I love playing board games. I hate having stuff.
I store my larger board games on two separate shelves. They are each three shelves high for a total of six. The small games go in a tiered bucket container store monstrosity that lives next to the shelves. Collectively they occupy some of a wall. All things considered this isn't a particularly massive amount of space.
However, something to note about me is that I don't like stuff. I want everything I own to serve a purpose or else I don't want to own it, much less look at it every day. Some may call it minimalism. I call it undiagnosed neuroses. I'm like a less cool version of Diogenes that actually wears clothes.
Video games are an comparably easy hobby to manage. Digital libraries basically don't exist. You can install and delete at will. Out of sight, out of hard drive, out of mind. And when physical media is available they're all in lovely uniform (within their platforms anyway) boxes. I'll grant that there are serious issues with digital-only distribution regarding who actually owns the thing you've purchased, but at the very least they can be organized and accessed almost effortlessly.
Board games, though? Board games are huge. HUGE. And their very presence feels decadent. Massive, wasteful, air-filled boxes taking up a wall with their noisy and inconsistent artwork, a constant reminder of the financial investment made. I'm disgusted by what a wall of games represents. It's a constant projection of authority, a declaration of your power level to signal to visitors that you do, in fact, play games. It's peacocking for nerds. "Shelfie" photos make me think of a frat boy who keeps a collection of compromising pictures of his sexual partners and insists on showing them to everyone he meets. We get it. We do. Did you have to plaster them all over the wall, Trent? No one is actually impressed by this.
Yet owning games is necessary in order to play them when desired, and actually playing board games is a certain kind of magic that I'm unwilling to give up. When a great game is played it makes it all feel worth it. A game that enables memorable interactions, be they mechanical or purely social, is a powerful thing. The true joy of this hobby at its best is unlike anything else out there.
We often trick ourselves into purchasing games for pretty stupid reasons. We see a new game that shares a mechanism with an old favorite. We associate that with the experiences we've had that made us like that mechanism to begin with, forgetting that experiences don't come prepacked in boxes. A pack of cards and a few friends have been responsible for some of my favorite game-related memories. The greatest trick that publishers ever pulled was convincing us that they could sell us that joy.
The recent-ish Marie Kondo debacle is proof that board gamers have an unhealthy relationship with stuff. They want to own the objects that they've conflated with their positive play experiences. Produce a pretty object, or even a less pretty one made by someone they know, and they'll purchase it without even a first thought with the hopes of recapturing that happiness. It then sits and collects dust forever, typically played a maximum of twice, before being shoved aside to make room for more objects. In the immortal words of Jay Bauman, "Don't ask questions, just consume product and then get excited for next products."
If you've ever been concerned by space or material waste when it comes to board games, let me know how you've handled it. I have my methods but I'm always looking for new ideas.