Barnes on Games #9 - Marie Kondo Is Right About Your Game Collection

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Marie Kondo

Is your box collection sparking joy?

There is a lot of idiotic controversy over Marie Kondo's frank (but not unkind) assertion that most of what we own is disposable and is, in fact, making us unhappy. Hoarders (sorry, collectors) of all interests are taking umbrage. Some stand aggrieved at the notion that all of the books they haven't touched, let alone read a single word of, in 20 years would be eligible for discard. And of course, gamers with mountains of dust-gathering shelf-toads took notice- and, expectedly took to the battlements to defend their Kallaxes burgeoning with Kickstarter junk, clearance sale cast-offs, and BGG's hottest games circa 2015.

Real talk. Marie Kondo isn't wrong. Most of the stuff you've piled on top of piles is more than likely excess junk that is getting in the way of the real joy you might feel for things you are burying in clutter. And I think the board games hobby, which is now a box-collecting hobby focused on acquiring rather than playing games, is a prime example of how excessive collections are making us miserable and keeping us from joy.

Here's an example. After playing Warhammer 40k: Kill Team for a while and realizing that I preferred its small scale3x3 battles that resolve in under an hour to the full 40k rules that require more of everything, I decided that I wanted to reduce my Apocalypse-level armies - all four of them - down to Kill Team-sized forces. I took a hard look at my collection- which was pretty damn big- and I'm not going to lie, it hurt to think about letting go of my fully painted Astra Militarum motor pool, my "Nidzilla" army full of all the biggest and gnarliest Tyranids, and my lovely and pustulent Death Guard. But then I realized that these were not being played with at a frequency that warranted the space it was taking to store them. And I had a lot of unassembled and/or unpainted models that I had gotten ahold of but moved on away from before I could get around to them.

I'd think about the task of putting together $1000 worth of plastic and painting it all and it stressed me out. I thought about the space all of this would consume- in a small house with a wife and two kids - and I'd quali. I'd think about the money spent, and the time required and it didn't bring me happiness at all. But focusing on a small set of models, Speed Freeks, and focusing on those to completion and then playing and enjoying the game did make me happy. So I let a lot of it go, keeping only some favorite finished pieces and my Kill Team armies. I loved collecting all of this stuff, putting it together, painting it, playing with it and I don't regret it. But I simply had too much, and I realized that if I let go of it I'd be happier.

And once I had this stuff sold off, packed up, and mailed away it felt great.

Likewise, it's felt great every time I've purged my board game shelves to get things down to a manageable and practical level. I love looking at my shelves and not feeling sad because I'm not playing certain games or disappointed because there's a really great game sitting there isn't played anymore. It's great to see your collection and it is full of games that bring you joy here, now, today. Not games that brought you joy 20 years ago. Not games that you have all of this nostalgia wrapped up in but are just sitting there with no purpose other than to remind you of your college glory days or whatever.

It turns out that my "if it ain't playin', it ain't stayin'" aphorism is actually pretty close to Marie Kondo's ideal for living. Keep what makes you happy, discard the rest. The trick is figuring out what really makes you happy versus what you think makes you happy. I've been through the whole acquisition phase where getting a new game is joyful. But now, what makes me joyful is playing a game, enjoying it for a while, and letting it move on to someone else. It's true I have some "forever shelf" titles, but my forever shelf games are ones that see a lot of play. My Cosmic Encounter box is probably more tape than cardboard at this point.

Of course, the board game hoarder brigade will step up and say "but having a large library of games brings me joy, every game I own sparks joy". And that's fine, for some people that may be the case and they've got the "shelfies" to prove it. But these are people for whom the value of games is in the commercial product, in their availability, and in being able to say "I own that". They are in that acquisition phase and may never leave it. And that's fine too for them. But I would ask these folks what is the actual value of game measured in happiness that is sitting on a shelf, unplayed, in a box for years or even decades? I don't care if it's Full Metal Planete or a complete set of Cthulhu Wars. For me, that value is zero.

It's a bitter pill for many to swallow, that things they once cared about, spent a lot of time with, or even labored over are no longer bringing real, tangible joy into their lives. It's even harder to admit that things you've spent a lot of money on and were really into are now, today, about as valuable in your life as an empty yogurt cup. But you've got to remember that you can still love and appreciate a Frank Lloyd Wright building, a Dostoyevksy book, a Clash record, or a Caravaggio painting without owning it and affording it physical space in your life. Games are the same way. The idea that appreciation and valuation is contingent on ownership is, to be honest, kind of gross.

Consider that following that line of thought could be cluttering your life and in fact making your hobby a burden not just for you but also your family. Maybe step back from the Kallax and think about what it is that made you interested in games in the first place, and if it is in buying and storing boxes, you are doing the right thing and by all means find your joy there. If what brought you to games is the fun of interacting with friends and family, experiencing interesting settings through authored sets of rules, and engaging with a compelling and emergent medium...then ask yourself if the joy in that is obscured by stacks of boxes.

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes

Editor-in-Chief

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film. 

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jur's Avatar
jur replied the topic: #290112 16 Jan 2019 14:29
Owning games is not just about playing, it's also about the desire to play, the ability to reach for it on a shelf, and to turn back to it for reference. It's the anti library, not a collection. Just like books or cds (anyone remember those?)

www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/24/umberto-eco-antilibrary/
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #290117 16 Jan 2019 15:34

jur wrote: Owning games is not just about playing, it's also about the desire to play, the ability to reach for it on a shelf, and to turn back to it for reference. It's the anti library, not a collection. Just like books or cds (anyone remember those?)

www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/24/umberto-eco-antilibrary/


I have fun playing games from my collection, I get fun from playing different types of games, and I get fun from playing them with other people (I very rarely solo games, although I do have some fighting fantasy type books if that emergency ever arrives).
I sell when I no longer get fun from a game. I have more than I can play over a few months but that does not make me unhappy, it makes me look forward to when I do get them out.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #290120 16 Jan 2019 16:53
I’m not a game librarian or archivist. I’m a game player. I don’t have a responsibility or inclination to somehow represent my knowledge or experience with physical objects, and I think the Eco thing is fundamentally flawed. I don’t have unlimited space for any kind of privileged, bourgeois library. And the reality of it is that many personal collections and libraries exist not for “reference”, but as a totemic decoration that signifies commitment, authority, and experience to others with similar interests.

I believe one of the Konmari principals is that objects have only so much happiness they can give before they essentially “run out”. It’s a Shinto thing. This totally makes sense when it comes to games, just like what Tom says above- when the fun stops, let it go. I think determining what your threshold is here is the key. No doubt, I have more games than I will even be able to play in six months.

You know, when your game collection, and your ability to actually get the games you owned played has you thinking about -mortality- in that you realize that the time required to play everything outstrips your expected lifespan...something has gone wrong!
DWTripp's Avatar
DWTripp replied the topic: #290121 16 Jan 2019 17:08
Barnes - I'm with ya on this. Purging is purifying. I purged over 1,000 vinyl LP's a few decades back. The giant wad of cash and ease of moving in my house was a religious experience. I purged over 400 SPI, AH, and other assorted hex and counter abominations on rec.games back in the 90's - it was like vomiting dust and misaligned die cut counters. The resultant wad of cash was almost as Zen as my motorcycle.

I purged several thousand miniatures on Ebay when that site fired up and the experience removed more lead residue from my bloodstream than 50 ginger root enemas. The massive wad of cash was embarrassing. But I kept it anyway. Now I'm readying a purge of the ridiculous number of used games, motorcycle parts, Vans skate shoes and 80's band t shirts I've collected up since the Ebay purge.

It feels good and I still own many of the games I played in the 70's thru till this year. Good article. Play more, dust less.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #290124 16 Jan 2019 17:47
The annoying thing about Marie Kondo is the fact that everyone is now virtue signaling on social media about how much stuff they have purged from their house/closet/etc. All that shows me is they had too many things to begin with. As my wife says, the biggest beneficiaries are going to be the hoarders who find the cornucopia of purged items at Goodwill.

I have taken to giving most of my purged books and games to my brother and cousin -- and am finding that I like to keep the ones that are about the weirdest stuff (besides book -- when I think that it is important to keep works of great literature in the house). We just remodeled our kitchen and took out a couple of walls -- reducing our cabinet space; the purging was epic. And we still have much to jettison, some old AH wargames are upcoming.

Generally, I find this entire topic of purging interesting as it really runs into the underlying cultural wounds that we still carry around from the depression. Even though we have more and more access to things, we fear that we will be without again -- sometimes I think it is in our genetic makeup. That being said, most people wouldn't know how to repurpose items as it is....I have a friend in his 50s that didn't realize that you didn't need electricity to turn on his gas stove (my worry for inherent skills of the modern "citizen" is probably really just a harbinger of my transition to old age).
DukeofChutney's Avatar
DukeofChutney replied the topic: #290125 16 Jan 2019 18:07
i am a purger by nature. Periodically i just get the urge to clear out and do, so my collection drops down to around 15 odd games once every few years before having a slight rebound.

I'm view is sort of there are new experiences in life and so I don't need to always repeat old ones. Equally no game or experience is so great that I would really miss it that much.
mc's Avatar
mc replied the topic: #290126 16 Jan 2019 18:12
Oh yeah, Space Ghost. There's a lot of baggage there. In thinking about this I keep thinking about my grandparents generation, who grew up during the depression and then the war. Waste not want not. That whole thing. Garages full of carefully saved items - just in case - for a rainy day, sitting there for years. If I chuck something out, I can't help but think of the waste. I like to repurpose stuff. Most of my games are bought secondhand, and I don't have a huge collection.... and once bought, they are already bought. I kind of think that the focus of this stuff should be on the buying in the first place. . On the abject consumerism that has become so prevalent, where things are constantly replaced when the old one isn't dead yet. Rather than culling or purging, I think we'd be happier if we culled and purged our want lists. And if we cull and purge, it would be awesome if we could be finding homes for the items where we know they are genuinely going to be loved (or provide joy).

I haven't read the book or watched the show. Does she say that buying things can provide joy? So then the joy runs out quickly, and you just get rid of it?
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #290127 16 Jan 2019 18:45
DW, glad to see you in these parts brother!

MC, That's an excellent point about culling the wish list ahead of the collection. This has actually really impacted my reviewing...there is so little I actually "want" it's hard to even bring in a free copy of a game sometimes. We've had that big discussion about negative reviews in the forums here, part of the reason I don't really do many negative reviews is because if it comes into my house, I'm usually reasonably sure it's something I want to play and will like. If I don't review it, a lot of times it's because I don't want it.

Of course buying something new brings joy...but does that joy expire once you've opened it up, read the rules, maybe played it once, and then put it on the shelf?

I am a HUGE proponent of reselling and donating...certainly, don't just throw your games away. Someone out there wants them. You might sell a used game to someone that otherwise couldn't afford it, and it may bring them some happiness. Or you might part with a favorite title to someone else and it becomes their favorite title. These are good feelings.

The whole "rainy day" thing speaks to something else about buying games...there is SO MUCH "aspirational acquisition"...people will buy a game and aspire to play it one day. Or they will get a game that fits a certain niche, audience, timeframe, player count or whatever as a kind of "rainy day" investment. This makes no sense. I used to do this, but then I realized that aspirational acquisition is a TOTAL waste of time and space.

Doug, that is also a great point about these folks having too much to begin with. Access is an interesting thing here that you brought up. With the internet, access to games is virtually limited only by your spending power. If that rainy day situation comes up where you need a 7 player, 30 minute game with a fantasy setting...you can have a copy of Citadels overnighted to you or there is likely a FLGS where you can buy it nearby. Games are more available than ever before, and access to them is greater than ever before. So this notion of storing games as a "library" is almost irrelevant. Especially when you likely have several folks in your gaming circle with the same titles.
Sevej's Avatar
Sevej replied the topic: #290129 16 Jan 2019 20:28
You can play with your 40k miniatures?!!

For me board game collecting is a game in itself. How to manage my various interests and keep it in size.

On the other hand, I have never intended to play 40k of any kind, even if I have a fully painted army (and more).
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Frohike replied the topic: #290130 16 Jan 2019 20:59
I enjoy certain aspects of Kondo's method but it does have some issues which its enthusiasts don't often discuss.

The positives: I actually appreciate what the quasi-animism brings into the process, both in relation to the objects themselves and to the living space that the owner is trying to reclaim.

Sitting in your living room or wherever and just having a silent moment where you "thank the space" feels odd and showy at first but it has a purpose beyond just ritualizing the upcoming task or lending an exoticized Shinto authenticity to the proceedings.

Part of our consumer culture has gone beyond fetishizing the consumer object and has invested the act of selecting & acquiring with a palliative, talismanic quality. The internet has imbued us with the power to be super-selectors & curators and our fluency with this process feels like a part of our identity now. The act of owning becomes more existentially charged & meaningful than what is owned.

I think Kondo's process is designed to externalize appreciation and attention and reinvest them back into those spaces and objects that we've unknowingly separated from our act of self-edification or from our own identity. We may think that we treasure our space and our things, but that's actually not quite right. We treasure the treasuring, the curating, the possession. The outcome is this unnerving pairing of what we feel to be ordered, expert self-validation with the crushing entropy & negativity of our own possessions and our own space. Kondo tries to rewire that toxic dynamic with a dash of animism, to pretty good effect.

Another positive of this "thank the space" or "thank the object" ritual is that it avoids a reverse process of abjection, where we look at the pile we're about to sort and 1) see it as a pile of indiscriminate shit and 2) berate ourselves as an extension of this pile of shit. This self-destructive quality just reignites the impulse to soothe ourselves again and I think it can discourage people to the point of giving up. Kondo definitely wants an initial shock effect but she also doesn't want that to turn into self-defeat or drudgery. Preventing this abjection also avoids reverting to an internalized, obsessively judgmental separateness from our own environment. When we're forced to think about each selected object and thank it, we can enjoy some of the dopamine remnants from our initial acquisition and maybe preserve some of its intent rather than externalizing everything as a "purge." There's some self-compassion at work here, which I think is important.

Anyway, one big limitation that isn't discussed much in the Kondo Zeitgeist is the class-specific appeal of this decluttering trend. It assumes that you have the power and means to toss things that aren't immediately relevant because you have the same power and means to reacquire. It's not necessarily there in the guidelines or the intent, but it does seem like the absence of such a safety net makes the process much more difficult & taxing. As @Ghostwoods on Twitter put it: "if I throw something away today that I then need next month, that's a flat out disaster. I can't even usually replace things that break."

Another negative that I may be misperceiving since I haven't fully bought into this is that it all seems to be primarily reactive. Decluttering becomes more important than clutter prevention, which I think is the more crucial (yet equally class-specific) skill that may be a bit more difficult and abstract to teach (and also probably less immediately satisfying): the curation impulse needs to meld with the skills of editing and discernment, the latter two going much more deeply against the consumerist grain than I think most people are ready to consider.

I think a lot of these positives & negatives map pretty strongly to board game collections, or any hobby where the consumer's growing selection expertise meets the realities of storage and available free time while also being fueled by an inflated sense of imminent scarcity. Kickstarter has certainly not been helpful in this regard.
SaMoKo's Avatar
SaMoKo replied the topic: #290131 16 Jan 2019 21:05
I don’t think our collection has ever gone over 50 games; usually floats at around 40. About half of the shelf is two player games the wife and I enjoy, the other half group games. I could likely purge down to 30, but we are happy with everything in our collection and space isn’t an issue.

My group plays things in cycles. Ashleigh and I started another campaign of Claustrophobia after having not touched it for 3 years, and it is exciting again! Our group took renewed interest in Brass and set aside Age of Steam for a bit.

If a game doesn’t get requested after about five years, it’s time to trade or sell it off. Usually games go up in value by then anyways!
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #290132 16 Jan 2019 21:25
Ditching games can be really therapeutic, and it's really good to ask the hard questions about the games you own. I've made my own collection a lot leaner because of all of the moves I've made over the last five years. But the rainy day fallacy is not a total fallacy in my experience. In each of the four environments I've lived in over the last few years, I've had different kinds of games that can get played, and others that suddenly don't happen anymore. If I was going by what "plays" now it would basically be short Euros and RPGs. I'm not reducing my collection to half-hour games and D&D books though.

I also question the ability for gaining joy from getting rid of things. If buying all the things didn't bring you joy, there's no guarantee that getting rid of them will do it either.

Of course, I haven't actually watched Tidying Up or anything else with Marie Kondo. Having just gone through a pretty intense purge of our possessions before moving overseas I am not in the mood to think about doing any more of that.
jur's Avatar
jur replied the topic: #290136 17 Jan 2019 02:42
Thanks Mike, first time in my life I feel proud to be bourgeois. You're so fucking judgemental, I almost feel like retaliating. And then I think: does becoming Michael Barnes bring me joy?

I do my occassional book, game and lead purges and give most away to people who might actually read/play/paint it, I have hardly bought a new game in the last couple of years. Others have a higher turnover. Others collect. And yet others restrict themselves to a fixed number.

That's all fine. Okay, collectors and restricters can get obsessive. But some people are like that. I think we can all get along on the basis of enjoying playing games. We can differ in opinion on which games are worth playing and the amount of trash talk, but we can all see the fun in it.

We used to shake our heads over people on TOS judging people for playing Monopoly. Now we're judging people over the number of their games. Does becoming like *those* people bring you joy?
Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #290137 17 Jan 2019 04:58
Yeah, you're not going to get much argument about this in these parts but you express the sentiment, and the reasons behind it, well.

I'll defend collectors, providing they admit what they are. It can be a pleasurable thing in its own right and if that's your thing, more power to you. It's not my thing, though, and it's not what most boardgamers claim to be.

One thing I do struggle with, though, is the "playing, staying" concept. As a critic, I have to play a lot of games. That means the games on my table are almost always recent games. Only a handful of the absolute best of the best gets table time amidst the constant, exhausting throughput of the new.

Which leaves me with a problem: it's become really hard to identify which games really deserve to join that crowd. "Playing, Staying" can't work for me and, as a result, I get paralysed by indecision when it comes to which games I actually really want to keep and I keep more than I should,

Personally, I'm increasingly using practicality as a measure. Games that I can't comfortably teach my eldest kid and play to completion before bedtime don't really get played much at all. Those are the first on the block. It's something I might regret in years to come, but I doubt it.
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #290140 17 Jan 2019 07:45
I was Marie-ing before Marie was.

I have always kept my clutter to a minimum. I am wholly detached and apathetic to everything I own, with almost no exceptions. To wit, a while back my wife and I had a conversation about “the ten things you can’t live without”; we had to come up with ten physical items that we have a strong connection with, and neither of us could come up with ten.

My game “collection” has always wanted to be small, and now it is. All of my games fit on a single, 6’ shelf. I still have culling to do.

If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s just junk.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #290141 17 Jan 2019 09:20
Timely article. I have seen the Marie Kondo meme, and immediately snarked, "I bet that her 29 books have very nice covers that are color-coordinated with her decor." But I have hoarding tendencies and have had to do some de-cluttering in the past. By the time I finally got a house, I was determined to not acquire new possessions unless I was divesting myself of other possessions. But having a house with a lot of storage space has enabled me to disregard that strategy and the clutter is back.

Someone upthread mentioned the class aspect of this topic, and it's true. Wealthy and upper-middle class people have the luxury of casually discarding everything doesn't bring them joy, because they have the financial means to throw away resources and replace them later as needed. I grew up in a working class family where money was sometimes tight if the family business was having a bad year. My parents were often creative about making use of whatever was at hand for whatever problems or opportunities arose. So at least every other month or so, I find myself picking through my possessions and finding just the thing that I needed. But sometimes that search takes a really long time because I do have too much stuff and some of it is not at all organized.

For the second time in five years, I am unemployed and facing a challenging job search. Last time, it was the tail end of the recession, and a lot of my competition came from people who were employed but at disappointing jobs that they had to settle for during the recession. This time, the unemployment rate is insanely low, but some companies are rejecting all candidates. Asmodee North America, for example, has been looking for a controller since September, but they rejected all the finalists that they interviewed in November and now it's January and they are closing the books without that controller. My severance pay ran out at Christmas, and my unemployment is held up until my previous employer responds to an inquiry about that severance pay. With unemployment, I can hang on until next September, but without it, I risk losing my house before summer.

So I will soon be taking a hard look at my game collection. I have about 100 games, and I have a very clear understanding of which games are likely to gather dust and which ones will actually get played. And regardless of the potential usefulness of my clutter, there is a possibility that I will need to sell my house and move back into an apartment, so the clutter needs to go.

For a long time, I have held on to certain possessions due to hope. I hoped that I would have kids, or that I might finally run another Cyberpunk rpg campaign, or I might get around to fixing that old lamp. But I am 53 now. I'm not realistically going to have kids, and I will probably never get around to playing Cyberpunk again. I do have the parts and tools to fix that lamp, though. But it's time to start letting go of some of those hopes and some of those possessions.

My girlfriend is 15 years younger than me, and once joked about what it would be like after I died: she and my sister spending weeks going through old boxes and filling up a dumpster. In response, I started a 20-year plan to get rid of stuff. The idea is that I might only live for another 20 years, so I could try to get rid of 5% of my possessions each year, until I am down to the bare essentials as I approach death. But the plan was put on hold when I lost my job, because my job search takes priority over almost everything else in my life.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #290145 17 Jan 2019 09:49
I read Kondo's book back when I was trying to help my parents down size for a move into a smaller house. The advice she gives has been reduced to a misleading sound bite.

She is not a minimalist. She does not say it is virtuous to have less stuff.

What she does say is that the physical environment of your home should make you feel happy. She offers advice for people whose physical environment stresses them out because it is chaotic and cluttered. She specifically says that if your collections bring you joy - great.However, they should be organized and presented in a way that makes them a positive part of your home, not a stressful mess.

The primary difference between her advice and the advice of dozens of other organizers, is that she addresses the emotional component of acquiring, keeping, organizing and getting rid of things. For example, most organizers advise sorting things quickly and without sentimentality. She advises the opposite.

I found her advise helpful not only for helping my parents down size, but also for helping The Spawn sort through her stuff. For example just last week we were cleaning out The Spawn's room. She had a pair of pants that no longer fit her (she grew two inches last year). However, she was loath to get rid of them. Upon examination, her reluctance to part with them was the result of her memories of the happy circumstances surrounding her acquisition of them. So together we reminisced about that happy outing, and the joy it gave me to buy those pants for her, and the joy it gave her to get them and wear them (back when they fit her), and then she was able to "joyfully" put them into the Goodwill bag.

So if your game collection is creating clutter and stress in your environment, Kondo's method can help you part with games that once made you very happy but no longer do, as well as organize your collection it in a way that makes you even happier with it. However, her advice may take you in the direction of getting rid of other things in your home that don't bring you joy, to make more room for your games. It all depends upon how you "feel" about your stuff.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #290147 17 Jan 2019 09:59
This isn’t that far from how I handle collection. The breakthrough moment was finally parting with BSG. It’s the reason why I’m here in this hobby, but I’ve gotten all the fun I can out of it. I held on to it for sentimental value for years, but letting it go made more comfortable with letting go of other things I was less attached to and getting my collection to a point where I can pick any game off the shelf and I’ll be happy to play it. It’s a good feeling.

Side note, the people who I know personally who dismiss her without even taking the time to dig in and try to understand where she’s coming from are without exception the most miserable people I know. I’m not saying there’s a connection there, but I can’t dismiss it either.
SaMoKo's Avatar
SaMoKo replied the topic: #290149 17 Jan 2019 10:10
What Uba said about Kondo makes sense. And I do tend to put some thought into where to store things for aesthetics.

For example: we put a few of the project GIPF games in our living room to fill out a decorative book shelf. That led to putting a small table and a few chairs nearby, and it’s near a handy window to our kitchen. It all looks very nice, and the GIPF games have now become a bit of a weekend morning ritual.

Spreading games out can be more functional and less an eye sore than clumping them all together in one monstrous wall unit.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #290150 17 Jan 2019 10:27
Many years ago, I was in a big rpg campaign (Legend of the Five Rings). Normally I was the DM, but sometimes I would step aside and run a character when somebody else wanted to run an adventure. So we were playing at my apartment as usual, and my character and another pc both got taken out early in the first fight. That player and I stepped away from the gaming table and started talking about some other game. I went to my front closet to get the game, and my friend was amazed by the closet. It was a walk-in closet that was just as large as the adjacent kitchen area, and piled high with boxes of my stuff.

I had trouble finding the game, and kept pulling out more boxes into the front hall area so I could go deeper into the closet. My friend did a wonderful thing: he volunteered to help me go through the boxes and get rid of some stuff. Right then, right there. And the way he did it was awesome. He would pull something out of a box and comment on it or ask me about it, with a specific eye to whether I should toss or keep the item. For example, "Oh, you have the spoiler list printed out for the Shadowfist Netherworlds expansion. Didn't you show me that you have a complete set of those cards in a binder? You should toss these sheets in the recycling."

We spent over two hours on that closet before the party got our characters healed. Filled up two garbage bags for the trash and two for recycling, and cleared a narrow path so I could access everything in the closet without pulling out any boxes into the hall.

Sadly, that friend got into some trouble with the IRS and ended up moving back in with his parents in another state. He eventually got back on his feet and now lives on the East Coast. I wish I could have helped him though that, but I had my own challenges at the time.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #290152 17 Jan 2019 10:56
I don't have a lean "collection" but I try to have a thoughtful one, moving out stuff I don't need anymore and limiting what comes in. For me, I think it's important we as a society break out of the "see-want-get-have-keep" cycle, which results in the generation of more stuff being created to fill a "need" for it, when in fact most of it is just going into an otherwise useless hoard. We're seeing this right now in the absolute glut of games being produced because supposedly there's an audience, but it doesn't seem like a "playing" audience as much as a "buying" audience. There's no difference between getting a themed Monopoly set from a well-meaning relative because you like games and you like dogs or whatever and dropping $200 on a KS because your amygdala fired when you saw it was about Johnny Mnemonic or some shit.

In nerd spaces (here he goes) this especially bugs me because, as a nerd myself, I hate seeing people define themselves through what they own and how much they've dropped on it instead of who they are and what they get out of it. If you play board games or like movies or read comics or whatever, that's great! Let's talk! But I don't care how much of the shit you've personally amassed.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #290154 17 Jan 2019 11:11
So you're saying you wouldn't back my Johnny Mneminiatures skirmish game? For $250 you'll get some "Dark Keanu" alternate figures that I didn't test the rules on.

There's not much that makes my eyes glaze over more than "shelfie" culture. It smacks of begging for validation. If doing something makes you happy that's great. If you need to have strangers on the internet give you asspats for it, maybe reconsider why you do what you do.

I try a lot of games because I like learning them and seeing where design is going. Most of them don't stick around. They get sold, traded, given away, etc. Seems like that's anathema to a lot of people right now, especially as more and more vocal folks in "board gaming media" are increasingly financially and professionally invested and don't want to publicly get rid of anything for fear of their numbers going down. I feel like we're living in Red Letter Media's parody universe, only our crap is even more space consuming.

RobertB's Avatar
RobertB replied the topic: #290158 17 Jan 2019 11:43
I like the 'cherish and let it go' idea before getting rid of items. But the rest of it sounds like a bunch of first-world problems mixed with marketing bullshit. Granted, I could be getting crotchety in my old age. :)

Maybe I could be a little more thankful for the things in my life and in my home, but that's not a problem that decluttering is going to solve.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #290159 17 Jan 2019 11:49
So much to comment on...

I don't spend much, largely because I've never been a materialist. I keep clothes for not years, but decades. I wore through both sole and undersole of my last pair of sneakers because my feet weren't getting wet and they were still comfortable. I owned my last car for almost 12 years. Several things no longer worked on it, but they were stuff I could ignore. If it's still (largely) functional, I keep using it and kind of recoil at the idea of spending money to replace it.

The exceptions over the years have been music, books, and occasionally games. Those are the things I spend money on. I have close to 1000 books sitting on shelves in the house. I have around 15,000 comics sitting in the basement. Those are the two things I look at when I think about decluttering. (The music has made a transition twice, from cassettes to CDs and now to electronic files, so clutter is not an issue there.) I'm usually the Marie Kondo of my relationships. Both my ex-wife and my current girlfriend are mild packrats, from my perspective, because stuff tends to fill corners and pile up in places and never gets purged. My dictum to my ex was often: "If you haven't touched it in a year, it's getting tossed." That was usually spoken when I opened a closet and things fell on me.

But to Kondo's thesis: I don't have a problem with our living space. In point of fact, I was just noticing in the last couple days how enjoyable our space is because we had rearranged our bedroom and the living room. I'm kind of militant about everything having a space and, if it doesn't have one, to either find one or remove it from the house. I pointedly do not venture into the kids' rooms because I'd be taking a shovel to them. But those aren't MY spaces. In those that I do consider my spaces, we don't have clutter or situations that annoy me. It is a regular contest between me and my girlfriend's constant interaction with Amazon, but it hasn't become a problem.

As for the game collection, I purged it in a huge way a couple years ago, before we moved into the current house. It's expanded again in the last few months because I've been trading, rather than simply selling and, for example, the half-dozen games I got for my complete set of Descent 1st Ed. take up more space than that one coffin box did. But I've also bought a few more as I've reignited my interest in boardgaming (the vast majority of my posts on the site for a couple years prior to 2018 were about Hearthstone and movies) recently. However, I've confronted the "joy or no?" question again because I look at the dozen or so games I've traded for recently that still haven't hit the table and wonder if that's ever going to happen or if I should just accept that I don't know enough regular gamers anymore and move on. I'm attached to my collection mostly because I want to use it (more) and not simply possess it. But, that rarely being the case these days, I hesitate to purge mostly over the idea of lost opportunity, rather than any sentimental attachment or possessiveness.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #290160 17 Jan 2019 11:58
In adults "my stuff = my identity" is now being examined as a possible cognitive development delay or disorder, or the result of emotion regression due to trauma.

Young children can't distinguish between me and mine. It's why your 5 year old will freak the hell out when you try to throw away their stash of gum and candy wrappers that have accumulated in their back pack. As children get older, this evolves into my stuff = my identity., becoming particularly pronounced in the teen age years. Typically, it will end suddenly in the late teens or early twenties, resulting in the great purge.

Therefore, if "my stuff = my identity" persists well into adulthood, some believe it is a delay or disorder, possibly due to ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). So "shelfie culture" may not be an indicator of consumerism or character flaws, but rather an indicator that board gaming and nerd culture in general has a higher percentage of individuals with ASD than does the general population.