Even if you relentlessly pursue this underworld, some doors forever remain locked. There are secret, strictly guarded, members-only IRC channels and message boards. Like a maze within a labyrinth, in them resides a small group of maybe 20 of the most wealthy and powerful. If a floundering company has items they want, they simply buy said company and all its assets. In a smoke-filled room with low lighting, one regales me about the time he privately shipped a Harley Motorcycle to Japan in exchange for a one-of-a-kind piece of hardware stolen by Indonesian sea pirates. While another muses aboutthe time he had to call Korea and explain that a mysterious MSX labelled package did not in fact contain MSX missile parts.
When conversing among them, one notices familiar people. I've recognized several who frequent various other online communities, often holding moderator positions, or are prominent speakers. Look at the forums where The Escapist is discussed. Within these you will find elite international collectors and dealers, moving like shadows amongst the loquacious debates. It would be too much to jest that theyinfiltrate these gaming communities to keep tabs on developments, rather comparisons should be made to groups such as the Freemasons. An underground secret society for the digital age, dealing in knowledge and acquisitions not meant for the masses. Like a secret hive that archives information that would otherwise be lost, virtual book keepers so to speak, who are everywhere.
There is so little known about these things and so much to learn. I'm just through the looking glass. Just how far does the rabbit hole go?
John Szczepaniak is a South African freelance videogame writer with a preference for retro games. He is also a staff member on the Retro Survival project, which contains articles on retro gaming and is well worth investigating.