Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Michael Thomasson who is displayed on card number 531, from the Twin Galaxies Superstars Collection of 2013. Michael is also featured on card number 670. Michael is one of the most widely respected videogame historians in the field today. He has written books, published games, helped with other creators on game development and has had articles published in the newspaper. Michael is also the founder and creator of the company “Good Deal Games”. He has been a classic gamer since the beginning and in 2014 became the Guinness Book of World Records as the person with the most collected video games at over 11,000.
What was the first game you ever purchased?
It was Lady Bug for the Colecovision. I saved up money from mowing neighbor’s lawns and dispatched my father to pick it up for me from Gold Circle on his way home from work. I specifically remember him having me call all the local stores to find the best deal. One of many life lessons taught to by my father as a result of the videogames.
What is your favorite part of collecting video game items?
Other than actually playing the games, I really like the packaging. As time passes each box becomes a time capsule of my past. In many cases I can recall the time and place that most games were acquired – even shelf location. Funny how the mind works. There is also the thrill of the hunt. Picking up an unexpected game at a garage sale always scores more points than buying something off E-bay or an online reseller.
What does it take to be a Video Game collector?
Something wrong in the back of one’s head (sigh). Officially, owning more than a single game.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
My older siblings and I hopped on our bicycles and peddled several miles across busy streets we forbidden to cross to get to the local Dairy Queen. We had our pockets full of change in order to buy a cool Mr. Misty, the early 80s DQ version of a Slushy, as it was a very hot summer day. We walked into the restaurant and I immediately noticed a large crowd gathered around a huge hulking box with space aliens depicted on the side. I was perplexed that there were buttons on an odd looking television. It turned out to be a Space Invaders, and it took all my quarters, so I never did get that cool Mr. Misty that evening.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Today’s games are amazing, but they seem to be more about telling stories than a game of skill. I don’t have a lot of free time, so quick five minutes play sessions work best for me, and that just isn’t possible with today’s lengthy game titles.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video game Trading card?
Nope, not in a million years. To be on two different cards seem even more inconceivable. Obviously, the standards for such inclusion have dropped over time (snicker).
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
I was unable to make the first Icon gallery showing due to having to care for my mother which was very ill at the time, but I heard that it was nice. I received some recognition at Free Play Florida a few years ago at the award ceremony for my second card. It was quite humbling.
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I first met Walter during the Classic Gaming Expo in Vegas in 2003. My friend Ken Jong and I competed on Space Duel and took the third high-score entry in the record book.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Spiritual. I always admired his strong faith and how he lives his beliefs.
Are you still collecting games and systems today, and what is the ultimate goal?
After selling the Guinness Collection, the basement shelves were pretty bare. I told myself that I was not going to start collecting again and only buy my favorites. However, great deals keep falling in my lap, and I just can’t resist a good deal, so I’ve started another collection. I doubt that it will ever rival my old collection and that’s okay. I do not plan on “keeping up with the Joneses” so to speak.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I adore the Atari Lynx. It could do scaling and rotation back in the day before home consoles could even do it and it had an amazing library to boot. It is the only way to play one of my favorite arcade titles, Stun Runner, other than the real deal. I have fond memories linking up with Warbirds, Gauntlet, and Todd’s Adventure in Slime World in the student union at Purdue University.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
PC gaming never did it for me. Perhaps it was the fact that I have an old, slow computer in a dark corner of the basement with a hard wood chair.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
My daughter and I play a lot of two-player simultaneous coin-op arcade games via emulation. Sunset Riders, Mario Bros., Joust, Pig Out, etc. We also picked up a WiiU and have been playing multiplayer titles such as Mario Kart 8, Smurfs, and Rayman.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
I like pinball more than video games. my favorite pins are The Black Knight and an obscure title called Fire! I am very fond of Tron, and since it doesn’t emulate well because of the spinner dial and buttoned joystick combination, I’d probably pick it – or Sega’s After Burner.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
I’ve always been fond of Sega. I was sad to see them leave the console race. But my favorite console company will always be Coleco. My first love was the Colecovision, and I still played it regularly. I have a Coleco unit hooked up to all three televisions in my home.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
I think that by replacing the bilps and bleeps of the past with full orchestral soundtracks have helped widen the market. I vividly remember my mother hating to come collect me in the mall arcade because the primitive computer sounds gave her a headache.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
The modern target demographic is definitely an adult one. Few ‘E’ rated family-friendly games are released, and the ESRB states that less than a quarter of the market is under the age of 18. The kids of the eighties have all grown up and taken their favorite hobby with them.
Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Poor parenting and upbringing, often the result of broken families, leads to violence and other societal pain. Video games have nothing to do with it.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I prefer sitting on the couch beside my friends playing multiplayer split-screen games so we can joke and rib each other while playing. Sadly, the current online gaming scene is making that joy a thing of the past.
Which company makes the best games and why?
In the early nineties It would have been easy to answer that question – Konami and Capcom were the kings of the industry. In the modern age, I see no clear leaders. I think a lot of innovation is coming from the indie and the homebrew scenes. Reminds me of the early days of gaming with small teams driven by determined individuals filled with passion.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
As a kid, I liked simulators because they gave me access to things that I could never touch in the real world. In that manner, video games taught me to drive a car, fly a plane, pilot a rocket and more.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Many people use bottles or pills to escape their worldly problems. Those of us that are smarter use video games for such purposes.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
The nameless dog in Duck Hunt. His smirk makes me giggle every time.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
All the negative connotations that attach to the term. I replaced the word with “entertainment software” years ago to keep from being looked down upon my peers that do not understand my hobby. Despite the change in jargon, it doesn’t fool many.
What is your favorite singe player game and favorite multiplayer game?
My favorite single player games of all time are Resident Evil 4 and Alan Wake. On the multiplayer front, I really dig Wizard of Wor.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
Well, I have worked on many games… none of which are my favorite. When you create anything, you are so close you can only see one’s mistakes. You think about what you originally imagined, how it became bastardized by suits, budgets, et cetera. All the work takes the joy out of it sometimes, so I like to play the creations of others.
Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?
Physical collecting will be done and over. I see rendering farms half way around the world computing all the games in real-time, making upgrading hardware in the home a thing of the past.