If you’re anything like me, it never feels like you have enough shelves in your home for your games. Even if you’re not drowning in games (yet) it’s still easy to feel overwhelmed by so many of you games, particularly if pick up a given game and can’t recall the last time you played it, or exactly how it’s played (that’s a really bad sign.)
After watching one too many episodes of A&E’s Hoarders, and seeing Felica Day tweet about purging to optimize for joy in her life Marie Kondo-style, I figured it might be a good idea to go through my game collection with the same philosophy. My closet is a bit of a mess, but I can objectively say that my boardgaming collection fills me with nothing but joy. There are no games that are filler, no games I wouldn’t immediately want to play a game of, were someone to pick one at random.
And I’m not the only one to see the value in deliberately looking at my games and making decisions on why a game should be kept (or not.) YouTuber Matt Morgan goes through his games in his series Why I Kept It and talks through the reasons why he deliberately chose to keep a game over the decade he’s been involved in the hobby.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, or are just looking at your shelf space and thinking that you could loose some chaff from your collection, here’s three tips to help whittle that collection down to games that purely bring joy.
Ignore Sunk Costs
When Matt talks about the games that he’s kept, he doesn’t talk about how much a particular game costs. In fact, the only time that matters is before you own a game. As soon as money has changed hands, decisions pertaining to the game (whether to keep it, purge it, play it or balance it on your head for fun) should not be influenced by how much it cost you to buy.
When you’re assessing whether or not a game should be kept, don’t think about the money you paid for it. That money is spent, it’s gone, and you’re left with a game whose value is no longer measured in dollars, but in terms more qualitative than quantitative. Is the game something that brings you joy, whether it’s to play with family, friends or your tabletop frenemies?
On the other side of that, just because it’s free doesn’t mean you should keep it. I have a terrible habit of keeping promo minis and games that I wouldn’t have paid money for in the first place. Whether that’s been in goodie bags from cons I’ve visited, or freebies I’ve had included with purchases from my FLGS, convention booths or other such items; these little extras tend to haunt me, so much so that I hide them in a box in my basement.
Ask Yourself: Would You Buy It Again
One of the easiest ways to figure out if something is worth keeping is if you’re willing to buy it again if something unforeseen would happen to it. I’ve had several games lent out and not find their way back home, and I’ve ignored the cost just to buy them again because I loved those games so much. If you’d notice it’s absence in your collection enough to spend money and put it back into your collection, that’s a good sign that the game brings you enough joy to keep.
On the other hand, if you’ve got two copies of virtually the same game and you lost one, you probably wouldn’t buy it again. Like me and my Machi Koro addiction, since I have both the original Machi Koro (with all the expansions), and Machi Koro Bright Lights. If I lost both, I’d replace one, but that should say something to me about owning both of these games.
Reassess Aspirational Purchases
I’m a wargamer, so aspirational purchases are so commonplace because for many miniature wargames are typically comprised of model kits that require assembly and/or painting, leading to closets of shame filled with aspirational purchases (I’ve even done this with paint, buying a horde of a single colour and never actually painting said force and keeping bottles upon bottles of old paint for a faction that will never materialize.) It’s not limited to wargamers though: many gamers will pick up games because they’re trendy with the hopes you’ll eventually get to them, books and resources for RPGs they don’t play hoping they’ll one day start or join a group for that game, or all those bulk MtG cards that you intended to sort because they were so cheap.
Here’s an example of my personal aspirational purchase of shame: more ink than I would ever need for an army of toy soldiers I never actually ended up buying. But I kept the paint (though I can’t explain why.)
Here’s the harsh truth about these purchases: if you haven’t taken active steps to make your aspirations reality after a month or so of sitting on this stuff, you probably won’t miraculously find the inspiration or motivation in days to come. It’s time to purge this stuff to make room for things that you’re actually excited about.
One last thing: don’t trash your games! Check out these fantastic ideas of what you can do with them.
Do you have a closet of shame or a pile of games you should let go? What’s in it? Tell us in the comments!
Featured & Blog Image Credit: Teri Litorco
Teri Litorco’s purged list includes a horror-movie amounts of limbs from her miniatures bitz box, and as well as an unpainted copy of Relic and a copy of Monopoly she owned since she was six. You can find more gaming survival tips including more tips on curating your game collection in her newly published book, The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming, and follow her gaming adventures on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.