Gamer, Gamer Quite Contrary…

Gamer, gamer quite contrary, how does your collection grow?

With BGG Hotness, “I just got this!” and Kallax shelves all in a row.

Excuse the poetry. But, I am having a moment of collection crisis.

See: I just sold off several titles to various people, and I returned to my game shelf–ok, shelves–only to find that they seemed as full as ever. And that doesn’t take into account several incoming Kickstarters, including the behemoths Gloomhaven and Myth: Dark Frontier, among others.

And, I’ve started to ask myself: to what end do I keep acquiring new titles? Is it because the new ones are that much better: Did I have poor taste in games months ago? Do I have better taste now?

It’s time to sort this whole collection business out–erm, metaphorically speaking. And quickly, before I decide that another shelf is just the thing.

How Big is Your Collection?!

Speaking of shelves, have you seen a #Shelfie, lately? Move over bibliophiles; it’s also what board gamers call a photo of their collection. (The link has a thread of everything from modest to massive board game #shelfies!)

And, the Ikea KALLAX features frequently in these images, because those square-ish game boxes just slide perfectly into those slots, giving you room for more of what you love. Not that I’m looking at shelves. Promise.

>>Insert games here<<

In all seriousness, there is an idea that keeps recurring to me as I look at our collections: is more really more?


Oh, I understand the draw of “more,” particularly as someone in board game media, however small: if I stop acquiring new games, my channel is out of touch with the latest gaming news. And, I imagine, the follows and the likes will go elsewhere.

There’s also the idea that I’m on the cutting edge of the hobby: if I get the latest or best game, then I can imagine that I’m part of the board game intelligentsia.

That’s all well and good. But, is my main hobby being part of the intelligentsia or having more followers than the next guy? I’d like to say “no.”

So, what’s it all about?

Still More! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The other temptation is to say: “I don’t want to limit myself!” What if, by not buying Swords and Sorcery, I am missing out on a truly great game?

Number One in the Hotness on BGG as of 6/24/17!
Image Credit: W. Eric Martin


But, let’s explore the other side of this: I have seen on social media in board game circles that people will acquire new games, without even having played the last set of new games they acquired.

People generally do a collective shrug or the occasional ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And we laugh, and move on. Who hasn’t been there, right?

Well, probably everyone who has ever bought anything for leisure has done this with something. I remember needing the Matrix and several other movies I loved (and still do). But, then, I haven’t watched them in years. Some of the DVD’s I never watched after buying them, despite loving the film in theaters. But, it really doesn’t make much sense to keep buying, when the trend is clear.

The Kickstarter Buying Model

An endless field of tabletop options, ripe for the pledging.

What’s worse, I think the Kickstarter trend in board gaming fuels this sort of acquisition. The game you’re drooling over looks awesome. The video about it is polished, and you can imagine all the fun you’ll have playing the game in a year (if all goes well).

And, then you get the game. Let’s even imagine you get it slightly early: a Kickstarter dream. You sit there and stare at the box, hoping the enthusiasm comes flooding back. But, sometimes it..doesn’t. You wonder what you saw in this game.

I have at least four such instances of buyer’s remorse that come to mind, and that’s without even looking at my list of Kickstarter games.

And, so, you go out and buy the sort of game you think will make you happy currently (which is maybe what you could have done in the first place to avoid the KS blues). Or, if you’re like me, you go back to Kickstarter and pledge for some other sleek project, hoping that maybe this time it’ll be the one.

You can almost hear some well-meaning voice of reason and conscience, telling you “Oh, honey. No.”

“But, it’s shiny!”

Shiny, it may be. But you have to be careful the shine doesn’t wear off before you even get to play.

Acquisition Disorder

Acquisition syndrome or disorder is “when someone shops too much or is a hoarder” according to the top definition on Urban Dictionary. Ouch.

Hoarding is a more official psychological issue, and–like most psychological issues is a matter of degree. After a certain point, a behavior starts impeding daily life or one’s ability to function and may require outside help to manage.

What I have in mind is manageable with some personal reflection and self-discipline.

Here are some criteria I’ve tried to set for myself in order to prevent acquiring and keeping games for its own sake.

  1. Ask: are there games with similar themes and mechanics in my collection?
  2. If so, what sets this game apart from those games, and what will I do with the other similar games in my collection?
  3. Are there games I haven’t played in a calendar year? If so, why do I still have them?

My answers to these questions help keep me honest. If I’m buying yet another dungeon crawl with dice rolling, exploration, and leveling up heroes–maybe it’s time for a reality check. There are at least three in my collection, as it is.

It’s probably time for one of these dungeon crawls to go. I could do the same with deckbuilding games, worker placement games, and on and on. How many do I need or want before it becomes redundant?

Finally, even if a game is something I deem excellent, and I vow to keep it forever–it’s worth asking: do I still play it? Sometimes, the answer is “no,” even though I once loved the game.

And yet, I have kept some as a memento of sorts of the earlier days of my hobby. Others were sold or traded once I took off the rose-colored glasses and looked at them in the hard light of day and saw them for what they were: games superseded by better games.

And, there you have it. A test that you may apply to your own collection to keep yourself honest, too. Remember, games are made to be played. Very few–perhaps Chess–are truly display pieces.

Have fun gaming!

— Dave.

Twitter: @ptboardgames

3 thoughts on “Acquisition Syndrome

  1. Great piece!  I often wonder about people who have hundreds of games and yet they but more.  If it sounds as though I'm being judgmental, I probably am.  For me, I've become a discriminating gamer and consumer.  For myself, I have three unequal bins into which I categorize games.  The first, and arguably the one that constitutes about 15% of games…these are games I have played and have no desire to play again (Arbotetum) or have never played (Settlers of Catan).  The second, which accounts for most (80%) of games in which I'll gladly play, but I'll never own (Terraforming Mars). The last 5% are those I'll happily play and own.




    1. I guess there is an element of judgmental-ness about it. But, I can’t imagine needing hundreds of games, unless it literally is what you do for a living. Then, maybe having a massive collection would be valid. I am happy to have stores with demo libraries and game cafes for this reason: people can try a game before they buy.

      I signed up to play A Feast for Odin at a demo at my local game store. I suspect I will not want to own the game, but I do want to have played it at least once. And for $5, I get the chance to be taught the game and play it through.

      I agree that there really is a small percent of games worth owning.

      Glad you enjoyed the piece!

      — Dave

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