Friday, 9 August 2019

There's a time to say goodbye ...

I've been (war)gaming for over 30 years. That means I have bought a lot of games, books, ... over the years.

Yesterday I went to the local gaming store to put a number of games up for sale. They have a system in which you put your games for sale on a shelf, and if they get sold, you get store credit. The store takes care of the logistics. Much easier than trying to find buyers online or hauling your stuff to a con to sell it there. Of course, the trick is to set the right price. I usually put a low price on items because it's more important for me to get rid of them rather than to fetch a "market-conform" price - whatever that means. So far, all of my stuff I've brought to the store has been sold.

In my early years I was an avid buyer of roleplaying materials. The local store-owner once called me a "very good customer". But in 1998 I moved continents, and I sold of a huge part of my gaming collection. That's when I mentally made the decision not being a collector of everything, but rather be more selective in the games I keep.

During 19998-2001 I lived in the US, and this was the start of the "German board games" craze. So I acquired a lot of those. I also bought a lot of old boardgame titles (mostly Avalon Hill) through eBay, which was also in its infancy at the time. But when I moved back to Europe, I again sold a large part of my collection. Nothing makes you clean up your junk more heavily than moving continents ...

At regular intervals since then I have sanitized the gaming closet. I still have a lot of stuff, but I don't keep everything. Some things I keep because they have emotional value, e.g. the Starfall game my late father brought from a business trip when I was a teenager - being a space addict it was the perfect present at the time. Other things I keep because of good gaming memories, e.g. the entire The Enemy Within campaign I ran during the early nineties. Other are true collectibles, such as my original copies of Little Wars and Floor Games. And of course I still have a large amount of toy soldiers.

Some games I have kept because they symbolize (for me) a golden age of gaming. One of these in my Avalon Hill copy of Diplomacy. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I still had a lot of time as a Ph.D. student, I loved this game, and so did many in my gaming group. At one point I even set up a large 30+ player game, based on a variant I found on the proto-internet. But at one point we realized that Diplomacy as a game showed it age, and did not fit our views on gaming anymore. The built-in assumptions of treachery and back-stabbing, no matter how fun, was not for everyone's tastes. And we simply didn't have the time anymore. The last game I played was 20 years ago. I played Russia and lost badly. I remember that much.

Nevertheless, I always kept my copy of the game, in the hope one day we would play it again. But yesterday it struck me. We will not play this game again, ever. Not this year, not in 10 years, not when we're retired. It's only taking up space, and after all, it's simply a box including a map, a rulebook and plastic(!) playing pieces. If I want to have a nostalgic look at it, I'll surf to Boardgamegeek.

So I was ready to part with my physical copy of Diplomacy. Along with some other more recent games, I handed them over to the friendly storekeeper. "How much you want for this one?" "10 euro" "Ok!". I'm pretty sure the next time I visit the store, the game will be gone. Perhaps sold to an Avalon Hill collector. Perhaps to a youngster who has 10 euro to spend and wants to try something new. Perhaps it will end up in someone's trash bin. All fine by me.

Keep the memories, not the games!


  1. Agree and there is something cathartic about being resigned to clearing out.

    1. Indeed, it gives your mind a state of rest. Having all those never-to-be-played-again games causes a level of anxiety, because somehow, you feel obligated to play them at one point. But once they're gone, they're gone. No further obligations ;-)

  2. A most relevant post. It’s always interesting to hear how someone handles the ever present tension between utiliitarian and less tangible (but very real) reasons for retaining or culling items from collections.

    1. One of the reasons I also regularly clean up the collection is that you can better do it yourself, and provide your games with a good home, instead of hoarding them and have them all thrown out in 20 or 30 years time ... ;-)