I’d like to take this wonderful opportunity to introduce everyone to John Hancock, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting a couple of years back on a trip to the gaming expos up there during the promotions of Ecstasy of Order. John is one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever had the honor of coming across in all of my years. Not only is he a legit lifetime gamer, but his heart is even bigger than his collection. He tirelessly works in the service of others, performing counseling and support for local youth, and he also takes it to a whole new level with a local Expo up there that raises funds for Childrens Justice and Advocacy Center (CJAC), a tremendous charity organization that has immense value. He does all of this while raising his own little ones. Truly a wonderful human being, if you ever have the opportunity to meet with him at PRGE or Cowlitz Gamers for Kids shows, definitely do so, the expos are great, and John is a gamer’s gamer.
Without further ado, here is the interview that I put together with a Q&A session. Thanks for looking, and be sure to check out the pics of his ludicrously amazing collection of classic gaming goodies! If you have the chance, he also has a wonderful series of DVDs on collecting that are very worthy indeed.
Question 1 : Tell us a bit about yourself and how you discovered gaming.
My earliest memories of gaming go back to when my father bought us a TV scoreboard Radio Shack Pong clone. Between that and going to my cousins house to play Atari 2600, that is what I consider my first gaming experiences. About the same time, I got to experience some great arcades in town, but those rarely happened. I consider myself, part historian, part serious collector, and 100 percent passionate about videogames. I have been lucky to have began a journey of collecting retro videogames nearly 20 years ago. I started off collecting videogames by myself in Northern California in the mid 90s. I mostly was collecting games to add to what I already owned, which was some Sega and Nintendo games that I had in high school. By 2002, I connected with other gamers online and pursued some more obscure gaming consoles and systems, such as the bally astrocade. I focused my collecting on entire released US sets, and scoured the West Coast looking for items to add to my collection. Nearly 98 percent of my collection was purchased in person, and not online. In 2005 I moved to Washington where I got connected to Rick Weis. I started helping with video game conventions which made my game collection grow substantially more. It is a hobby that I am passionate about in which I have got to gain many great friends and experiences that I will never forget.
Question 2 : What were some of the favorite games you played growing up, and do you still go back and replay them now?
Growing up, my favorites were Berzerk for the 2600, Castlevania on the Nes, Blue Max on the Atari 800, Herzog Zwei on Genesis as well as Dark Wizard for the Sega CD. I still make time to play Berzerk for the 2600 and occasionally play Blue Max when I can. Of course, I still love to play pong like I did when I was a child and am up for a game with anyone who wants to play. The game still does not get old to me.
Question 3 : How do you think gaming has evolved over the years?
Gaming to me has evolved to encompass a wide variety of gameplay and options. In the beginning, games were limited by graphics significantly. What you saw on the cover of a videogame was nothing like the experience that you played. Now the game can look BETTER than the cover. At the same time, I also think that games have come full circle. Some types of games(many indie titles) have gone back to the simple mechanics of 2D games that were easy to get into but difficult to master. We have so many choices of what type of games to play, that it is a great time to be gamer.
Question 4 : You have THE most profoundly awesome collection I’ve ever seen in classic gaming. How many years did it take to get where it is?
Thank you for your most kind words. I am just happy to have amassed what I have done over the past 20 years on a budget.
Question 5 : How do you think the recent and current systems will be on a collectible basis?
In time, I think that the current crop of systems and games will be collectable. I think that there will be an added bonus to find a non modded original 360 system that still works lol. There are so many system variants compared to the previous generations that just collecting hardware alone will be a fun and challenging project.
Question 6 : What would be some examples of absolutely amazing games that are hidden gems that many/most don’t even know about?
So many games on so many systems that get overlooked. I will narrow it to 10 that I consider underappreciated. I could easily have a 100 list but here it goes:
Atari 2600: Gravitar
Intellivision: Hover Force
Colecovision: War Room
Odyssey 2: Freedom Fighters
Sega Genesis: Jewel Master
Sega CD: Android Assault
Super Nes: Choplifter III
Sony Playstation: Silent Bomber
Nintendo DS: Retro Game Challenge
Question 7 : What advice would you give to an aspiring collector?
Collaborate and network with others. Join a local facebook group as well as videogame forums. Collect because you want to. There needs to be alot of patience involved, as alot of games I got were over many years. Dont fret if you cant get every game you want right now. Educate yourself before any buying so that you know what you are getting and what a fair price is.
Question 8 : As parents with kids of our own now, how do you involve gaming in their lives?
My son is now almost 5, and is starting to get a little more into games. I started showing him classics such as pong and atari when he was younger. I think for me, the answer is gradual. I know that my hobby will probably be different than my sons, but I am happy to share with him if he wants.
Thank you John Hancock for spending time with us today! Readers, check this out :
And finally, to close it out after that epic collection : John at work doing what he was born to do! Helping people AND being a cherished member of the gaming community!
Erik Ackerlund – Imagine that the next great gaming console will not be a PS4 or a new Xbox 3 or a Wii 2, but a dedicated Apple Gaming console. Imagine how great a Apple game system could be; knowing the detail and effort they put into their products.
Why on earth would Apple build a gaming system? Well the financial numbers seem to point in that direction.I think the numbers may be obvious that this is the direction that Apple will be heading in. Their iTunes business is a force to be reckoned with, at the Ipad2 unveiling; Steve Jobs’ indicated they now have a iTunes user base of 200 million credit cards. That is an amazing number that is almost unfathomable. These users obviously far exceed what Microsoft claims for Xbox Live at 20 million. Apple has shared this iTunes one click purchasing login with their iBooks and App store. It would be easy for Apple to add one more store, the games store.
According to Mobile Metrics Flurry documentation it is estimated that in 2010, Apple apps on had taken a 19% share of the portable games market, this taking away increasingly from Nintendo’s dominate position with the ever popular DS line. This percentage is on an increasing trend that Apple is becoming a larger player. The Ipad2 will only further sustain that trend.
Music sales, one of the leading profit makers for Apple is on the down trend. Video game sales surpassed music sales for the first time in 2010. “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook” data suggests that in 2011 the gaming market will be worth $50 billion, sustaining an almost 6% growth in a time of recession. This is an attractive market that Apple can’t afford to stay out of.
With the latest release products from Apple all supporting faster graphics processing, including the Ipad 2’s new 9x graphics capability, it is shows they are serious about supporting the advanced needs of gaming. Apple has already attracted major game developers such as Electronic Arts and Epic and many others porting great games onto these systems.
With the development of the AppleTV to connect to your television and network, as well as their ability to build excellent portable devices with industry leading battery life, they have the technological ability to build a gaming console literally from off the shelf technology they already possess.
I expect the Ipad2 to help increase the gaming market in the portable arena, but only to a certain point. It will be interesting to compare Ipad2 sales to Nintendo 3DS sales during 2011. Ipad 2 with it’s multiple function capability with Nintendo’s dedicated 3d gaming that is usually picked by a younger market. And of course the price point difference.
Despite the lack of the 3D technology, the nine-times better graphics in the A5 chip along with the dual core processor will be great for games. They also added the HDMI port for connecting to your television and better sound. It’s obvious that Apple is responding to gaming on the Ipad 2.
Yet the Ipad 2 is not a perfect substitute for a dedicated gaming platform. Despite having a touch interface, the gyro sensor and cameras, the iPad and iPhone and iTouch still lack functional buttons with tactile feedback that so many games require.
Apple’s competitors are also looking at getting into the gaming market in a bigger way. The Wall Street Journal reports that HTC spent $40 million to acquire the technology for streaming games from OnLive. This end run around processing games locally picks up your controller movements and sends them to the cloud where they are processed on dedicated servers with the graphics streamed back to the user. This is an interesting move by HTC, but streaming even simple video is not always functional without some waiting, due to the overburdened networks. Also the lag times involved can interfere and simply cannot compete with locally processed graphics. With the HTC model, the only place it will work really well is probably when connected to a wifi network, which then means you may just as easily be close to a dedicated gaming console. Apple is putting the power to process games locally which simply give the user a superior gaming experience that we have all come to expect.
Apple has released what they call post-pc products the iPod, iPhone, AppleTV and recently the iPad. I predict that based on Apple’s increasing experience in gaming from apps on their existing platforms, their increasing ability to produce gaming graphics, the ability to produce hardware that interfaces with televisions, and the increasing market demand, that Apple will most likely produce a gaming console. They would not be the first of their kind to pull this off; Microsoft did it with the ever successful Xbox series.
What would an Apple gaming system look like? I would imagine it would be small and sleek probably similar to the AppleTV. The user interface would probably be made very similar but perhaps tweaked to be a little bit more entertainment oriented to appeal to a younger audience. It would obviously be able to have the functionality of the AppleTV, to stream video , have iTunes and the app store. Now it would have a dedicated gaming store. I doubt there would be any cd or dvd drive. All game purchases would be online as this would match the current Apple sales model. The system would need some sort of gaming pads, wireless of course. I would imagine they would pick up from the trend of Xbox Connect and Wii to have that ability of whole body motion input. Expect that iPhones and iPads could easily be used as controls for the device as well.
When does this all go down? I would expect a release in 1st quarter 2013 would make sense. Keep an eye of any acquisitions by Apple of any gaming companies, such as Electronic Arts or others. Apple needs a core gaming company to build the in-house titles to launch the system.