Collector vs. Exploiter

We all walk this “edge” between wanting to enjoy our games and wanting to keep them pristine. This edge, which is a very fine line, is different for each of us and I submit that this edge is set based on our personality. Imagine a continuum with the far left side being that of a pure collector, and the far right side being that of a pure exploiter.

On the far left side, you find the collectors who spends 15 years painstakingly rebuilding a 1969 Stingray Corvette; lovingly polishing each piece. Maybe even machining parts himself.  He never intends to rev the engine when he’s finished, and in fact, he may never finish.  Regardless, it will never leave his surgically sterile garage, nobody will lay a single fingerprint on it, and he will ensure that natural sunlight never touches it out of fear that the leather or the paint might fade.

On the far right, you find the exploiter who buys that ’69 Corvette instead of rebuilding it himself. He will take it on dirt roads, and whoop and holler as he jumps over railroad tracks. He will seduce his wife or girlfriend in the backseat and he might even enter the vehicle into a classic sports car, full-contact race just for kicks. He lives to take his buddies for a ride in the back country with the throttle full out and he might even remember to change the oil from time to time.

So how does this related to board games? Just like cars, board games have an intrinsic collectible value and were meant to be used. Bringing kids into the mix and the desire to share gaming with them further complicates this issue. Based on this, where do you think you fall on the collector/exploiter scale above?

I would submit that the further left you are on that scale, the more tension you are going to experience when gaming with your kids, or anyone. It’s like buying an expensive white upholstered sofa with young children. Please do not act surprised when it gets permanently stained despite all the rules you have in place to keep it white. With board games, you just have to expect that you will lose some pieces, cards will get creased, miniatures will get stomped on, boxes will get crushed, and anything can get chewed on. The further you are to the left of the collector/exploiter scale, the more stress this will cause you.

We are fathers. We want our kids to game with us, and most of us are collectors to some level. It can be problematic, but I suggest you let it go….or at least let some of it go. Try splitting your game collection in two parts, and even storing them in a different location of the house. For example, keep the games you want to remain in good condition on the Daddy shelf, and allocate a set of family oriented games to a Kid shelf. This allows your children to enjoy them and your stress level to be reduced. Let it go…. save yourself some stress and mentally write off some games that have collectible value.   Be ready to replace a copy of your favorite ones as needed. Find your balance and you can comfortably be a collector and an exploiter.

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About Brian

Euro Board Game Aficionado, and Father of Two, Brian played many family board games while growing up, but launched a foray into real geek gaming in 4th grade with his exposure to Risk, and then many sessions of Axis & Allies. Gaming in all forms has always been woven into his life with different phases including: video games starting with the Atari 2600, role playing Marvel Super Heroes, launching massive Battletech scenarios, blowing his small amount of bank on Magic: The Gathering, and then finally strategy board games. Settlers of Catan (1997) was his first introduction to the Euro-style game, and he has since been forever hooked. He embarked on a new stage of life in late 2006 with the birth of his first of two boys, and now cherishes the opportunity to learn the game of parenting. His desire is to raise two respectable men who still want to play a game with daddy even when they are father geeks themselves. Brian goes by the handle Vree on Board Game Geek.

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