Boxed To Last: Yes, the game box matters

My father just moved and as the dutiful daughter, of course I helped him pack.  In addition to packing up far too many sets of dishes, I was also tasked with packing up the game shelf.  And let me tell you, some of the games from my childhood and my mother’s childhood were in sad shape.  The boxes just hadn’t held up!  Busted corners, sides that were missing – overall not doing the job a game box is intended to do. 

To my amazement, in the mess there were some boxes that were in great shape, and upon closer inspection, I understood why: they were MADE better.  I’m sure a couple of you out there know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  There are game boxes and then there are GREAT game boxes.  Ones that don’t rip over time or flatten under pressure.  They’re the ones that you don’t mind having on the shelf whereas the others you’d like to hide away in a cupboard because it looks like you don’t care for your toys (the classic childhood shame). 

Damaged game boxes aren’t easy to fix.  Once busted, it’s hard to get them back a nice solid state.  Lindsey Smith of Exhibitsmith has a masters degree focusing on collections care and management, had a bit to say on the topic: “Many of our quick fixes such as tape, rubber bands and glue may seem like good solutions, but these materials disintegrate faster than you might think.  Using tape will leave a yellow, crusty residue and rubber bands dehydrate and stick to paper like glue. And speaking of glue, it can stain the boxes and contains acid that can break down the paper.” 

Sounds pretty bad since most games contain paper!  She recommends storing your games in “acid-free boxes, ideally from reputable archival supply companies.”  She admits that you may spend a little more than you expected, but “these products last for a long time and your games will thank you later.”

Archival boxes may seem over the top, but if the box that a game comes in fails you’re options are pretty limited.  You can try to repair it but after Lindsey’s warnings that doesn’t sound like a good idea, you could put it in a GIANT plastic bag but those don’t stack well or you can put your busted box into another box.  Seems a little silly, but old game boxes sometimes have the directions on the lid so it’s essential to keep.   

Old game boxes are what they are and there’s nothing we can do to change that.  But I will admit that I find games in the store today with really nice boxes far more appealing than ones that aren’t very sturdy.  It ties right in with my article about ugly graphics (Ugly Boxes Kill Good Games) – presentation is everything!  In the consumer’s mind, cheap products come in cheap boxes – good products come in nice boxes.  Something for manufacturers to consider when they’re picking out a box for their new game.    


To read more of Lindsey’s game preservation tips visit: The Game Aisle: "Preserving Old Games"


One thought

  1. Great article Kim! And if it’s a game with lots of little pieces, let’s not scimp on the plastic compartments. I LOVE compartments! I’ll even forgive a flimsy box if it has nice plastic insert with a lot of compartments. But then again,I tend to compartmentalize. A lot :]

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