23 Apr 2024

Game Boy at 35: 'I never put it down'

10:45 pm on 23 April 2024
Jarrod's hand holds a box containing a Game Boy colour. In the background are colourful titles of various video games.

Jarrod Hayes is a retro game collector who goes by the name Polished Gaming on YouTube and Instagram. Photo: Polished Gaming Instagram

The iconic Game Boy console is turning 35 this week and brought gaming to the masses, helping to launch the modern video game industry with a mix of accessibility and strong titles.

The console was launched in Japan this week in 1989 and while it would eventually be surpassed by newer, faster and better consoles, its cultural impact was huge.

Even today, it's sought after by collectors, with original games and the console itself selling for up to six figures.

Retro game collector Jarrod Hayes told RNZ Night's Emile Donovan that while there had been earlier attempts at portable video game playing, the Game Boy was in a league of its own

"It had amazing games, and it was easily accessible and easy to play. It used almost no power when it came down to it, so batteries lasted ages and had games like Zelda and Super Mario."

He said games like Tetris also appealed to the non-gamer, with people who never set foot in a video game arcade getting hooked.

Hayes first saw one when he was 8-years-old: "I got my hands on one from my parents and pretty much never put it down, I had it for years."

A collector for years, Hayes now has about 4400 video games and 80 consoles in his collection and was "already starting to run out of room".

He said there was still a demand for old school games and machines, but it was quite a fluctuating market.

"With the recession coming in and everything like that, it's had quite a peak for a while and it started to noticeably go down lately, but it depends on the day.

"A lot of collectors like myself are looking for something in box with all the original pamphlets and everything like that, in as good a condition as possible and that's where the money starts to go up."