Friday 16 January 2015

Amiibo - Gotta catch 'em all

Under many a Christmas tree this year were inch high figures that are collectively known as Amiibo. This surprise Christmas hit was Nintendo’s answer to ‘Skylanders’ and ‘Disney Infinity’, the latest range in what retailers call ‘videogame enhancing toys’. The premise is simple; each figure depicts a character from the Nintendo universe. In the base of each is a tiny chip, which when placed on a NFC reader unlocks specific content in a game.
They act as a key to release parts of a game that were previously restricted to a player, while also recording game progress and unique character customisation. Initially, the idea was you would buy your favourite character and use them across many games in so doing you would raise their virtual levels and create a more formidable avatar. However, people haven’t been buying just one figure and nurturing it; they have been buying every figure Nintendo have released. Indeed, sales of the Amiibo figures has eclipsed sales of the games they can be used with proving that many are buying the toys just to have them on shelves rather than use them.

I am one of these people. I have placed a pre-order for the Mega Man Amiibo, despite the fact that I don’t even own a Wii U to use him with. I want the figure, just because I love the ‘MegaMan’ games and think that having the little Blue Bomber sitting on my shelf will somehow prove how big a fan of the series I am. The more I think about it the more Amiibo acquisition, be it one or the entire collection, really does say a great deal about the mentality behind collecting. 

Many simply want to buy them all, so they can have the satisfaction of owning them all. They don’t want them for the game enhancements they offer and sometimes collectors readily admit they have bought a figure depicting a character they don’t know, or even don’t like. Many are buying these figures simply because they want to build a collection. They are buying them because they want to own everyone in the set. They are buying every release because they have them all so far and stopping would mean the collection became incomplete.

The desire to “catch ‘em all” is at the heart of collecting. As someone who spends a great deal of their moneybuying old games I am very much aware of this. But at what point does collecting become habit and addiction rather than pleasurable? Do we buy because we feel obligated to, having already spent so much starting a collection? Is knowing when to stop actually the hardest part of collecting?

These thoughts have lead to an article on Retro Collect exploring the mentality behind collecting. I hope you find it an enjoyable read.

Retro Collect Article:

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