Interestingly, people who like board games tend to define themselves as gamers, though many of them, yours truly included, are much better described as collectors. I can remember the moment I transformed from a gamer to a collector. Or to be more precise, the cocooning period where I huddled around myself like a little zergling morphing into a rolling baneling. And it's not that you really stop being a gamer - I still love playing games, and that's the driving force behind it all. Once you start collecting games, your attitude towards them changes. The way you look at them, the way you research them and even the way you play them - everything changes. You are not only thinking to yourself 'is this fun' or 'what is my next move' but suddenly there is this whole other question - do I need this game in my collection? Do I need it? Oh my, I really need it!
This is a fine way to think about game potential, but it's not how I manage my collection. Partly, that is because I think that what I care about is not just a game's potential, but also how it fits in my collection. When you become a collector - be it games or anything else - you don't just care about each individual item in your collection, though of course you do. Instead, you care about the collection as a whole: you want the collection to have some overall qualities and each item starts to matter partly because of the way it is reflecting on the collection as a whole. If you ever had the though 'I can't have that kind of game in my collection' than you know what I'm talking about. Your collection starts defining you as a gamer - you are the person who owns these games, nay, you are the person who curated these games. The volume and character of your collection is a reflection of your ideal as a gamer, it is your identity as a gamer. It is who you are in the gaming world - a Stephen Feld fan, a Euro-gamer or a political gamer. You are your collection.
So what kind of considerations do we have when we think about our collection as a whole? First, there is the quality threshold. I want all my games to be good games, even pretty great games. I don't want anything in my collection that I don't really appreciate as a gamer. It really hurts my eyes to see that copy of Set in the middle between Sheriff of Nottingham and Quantum (why do I even include it? Well, I can't like about what I have... it's who I am!). I mean, Set is a fun little game - I had some good times with it. I never bought it or anything, we just got it as a gift. Still, it doesn't fit with my collection. It really lowers the bar of what should be admitted to a collection such as mine.
Second, we want our collection to reflect our tastes in gaming. As a political gamer, I couldn't pass on Tammany Hall, Warrior Knights, Diplomacy and even Dead of Winter. These games are just to important for that kind of genre to not have them included. To each his own, of course - the Uwe Rosenberg farming fan will have different 'must haves' than I do, perhaps aside from the value/potential as defined above.
Lastly, we might care about other things that have to do with our role in our gaming group or environment. I might be a gaming missionary, wanting to introduce and convert non-gamers to my creed, so I'll want to have many light gateway games that with different themes. Or, I may be a gaming connoisseur with a regular gaming group and so I'd be stacking myself with only the most exquisite and rare deluxe editions and rare out of print games that nobody else has. Or I may be the only one buying games in my gaming group, so I'll want to have a diverse well rounded collection - with a bit of everything. If you ever thought something like "I really need a non-real-time non-space-themed cooperative game in my collection" then you probably have this kind of consideration in mind.
So... What goes through you mind when you think of your collection? Any considerations I missed?
1 I clearly haven't though this system through, but one thing that seems clear is that if we want to multiply the numbers, we would have to standardize the values. As it is now, the number of plays a game gets a month (at least in my collection) ranges from probably 1/12 to 4 or 5, which is very different from a 1 to 10 scale of subjective appreciation. You could translate frequency into a 1 to 10 scale, which would probably make this thing a bit more useful.