When it comes to storing video games, it’s important to take into account how much they’ve changed over the years. We’ve gone from cartridges, to CDs, to DVDs, to digital downloads, all in the last 30 years.
So, when someone asks, “How should I store my video games?” it’s important to ask, “What’s the medium?” The next thing to ask (if it’s a physical medium) is if they want a good way to store their games at home, or if they plan to put them in self storage.
One great thing about living in the age of fast Internet and cloud storage is that we can purchase video games, download them, and play them directly from our hard drives. In the case of hard drive failure, or if we get a new computer, we can simply download the game again from the source.
This is true of games for PC, Mac, and for consoles. Purchase a game on your console from the relevant online store, and it gets installed to your console. You don’t have to worry about discs, which can get damaged, forcing you to repurchase your favorite games if you want to keep playing.
Basically, digitally downloaded games make finding a place to store your discs and cartridges irrelevant.
Now, sometimes, you just want to buy a physical copy of a game. Or, perhaps you have a handheld system that requires cartridges.
When keeping your video games at home, you’ll want to have them organized and easy to access. Of course, video games come in different media formats. Most for consoles are on DVD-sized discs. There are also still cartridges for handheld devices.
Here are some top options for discs:
Bookcase: The cases for games on disc are generally thin, and between the size of a paperback and a trade paperback book. They fit well on a bookshelf, right alongside your favorite books. If the covers are damaged, or you want to change-up the look, you can order these specialized PDF files that make the game cases look more like book covers.
CD Sleeves: Most electronics stores sell binders full of sleeves for storing CDs. If you don’t want to deal with the DVD game cases, or you’ve lost cases but have the game media, these can work well for organizing your collection. You can put the binder right next to your game console or in a cabinet when not playing. You can also take out sleeves, attach them to the inside of a cabinet door, and fill them with games.
Entertainment Center: Do you have an entertainment center for your television? With today’s widescreen, HD TVs, your television set is probably mounted to the wall, above a media storage cabinet, or on top of the cabinet. Follow the ideas for storing your games on a bookcase, and put them on shelves within the entertainment center instead.
Some handheld games use cartridges, though today’s cartridge games use solid state, flash storage. Keep each game in the plastic container it came in. Purchase a game case to carry all your games, and keep them on a shelf or in a drawer with your handheld gaming device.
Perhaps you’re moving, and you need to store many of your things, including your video games, in a storage unit for awhile. Or, maybe you have an older game system that you no longer play on, but you still want to keep it.
You may even have a lot of retro games and the old game systems that go with them. One thing you may want to do is check out Retro Game Cases, a company that makes cases for old cartridges.
In any case, before you store your game media, clean them. For DVD media, use a microfiber cloth to wipe away the dust. Start from the center, and clean to the edge. Glass cleaner, or a mixture water and rubbing alcohol, at a ratio of one to one, can remove fingerprints effectively. Put your discs in a CD binder, or put them in their cases and in a plastic bin that seals tight.
Video game cartridges are easy to clean as well. Dab a Q-Tip into rubbing alcohol. Take the cartridge, and gently rub the contacts on the cartridge, making a small, circular motion as you go. This can remove built-up dirt that can keep the contacts from working properly. Whether in cases or not (in a sense, cartridges are their own cases), put them in a plastic bin.
Always make sure that your games are completely dry before putting them in a bin for storage.
Unless you live in an area that rarely gets cold and dry, or hot and humid, you will want to keep your games in a climate-controlled unit. Otherwise, you risk your games cracking, or growing mold and mildew.
Treated well, your game media should last for many years. However, cartridges, CDs, and DVDs can degrade over time, so purchase digital copies when you can.