Brisbane is a funny place. Despite being the capital of Queensland and over 2 million people calling it ‘home’, despite the hustle and bustle of Queen Street during Christmas and the sheer insanity that is the Eat Street markets on a Friday night. I have always felt that Brisbane retained the small town charm that exists in all of the other fruit bat ridden boroughs, north of the capital. Brisbane, at its heart, is a country city.
So maybe it’s a little bit of that, or maybe it’s the fact that EBay (and other online buy/swap/sell groups) have more or less destroyed the retro gaming bargain hunting scene in Australia. Or maybe it has to do with sellers becoming more savvy and having a better understanding of the retro gold they have locked in their dust ridden cupboards and the price collectors are willing to pay. Whatever the cause, it’s safe to say that it can be pretty rough being a retro collector in Australia.
There are still the occasional miracles, where you stumble across a CIB Atari at your neighbour’s garage sale for $20, or where you manage to snag a box of mint condition, mixed PS1 games for 10 bucks from a seller and find a copy of Tactics Ogre in there, or even when your co-worker gives you a CIB NES because they think you would appreciate it more than them (happened to me last week! As the picture below shows). But these miracles are few and far between.
So when I got downwind that Brisbane would be home to a Video Game and Pop Culture Market, that promised many a retro deal, I was fucking stoked! That stoked feeling quickly turned to surprised when I realised that this was the third such market of its kind, meaning I had missed the first 2?!
In any case, after piling the family in the car and driving down to the event at Stones Corner, I have to say that I was quite impressed! Not only that, I also left the event, hopeful for the future of video game collectors in the Brisbane area.
The market was small, but packed with people. So much so that it honestly felt a little cramped. However, despite being shoulder to shoulder most of the time, the atmosphere was pleasant and void of any elitism that tends to follow some enthusiast groups. The sound of retro inspired synth booped and beeped its way out into the alleyway as my family and I made our way around the also small but impressive selection of stalls.
One of the first tables I came across acted like an appetiser, whetting my palette for the larger, more impressive tables at the back. It proudly displayed a few rare-ish PS1 games that I smiled and checked out, internally reliving fond memories of playing them with my brother. But to be honest, I already owned most of them. The 1 game that did catch my eye, was a little out of my price range, so I moved on.
I headed towards the back of the event, where the crowd was thickest. Here is where I found the real meat of the market. The consoles. Nostalgia washed over me as I peered down at what were effectively, many years of my life laid out onto 2 or 3 small tables. Old favourites like the NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Mega Drive and Master System, the PS1, and Original Xbox. There was even a boxed Neo Geo that, for $300 piqued my interest and brought about a firm flittering of the hand closest to my wallet.
But alas, I walked away from the table with nothing. Not even the Hori fight stick that, at $80, was a pretty decent deal.
From here I wandered around the remainder of the market, gazing at the comics and the games and wishing it was larger. I’m hoping that over time, these events gain the momentum and attention they so rightfully deserve. The overall size of the market would have to be my only real criticism about the whole thing, I just wanted more of it, and that’s never a bad thing. I could easily spend hours walking around, looking for bargains and talking to stall owners about their own experiences with their favourite games, but alas my entire lap around the markets took at best, 20 minutes. Hopefully in the future, these get bigger and better, with more sellers getting involved and hosting more stalls, because I honestly loved the short amount of time I did spend shuffling my way around this nostalgia ridden courtyard. And I can’t wait to do it again.