The Needles

The Needles: Confessions of a Collector

Andy Chalk | 29 Jul 2008 21:00
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RF Generation currently boasts 1811 registered users, with 1026 collections listed online and 37,208 games listed in its database, but Keith "Tan" Brown, RF Generation's standards director, claims the site has an appeal beyond just a list of games. "It's more than a database collection tool to us, it's a game reference and resource as well," he said. "A member can find related games, or see what else that company has done they may be interested in. Also, it allows for user reviews so you get a real down-to-earth feel for what the average gamer thinks of a particular title."

"We're also always trying to stay on the bleeding edge of collecting, that's why we've expanded into gaming hardware and tracking downloadable games," he continued. "For hardware I daresay we're unrivaled."

"Anyone can list tens of thousands of titles, but to have good info on them is a different story," added Scott "Tynstar" Williams, the site's content director.

Database entries can be painstakingly detailed, ranging from mundane information like title, publisher and year of release to minutiae including media formats, control schemes, content ratings, UPC codes and much more. Consoles covered by the site range from mainstream Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox systems to the Cougar Boy/MegaDuck, the RDI Halcyon, the Watara Supervision and dozens of others I've never heard of, while options to track the physical locations of games and create buy, sell and wish lists to facilitate transactions with other users are also available. The level of detail borders on obsessive, which of course makes it a perfect fit for collectors.

Gathering this much information is a big effort, and the admins are quick to credit the collector community for making it happen. The site runs entirely on donations and occasional cash infusions from the volunteer staff, and they're unanimous in their determination to keep in that way, eschewing any possibility of a switch to fee-based operations. "Since the site has been so closely linked to the community we really can't go commercial," Hermann said. "We do this because we enjoy running the site and have a thriving gaming community." He added that despite the expense of moving to a dedicated server, he's hopeful that by the end of the year the cost of running the site will be covered entirely by user donations. "For the long term, we just want to keep the community alive and growing, and keep it free."

At its own pace, RF Generation has plans for the future, including a couple of projects currently underway Williams describes as "Secret stuff, both big and small." The voluntary nature of the site, however, means there is no carved-in-stone plan or schedule; things tend to happen when they happen. "Because we code as a labor of love, we're not in a position to say what exactly we're coding. But there are two projects going on," Murnan said.

"One involves collections," he continued. "The other is certainly going to be one that, when it's finished, should be something new and, as far as I know, unseen." That kind of seat-of-the-pants flying has served RF Generation well in its four years, and there are no plans to change. "We're not a business, so we can get away with that," Murnan added.

"We're not ever going to charge people to use features, because that goes against everything we stand for. Donors might get little tools, but you're not going to see something like the collection tools or 'Project X' be a pay tool," he said. "Our community is very, very important to us."

Videogame collecting isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, RF Generation is a tremendously useful tool. The site's inventory and tracking tools are outstanding, and the admins are helpful, accommodating and friendly, sharing with their users a passion for games of days gone by. My own personal (and, as it turns out, relatively small) collection can be seen here for those who want to check out RF Generation in action; the site also maintains an IRC channel, #rfgeneration, on QuakeNet.org.

Andy Chalk still has F19 and Gunship sitting on the shelf, NM CIB.

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