How To Find Those Rare Adventures!
I think my time game hounding is running down (my interests are shifting to other hobbies), so I thought I'd take the time to help others learn the techniques I have used to amass my game collection over the years. Finding those rare adventures can be quite tricky; finding them reasonably priced is even trickier. Below are the means that I have used to get the older adventure games that have made their way into my collection, or that I have passed along to others. To date, I have never paid more than $21 for a rare adventure. I suspect this webpage won't be popular amongst the competitive sleuthers who find these games cheap to re-sell for small fortunes; who cares. This information isn't for them; it's for people who want to play the harder to find games that are priced reasonably. What are some of the rare adventure games that I have found over the years (utilizing the techniques described below)? King's Quest Collection Series (factory sealed in flawless box) - $4.99 USD, The Dark Eye (factory sealed in flawless box) - $9.99, Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (factory sealed in flawless box) - $9.01 USD (it was a sales-tax thing)... you get the idea. So, let's begin...
1) My Tricks To Searching eBay
2) Flea Markets/Swap Meets
3) Brick & Mortar Stores
4) Trading/Selling Forums
5) On-Line Retailers
My Tricks To Searching eBay
This section pertains to eBay, and how to search it better than the pros (or any specialized software developed to search eBay).
U.S. eBay - You will notice that there are a gazillion sections to search on eBay for stuff, and sometimes you will find items you want in the most unlikely sections of eBay. PC games are mostly sold in 2, main categories (Computers & Networking -&- Video Games) on the U.S. eBay. Many only search the Video Games section, and further lessen their search results by choosing subcategories. The fact of the matter is that people sell PC games in virtually all subcategories of Video Games, and you may miss some treasures because you didn't take the time to search them. Same goes for Computers & Networking. I've found a way of searching EVERY subcategory, of each of the 2 main categories, for the adventure games that you want while removing all of the console garbage with only 2 keyboard combinations.
To be able to do this, you will need to download a freeware program called WinKey. WinKey allows you to load webpages or programs on your computer with a simple keyboard combination. The WinKey program hasn't been developed in years, but the program works fantastic in later versions of Windows; it works great for me in Windows XP. After you download the program, install it. Let's practice how to use the program with making a shortcut to load Yahoo's e-mail login page.
Step 1: Open WinKey (default keyboard shortcut is Windows Key + F9).
Step 2: Get the URL for Yahoo's e-mail login - http://mail.yahoo.com/?.intl=us
Step 3: Make a new shortcut in WinKey.
a) Click on the Add button.
b) Paste the Yahoo URL into the Command line then choose a Shortcut key. Click OK after.
Note: Use Normal Window instead of Maximized, or your window will open differently.
c) Test the new shortcut. Use Windows Key + Y (or whatever shortcut key you used).
Basically, you just did 3 steps with 1 keyboard combination. Without WinKey, you would have: a) opened your web browser b) typed in the Yahoo URL c) clicked on the Mail weblink.
So how does this program help you search eBay like a master? Well, eBay is nice to us in that it allows specialized searches. These searches allow us to weed out the garbage we don't want while finding the stuff we do want. For each main category on eBay's home page, you will need to have a separate WinKey shortcut. To search Computers & Network and Video Games, we will need 2, different WinKey shortcuts.
Without complicating matters too much, I will just briefly explain how to weed out the garbage in a search. Let's say we want to search for the word adventure, but we don't want console systems to show (such as Nintendo, Xbox, etc). We would, in the search box, type in: adventure -nintendo -nes -snes -n64 -xbox then see what auctions with the word adventure in them would show without the words with - before them showing. Because there are so many console systems out there, I will give you the urls to start searching with eliminating about 98% of the waste we don't want. I can't give you 100% because some seller's use X box instead of Xbox, and such. The eBay search fields are limited to a finite number of spaces allowed (300 spaces total), so we cannot use all of the variations and misspellings that seller's have. The 300 spaces will have to include the good stuff we want to search for too, so we have to be cautious with what we choose to leave out. On a final note, for those of you who wish to create their own searches, maybe in other eBay categories, if you want to search or exclude words with spaces, you will need to add them like this: "hocus pocus" or -"hocus pocus".
Note! Please do not use this webpage as a resource to check the links everyday. So either copy the URLs into WinKey, or download this page to your local hard drive. In Firefox, click File, Save Page As... In Internet Explorer, click File, Save As... Thank you!
Computers & Networking
Now you will need to make shortcuts for the above URLs in WinKey. If you use the Firefox browser, right click on a link and choose 'Copy Link Location.' If you use Internet Explorer, right click on a link and choose 'Copy Shortcut.' These commands will save to your buffer then you paste them into WinKey. Again, you will need to make 2, separate WinKey shortcuts. There are 9 links here to U.S. and foreign eBay's (others listed below). What I did was to delete the Windows Key + F9 shortcut, to WinKey, and made a new shortcut opening the WinKey program with Windows Key + W. I used Windows Key + F2 through Windows Key + F10 for the 9 links. You can separate them alphabetically, by ones you visit most, or however you like, with which keys go to what eBay sites. Feel free to use whatever shortcut keys you like if you do not wish to use F2 through F10.
All 9 links begin with searching a particular word. The U.S. eBay video game link searches for all possible words from adv to adventuring and possible misspellings of the word adventure. Don't try this in the Computers & Networking section, or you will get loads of garbage added to the search results (words like advertising, etc). This doesn't mean that every auction for adventure games has a variant of the word adventure in it, but many of them do. Finding the auctions for the adventure games without a variant of the word adventure in the listing is quite difficult because there usually isn't any commonality between listings. You will just have to wipe the search field and enter in individual game names and see what comes up in the search results.
The Video Games link has 276 exclude characters. If you recall, eBay only allows for 300 total characters (including spaces). You will only be allowed to use 24 characters as to what you want to search for. The Computers & Networking link has 282 exclude characters. You will only be allowed to use 18 characters as to what you want to search for. I recommend using these WinKey shortcuts when you want to make broad searches, but not for specific games; it is pointless to use for specific games, but you can do it if you wish. Note that the exclude numbers are different for the foreign eBay's below. It would be wonderful if eBay let us do searches with only excludes (to get rid of the console garbage, etc), but eBay doesn't allow us. You have to enter in something to search for (such as adv*). This is why it is impossible to find all of the PC adventure games with one, handy-dandy search. It would be great if all the sellers of adventure games put a variant of the word adventure in their listings, but that doesn't happen either. It's my opinion that sellers who don't add an adventure variant in their listings are shooting themselves in the foot.
By the way, do you have any idea how many pages of garbage we weeded out by using these searches? I don't know the answer to that, but you can get an idea by going to eBay and clicking on both of the 2, main categories we ran searches through. You can click on every subcategory and count how many pages of stuff there are for auction. Mind boggling!
Here are some more things you can search eBay for instead of adv*: "PC Games", lot, mixed, games, and whatever else you can think of using. Also, I recommend looking through the bid histories of some of the auctions for rare games. You will get to know some of the competitive bidders out there. You can get to know the people who find the good stuff by seeing what items they bid on through eBay. This is sneaky, but very effective!
I chose not to eliminate the words Atari and action for important reasons. First, Atari might make a game you may want, and not many people sell old Atari consoles, so no big deal. Second, mind you that action will be in a lot of auction titles as action adventure, but some sellers of real adventures don't know any better, and use action in the title. To err on the side of caution, I left both of these words in the searches. Eliminating action only takes away 4 or 5 pages of results, so I recommend not excluding it.
Below is a list of the other English-speaking eBay's that have significant numbers of PC adventure games. You can find more games by searching foreign eBay's. Add them to WinKey, and you'll be on your way to amassing a huge list of adventure games. If you happen to speak a foreign language, you can add your own links to the foreign eBay of your choice. A lot of adventure games are sold in Germany, for example. It will take dedication reading through all of the pages of listings, but you will be well rewarded for your efforts! Over time, you will learn how to speed read through the listings. Focus on the listings, and use the scroll wheel, on your mouse, to advance down the pages.
Australia eBay: PC & Video Games
Canada eBay: Computers & Networking and Video Games
Ireland eBay: Computing and PC & Video Gaming
U.K. eBay: Computing and PC & Video Gaming
Flea Markets/Swap Meets
This section pertains to flea markets & swap meets. For those who may not know what these are, they are places sellers can go and sell their goods in a public market area. Buyers pay an admission fee (usually $1 USD) to see what is for sale. If they find something they like, they can haggle with the sellers to get a lower price than what is being asked usually. And, many times, sellers sell adventure games. Especially with flea markets & swap meets, check inside the boxes (if available) and in the jewel cases; content may be missing (including CDs). Sellers here aren't the most scrupulous of individuals. Many don't try to cheat anyone, and they are usually very nice. In fact, you will feel like you have cheated them when you pick up a copy of Alice: An Interactive Museum for only $3 USD.
Brick & Mortar Stores
This section pertains to Brick & Mortar stores that can, at times, offer old adventure games. Rummage through your local thrift stores, and used book stores. In the U.S., there are many local and national thrift stores. Some of the national thrift stores are The Goodwill (retail stores are only in the U.S. & Canada) and The Salvation Army (which is also in Canada). Check your local, smaller thrift stores as well. If you live in the U.S., I recommend going to SuperPages and typing in thrift in the business name section then typing in your location, or to a place you plan on visiting to find some thrift stores. I have been known to visit thrift stores while visiting cities I don't call home.
I have found some very rare adventure games in used book stores. Most do not advertise that they sell computer software, so check them just in case. Most other stores won't carry older adventure games in any form or fashion, unless they take old games in for trade. Electronics Boutique used to do this, but they are phasing out this service. You may, if you are very lucky, find a small mom 'n pop shop that sells and trades in old video games (check your local phone book under video games then call and ask till you find one). If you are fortunate enough to find such a store, it is even more rare, nowadays, to find such stores that even deal in PC games (most like to deal with console games), but you may get lucky. Tips: Find which stores have said games, then ask a clerk how often (and what days) do new shipments come in. Go in on those days, and early! Also, ask to check inside the boxes (if available) and in the jewel cases; content may be missing (including CDs). One last tip for brick & mortar stores is to see if you might have an office-supply store nearby (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, etc) that not many people go to (because it is out of the way, in a poor neighborhood, etc). If you are lucky, like I was once, they will carry some older adventure games. Over time, because the games aren't selling, they will reduce the price to just $1 or $2 USD. I once bought 10 copies of The Space Bar for $2 USD each; all factory sealed, and boxed.
This section pertains to trading and selling forums, but does not pertain to auction websites (such as eBay). These trading & selling sites are used by fellow game collectors with the same interests as you. When optioning this route, it is of the utmost importance that you have a firm understanding of netiquette (On-Line, proper etiquette), and abide by fair-practice principles. If you don't, you may be asked to leave such forums. All of these forums are moderated, and if you don't wish to play nice, please do not play at all. The three most popular are: Game Trading Zone, Gameboomers and Just Adventure. Note that all require registering to join, and you will need to read the guidelines before participating. In all, sometimes you can find some very rare games using this method, but be weary of what games are worth for before you buy; some sellers/traders just aren't aware of what games are worth, and may charge higher than you could find elsewhere on the Internet. Conversely, some may undercharge for the game just to let other people play such rare games. Be nice, and you will be treated nice.
This section pertains to buying from On-Line retailers. Sometimes you can find old games this way, but most likely not. You can mostly find games that can be found just about anywhere else without too much hunting required. One of the better On-Line retailers for older and current games is CDAccess. There are MANY On-Line retailers, but many are steering away from the adventure-game genre. CDAccess still carries many adventure games. There are others, but I will leave that up to you to ask around for, or to find on your own. Personally, I only buy from On-Line retailers if a local store doesn't sell a newer game I want (and chances are they won't if it is an adventure game), or I can't find it on eBay for less. If you are fortunate enough to find a website that offers games for free, you just pay shipping, pounce! I got some rare adventures this way, but finding sites like this are hard to come by.
So, that's about everything. There are many ways to find adventure games. The above will yield the best chances to finding the older, hard-to-find adventures. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty; this is how you begin amassing your list of adventure games!
Have fun, and happy hunting!
Copyright: This document is meant for use by Gameboomers.com. I am giving full and complete rights to the Administrators of Gameboomers.com to allow or disallow anyone to use this document on their website, or however they may wish, without requiring my permission. The only exception I have is that the information contained in this document goes unaltered; excluding link updates if eBay changes their categories, if WinKey changes locales, etc. Feel free to change the font, color scheme and layout as you wish.
© Gamehound, 2006