Interview with Jason Dvorak

Me: Your website game-rave.com has been going on for a long time; what was your motivation to making it and continuing to make it grow?

Jason: It was all so much more innocent back in the beginning (laughs).
Originally I made a simple, one-page site that linked scans of the few variants I and my friend Steve (who got me into variant collecting) would find.
It was essentially just Working Designs games, and then a few titles here and there.
As time went on, I realized there were more variants than a single page could handle, and truthfully, I needed something to justify having the full PlayStation set, which I was still assembling at the time of the site’s early days. Using the name of the fanzine I ran way back in the late 90s - named so because we were always “ranting and raving” - I wanted Game-Rave to evolve alongside the library. Its original concept was to track and finalize what a standard, non-variant “full set” was. Each game’s basic information would also be included, along with whatever tidbits and trivia I could provide.

In the present day, I think deep down my need to make it grow is because there needs to be more sites that approach the games as they should be; as a library.
Many sites and video creators are far too focused on the potential financial gains of them. Worse, they treat them as museum-like pieces and not the entertainment that they should be.
Since I’m playing through and reviewing all the games as I go, it also acts as a sort of journal or diary of my adventures through the library.

Me: I've heard you say that you, “don't want to be a ‘list site’,” what is your end goal with Game-rave.com

Jason: I’ve made the analogy before of wanting it to be a swimming pool. Giving readers the ability to just jump in and explore what the system and site have to offer.
Right now with the focus being on the Living History Project (i.e. adding games to site) it’s still very much just a source of Lists and known variants.
Meaning someone stops by, they copy and paste what they need and then move on.

Once I can lay off the gas a little with that section, I would really like to start writing more articles, editorials, and features.
My ideal example would be having someone going to a game’s page, clicking a link to another section of the site, and from there either keep clicking into more content,
take away a new perspective and head back to their own collection. I want people to see there’s more than just ‘owning’ a game.

ME: I would also like to thank you for your support of my site and several mentions on your site.

Jason: Thank you for allowing me! Your collection is incredible, and once the full set of regular games is on site, I plan on going back and linking the rest of your site where appropriate.
I just couldn’t keep up with your additions at the current pace.

ME: One question on a personal note, how do you battle collector fatigue aka burnout?

Jason: Constantly starting projects I’ll never finish, but want to. I think there’s more to collecting than just “collecting” - any fool can just buy stuff.
It’s about playing the games, researching their variants, peeking at a guide book to see what I may have missed, or what they may have missed.

I actually experienced my first fatigue with GameRaveTV. I realized that if I didn’t start branching out into different subject matters - even if it didn’t resonate with an audience - I’d lose my mind.
It’s what gave birth to Subset Collecting, Letter Legacy, and recently the Variant Hunter series.
In trying to keep myself entertained or at the very least curious, I feel it’s just enough to keep me out of the fatigue rut.

It also helps that I’ve withdrawn to a bi-weekly or longer recording schedule. More time between sessions allows for more creative paths to present themselves. If I’m not having fun, then my audience won’t be having any either. On the game side, it can be easily avoided by rotating play time, research time, buying time, and leisure time. Sort of like self-care but from the Collecting angle.

ME: You have been collecting for a long time now and have just about everything. Are there any known variants that still eludes you?

Jason: I honestly don’t know if I have “just about everything”, I’m probably only half way there variant wise.
There will always be items that elude me. A fact that I’ve been coming to terms with more and more each day.
Thankfully, I have a lot of people that care about this library as much as I do, and they keep me up to date when they find new variants or potential new ones. They are an amazing group of people who have far better reach and access than I ever will.
But as long as I know it’s out there, I know one day I will come across it. That goes for all items.

Me:Can you give examples?

Jason: I plead the 5th on that one. : )

Me: I know you have a background in graphic design. Is there a misprint that has made you question how it was possible?

Jason: Most misprint causes are fairly easy to spot for someone in my field, it’s the ones that make no sense that are the most entertaining.
To this day, the one that drives me insane is the popular and easily accessible “Masterp ece” variant for Final Fantasy VII.
Words aren’t handled on an individual letter basis in graphic programs; they’re edited and moved around as a whole word.
To have a single letter in a word be wide left from its source is highly illogical from a program perspective.
It literally should not exist as it does - same with the crazy “y” on the back of Sheep.

In thinking about it, the only way Final Fantasy VII’s artwork could have gotten the typo is if the following happened:

1. The original artist does the artwork, and gets approval.

2. To avoid any font issues (where a computer does not have the exact same font installed and replaces it with something else) the artist then either rasterizes or converts the text to outlines.
Since both actions remove the editability of the lettering, it can’t be fixed under normal means.

3. The original typo of the i not being there (i.e. spelled as ‘masterpece’) is caught. Since the word can’t be properly edited, they treat it like an image.
They cut the sentence at the ‘ece’ and shift it over enough to get a copy and pasted ‘i’ back in. Everything is fine.

4. The fix is approved, and in saving the document, the ‘i’ is still selected...and maybe the artist unintentionally jolts the mouse just enough to move the layer.
It’s saved without being caught and sent to printers.

It’s the only thing that makes sense.

ME: So, as you know I'm a big collector of misprints/errors, which are somewhat niche and unique / uncommon compared to regular retail releases that most people collect.
What sorts of uncommon / niche items do you collect, and why?

Jason: Debt. I kid...mostly.

Probably the most niche thing for me to collect right now are guide book variants.
I love seeing how goofy stores got with exclusives, like offering free tattoo sheets with their version.
There’s also this wonderful sub-genre of unauthorized guides not published by major players like Prima and Brady.
I imported a text-based PlayStation guide book from Canada that reads like a comical version of the old Jeff Rovin NES books from decades ago.
Probably one of my favorite finds in a long time.

Talking in a broader sense, I have a complete US LaserActive library and hardware set.
If watching a 1990’s educational laserdisc about dolphins while wearing a 3D goggle headset isn’t niche, I’m not sure what is.

ME: Do you have a favorite item in your collection?

Jason: There’s too many to whittle it down to just one, but I know the possible contenders all have something emotional tied to them.
The set of Interact Memory Cards I decorated with illustrations of my friends when I was so far from home living in Maryland while working for Interact.
Or the copy of Treasures of the Deep that I got directly from Namco for review for the Game-Rave fanzine, proving we as a publication were worthy of such a responsibility.
Even just the acceptance letter from Sony saying I won the “Biggest PlayStation Fan” contest - proving to never give up at something no matter the odds.

It’s the pieces of the set that define me as a person, more than those that define me as a collector.