On Being a Collector
(and the Joys of the Spreadsheet)
I've always collected things. Over my five decades I've amassed many collections. Some are typical: DVD's, LP's, postage stamps depicting the space race, cameras, event posters, old computers that still work. Some are strange: energy drinks, flattened pop cans found by the side of the road, old toothbushes, curly wood shavings. Anything, as long as it comes in a variety of forms, can be collected.
Board games come in a great variety of forms. There are different styles of games, that utilize different mechanics for gameplay, and sport different themes to illuminate their rules, clothed in different artwork to entice and motivate players... If you've been drawn to this site, I don't need to explain how eminently collectable board games are. It was only a matter a time before I stumbled on this hobby, and upon doing so, it was inevitable I would begin building yet another collection.
The question remains. Why? Why does the collector collect? And why doesn't my significant-other (a non-collector) understand the addition of another collection to my collection of collections?
This collector collects for a number of reasons. I like culture and its artifacts, I delight in details, and I enjoy libraries.
Of these three points, the third is the most important. Point one is straightforward: a person doesn't collect things unless they like Things. Point two has already been touched on: variety in a set of similar things makes the things in that set more interesting. But for me, the main reason I collect is to build little reference libraries of sorts. I like being able to offer my friends and myself a selection of this-or-that, which selection represents more or less the range of what's available in this-or-that, and what I find excellent or interesting about this-or-that.
That's the essence of it. I like being a curator. The process of carefully selecting things for the collection becomes a hobby of its own. It takes time and can be taxing but it's enjoyable. The finished collection has (sometimes, depending on its type) utility, but most importantly it reflects my tastes.
Here's a snapshot of our game collection as of the spring of '16.
Part of the fun of a collection, for me, is appreciating the assemblage as a whole. Nothing helps this quite so much as a spreadsheet and charts!
Here, for example, we learn that my partner and I prefer euro games that aren't too heavy, and that I'm the one who brings kooky filler games based on bluffing to game day.
We also learn that I have a penchant for Italy and film noir, and that I like archaeology. (In fact, that I like archaeology and biology more than I like politics and sci-fi, and that I like politics and sci-fi more than I like history.) (None of which is true.)
Lastly, we can see that great games are being published in ever greater numbers these days — that the board game renaissance is in full swing. Slicing and dicing a collection with a spreadsheet is almost as much fun as building the collection, admiring it on its shelf, or using it!
Small is Beautiful
UPDATE: the collection continues to grow. To any collector, especially a collector of games, this is not news.
The following chart is from my BoardGameGeek.com profile. In addition to being a great place to research games, BGG is also a great place to slice and dice the stats of your board game collection.
This snapshot of my board game collection includes 71 games. That may sound like a lot games (and it kind of is) but compared to many game collections this one is quite small.
BGG awards a badge to people with over 100 games in their collection — and a range of badges for even larger collections!
As described above, I take great pains to only add games to the game cupboard that offer something (mechanic, weight, excellence) not already present in the collection. I'm feeling more and more like I've got the bases important to me covered.
With luck, I'll avoid earning that first BGG collector badge.