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Self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy building a gaming empire

January 04 2017, 2:00 PM EST By Jonathan Diener


When a pug wearing different outfits can be the biggest thing on social media, the playing field is leveled for plenty of contenders. Let me introduce you to your new favorite social media star: @ACartridgeGamer—the huggable, bald, red-bearded king of nostalgia and video game collecting.

My friend Danny constantly ranked his favorite games, consoles and movies in everyday conversation. One day he blurted out something regarding his Instagram account having a lot of followers. As his snide, bitter millennial counterpart, I decided to investigate his claim to rub it in his face. Turns out his @ACartridgeGamer account has over 10,000 followers on Instagram and extends far beyond that on other social media platforms. It wasn’t that he enjoyed this stuff—he lived it.

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When I initially reached out to Danny about doing an interview for AltPress, it seemed as if he was 25 percent excited for the interview and 75 percent excited to show me his game room. It was a mutually beneficial situation. I arrived at the apartment, children’s toys strewn about the floor, which paled in comparison to the toys I was about to witness. Danny led me through the kitchen—his red mustache hiding his smile—and flipped a light switch that made me feel like we traveled into some time capsule floating around in space. The warm glow of five TVs screens from different generations playing an assortment of games illuminated shelves upon shelves of gaming memorabilia. The bleeps and bloops were welcome sounds taking me back to my childhood. I was officially in what he called, “The Nostalgia Mausoleum.”

“They thought I was too young to remember this, but I vaguely remember going to the store and buying the Super Nintendo with my parents,” Danny began to tell his origin story. “We got the launched Super Nintendo when I was a 4-year-old. I remember my earliest Christmas playing Super Mario World.” I was surprised he didn’t start out with an original Nintendo like I did, but he quickly explained: “Yeah, that I destroyed as a baby putting Hot Wheels cars in the drive.”

As we chatted, I couldn’t help but notice every shelf was meticulously laid out with a themed display. Consoles, games, toys— anything that could possibly fit the aesthetic of each shelf—were in perfect order. Whether it was a collection of rare Game Boys, every variation of the GameCube and hundreds of its games, or his Ocarina Of Time variants, Nintendo seemed to be the reoccurring theme.

“Other companies have caught up, but Nintendo has what has often been referred to as the, ‘Nintendo Polish.’ Their games have that extra bit of magic, like a good Disney movie,” Danny explained. “It’s like watching The Lion King. That’s what Nintendo does. So when they pull out a true Mario or a true Zelda game, they’re worth turning your head for. There’s maybe five companies that can pull out that kind of magic.”

Like vinyl, video games either go up in value or gather dust. Collectors usually start by buying only the titles that interest them and over time cross a line into collecting. It involves researching rarities, learning sales trends and finding good deals. I asked Danny about his transition from hobbyist to obsessor.

“My parents wouldn’t let me have a job in high school, so when I was 18, I got my first job. That was before the N64 started blowing up, because everything is really expensive now,” Danny explains. “Back then, you could get N64 controllers and Pokémon games for $5. I’d go to a local store with my paycheck and buy up all the N64 stuff my parents didn’t get me growing up. Those games were so expensive, and I had four brothers, so my collection started with buying things my friends and cousins had.”

“I sold a box of about one hundred Nintendo 64 boxes for about $800. I paid $20 for it. No games, but most of them did have the manuals. This is before the prices went up. I kept a bunch of them for myself, even.”

Understanding the sales bubble is a major factor when it comes to building a collection. We went from talking about collecting to selling. I had to know the biggest deal he’s made.

“I sold a box of about one hundred Nintendo 64 boxes for about $800. I paid $20 for it. No games, but most of them did have the manuals. This is before the prices went up. I kept a bunch of them for myself, even.”

That’s right: Empty boxes sold for $800. If anything, this is a lesson to save anything you think will go up in value over time. “Kids didn’t save the cardboard boxes. That’s why you find a lot of Sega Genesis boxes, but not with the N64 games. Mario Kart 64, I’ve sold like a bajillion copies, but now it’s like a $60 cartridge.”

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When it comes to the completionist side of collecting, Danny went on to say he was aiming to get every single GameCube title, a staggering number close to 700. After crossing the halfway point, he noticed it was a good time to sell, striking his original goal, but still ending up with about 150 games.

Danny has a wife and son, who may be the luckiest kid in the world for stepping into such a great collection. However, supporting a family while staying current with all of the new tech can be overwhelming.

“It’s harder to stay on top of every game and that’s the problem,” Danny explains. “I can do the consoles. Like, I have a 3DS, I have a Wii U, Xbox One, PS4—but I can’t jump on things like the PlayStation VR. It’s $400, but it’s just something I can’t do. It’s cool, but it’s freakin’ $400 and I have a family.”

In the gaming industry, slimmer, faster or limited-edition versions of consoles come out as placeholders until the big bangers come out of nowhere.

“The [Nintendo] Switch comes out in March. That’s gonna be a must. Well, not as much as I used to be, but I could be classified as a Nintendo fanboy. When Nintendo releases something, my ears perk up, for sure. It’s still a spectacle 30 years after the NES was released—the Nintendo console is still something to look at.”

Gamers are now able to play live on streaming sites such as Twitch, where you can be transformed from just some kid in your basement to a rock star on the internet. Branding for game enthusiasts via YouTube channels, blogs and social media is now bigger than ever. Danny’s A Cartridge Gamer moniker is his swing at gaming notoriety.

“Right now I do a YouTube video every week, Instagram every single day and Twitter when I remember to. It’s all about content, which is really hard to do, but I’d like to do some Let’s Plays, which is just gameplay things. Twitch is a little hard for me because my son is a toddler and [Twitch is] the opposite of being able to stream or quietly stream anything. Being able to pre-record is easier for me.”


(courtesy of Youtube.com/ACartridgeGamer)

Developing his brand and expanding is the overall goal. When it comes to posting, it’s less work and more fun. “Content-wise, whatever strikes me that day is what I go with. It’s been snowy the last few days so I did stuff with my new Pokémon slippers. It’s important to pay attention to what people are looking at. It’s very shrewd, but Pokémon Sun and Moon came out. Pictures of Pokémon are going to be big.”

When it comes to gift ideas, I picked Danny’s brain about the holiday season. How do you shop for an avid gamer? And more importantly, what is the wisest way to use all of your newly accrued gift cards?

“Pay attention to what the person has, and if you’re not sure, a GameStop gift card is never offensive. There’s nothing wrong with the base model of the systems. PlayStation is going to be the Mega Man Legacy Collection, Shovel Knight and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. For Xbox, Halo 5 is amazing and Forza Horizon 3 is a blasty blast. The Wii U is still expensive for some reason, but there’s a ton of good games in the Nintendo Selects line. Anything with Mario in the title is also a blast.”

For aspiring collectors, there are a few tips and tricks to jumpstart your own game room.

“Start with what’s fun and don’t be ashamed with how small it is. Hmm, that’s a weird wording of that. Size matters. Start with what you like and don’t get discouraged when you don’t find things. You might go to Goodwill and Salvation Army 20 times and find things twice.

“There are systems that are going up in price. Steer clear of the original Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and GameCube. The bubble will pop eventually, but right now they’re very expensive. Sega Genesis, Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 are still really low in price. That’s my recommendation.”

As the conversation wound down, I had to ask the heartbreaking question: Would you ever sell your collection?

“I would prefer not to. I’ve thought about it, because it’s definitely a down payment on a house. It’s grownup troubles. Like, literally a down payment on a house, but I love it so much. And my wife, bless her heart, has never pressured me to do it.”

While his Instagram is the flagship social media outlet, you can also follow @ACartridgeGamer on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, VidMe, Xbox Live, WiiU and PSN.

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