Unopened Super Mario Brothers game from 1986 retrieved from a desk drawer
Sitting in a drawer in a Dallas-area home for over 35 years was an item that turned out to be video history gold. As unassuming as it was, little did the owners know that they were in possession of a cultural artifact that would net them a pretty penny.
During the dawn of the video age and well before the likes of common digital tools such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, there was this thing called a home console, which was nothing like the consoles we're used to today. Super Mario Brothers was the first game starring the eponymous character that a popular games company released. Sold by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, it is said to have been the finest copy ever graded for an auction.
Valerie McLeckie, a video game specialist at Heritage says “Since the production window for this copy and others like it was so short, finding another copy from this same production run in similar condition would be akin to looking for single drop of water in an ocean.”
In other words, this dusty old copy that came out of a drawer was an unpolished gem that finally glistened.
VIDEO: A 1988 ABC News Segment on the New Video Craze
A growing and lucrative industry
According to the Entertainment Software Association, video games are one of the more lucrative sectors in the country. The Association's 2020 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry reveals some surprising statistics.
The Entertainment Software Association's 2020 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry Key Findings
- More than 214 million Americans play video games
- 64% of U.S. adults and 70% percent of those under 18 regularly play video games
- The average age of a gamer is 35-44 years old
Texas and its citizens in particular love their video games. Revealed in the study is the fact that Texas ranks as #3 in the United States for economic impact. More specifically, the video game industry in Texas generates $4.15 billion in annual economic output, either through direct industry output ($1.8 billion) or via other participants in the video game ecosystem, such as suppliers and other supported output ($2.4 billion). Texas ranks third only behind California and Washington as it relates to economic output.
(Source: PR Newswire)
And the video game lovers and players are workers as well, as the industry accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs in Texas (a combination of industry and supplier-supported jobs).
So, in light of these figures, is it any wonder that the seemingly inauspicious Super Mario Brothers game from 1986 sold for such a shocking amount? The answer is likely "no" if you ask anyone from the Dallas area, or from the Lone Star state on the whole.
STATISTICS: The top 10 U.S. states ranked by total video game industry-related economic effect.
Source: PR Newswire
A Vintage Game Console
Vintage is big in 2021. Vintage video games are even bigger.
As "everything old is new again" is the way things go in these times, it's not surprising that a blast from the past in the form of a video game drew so many bidders - and so much money. Vintage clothing, games, cultural artifacts and more are desired by the general population as people look for ways to connect to the past.
This, as well as the fact that most people are homebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rendering them bored and able to spend hours online, researching and buying items they desire. Shelter-in-place directives have surely contributed to the Texas economy in previously unimaginable ways.
As we continue to spend more time at home, more time online, and more time longing for the "good old days" of video play, we can expect to see more of these cultural artifacts from the past going for amounts that would have seemed unimaginable just a short time ago.