Space Hogs and Other Game Box Pet Peeves


While I was writing my last article on boxes that last, I did a very informal poll on The Game Aisle’s Facebook page and Twitter account to see what everyone’s pet peeves were regarding packaging.  Here are my less-than scientific results in no particular order:

1. Boxes that fail!

So I don’t rehash, read my last article: Boxed To Last: Yes, the game box matters  But tape and rubber bands can only do so much to repair a faulty box – having a nice sturdy one to begin with is so much better! 


2. Odd shaped boxes & oversized boxes that don’t play nice on shelves!

We often talk about how retailers like certain box sizes and a rectangular or square shape.  And yes, you need to the buyer on including your game in their game aisle but you might also want to think about the consumer at home.  I’m sure there are some cursing right now the “stupid people at X company for creating an impossible to stack box.”

ALL of the participants in my informal poll kept their games on shelves.  Obviously that means that there’s going to be some stacking involved – and not the kind of stacking you see at a store where the same game is stacked on top of or in front of the same game which means the box should play nice with other boxes.  Is your game box “game shelf friendly?”


3. I bought a game, not a puzzle!

User assembly is no big deal, but it would be great if the parts would fit nicely back into the box without a ton of effort.  Renee posted on The Game Aisle’s Facebook page, “What irritates me the most are kid games that require a degree in engineering to carefully place all the odd shaped pieces in the box in just the right way or it won't all fit / box won't close. I'd rather have a bigger box than a cleanup nightmare.” I doubt that there are many who disagree with Renee!  And this point ties in to the next pet peeve:


4. The top should fit on the box!

Even I’ve complained about this one in the past with my favorite example being the old non-electronic Boggle.  You couldn’t put the plastic lid on the Boggle game if you wanted the box top to slide down all the way.  So your options were a lopsided box or dice floating around freely.  Now, the wonderful folks at Hasbro have since fixed that annoyance, but there are plenty of other games that have a similar problem.  One Twitter user mentioned how they disliked when they had to punch out cardboard pieces and then when they were all bagged up the box could no longer close.  Of course the pre-punched cardboard sheets fit nicely, but not post-punching if you wanted to keep the pieces all nice and tidy inside the box.


5. Space Hogs!

And by space hogs I mean boxes that are seriously disproportionate in comparison to what is inside.  A game was recently submitted to The Game Aisle that had 48 – 3” x 3” cards inside a box that was 7” x 7” x 1.5.”  That’s a lot of box for a small deck of cards.  Now while I understand that manufacturers need their box to live up to a perceived value, the consumer is looking at this as gross waste of their precious game-shelf space.  Can we find a happy medium here folks?


Overall, I think Inventors/Manufacturers/Designers spend so much time focusing on set up time and getting all components into the “right” sized box that we sometimes forget to consider of how nightmarish tear-down can be. 


3 thoughts

  1. Insightful article. A special mention also for the folks at Bananagrams who have clearly done an outstanding job at packaging their game. They almost always get prime store presence (counter more often than shelf) in the stores that I visit.

  2. I’ve always felt that growing up in the 70s in the packaging industry as a rigid box manufacturer ought to be the right credential to making better board games. Based on the original post, follow up, and comments, I now know that’s appreciated. The hundreds of companies offering board game production that have sprouted over the last 5-10 years both globally and US do a good job of copying, but know nothing about sound packaging engineering. Happy to help if anyone has a challenging problem. Tops ought to fit correctly, cards ought to fit correctly, and it shouldn’t feel or sound like something broke, if that can be avoided. The good news is that if a game box is still on someone’s shelf after 20 years like many I have, someone thought enough of it to keep it around. And, if after 20 years they’re upset about the corners of the box breaking, it might be time to replace it. Ron Cohn, Paragon Packaging. Rcohn@paragon

  3. I have several culprits.
    Elefun is a bulky unit in a tall, flimsy box.
    I like the quality of the tube for Jenga, but a cylinder just doesn’t work.
    Bravo to Stronghold Games, makers of the new version of Survive. It comes with a nice cloth drawstring bag for holding all its parts. Publishers concerned about putting hazardous plastic bags in their boxes should consider this option.
    Similarly, Travel Carcassonne comes in a nice drawstring bag that doubles as a scoreboard.
    Twister Hoopla stores nicely in its large pull string bag. It doesn’t stack, but it’s durable and keeps the many large parts together.

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