Q & A: Retro video game enthusiast Gary Carnuche

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
From the November 15, 2012 edition

As a longtime collector of retro video games, Gary Carnuche has amassed quite a collection. He estimates in the thousands, but it’s too many to know exactly. In 2008, Carnuche co-founded the Columbus Ohio Retro Gaming Society (CORGS) with fellow enthusiast Gary Mayer.

A few months later the two organized the first CORGS-Con, an event for like-minded retro gamers. This year’s CORGS-Con, held for the first time at the Fort Rapids Waterpark Resort, will be the biggest yet. If you ever feel nostalgic for the days of blowing in a Nintendo cartridge or the cursing of Q*Bert (@!#@?), CORGS-Con is must attend.

CORGS-Con keeps getting bigger every year. The first year we had 75 to 100, and every year we get about 50 more people. Hopefully this year we’ll get about 300 people. We have more vendors this year, and we have four or five video game shop owners who set up. I look forward to the event each year because we have a really good group of people who show up every time.

You know you’re going to find a lot of stuff you can’t find in normal places at CORGS-Con. There’s new stuff and some same stuff from last year. If you can’t get something this year, you can probably get it next year. The hard to find things, you might not see again for another five years. I’ll have Atari 2600, 5200 and 7500, Commodore 64 and VIC-20, Texas Instruments TI-99, Intellivision and CalecoVision.

There are some good stores with retro games around town. Level 1 Games in Tuttle Mall, Ultimate Video Game Connection, Video Game & Music Exchange, Play it! Games, Movies, and More in Clintonville, Tech N' Gamer and Video Games Express in Grove City and Super Game Team in Grandview have good stuff.

I played these games when I was young, but I didn’t start collecting until 1994. I was in college at Youngstown State and I went to all the garage sales. I probably hit 70 to 80 garage sales a week, from Thursday to Sunday, and about 12 different flea markets. Back then I would look in the paper and get all the garage sales for the week. It was like I was a fireman — I knew every street in Youngstown.

I don’t know how many games I have, but I’d say 4,000 or 5,000-plus games. I have between 35-40 different systems. It’s almost like a hoarder of collecting. If I don’t have it, I want it. I’ve got Barbie for Nintendo, I don’t care. I collect everything from Atari all the way up to the original PlayStation. It’s mostly cartridge-based games.

One game I really like a lot is called X-Man for Atari 2600. It’s a very hard to find and I got it in great condition still in the box. It’s actually one of the Atari’s adult games; you can’t see anything — it’s Atari.