Linda Guillory, Gaming Systems

Linda Guillory holds two Guinness World Record titles for her collection of gaming systems. In this edition of Collector Spotlight, she explains the role a house fire played in her approach to collecting and shares her thoughts on the recent record-breaking auction prices for some video game titles.

How do you describe your collection?

I always describe it as a collection of vintage electronic games. My record for LCD gaming systems is 1,599 and 2,430 for playable gaming systems. I have added to my collection since then.

Most of my collection is games I remember as a kid from about 1974 to 1989. After 1989 I went more towards the Nintendo systems and away from handheld games. In general, I find the difference between the games and consoles fascinating. I really like racing games and Space Invaders-style games. I like the different types of screens and controllers. There are just so many different aspects that I love.

When and why did you start your collection?

I started when I was a kid but I wasn’t really collecting — I was just buying games and taking care of them. I had a small of collection of about 35 systems and about 75 Nintendo games. Then my mom’s house burned down and I lost them all.

My brother was visiting me in 2003 and we were talking about the video games we played as kids and bragging about who was best at which games. He asked me about the whereabouts of my Coleco Pac-Man. That was one lost in the fire. That conversation started me thinking about that game so I went on eBay. I found that game and some of the others in the series that I didn’t ever have but wanted, like Galaxian, Miss Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. Well, by then I could afford them and I started buying the whole series.

How do you display and store your collection?

When I bought Galaxian, Miss Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong, I put them on a bookshelf. Eventually, the games took up too much room there so I bought a curio. Soon enough, I had two curios full of games. A friend came over and said, “Oh, you’re a collector!” I said that I wasn’t but realized that I probably was a collector at that point. It’s funny because I never really thought of it that way.

My collection is pretty much contained in one room. I now have a built-in bookshelf that goes to the ceiling with a library ladder so I can access everything at the top. About seventy per cent of the collection is on display and ninety per cent can be played — there are still some games in the packaging. I play the games, as do my nieces, nephews, and friends. I try to buy two of everything just in case one breaks.

If you love them, you should play them.

What do you consider to be the Holy Grail of your collection?

When people talk about Holy Grails in video games they often mention Adventure Vision. I’m not that person. I like Adventure Vision but it’s not a Holy Grail for me. I more consider the Tiger Electronics King Kong flip-top game to be a Holy Grail. As far as I know, I have the only boxed version of that game. I absolutely love it. It’s the one people contact me the most to purchase.

As for one that has eluded me, it’s the Tiger Electronics Star Castle tabletop game. It’s believed to exist but no one has ever come up with it and no collector has admitted to having it. Some people say they have seen it but no one has a picture of it. Collectors believe it was released on the market in a toy catalogue so I definitely believe it is out there, but some people aren’t as sure as I am.

I have a funny story about a Zelda game that was auctioned for over $800,000. I lost a sealed version of that game when my mom’s house burned down. It was one of my favourite games. About 15 years ago, the game was going for about $400. I called my sister and we laughed about someone paying $400 for that game. I would have sold my sealed copy at that time — it would have been gone. So, I can’t be upset that I missed out on $800,000 because it would have been gone at $400 and I wouldn’t have had it to sell. I really want to know who’s buying these games. I’m a little shocked at those prices but, hey, more power to you!

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a similar collection?

I always tell people to start with what they love. I started with things that I absolutely loved and I took care of them. If you love it, then that’s kind of all that matters.

View Linda’s Guinness World Record listing.

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