Boxes

Shannon Appelcline wrote a good article on game boxes in the Gone Gaming blog.

The Problem with Game Boxes is a lament for the variety of different box sizes these games of ours come in:

This might seem a pretty minor issue to kibitz about, but I suspect that storage issues affect just about anyone who has any size of game collection. And it’s because, for all that we might belly ache about old American game design now, there’s one thing they definitely got right, at least in the hobby industry: the boxes. They were relatively small, they were relatively consistent even when published by different companies and with different printers, and they were easy to store.

Woe is us that the same isn’t true for the German invasion.

Amen, brother. When we moved, I got a chance to organise my games on some shelves in one of our closets (benefits of moving: two large step-in closets instead of none in our previous place). I have to say I got it pretty well done, but it was thanks to the shelves, not the games.

My favourite boxes are probably the Avalon Hill bookcase boxes and similar. Alea boxes in German games are good. Those stand up nicely and have a vertical picture or text on the side so it looks good without bending your head 90 degrees — I now store my games on their sides, you see.

My least favourites are generally the huge boxes. El Grande, Die Macher, Antiquity… Sometimes it can’t be helped, but putting a game in a huge box just to make it look epic in scale is a crime. Goldsieber does this; their big box line (Africa and Goldland in my collection) is just too big.

Then there are odd boxes. I’m thinking of Queen games here… Those midsize boxes are inconvenient to put on a shelf and too big to put in cardboard boxes (which is the fate for smaller card game boxes around here).

I really love series of games in similar boxes. Alea series (though I only have Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico and Fifth Avenue of the main series) are the best of the best here. More publishers should do the same, make their games look similar so they look extra pretty when you have many of them lined up next to each other.

What else… I like Amigo card game boxes, except for the fact that they need rubber bands to keep them close. Still, they look and especially feel much better than their rivals, the Abacus boxes. I don’t like the thin Amigo board game boxes, they should be deeper and smaller.

I suppose there’s little incentive for publishers to use standard box sizes. It’s a pity, I wouldn’t mind a neater game collection. Publishers could spend a thought, though, on making at least their own games line up nicely. Games need to look good and stand out on a store shelf, but also on the shelfs of gamers — the situation there is no less competitive!

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6 thoughts on “Boxes”

  1. Indeed, better box design would be welcome. I’ve always wondered about boxes like El Grande which (if I remember correctly) had these cardboard cutouts that were folded so that the actual space inside the box is smaller than the actual box. Kinda like selling n-gage games in a dvd jewel case.

  2. Then again, can a game called EL GRANDE come in a small box? I guess not… Carolus Magnus was a bad case, too: the large square box, but only about third of it in use.

  3. Don’t know about the box as the picture doesn’t show it from the side, but the box art is nice =)

  4. Just checked: Twixt was in the original 3M bookcase series, which was the beginning of the Avalon Hill bookcase games. No wonder the box is good.

  5. Ironically, shortly after I wrote that article I managed to get 75% of my collection into pretty good shape. But it was only due to somewhat obsessive management and the fact that I’d finally hit critical mass on a lot of box sizes due to excessive gaming purchases.

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