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These Goodwill Employees Get To Play Video Games For Work

For the employees of the Goodwill of Northern New England initiative GoodTech, the average workday consists of erasing some hard drives, wiping the dust off old picture tube televisions, and firing up some vintage video games.

As reported by Bangor Daily News, one of the primary responsibilities of GoodTech employees is making sure that the electronics people donate still boot up. This means tracking down cords, controllers, and displays compatible with technology that may be decades old at this point. Once all the pieces seem to be in order, technicians have to make sure they will function after they are sold, which means putting in a cartridge and playing a couple of rounds of whatever may be lying around.

The GoodTech employees have some exciting choices available to them, as well. When Bangor Daily News visited the Goodwill of Northern New England Headquarters in Maine, technician Timothy Richards was in the middle of hooking up a Sears-branded Atari 2600 console that dated from 1978 and testing it with a few minutes of Combat (presumably because no one wants to test a system with the Atari's E.T. game)

The majority of consoles that come through the door at GoodTech are more common items such as original Xboxes and PlayStations, and those head right back to gamers at bargain-basement prices. However, when rarer items such as the Sears-branded Atari 2600 or an Atari XEGS with a working joystick and light gun show up, GoodTech puts those items up on eBay for collectors. The market for rare and unique pieces of videogame history is very active. Even well-used systems can go for hundreds of dollars, while mint condition copies of famous video games can be worth more than your car.

However, as a nonprofit organization, GoodTech's motivation isn't as much to find a big payday as it is to get electronics into the hands of families that need them. Bangor Daily News notes any proceeds from those sales, such as the $400 the Atari XEGS sold for, "go to their Technology Access Program which provides desktop and laptop computers to low and moderate income households for a small fee."

GoodTech itself is the result of a community benefit program that began in 2014 to train technicians to refurbish donated computers. Beyond that, GoodTech is one of the few arms of Goodwill that can accept nonfunctioning items, thanks to a partnership with Dell that allows the company to recycle any unwanted electronics at no cost to donators.