Merging two hobbies

I’ve been a video game enthusiast for a long time. I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System, but I did have a Game Boy. Our first home console was a Sega Saturn around 1996 or so. I got a Playstation of my own not long after and I have owned at least one ever since. I went multi-console when I bought an original Xbox in 2004, and quickly added other consoles. I joined the seventh generation with the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. I recently added a Wii U and the kids have a few handhelds. All that really adds up to a bunch of games, and almost as many peripherals.  I really do have a ton of controllers, batteries, and etc. Enough that my wife asks me every so often if we can get rid of my racing wheels.

I do have probably a few too many games, but I don’t want to give up much more of the other things. So it’s time to make some storage for them. Right now the games and consoles are in an Ikea set we’ve had for about ten years. Yes, Ikea furniture can last that long if you take care of it. No sign that any of it will fail anytime soon, but we bought it for an apartment we have and it doesn’t fit perfectly with our needs anymore. It would be much better served for the bookshelves to actually hold books in another room. The TV stand would probably go there as well. I am building one piece of furniture for my living room, but in essence it’s the first piece in a brand new set.

The problem with most video game storage is one of scale – the things you can buy at the store are real cute. Those two controllers, the five games and the console on some particle board may work for some. I’m a bit past that. In fact, I don’t think I ever was that. I’m not the person to trade a game in as soon as I’ve played it. In fact, I went through a long phase where I bought games that I was interested in that went on sale, to be damned if I had time to play them. I have games I bought ten years ago still shrink-wrapped. Yet at the other end of the spectrum is an entire room that shows off a collection. I was there once –  you think it’s a point of pride but it’s just showing off. I’m well past the point of having posters and figurines up in a room. Well, I guess I do have some model cars and a few LEGO around my work desk – but not in the main room of my house. My tastes are a bit more sophisticated, and will continue to be so. Unfortunately a lot of the examples you see online are these two extremes. The middle ground is filled with overpriced ‘luxury’ furniture that probably isn’t too well built. That’s why I have to roll my own.

A common solution is bookshelves. It’s not a great idea if I’m honest. Bookshelves are for books. The shelves are way too deep to store games in an efficient manner. You could store them two rows deep, but how easy is it to find things then? You could try stair-steps on a shelf, but often you still have to remove something in front to get to something in back. Shallow shelves waste what could be critical space as well, eating up real estate against a wall with a low-unit solution. The most efficient use of space is something those ‘luxo’ units have figured out – drawers. I have about 180 games between all systems, but unfortunately the game cases range in size wildly. The smallest are the CD-style cases of the Playstation or Dreamcast, or even the cartridge-style of the Atari 2600 I keep around for nostalgia. The largest are the Sega Saturn cases that I’m not sure anyone really understood why they were that big. It’s like plastic was free and they were trying to offload it. The rest either follow the standard DVD case size or the Blu-ray case size. Some exceptions are special editions that run slightly larger. Now that I have a rough idea of how many games I need to store (with some reasonable room for growth), I can start thinking about dimensions I need to meet for the drawers.

The overall dimensions are going to be dictated by the corner I am putting this in. A normal sized bookshelf will fit here fine, I just need to work on the depth so that it fits what I need it to and I can get to the drawers easily enough. I found a really good representation of what I would like to build online – a four to eight drawer cabinet with shaker-style drawer fronts about the size of a dresser. I would probably build something similar for all the movies I have as well. I had thought about going more digital with my purchases, but unfortunately this isn’t a good option in the age of bandwidth caps. In fact, I’ve had to curtail my Top Gear watching this week because my provider instituted a cap and I had been growing closer toward it each of the last three months. Digital is great, but caps kill the concept. 300GB comes up fast when you are a cord-cutter and work via a VPN from home.

My accessories aren’t going to be as easy to wrangle. I have at least two controllers for every system I have, and some jump up to 4 or 5 when wheels are included. The Wii is like an accessory whore (or maybe that’s me). I have three remotes (and need for one more), three wheels (ditto), two nunchucks (need two more) and quite a few remote add-ons. I have quite a few Saturn controllers and etc, but fortunately some of the stuff for the older consoles I can keep in bins in the closet since they aren’t frequently used. All the things for the newest stuff needs to be close at hand. I can remember when wireless controllers were just getting started, and was extremely excited. Now I’m at the point where I’m running out of outlets or searching for batteries constantly. So the accessory storage also needs to have access to a power strip. If I could put it on a timer, that would be a real bonus. I have a stand to charge two Xbox 360 controllers, a stand for two PS3 controllers, and two stands to charge all the Wiimotes and the Wii U gamepad. I’d also like a USB charger for my TV remote. A six-plug strip should be just fine, as long as the plugs are spaced far enough apart for the transformer heads. If I don’t put it on a timer, at least the outlet I would be going with is controlled by a wall switch – I could mount it out of sight and it not be a big deal.

So, this really long post is basically to tell you I’m going to be starting on a project soon. The design will set the basis for all future furniture for this room. I haven’t decided on a style yet. I’d love to go Arts & Crafts, but I don’t know if I want the expense or the effort. And basically, if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I may be done with woodworking.


Addendum: I had a further thought about the game storage. While I have always been hesitant about ridding myself of all the game cases, I am leaning toward at least putting them in storage. I could use binders and disc sleeves and store them on standard bookshelves. The binders would be a bit of an expense, but then I don’t have to spend money on drawer slides. I would spend a bit more to get binders that look like books, however what I’ve seen so far the quality is suspect. I will be thinking about this for a bit and decide what I would like to do. One bookshelf would hold all my discs of games and movies, so it is appealing.

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