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There Will Be Games

Many of us in the board game hobby love our collection. Some of us have many, many Kallax shelves with dozens upon dozens of games, others, like myself, have maybe 80 or so small games stashed under the sofa and in a small cupboard, and others still only have a handful. Normally I would say, it doesn't matter how many games you have, but for the purpose of this article I want to look at if maybe some of us have too many games. (This topic was inspired by the always wonderful Bez.)

There are many reasons why someone's board game collection is the size it is. Some of us want to be able to play a game with anyone who visits (that is, once we can visit each other again), so we have a selection of different types of games available, even if we probably ever only play four or five of them regularly.

Others are collectors of sorts, and maybe always want to have the latest and hottest games, or maybe they collect special editions or rare games. Just like any collector, these people will accumulate more and more games over time and will probably never sell any of them, because they're all special and important to them. Chances are, many of these games will never be played, because they need to be kept in pristine condition.

The common theme here is that a lot of the games in these collections either never get played, or maybe only get played once or twice and then put away and never again see the light of day - or maybe only once in a blue moon. That seems like a real shame, because games are there to be played and enjoyed, but it's also an indication of our consumer society, our single-use approach to a lot of products.

I fully understand how nice it feels to have a large board game collection. You have a feeling of pride, you've invested a fair amount of time, and money, into these games. You probably also made some tough decisions when it came to choosing what game to buy next. It feels like a life's work and knowing that you have a huge choice of games to play, is just satisfying.

However, maybe it's time to change our approach. I would argue that we should take a long, hard look at our collections and see which games we played maybe once or twice, but probably won't ever play again. Maybe there are games that are just a bit too complex and we can't be bothered to invest more time in learning them. Maybe there are games that are only really fun at a player count that we will probably never reach. Maybe we have played a game so often, that it is no longer interesting and feels more like you're going through a routine.

I think many of us will have games at home that fall into one of those categories or are games that we're unlikely to play again for other reasons. It's time that we move these games on and let others enjoy them. You can sell them on, trade them for other games, give them to a charity, a community club, maybe even your local library or give them to a friend or family. There are probably other ways of culling your collection.

Another option might be to have a games group to share your games with. I know, we can't meet in person at the moment, but before this all happened, my games group was like that. All of us have a few games that we would play together. That would give us plenty to choose from, without anyone owning a lot of games alone. My friends would also often play with other friends or with their family, so these games got a good amount of play out of them.

I think sharing games and maybe even loaning games to others, are great ways to reduce the need to buy lots of games. You can maybe even swap games with friends and family. Again, that's something I used to do a fair bit, before the pandemic, swapping games with my in-laws. It meant I could play lots of different games without having to buy them all myself.

Of course, there are also people who don't share games or are part of games group. They just buy the odd game here and there, because a friend recommended it to them or it's like another game that they love, but have played a lot now. These people will probably regularly move games on that they've played enough - and I'm sure they love their small collection and they love every single game in it.

I think that's where I want to be with my collection. I want to have only games that I enjoy playing and that I play regularly. There will be some games I will keep, because they have a special meaning to me, even if I play them hardly at all, but I think that's fine, as long as it's only a few and not a dozen. Of course, I will probably always have more games than I really need, because I review games, but I will always endeavour to move these games on, unless I really enjoy them and want to continue playing them of course.

I think it's important that we think carefully about what games we buy and keep. The less we buy generally, but also with regards to board games, the lower our impact on the environment. I appreciate that a game made from cardboard and wood is probably not as terrible as other things, but we've seen an increase in plastic miniatures, so our hobby is starting to have a bigger impact on the environment than it used to.

Also, if we can share our games with others, maybe donate them to charities or community clubs, and if we generally pass our games on, even if it's for money, I think we will have a more positive social impact than if we just kept the games to ourselves. I think our hobby is about having fun and it would be great if we could share that fun with lots of people.

So what is your board game collection like? How many games do you own? Do you share them with friend, family or your games group? Do you ever trade games? Do you tend to cull your collection regularly and only keep those that you still enjoy playing? Do you think about the environmental impact of the games you buy? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below.

 

There Will Be Games
Oliver Kinne
Oliver Kinne (He/Him)
Associate Writer

Oliver Kinne aims to publish two new articles every week on his blog, Tabletop Games Blog, and also release both in podcast form. He reviews board games and writes about tabletop games related topics.

Oliver is also the co-host of the Tabletop Inquisition podcast, which releases a new episode every three to four weeks and tackles different issues facing board games, the people who play them and maybe their industry.

Articles by Oliver Kinne

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windrant's Avatar
windrant replied the topic: #317785 07 Jan 2021 10:01
These days I think a lot about my collection! In the early days of my gaming group I had most of the games and I bought more indiscriminately with the idea of "we'll eventually play it". Then as the group grew everybody started bringing their own favorites and collections and my collection started to not get played.

After I moved to another area, my collection mostly got played by my family and close friends. I still bought new games based on that same logic "we'll eventually play it". And in most cases, we didn't.

Now I don't buy anything unless I have a clear idea who I'm going to play it with. I've passed up on Kickstarters that I'd insta-back in the old days because I can't see who I'd play it with or when.

I also spent a lot of time and effort weeding this collection down. I got it from 400+ games down to just 100 at one point. I then made a rule for myself of 1 in 1 out. I was able to maintain this for a few years! However, in the last couple of years I've gotten that number down to around 40 games. I'm not as strict about 1 in 1 out but I've very picky about what I do buy. Also, with the pandemic, the games in the collection are getting a lot of plays with just my family. I'm going deeper into these games and really getting to know them and I like that a lot.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #317788 07 Jan 2021 10:46

windrant wrote: These days I think a lot about my collection! In the early days of my gaming group I had most of the games and I bought more indiscriminately with the idea of "we'll eventually play it". Then as the group grew everybody started bringing their own favorites and collections and my collection started to not get played.

After I moved to another area, my collection mostly got played by my family and close friends. I still bought new games based on that same logic "we'll eventually play it". And in most cases, we didn't.

Now I don't buy anything unless I have a clear idea who I'm going to play it with. I've passed up on Kickstarters that I'd insta-back in the old days because I can't see who I'd play it with or when.

I also spent a lot of time and effort weeding this collection down. I got it from 400+ games down to just 100 at one point. I then made a rule for myself of 1 in 1 out. I was able to maintain this for a few years! However, in the last couple of years I've gotten that number down to around 40 games. I'm not as strict about 1 in 1 out but I've very picky about what I do buy. Also, with the pandemic, the games in the collection are getting a lot of plays with just my family. I'm going deeper into these games and really getting to know them and I like that a lot.


Who let the voice of reason into the room?

My "collection" is such a mess that I can't even properly assess what I have anymore. As often as not when someone asks to borrow something I have to make sure I still have it before answering the request. Ten years back I had the list in my BGG profile, but I've just let that languish without updating since. I pull out a bucket and discover that I have a game I didn't know about and wonder how it got in there.

It's a pretty solid metaphor for the rest of my life now that I think about it.
mezike's Avatar
mezike replied the topic: #317791 07 Jan 2021 10:59

windrant wrote: ... I'm going deeper into these games and really getting to know them and I like that a lot.


QFT

Over the Christmas break my son complained that we had stopped playing the games that we love due to the distraction of newer titles that were always proving to be less exciting than those we had passed over. I am normally quite uncompromising with thinning the herd but the pile of boxes has become quite flabby of late and he was completely correct. So a few days ago I took a hatchet to my 'collection,' pulled everything off onto the floor and for every box asked myself "is this enjoyable to play? Is there another game that I would normally rather be playing instead?"

Thirty one games are now on the eBay pile and I have only around a dozen left on the shelf. Straight away we started playing our favourites again and we are happy. I am definitely an advocate of cutting the crap in both the literal and figurative sense.
CranBerries's Avatar
CranBerries replied the topic: #317797 07 Jan 2021 12:32
Whether or not I play something is kind of dependent on the whims of my family. That said, I got Arkham Horror the card game for Christmas a year ago and haven't played it. That's on me.
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #317845 08 Jan 2021 15:34
I think there is a natural cycle for any hobby collection to expand somewhat uncontrollably for a while and then go through a contracting "refinement" phase. I certainly went through it, buying any game i enjoyed a few plays of, then any expansion to a game i already had, then any game with a novel mechanic, then any game whose THEME i liked regardless if i played it yet (GMT got a lot of my business because of this).

Pair that acquisition disorder with how HARD it is to sell off games, they are physically difficult and expensive to ship and are TERRIBLE at holding value (aside from rare [and unpredictable] examples) making keeping them very easy versus just dumping them at a con or garage sale.

Fortunately for me a couple of major moves in the past few years broke me of a lot of hoarding compulsions so i am shedding "hobby weight" quite a bit. Sucks to see some stuff go but it must be done!
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #317847 08 Jan 2021 16:21
I never went through a period of rapid acquisition, and tend to be fairly picky about what I buy. But even just getting an average of 3 games per year has built up to an excessively large collection. I definitely find it difficult to let go of games. Partly because there was something that appealed to me enough to buy a game and continue to hope that I will play it again at some point. And I agree that shipping can be a hassle, especially find a suitable box and packing the game in there safely for transport. I have a long commute for work and sometimes work on Sundays, so Saturday is likely the only day I can be sure of getting to the post office.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #317849 08 Jan 2021 16:49
I disagree that board games (physical entities) don't hold value, they do it much better than their digital cousins. And then when you do want to sell and you have got 10-20 (conservative value maybe) hours fun out of it then how much monetary value do you assign to that before you do the final spreadsheet balance when you sell it ? Is it similar to going to concerts, or going to sports games, or to the cinema - all other forms of fun entertainment that we are happy to spend reasonable large one-off payments for but have nothing tangible left afterwards apart from good memories.

I keep games that, at some time in the future, I know I'll want to play again for a particular fun feeling. And when that thought has gone then I will get rid of it, usually for cash or another game - not too many entertainment forms or hobbies you can do that with.