Shelving Your Enthusiast Collection

To celebrate the revival of RoomPlay, I’m going inside what many collectors would argue to be the quintessential accessory for displaying your game library and related goods in your gameroom.

Proper shelving is a prerequisite for the optimal presentation of your items, being that it affords great usage of verticality, doesn’t break up space in the way “towers” do, and perhaps most importantly, allows for complete and instant viewing of your entire collection. After all the years and cash you’ve spent on amassing a tour de force of gaming goodness, why shove it away in shoe boxes under the sofa?

Shelving is the basic, primordial, and most frequented method of “enthusiast” game display, and offers an endless amount of options. There are as a result, many things to consider when taking this path…

Shelves of course come in many sizes, and it is best to first decide upon which variation(s) your gameroom would be best suited to. Evaluating your collection is the first step. A smaller collection may require as little as a single, 3 ft. shelf, while more expansive ones often require numerous shelves at 6 ft. or higher. I would suggest a more exaggerative estimate, as empty shelf space can be a great incentive to develop a larger and more complete library. It should also be considered what other non-gaming items may occupy your gameroom, if any at all. Certainly consider the room you have available as well.

One thing overlooked most often is the depth of the unit.

This can mean a major blueprint error if not considered initially. The typical shelves, and those most easily obtained are usually 10-12 in. in depth. Most boxed or encased games, regardless of format, are typically half of this size; there would be a good amount of unused space on each shelf if the games were not multi-layered. You might wish to use this leeway for alternate gaming items, such as handhelds, toys, accessories, etc.

If this extra space simply doesn’t appeal to you, you may find recourse in purchasing a “CD shelf”, which is not much deeper than the CD cases they are designed for. These types of units often have adjustable shelves, so you could easily adapt them to hold DVD cases or vintage game boxes. Multimedia Racks offers various sorts of CD shelves, as do some typical retailers (though their’s usually stand a few feet lower than those that can be easily purchased on the net).

If deciding upon CD shelves, it should be noted that most of the aforementioned “alternate items” cannot be held on such units without their own dedicated area or extra unit altogether. These items, no matter how large, will in all probability look inferior by themselves if compared to the CD shelves, on which games can fill completely. It takes a clever practitioner of item management to create a convincing look of conformity, especially when displaying such items apart from a full CD shelf.

It is up to you to decide which fits you best, as no two collections or gamerooms are ever the same. Furniture Fox and H2H Furniture each offer numerous high quality options for shelving, though are a fair bit pricier than the local department store variety you could obtain almost anywhere (6 ft. shelves can be had at many common retailers for under $30). If you are unable to find a specific size you might require, perhaps consider building your own unit, which would provide a definite custom-ability factor.

Ultimately, creating a unique shelving display for a game collection is a puzzling task that’s as convoluted as the collection itself. Just how do you go about respectably presenting your entire collecting effort? As said above, it’s up to you to decide, but be sure to have fun and consider those suggestions.

Some Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Always be sure to place heavier items such as arcade sticks or magazines on the lower shelves, namely the bottom one. The higher shelves, whether held by pegs or secured strongly, offer less resistance than that of the stable bottom shelf. Pegged shelves generally offer 35-45 lbs of support at maximum (check instructions to be sure), but are suceptible to contorting. This means items below could likewise be warped. For this reason…
  • Always leave extra space at the top of each shelf.
  • Be sure to apply a fastener to your shelf or shelves. This is ordinarily a rigid fiber material that attaches to the top of a shelf and secures it strongly to the wall. This will provide a sense of ease to those who fear the unlikely, yet nightmarish event of the entire unit tipping forward.
  • If enticed by “industrial shelving“, keep in mind that these are typically very open, leaving games more prone to falling off or behind the shelf if bumped into. Many collectors also find them less appealing visually being that they are most often assemblages of chrome or black metal that are bolted together.
  • Consider using smaller, 3 ft. shelves to contain your game consoles as an alternative to media centers. The reverse of these small shelves usually can be left open, allowing for easy connection to TVs, monitors, etc. You may also want to consider the “industrial shelving” alternative for this as well.
  • The video game display cases you see used in stores are excellent alternatives too, offering a unique, distinct and enclosed environment for your games. Unfortunately, their appearances on used display sites are rare, leaving “going out of business sales” or the dreaded auction sites to be the primary places to get them.
  • Do your best to face shelves and any other merchandise away from windows, doors or other sources of direct sunlight which can and will fade images. If unavoidable, get some dark curtains and blinds, opening them rarely if need be at all.
  • Finally and most specifically, do not stack the Sega CD and Saturn titles in the large plastic cases “face up”. The tabs inside that hold the manual in place don’t do so very well in this orientation. Over time, the manual will warp, and will be unlikely to reach it’s exact original state through any “flattening”method.

Related Posts:
Keeping Your Game Room Looking Tidy With Cabinets
Game Collecting: How the Internet Changed the Hobby

4 Comments

  1. jemsic says:

    Nice 😉

    Great first post! I really enjoyed reading it.

  2. Very useful tips here. Will come in handy for my massive Sega collection, altough judging from this posts I’ve done most of it well enough.

  3. I use the wire frames/sheling from Target as they have great ability to shelve not only the consoles for use (the backs are just open wire allowing cables to and from the TV and console) but make a dandy shelving for almost any platform’s games.

  4. burnsro says:

    I didn’t know that I shouldn’t sit my Saturn games face up. I’m going to rearrange my small collection right now. Thanks for the tips! 🙂