With shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive rising in popularity, most of us begin wondering when collecting stops and hoarding begins. After all, some gamers collect mounds and mounds of video games that rarely obstruct paths like a pile of trash blocking the kitchen.
Now don’t panic -- you could even own thousands of games and dozens of consoles, but this doesn’t necessarily make you a hoarder by definition. Most video games and systems maintain two properties which most contemporary hoarders don’t keep track of: worth and functionality. Hoarders may also have items of value and purpose, though more often than not their compilation of crap revolves around an obsessive desire to hold on to everything in their life, including pure garbage.
When compared, the real difference between a video game collection and a “horde” of physical copies involves both how well they’re organized and how often they’re played. In an article from the New York Times, psychology professor Randy Frost describes how collecting transforms into hoarding when the desire to properly display items is no longer present. For instance, if your supposed game room is highly organized and you know where everything is located, you’re still considered a legitimate collector. Now if your game pile begins cluttering up obscure places, including but not limited to your dining room or bathroom, you’re probably hoarding.
Frost also states how hoarders are famous for saving unopened items in excess, which may also apply to the standard video game obtainer. Some gamers with heftier backlogs sometimes leave complete games unopened until they know they’re ready to play them. The real trick is making sure these aformentioned gaming sessions actually happen, and that your pile of shame doesn’t outmatch you in both height and width as time progresses.
So we know what constitutes hoarding, but what are likely triggers? Author Jessie Sholl states how most hoarders develop compulsions after an unfortunate trauma or series of events in their lives. So if you’re afraid ocassionaly buying an extra game or two means you’ve crossed the line, don’t sweat it -- hoarding tendencies don’t magically occur without reason.
As you can see, a game collector could very well be classified as a hoarder, but in most cases they’re not. If your video game stash is a relatively neat arrangement of cartridges and discs, there’s no need to worry since you’re probably not a hoarder. Now if you walk around your room and accidentally crush some of your 1,200 E.T. 2600 cartridges in the process, you may have a problem. Also, maybe visiting that mysterious landfill in New Mexico wasn't such a good idea after all.
If you have legitimate concerns regarding sloppy changes in your collecting habits, or severe depression only mended by mass acquisitions, you may consider seeking help on the matter. Luckily there are also many online resources available on the issue. Even though video games are fun to search for, purchase, and showcase, it’s still important for collectors to realize video games are objects that were intended for interactive enjoyment. Then again, if we’re talking about a mint condition copy of Air Raid for the Atari 2600 or Nintendo World Championships, you should probably lock them up nice and tight in a glass display case.