Closet of Chagrin

If you get very deep into the board gaming hobby, my guess is that you will quickly start to hear about the “Shelf of Shame.” This shameful shelf is a reference to the amount of unplayed games an owner has in his/her house. It comes across as a negative term, but is a bit tongue-in-cheek. On social media these days, you will see plenty of people “showing off” their shelf of shame.

But this is not just a board gaming concept. It is a situation that applies to many other hobbies and interests. Video gamers gather a collection of titles they need to work through, while continuing to buy more games as they are released or a good deal pops up at a local store. There are plenty of book readers who collect 2 for every one they have the chance to finish. DVDs/BluRays are added to movie collections, with plenty still in the shrink, unwatched. Crafters pile up projects which may never get touched.

In fact, how many of us could go into our pantry and see a Shelf of Shame in there, knowing that we tend to buy 30% more at the grocery store than we manage to successfully consume.

Eat some groceries or work on my Magic Number (why not do both!?)

In the collector/hobby world, this is a common issue. I know I face it myself with my board game collection. I decided to take inventory of my Magic Number this past weekend — Magic Number = games I own but have not played. I knew the number would be sizeable, but had to hang my head a little when I saw my Magic Number stretch itself out to a big 25!

25 games in my Closet of Chagrin that are taking up space, but have yet to be played. First off, I’d like to analyze the games that make up this total:

  • 40% of the games are ones that were received during a birthday or Christmas, but were not requested. So, games that a family member or friend decided to get me because I like to play games. It is still my intention to give these games a try, but I have less personal guilt over this portion of the list.
  • 12% of the games were personally purchased — over a year ago — and still remain on this list. These three games are the most frustrating — and at this point, they represent my largest amount of regret. Any initial luster to play these games has subsided and if they are to get scratched off the list, it will be somewhat begrudgingly. [I’m looking a you Escape the Room, Bohnanza, and Munchkin Deluxe.]
  • 24% of the games were ones received this past Christmas (either personally purchased for my family members or requested as a gift by myself or someone in my house). So, six Christmas gifts that as of early May have still not made it to the table. That stings — but my family received a large amount of games as Christmas presents, so I feel like we are working through these pretty well so far.
  • 8% of the games were received in the last few days (this is my birthday month!). And these are two titles [Root and Journeys in Middle Earth] that I am extremely excited about — not expecting these to last very long as items of Chagrin.
  • 8% of the games were received by my kids as gifts within the past 2 months.
  • 8% of the games were purchased by me (on sale) within the last 6 months. Not too bad!! [Muse and Werewords]

So now, the question: how do I handle…how do I tackle this “problem?” It is a two-fold solution. One, my goal is to consistently keep getting unplayed games to the table — personally, I want to average one game from this list each week. Since I manage to play 5-10 games a week, this should be achievable.

Second, I need to practice acquisition self-control. Yuck!! There are some in the community — when trying to tackle their Shelf of Shame…get their Magic Number to disappear — that vow not to make any new purchases until the list is gone. That’s probably smart, but I “may” lean more towards a reward mindset. Magic # of 25 gets down to 20….maybe I can let another game in. It gets down to 15…maybe let another one in again. Who knows!? Regardless, the purchasing needs to slow down. I have plenty of games that need played — and beyond that, I have plenty of games in my closet that I love and want to play often. The NEED for new games is not present…just a ridiculous desire.

Another reason that I should probably “freeze” the acquisition portion of my collecting for a period of time…KickStarter. I have a sizeable log of backed games that are scheduled to deliver over the next 8 months. Just from the KS pipeline, the Magic Number is going to be fighting me hard.

So, friends…it sounds like I just need to keep playing games! Woe is me!!

In summary I would say — enjoy your hobby! If spending is getting out of hand, then be smart and shut the wallet down for awhile. If you are running out of space, then pass along the ones that don’t motivate you. No need to get over-burdened or full of shame. Enjoy playing games, enjoy your hobby, and keep having fun with your family and friends.

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