While the pun in the headline is true, local Vancouver, Washington Atari Collector Rick Weis has amassed a stunning collection of Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and even PlayStation swag in his treasured "game room". Weiss has been in love with video games every since he got his first system, an Atari 2600, back in Christmas of 1977. Since then he has been collecting everything Atari for the past thirty-eight years.
When asked what his motivation was for collecting such a large amount of gaming history he said, “Everybody else was collecting a bunch of stuff so I figured, ‘Hey, why not collect Atari? That would be cool!’" Although he considers the 2600 his first real system, he treasures and considers the classic pioneering video game that started it all--Pong, as his first real console.
Weis had the opportunity to meet Atari founding father Nolan Bushnell at a CGE convention a few years ago and had him sign his Atari 2600. He said Bushnell was a very friendly, down to earth, and easy to talk to average person. Bushnell has recently decided that Nintendo has become irrelevant with the release of the Wii U and has somehow forgotten that Nintendo helped save Atari when the gaming industry crashed back in the early 1980's.
"Atari made it possible for Nintendo to come along and Nintendo took over where Atari failed. Atari made a bunch of smaller type games where as Nintendo was able to expand on it and made it to where you were playing for a much longer extended period of time," said Weis.
Despite that, Weiss said he agrees with Bushnell's statement saying that it looks like the Wii U is not doing too well for Nintendo. Weiss has not counted out Nintendo yet as some of his Nintendo treasures show in his game room that he is still a Nintendo fan. He owns a rare Nintendo 2 play kiosk with the classic Super Punch Out fighting game and cult classic Super Mario Bros. 3 sitting side by side for players to choose from. He has plush stuffed characters of Bowser, Mario, and even a rare white colored Yoshi dinosaur. For fans of the cult classic documentary King of Kong: A fistful of Quarters Weiss has an actual bottle of hot sauce from the movie's villain--Billy Mitchell.
The fun does not stop there though because he also has a Sega Dreamcast and a Sega Saturn kiosk complete with systems and controllers set up and ready to go as if you had traveled back in time to play with at your local Wal-Mart or Toys R Us. His game room also shows Sony a little love with a PlayStation kiosk, also complete with a system, controller, and games to play.
One treasure he found was a Sega retail sliding glass display box that retailers would use to display the Sega Genesis or other Sega console games. He found the rare gem from a local Goodwill who had no idea it was an official licensed case because part of the Sega logo was covered up and almost scratched off.
Perhaps his most unique piece of gaming history is a retro green colored arcade cabinet, which looks like it, came from an alien spaceship. The game it houses is called Computer Space and it was Nolan Bushnell's first game he created back in 1971. There were over 1,500 cabinets made and Weis owns one of them in its two-player state. One of his other major acquisitions is a classic Atari 2600 kiosk, which he imported from Europe. The kiosk has over twenty-six different slots to plug in Atari 2600 games into and then the player can select which game they want to play by punching in the number of the game. It is almost like an Atari 2600 vending machine because you punch in your choice and clink! your treasured prize drops to the bottom of the machine to be collected.
Weis says he is mostly a hard core gamer and is playing the zombie infested XBox 360 game Dead Island. However, he has not played it in months and has only had time to play games on his iPhone. As far as his favorite types of games he is a little on the fence about that. "I do like plat formers and I do like shooters. Both of them are real close together. My favorite shooter is Spider Fighter on the 2600," said Weis.
Currently he is taking part in and helping oversee one of his favorite events of the fall in Portland. Weis sits on the board of members who put on the Portland Retro Gaming Expo at the Oregon Convention Center. Each year at the end of September or early October the convention center becomes a cornucopia of free to play arcade games, retail booths with people selling their retro gaming swag, free to play console gaming stations with everything from old Nintendo to new X Box 360 consoles to play on, and much more.
You can catch Rick Weis at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo coming up on October 5 and 6th at the Oregon Convention Center. Be sure to stop by his booth and talk Atari--he will not bite.