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Finding cool old games online

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This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on October 13, 2000
(Issue 1841, Computers in Adult Education)

For whatever reason (cold Ohio winters being the likely suspect), most of my brothers and sisters and I have our birthdays clustered in September through early October. This year, probably because it's my 39th birthday and my parents just had their 40th anniversary, we've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick. So for my brother's and two of my sisters' presents (the third sister had the good fortune to be born in the spring), I've been searching for some of the same presents we had as kids.

I wasn't able to find any businesses dealing primarily in vintage games, but there are a lot of individuals selling old games on the various auction sites.

eBay's family board games category
eBay's vintage games category
eBay's traditional games category

eBay remains king of the auction sites, and these three categories are all great places to find the games you grew up with. Whether it's games they don't make anymore or an older (excuse me, "vintage") version of a classic such as Life or Monopoly, you're likely to find it here.

It may take a few days or weeks for some of the more rare items to appear for sale, and it may cost a bit if others are looking for the same item (the day we visited, Battling Tops was going for more than $50 in two separate auctions, while Rockem Sockem Robots was at over $150!). Still, over time you can generally find anything you want in these three categories. (I got a copy of Hands Down for less than $10, and Poppin Hoppies – which one of my sisters got for her fifth birthday – for only $5).

Most days, each of these categories will have more than 1,000 items for sale, so choose your search words carefully.

And some stuff you just can't find, because the politically correct dweebs at eBay won't let you. Jarts, the old lawn-darts game, for instance, gets the same treatment from eBay that guns and drug paraphernalia get. Jarts may not be the safest consumer product ever sold, but they were a heck of a lot of fun. Too bad the fun-hating suits banned the things.

Yahoo Auctions: Toys and Games

Yahoo's still-budding auction site doesn't have nearly the traffic eBay's does, but they do have lawn darts (at least for now). On the day we visited, they also had Lincoln Logs for sale, a bunch of Spirograph sets, old Erector Sets (which get very pricey), and 1960s' board games like Mouse Trap, Rack-O and Operation.

There are subcategories for board games, vintage games and more ( couple dozen in all), so it's pretty easy to find what you're looking for – assuming it's here. auctions: Toys and Games's auction site gets even fewer postings than Yahoo's – and yet, there are things for sale here on any given day that aren't on the others. If you're going to be thorough in trying to find what you're looking for, this is a good place to visit.

There aren't as many subcategories as in the other two auction sites, but there are sections here for vintage toys as well as an area for board games, and there were plenty of memories to be found in both – for a price, of course.

The biggest drawback to isn't the low traffic, though – it's the fact that you have to give them an active credit card in order to register for the site. They don't charge you anything, but why use a credit card is identity confirmation? Rather discriminatory against those with bad credit or who simply choose to opt out of our overly consumerist economy.