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Game Content - Digital Minimalism Guide

This post is part of a series on Digital Minimalism and how to de-clutter your digital world to bring joy!


How to de-clutter game content? This post is focused on board games, video games, and mobile phone games.

When organizing clothing in Marie Kondo's de-cluttering program, she asks the owner to dump all their clothes on their bed so they can see exactly what the pile looks like. While we can pile up physical boardgames it's hard to visualize how many digital games we collect. But some of us collect a lot!! Valve estimates consumers don't play 22% of their videogame collection, and only finish playing 29% of the portion that is played. Personally, I think that number is much higher than 1 in 5. But is this backlog bad? Yes, a backlog of games is bad if (1) you're spending money on things you never use and (2) the proliferation of choice makes you unmotivated or overwhelbed to make a decision.

Goals of de-cluttering game material:
  • Have more space. Physical and digital games both take up space.

  • Easily access games for playing. Organize location of physical and digital games for easy access.

  • Save money. Part of this de-cluttering process is to get into the habit of using what you have, curb buying just to buy, and focus on what you really want!

  • Play more. Having easy access to something will help you use it more often and create a habit for reading.

How to de-cluttering game material:

I have 4 categories of game material: physical, phone, personal computer, and lost media. You may have other categories based on how many game consoles you own.

landscape image of castle and a river in the background and the foreground is a desk with a pc game showing the background, chess game, mobile phone, and console game.


Category 1: Physical Games

  • With physical games, put them all in a pile like the KonMari process.

    • How does this pile make you feel?

    • Did you have to grab games from many places, like the garage, car, and closets? How does this reflect with where you often play games?

All of my games are in my coat closet, which is near why I play games (the dining table) so I don't need to create or rearrange space. I am happy with my number of games except for the number of card decks, I have too many. I follow that thought to de-cluttering the deck of cards.

Marie Kondo is against trying to sell to many items because it takes up too much time or money. Luckily, I have a used bookstore that will pay cash for games, and if they don't take it, will donate the rest and give credit. So my "de-clutter" pile only has one place to go, still satisfying the general theme of KonMari is not creating more work for yourself.

  • Is there anything you immediately want to de-clutter?

In addition to the card games, I had 2 Monopoly games and I only need 1.

  • Go through the pieces in the game, is there anything broken that needs replacements or fixing?

I ended up ordering replacement pieces for Clue and Doctor Who on eBay.

  • Reflect on these questions for de-cluttering:

    • Which games do you not like playing?

    • Which games have you not played in awhile?

    • Which games have you never played?

My brother gave me a game, Unmatched: Fog & Cobble, that's only been played twice. While his gift was nice and thoughtful since I love Victorian literature and games with detailed art, I don't like confrontational battle games (which I did not know until he gifted this game!). It's always hard to give up a gift that's a personal gift, but thinking about that game does not spark joy (while the cash payment from the used bookstore does). Luckily, I have a family that understands not every gift is going to be a cherished heriloom.

While I've pulled the band-aid in de-cluttering Unmatched, I have kept another sentimental game I do not play often, Evolution. It's difficult to play, but once we do play it, everyone has a good time. The other "not played in awhile" game was a Doctor Who game because it was missing pieces and is hard to play. With the eBay purchase, the pieces will arive soon and we can play it.

While I de-cluttered the games I do not like playing, I kept the "not played in awhile" games with the intention of playing them more in the future. This "I'll wear those pants in the future" isn't always a good sentiment, so it's important to check-in about a year to see if I actually kept my word. If I don't play Evolution or Doctor Who board games by this time next year, they should be de-cluttered.

  • Use a game log.


    • Convert wishlists including lists on Amazon, internet browser bookmarks, and other information to the game log.

    • Use the game log when feeling "stuck" on what to purchase and play.

If you've read my other guides in this series, you'll know I love logging information. The digital world gives us an amazing tool to store and archive information for easy access, but to have that data at our fingertips, we must first log it. So while I use to log the perfumes I've used to help me pick better ones in the future, I use to log board games I've played to help pick better ones in the future. Think of it like the LetterBox or Goodreads of board games.

First step, I log the games I own and have owned with my ratings. Second step, I logged the games I remember playing. Third step, I added my wishlist and pruned it.

  • Reflect and prune.

While I've pruned my physical games already with the de-cluttering of the confrontaional battle game and duplicate games, I also pruned my wishlist. The ranking of games I've played made me realize I don't love tile-placing pattern games (aka abstract strategy). I gave Azul, Claico, etc, all 5-6 star rating out 10.

BoardGameGeeek does a great job at logging types of game mechancisms, but just like with perfume scent notes, it's hard to filter that date once logged. You can export the data to Exchel/Sheets. It's slow going, but after the number crunch these were my results:

-> I like the "Family" type of games, like Clue and Raccoon Tycoon.

-> I dislike the "Wargames" type of games, like Root or Risk.

-> I like the "Cardgame" category of games, like Anomia and Hearts.

-> I dislike "Abstract Strategy" category of games, like Azul or Go.

-> I like "open drafting," "push your luck," and "auction" mechanisms, like Racooon Tycoon, Clank!, and Ticket to Ride. The push your luck portion makes sense, the sense of risk of over-bidding your hand is quite fun and changes every game.

-> I dislike "closed drafting" mechanism, like 7 Wonders and Sushi Go!. Closed drafting is common in abstract strategy games so this tracks with my category preferences.

This de-cluttering and logging process helps me reflect on the games I like. Based on this, I removed Seasons / Sanssouci from my "wishlist" as I'm probably not going to like that game since it's an abstract strategy game with closed drafting.

Logging your games takes time, this is an investment. But the goal is to (1) be able to easily refrence my thoughts on previous games and (2) clear idea of what I want to play next. If someone asks "hey do you want a boardgame for your birthday?" or "have you ever played this?", I know have that information ready at my fingertips instead of having to think about it. Also, I am more confience in spending $60 on a board game I've never played before when it matches up with all my high rated games.

End result of de-cluttering physical board games:
  • Boardgames I like to play or want to play are organized aesthetically in an easy to access location.

  • Nothing is broken or missing pieces.

  • Use of a board game log to keep track of reviews and wishlists. Allows for easy analysis of furture games.

abstract drawing of a checkers board, personal computer, computer tablet, and game controller in blue, green, and red with snow capped peaks in the background

Category 2: Mobile Games

  • With mobile games, put them all in a pile like the KonMari process.

    • How does this pile make you feel?

For me, "piling" games means taking all the games on my mobile phone and putting them in 1 folder to view. Are there any you don't play? Does it feel like too many?

  • Is there anything you immediately want to de-clutter?

  • Reflect on these questions for de-cluttering:

    • Which games do you not like playing?

    • Which games have you not played in awhile?

    • Which games have you never played?

I took the time to prune all of my apps at this point. I made sure to open every app, and if I wasn't using it or didn't like it, I deleted it. Also, I checked my "subscription" tab in the play store to make sure I hadn't missed anything.

What's a "game" can be quite nebulous as I use photo editing and fashion apps like games, and really, isn't a lot of social media just chat that's been game-ified? This is why I made sure to open every app, even if it isn't immediately considered a "game."

As a reward for de-cluttering and re-organizing my apps, I changed my wallpaper settings.

End result of de-cluttering mobile games:
  • Mobile game I like to play or want to play are organized aesthetically in an easy to access location.

  • Also organized my other mobile apps at the same time, as the line between game and tools is blurred in the phone app space.

illustration of two overlapping circles of night and day of a landscape of mountains, when in the foreground is a computer and game controller


Category 3: Video Games

  • Collect video games in some manner, similar to the KonMari pile.

    • How does this pile make you feel?

I only have 1 console and have tried to delete all hosting platforms except for 1, but it's very difficult to have 1 single platform and console, so it's hard to visualize the "pile of stuff". If you need to, make an Excel/Google Sheet to create your "pile."

  • Is there anything you immediately want to de-clutter?

  • Reflect on these questions for de-cluttering:

    • Which games do you not like playing?

    • Which games have you not played in awhile?

    • Which games have you never played?

If you choose to do this de-cluttering process on a "free" day, take the time to open and try each game you have never played for 15 minutes. This is like reading the first chapter a book to decide if you want to continue. Sure, maybe it gets better but if it hasn't hooked you yet in all the time you've owned it, and can't hook you in 15 minutes, then it's time to let it go.

  • Do you return to videogames? What is your play style?

Steam offers play stats, similar to a Spotify end of year wrap-up. From looking at my yearly state, I see that I play games in seasons. A game will capture my attention for a few weeks to a few months and then not play it the rest of the year. Similar to in KonMari when you shouldn't give away your winter coats just because you haven't worn them this summer, I considered game play in the future. The one's I de-cluttered were the games I never wish to play again, the ones that did not spark joy.

  • Remove games, just don't uninstall.

It can be easy just to uninstall and leave the game on your list, but this does not quiet the "silent to do list" of having things cluttering up your buffet of choices. Remove them.

It can be really difficult to delete something you've paid for. I find that it's much harder to delete games than to give away clothing, even though they're often the same price. That t-shirt is $20 and the game is $20, it's the same! They both gave you joy when you had them and don't give you that same joy now. The nice thing with Steam is you can remove it and uninstall it, but if you wish to reinstall it down the line, you can.

  • Game log and reflect.

  • Prune wishlist after pruning current game list.

    • Helpful to watch youtube and twitch videos of the game.

Unlike other digital organization, I don't have a log for videogames as I only play through Steam. They're not great for data analysis but they do post a "replay" feature similar to Spotify Wrapped.

-> I like multiplayer, farming, and city building games.

-> I dislike first person shooter and single-player action stories.

-> In other words, I don't like to fight alone and I just want to decorate my farmhouse.

While it can be difficult to remove a game, you can always watch the end boss fight on Youtube. Game walkthroughs can be a great way to see if you really want to purchase that game. I've been able to curb the "I want" emotion by watching a boring Youtube video on the game!

I did spend a decent amount of time going through Youtube videos to help prune my videogame list, put it was helpful! Now my list of games is only the ones I like to play and there's no games I haven't played.

End result of de-cluttering video games:
  • I have played all the videogames I own that are in my library.

  • My wishlist is only of games I know I want to play.

  • I have a better sense of which games I enjoy playing.

  • I am not overwhelmed when trying to choose a game to play next or buy next.

line illustration of night and day overlapping in the sky, snow capped mountains and the little village is abstractly made up of a video game console similar to a Playstation


Category 4: Nostalgia Games

As mentioned above, while deleting a game feels different than donating a t-shirt because no one can "re-use" that game, there's no guarantee someone actually will be using that t-shirt. There are a lot of clothing items thrown away each year - yes, by thrift stores! You've paid for the game, the creators got their cut. There's nothing that needs to be "saved."

The other layer to this "delete digital artifact" is the owners of the digital item can delete it. There's no guarantee that game will be playable in the future. Some games are "lost media" because they cannot be played on other platforms. Or maybe the game isn't supported anymore. Or the game developer shut the game down.

Goods are not permament - not even digital goods. It's important to focus on the joy the good brought you when you had it, because nothing lasts forever.

One way it's easier for me to let things go is to journal about the thing. It's part of why I have this blog!

To help with deleting and de-cluttering digital games, I have a blog post about the "lost media" of videogames.

If you are struggling pruining your videogame library, I suggest journaling your process of working through the backlog.



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