First off, I'm a local Malaysian who really enjoys playing and collecting video games. I've been a serious collector for about 4 years now and in that time I've learnt a few things on how to obtain the games that I want without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money. Games are quite expensive nowadays but there are ways to improve your collection without having to spend too much. So, as the title suggests, I'll be talking about the things I do when I go game hunting the old fashioned way which means no online shopping of any kind, just wandering about looking for games. I personally prefer going out and looking for games rather than ordering them on my laptop. Also, please note that things aren't quite the same in Malaysia compared to other countries. I might write a list of tips for game hunting outside of Malaysia in the future but for now I'll be focusing on 3 tips for collecting games within this beloved country of mine.
1. Second Hand Deals & Gems
Second hand games will always be much cheaper than brand new copies so it makes sense to take a look at them. In Malaysia, we don't have car boot sales or yard sales so we're pretty much left with actual game stores. The good thing is, most of the game stores in Malaysia are smaller, privately owned stores unlike the larger corporately owned game stores like GameStop so they're much more approachable. When I go game hunting, I always visit a few different stores to see what they have but I don't look at their main shelf filled with brand new games. Instead, I look at their used games section. Most stores will have used games, although some stores won't have a designated section so you might need to ask them to show you the used games they currently have. It pays to visit the same store again after a week or two to see whether they've added any more games into the second hand pile.
Obviously I look at used games because they're quite a bit cheaper than brand new games but that's not the only reason. I also choose to look at used games because in my experience, there are quite a number of uncommon/rare titles in the used games pile. We're actually quite lucky to be in Malaysia because for some odd reason, even though Malaysia is considered to be in Region 3, game stores stock games from other regions as well and the used games section often contains some uncommon games from different regions. Also, uncommon games are in low demand here in Malaysia due to the low number of actual game collectors. The vast majority of gamers are more interested in the newest, most recently released games. Because of this, game stores are likely to charge more for popular titles rather than rare ones which means these uncommon gems won't be very expensive at all!
2. Take A Peek
When you enter a game store, always try to look behind the counter to see if there are any interesting piles of games back there. Look for a box of games or maybe a stack of them on floor. They might be a bit hidden away so take a good careful look. If you spot something along those lines, just ask the store keeper if you could take a look at them. They should allow you to, and even if they don't you've got nothing to lose by simply asking. Don't be scared or nervous to ask to look at something in the store. You're not trying to steal stuff or attempt anything illegal, you're there to spend money on things that they're selling so you have no reason to be intimidated.
The reason I do this is most of the time the games they have behind the counter are a bit older and there might not be a demand for them anymore so they don't display them. However, this means that those games might be extremely cheap. These games are often brand new sealed copies just left to collect dust because nobody bought them when they were new. This also means that you will be able to haggle on the price. Since it's an old game that they weren't able to sell, they shouldn't be expecting to sell it for the price of a typical brand new game.
3. Be Friendly, Be Smart
This is something that will help you in the long run. People often go to game stores, ask for the game they want, buy it and then leave. I like to try to get to know the people at the game store and at the same time make myself more memorable so that they'll remember me the next time I walk in. I'll always prefer to go to a game store where the owner and the people working there are friendly and actually love games. By talking to them, I can gauge whether they actually enjoy games or if they're just selling them for the money. If they turn out to be genuinely cool people, take the time to talk to them about the kinds of games you're interested in or what games you're currently looking for. This way, they'll know that you're a serious buyer and will be more inclined to help you out by maybe finding certain games or keeping a copy of a specific game for you.
If you manage to find a good game store run by a good bunch of people, great! Now, while talking to them, please keep in mind that you're trying to build a relationship with the store and every successful relationship has to benefit both parties. You have to understand that they're running a business which means that they'll need to make some sort of profit at the end of the month to be able to keep their doors open. So, be respectful and be considerate when you're trying to agree on a price. If they recognize you as a regular customer, they'll be more likely to give you a good price so all you need to do is ask "Is that your best price?" and if it is, you either buy it or you don't. The worst thing you could do is try and force them to reduce the price even further. Don't give them a reason to stop wanting to help you.
There they are, 3 basic tips! Part of the fun of collecting games is in the hunt. Ordering games online is great but it's incredibly enjoyable to go around, explore new areas, visit new shops and then find some good games to bring home. During the past few years, I have even had several occasions when I was able to pick up about 10 quality titles for the price of a regular brand new game. So, if you're an aspiring collector in Malaysia, I invite you to give these 3 tips a try. Just make a list of games you want to own and go look for them. Since I haven't checked off all the games on my list, I'll be doing the same thing! So, hopefully we get lucky. I wish you many happy game hunting days to come!