Here’s a question I had to ask myself when I loaded games unto TurboEverdrive; Is this all of the value? This needs some opening. What I mean by that is that we all have the direct and straight access to all software of previous generations via the Internet. Let’s ignore the whole issue with piracy and whatnot. A product needs to have a value, and often that value comes in form of the work paid for it as well as the materials put into it. That’s the basic core elements. The rest come afterward; its rarity, its quality (which can drop the overall value), its demand and so on. ROMs move most of these points away, and all you’re left with is the end result, the raw core product that is the game. For an Everdrive, this is largely the same. You got access to everything at once.
As a sidenote, an Everdrive is an unofficial product that allows the usage of ROM files via SD card on real hardware.
This probably is a complete non-issue to someone who has grown up and largely use digital-only solutions. After all, a ROM is effectively just that, a stripped version of a physical game cart (or cassette, if you want to use the Japanese term.) There are numerous people with large Steam libraries filled with games, free or purchased, that they have never played. They’re just there, filling space. It’s collecting digital dust. There is an effect, where when you have a large amount of something available to you without any limitations, be it whatever media, you grow bored of it fast. You got everything there, right now and none of it really attracts attention. You have time to check everything, there’s no reason to hurry and spend time to go through each thing one by one through and through. Well, time’s limited and you’ll probably never be able to finish everything before you die if your personal library is too large, but that’s an existential issue we shouldn’t think about now. When you have so much stuff in your hands, rather only one or two pieces, it tends to become mundane. Something that’s just present there without much value attached to it.
There is a generation that likes to create a game library on their shelves. Hundreds if not thousands of games just sitting there. Does their amount kill their value too to the owner? This might be the case. When you have one or two games for a system, you play those games only. You have no other options. You lack quantity of titles. Quality might be an issue, but you’ll get through that. That’s how you kept playing some terrible games when you were a child, you had no other real options. You learned how to play them, how to get around their weak design and mastered them for good measure. You have more time per title. It could even be argued to some extent that the more time you spend on a title gives more value. It doesn’t matter if its content repetition. You die and lose over and over again, picking up the remains of your character’s equipment, restart the game because you ran out of Lives and Continues, do it all over again before you get skilled enough to get through the hard part. You learn patterns and get pass the spot that held you back that one weekend. Then the next stage comes and puts up a fight again. The cycle repeats until you’ve finished the game. If it’s the only game you have, you go back in and enjoy it further. You try new things, try beating the game better, faster. You’ll find the value and the intentions from the game, and perhaps even become to like that piece of shit software after few months of trying to finish it. With limited game library at your hands, you really don’t have other choices. Of course, you could go outside and play ball with friends and trek through the local forest, but that’d be going outside.
Nothing else prevents this scenario from happening at an adult age. Except we tend to have more stuff available to stuff. Even more so if you happen to be a collector of sorts. Emulators and an Everdrive breaks this. Why spend time on one game that doesn’t attract you, doesn’t hold your interest at first when you can directly jump to another title? The money and the work the consumer has to put into obtaining the product is gone and it is extremely easy, if not preferable, just to play the best of the best. Then you get a bit bored, jump one game to another. Nothing stops you from just flicking between the games. There is no natural drive of sorts to keep one title on, unless it hits the right spot. In this light, perhaps value is the wrong term to use. Appreciation would be more accurate. We appreciate the things we have, and the less we have something, the more we tend to appreciate it. It’s like health, where we don’t really appreciate us being healthy until we’re sick. The amount of health suddenly diminished and is replaced with its absence and sickness. Collecting a library you’ll never really play through is, in all honesty, a rather terrible thing to do. You’re ending up a waste of space, digital or not, and nothing really gets done by them. However, the nature of collecting sidesteps this more often than not and concentrates on other aspects. The thrill of the hunt, the accumulation of goods and completing a set of something. Simply having something in your hands that you can physically touch, read, look and admire are often enough. Of course, there are those who will feel smugness for owning something others don’t.
Incidentally, the library of a game console that is possible to own, as in the amount of games available for a platforms, is completely the opposite. It needs to be large, extremely so. The larger the library, the more games there are to choose from and the wider selection there is. Something for someone. There will be truckloads of shovel games, but if the library ends up being small, limited, then it’ll end up having nothing but shovel games. A gem here or there won’t keep your console afloat. Still, if you got nothing else, a cheaper shovel title may end up becoming the shining beacon of high personal value, and that’s all that matters in the end.