Welcome to June, Sidequest readers! This month, we’re talking about collecting. As a person with more books than is probably good for me, as well as an extensive amount of movies and little trinkets, I would happily identify myself as collecting positive. I just love an item!

This is something games are all too happy to indulge me in. Analog games have new editions, new books, minis, maps, and more. Video games have a million little digital things to collect, some for actual rewards, some just for the sake of having them. How does the Sidequest crew feel about all this? Are we keeping our own dragon hoards of gaming items? Or are we tossing out everything that doesn’t spark joy? Let’s discuss!

Tell us about your gaming collections. Are you into cards, books, digital items?

Kathryn Hemmann: I’ve long cherished an unreasonable desire to accumulate and curate a Library of Alexandria of gaming strategy guides and artbooks. My dream is to win the lottery and build a giant Gothic library filled with books about games. There will be a secret room, of course, and my shelving system will serve as a key to the puzzle that unlocks it.

Melissa Brinks: I looooooove Dungeons & Dragons books that aren’t published by Wizards of the Coast. I don’t have a huge collection or anything, but I will buy anything Astrolago puts out (Faerie Fire and Witch+Craft are, by far, my favorite D&D books) and I’ve got a list a mile long of other books I want to buy, plus the swamp and herbalism supplements I’ve already bought…

Zainabb Hull: I want to be the ghost that haunts your library, Kathryn. It sounds incredible! I’m not a big collector—I’ve had neither the space nor the stability to feel able to justify it. I’ve absolutely accumulated plenty of digital games over the years but not with the sort of intentionality that I think a collection entails. Nonetheless, I have a little selection of physical board games and indie TTRPGs that feels luxurious to me, and I have more than one set of dice. There’s plenty of digital TTRPGs on my hard drive that I would one day love to own as actual books but until late-stage capitalism combusts and I can stay in one place for more than a year or two, I’m just admiring them from afar (alongside all the dice I want to buy and refrain from eating).

Cress: My family tends to have magpie brain or goblin feelings as I like to call it. I’m always a sucker for art books—I just love seeing the conceptual process of the artists. Due to moves, I’ve had to scale back, but I forever cherish my Disgaea 1 & 2 and Dark Souls art books. Plushies also fill my shelves. I raid the Pokémon Center given any chance. I also have a 25th anniversary Dragon Quest slime I’m very fond of that stares over the living room.

Kathryn: Oh man! The Dark Souls art books are super interesting, especially in terms of the interviews they include. Given how dead-serious the games are, it’s highly amusing to read conversations in which the developers make all sorts of silly jokes about the worlds and characters they’ve created. I feel that many Japanese developers tend to be cagey with the English-language gaming press, so translated art books are a special type of treasure augmented by content that’s difficult to find online. Like Zainabb, I’ve had to covet physical books from afar in the process of apartment hopping, and I dearly wish I were possessed of whatever magic allows video game characters to run around with massive inventories.

Do you like collecting minigames or achievements?

Kathryn: I love them!! Or rather, I love exploring virtual worlds, and I like to think of in-game collections as digital postcards. I always appreciate being rewarded with little souvenirs of the places I’ve visited, especially if they’re attached to lore or flavor text.

Melissa: I am not at all an achievement hunter, so if the reward for collecting is only an achievement, I won’t bother. If the reward is a better item… maybe. If the reward is story—hoo, boy, I am all over it. The biggest tragedy of my life is when I’m something like three quarters of the way through a 60-hour game and I find out I missed a questline from Act One. I am looking directly at Baldur’s Gate III.

Zainabb: I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with collecting minigames and achievements: on the one hand, there is nothing more satisfying than finding a new collection item in a game like Animal Crossing or Cozy Grove; on the other, collecting (especially collecting achievements) often triggers the perfectionism and addiction I struggle with. These days, I try to stay mindful if a game has collection-based quests, especially if they’re long-term or rely on repeatedly playing over time, as in Animal Crossing, and I’m cautious of becoming obsessive about getting all achievements—if getting 100% of a game’s achievements requires more than one playthrough or would be challenging for me, I try to just forget about it. With my bad brain the way it is, I’d rather just enjoy what I can get out of the game, even if that’s not absolutely everything in the game.

Cress: I do try to do the little trophies on PlayStation here and there. Mostly I’ve focused on the FromSoftware ones. I’d like to try completing Dark Souls 3 again, but it does require beating the game three times. I’m still proud of getting the platinum trophy in Bloodborne (for what it meant at the time). Elden Ring’s DLC is coming out in a month, so I’m also looking forward to trophy hunting in that!

What is your favorite item or items you’ve ever collected in a game?

Kathryn: I am a sicko who has collected all the Korok seeds in multiple games of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. As far as I’m concerned, finding and greeting every Korok in Hyrule is Link’s true quest. Zelda and Ganon will just have to wait!

A screenshot of a Korok from Breath of the Wild. The Korok is holding a leaf umbrella, and is saying, "Wahahaha! I've been seen! I've been seen! I'm so happy!"

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo, 2017

Melissa: I’m not much of a codex reader but I absolutely loved that you could find books and poetry in Dragon Age: Origins! I also love all the random stuff you can pick up in Baldur’s Gate 3, which I love to share with party members. Karlach gets every stuffed animal. Shadowheart gets every Selunite item (sorry, not sorry, Act I Shadowheart). I can’t send every book in the game to Gale because he can’t carry all of them, but I do pick them up. (Okay, full disclosure, I picked every book up on my first playthrough because it suited my character. On my Gale playthrough, I’m also picking them up because it also suits him. Will I ever complete a run that doesn’t involve me creating my own traveling library of Faerun?)

Kathryn: The books in Dragon Age: Origins and Baldur’s Gate 3 are lovely! There are a number of background lore elements in both of those worlds that could have been better developed, but I forgive the writers for everything because they took the time to create fictional books. As far as I’m concerned, they have their priorities straight.

Zainabb: Those are both such wholesome collections! I don’t think I’ve encountered a single stuffed animal in BG3 yet but I suspect I will be collecting them all for myself if I finally do.

Some of my favourite collections are ones that revolve around collecting recipes, like in The Sims 4 or Disney Dreamlight Valley, especially if those recipes are beautifully illustrated and make me actually want to eat the meal I’ve just learned to cook. Mostly, though, as Melissa said earlier, I really appreciate collections that reveal more story, whether that’s by unlocking narrative progression or just showing the player more of a character or world. For instance, I loved collecting all the stickers and scrapbook photos in Unpacking, as well as the almanac stickers in Saltsea Chronicles. These are only small collections, and you can completely ignore them if you want, but I appreciate the way they gently reveal more of the protagonists’ characters or the flavour of the game’s world.

Cress: I second collecting recipes! In Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town I really loved discovering the recipes by using the various utensils and ingredients as opposed to being told how to make something.

Any fishing minigame has me hooked (lol) to catch every fish! More life sims should follow Animal Crossing’s example and have a place to put all the critters you’ve collected. Spending real time at a specific real-life hour to track down an elusive beetle or fish makes it more worthwhile to me. I can’t think of a specific moment, but I’ve always laughed when I’ve fished out a whale shark or something for the first time!

Kathryn: In honor of the zoological completionist brigade, I’d like to mention a free downloadable comic by Pickles4nickles on Tumblr about fishing minigames that’s quite touching. It’s enjoyable to spend time in a fantasy world for its own sake, but I find that the experience is always enhanced when a video game helps players to appreciate our own world, whether through ichthyology or botany or real-life recipes.