Downsizing

It’s no secret that I have far too many roleplaying games in my collection. I have no shelf space and the books I use most are stacked two rows deep in our shared rat / hobby room. For the longest time, this was an ever-growing collection of games that I would flip through, sometimes read, and rarely play.

It’s also true to say that I have long been an advocate of resisting the temptation to sell off or give away your hobby. On the macro-scale, I stand by that: too many people clear out their hobby when life gets too busy.

We all have those periods in life when personal circumstances, careers, businesses we’re building, families, and a myriad other things crop up and become bigger priorities. Yet we should resist the anti-play, if you’re not productive you’re a loser mentality. The unfortunate truth is that the opposite of play is depression. We need play as human beings.

That being said, my collecting is unhealthy. It’s natural that I would do this – given my brain – but it hasn’t always proven helpful. In fact, in recent months the scale of the stacks has caused me far more angst than joy. That’s why I began the process of downsizing the collection, of slowing my buying, and working towards finding the games that really do bring me joy.

Letting go of really good games is hard. There are memories attached to some of them – real nostalgia – and others are so highly regarded that you’d surely never consider giving them away. But the question I have confronted myself with is simple: which do you really want to play?

These game books are sunk costs. They are a gift to myself from the past. The question is whether I want to accept that gift given my circumstances today? When we consider the limited discretional time we have, which things am I really going to focus on enjoying?

Honestly, some of these books are simply there because I got curious. Others were collected because I got excited about a system and then never got it to the table. Only a handful are games that I can honestly see me playing with or running. Of the remainder, some are genuine articles of my personal collection – games I would always want on the shelf because of what they mean to me. But few indeed are the games I would genuinely enjoy playing.

And so I have begun to downsize the collection. Slowly, methodically, thoughtfully. At the risk of sounding all Marie Condo, there is much to be said for tackling the stacks slowly and with mindfulness. What is this book for? Why do I have it? Do I want to accept the gift to myself?

I am focusing on what enjoyment and excitement a game can bring. If it’s not adding to the experience of hanging out with my friends, then why are we bothering with it? We could just hang out instead. For me, a game that is going to get played and become a part of my collection long-term is a game that adds something more than mere curiosity.

Game on!

6 comments

  1. Ooof, I know the feeling. I feel like there are so many books I don’t need any more, but always looking for more to add. If ever you want to exchange ‘Doesn’t bring Joy’ lists in case there’s anything you want or I can take off of you, just shout. – D

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That time again… with a lil more philosophy n structure this cycle.

    I wish u good luck and mindful objectivity.
    U can be ‘objective’ whilst still acknowledging and valuing those items of high emotional value.

    Don’t forget there’s may be systems that you’ll enjoy solo but perhaps not wish to play collectively.
    As you’ve demonstrated in past months+, solo play is every bit as important as group play.
    If nothing else it’s more reliable.

    All the best fella.
    Wishin u well in this endeavour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some of these games are not just about playing but also about having a collection and collections matter to many people. For me, the collection is something that connects me to my past in the same way that a pile of old photos might, or a first edition printing of a good novel. I might not play them but they are still powerful and important, so I will likely never give up my AD&D2e, for example.

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      • while collections often matter, at some point one has to ask why are we collecting? For some it becomes the objective: a completist who thinks they will be happy if the “catch them all”. While I have a much smaller collection of games, for a while I was also collecting games (board, RPG) and then realized I was not even playing the ones I had, and as per the post, I started getting upset by the piles of games that were just sitting there. I’ve managed to stop collecting for the most part and keep the things that do connect me to my 18-year-old self, but the rest are slowly being whittled away, given to friends who may want them, or even to Goodwill for someone else to enjoy. It is hard to resist the next shiny thing (I firmly believe there needs to be a Kickstarter Anonymous) and actually sometimes experience JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out) vs the FOMO that Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms are so good at engaging.

        Good luck with the pruning and downsizing. Just remember to keep the things that truly mean something to you. I still go through my 40-year-old physical copies of Traveller as re-reading them and using them does bring joy. Those will never be given away until I really need to let them go.

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