I loved to play Super Mario Bros. on the NES with my brother before that, having my own Game Boy allowed me to explore my hobby independently. I collected all the Pokémon games and that started my descent down the rabbit hole. As I got older, I progressively cared more about the condition of the games and the difficulty I had in finding each one.
What’s your favorite video game in your collection?
My Wata 6.0 complete in-box Shantae for the Game Boy Color, hands down. I have sub-collections within my main collection, and this falls under the “female protagonist” umbrella. It’s very special to me. Despite being one the rarest Game Boy Color games, this is actually my childhood copy that I saved throughout the years.
Why do you think collectors want to have video games they will never play?
For some, it’s nostalgia. The games themselves serve as a reminder of the wonderful times had playing them. However, the why and the specific approach to collecting is definitely unique for each person. With that said, though, in my mind it’s no different than comic-book collectors buying books they will never read.
What trends do you see around the corner in this category?
Collectors are willing to pay a premium for graded games that have maintained their factory seal, and I think it’s a given that high-grade sealed games will always be in demand. However, finding sealed copies of vintage games will eventually become a goal that is not obtainable for everyone due to their scarcity. Some collectors may steadily be priced out because of this, and this will likely drive them to change their focus to high-grade complete in-box copies. In fact, there are already some titles collectors will jump at the opportunity to purchase a complete in-box copy of because sealed is basically unattainable. I also expect there will be a demand for video-game original art and promotional materials.
What advice do you have for people new to video-game collecting?
Collecting should be a social activity. Do what you can to network with other people who enjoy collecting video games and learn what you can from them. Most collectors love to share their knowledge of this hobby with others to inspire confidence in new collectors, which ultimately gives strength to this market.
This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2020 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.