How to Be a Gamer with Little Space to Work With


First Gamer Setup I Had When I Moved Out On My Own
When I first began my video game collection, I was living in a roommate situation in a 850 square foot apartment with two other guys.  One had his own room and I had to share a 250 square foot room with another.  My part of the room was cordoned off with a simple shower curtain setup I created myself and my trusty CRT TV was set atop my 5 foot tall dresser.  

At the time, I only had a NES and a Playstation with a small library of games, but I made the top drawer my storage area for my games, memory cards and controllers. My roommate would have to walk carefully out of his own bed, because if he wouldn’t (which happened once and tragically ended the life of my first CRT TV), all of my treasured possessions would come toppling down to the floor.  There honestly wasn’t anything I could do about this, but I made sure that the TV was on the opposite end of the dresser top from that tragic point forth.  

The cool part about those particular TVs was that they both had front-facing headphone jacks, which allowed me to be fully immersed in the digital world spread out before me.  When I had those on, I forgot about my cramped conditions and got lost in my character’s exploits.  As the library grew, I began storing my games under my simple metal cot in plastic containers, which effectively protected them from any further falls and kept the moisture out, since the apartment had intermittent problems with mold and insects.
(The years that followed afterwards were abysmal and resulted in the loss of countless games due to several moves, theft from so-called “friends” and a nasty breakup).
Rebuilding The Dream In Yet Another Cramped Apartment
After striking out on my own from that horrid situation, I found myself in yet another cramped and mold-infested apartment that would have seasonal problems with flooding (which was not made known to me during the lease signing).  After discovering this, I went to great pains to protect my games.  


For a time, my ENTIRE LIBRARY (which had grown exponentially after the split) resided on top of my trusty dresser.  THAT’S OVER 200 TITLES!  The problem was that during the hot months, the room would get stifling hot and a fan would need to be placed on top of this dresser in order to circulate much-needed cool air from the living room.  


Further, the console collection had grown as well, and I had ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE to put them all!  All I had was a desk in storage and nowhere in the unit where it could be placed.  After looking at my neglected closet, I decided to rip the doors off, move the desk into it, connect ALL of my systems to my CRT TV and move ALL my games onto the closet shelf above the desk!  


Not only did this protect them from any flooding that may have occurred during the spring months, but it also cleared up the top of the dresser so that the fan could be placed there AND I HAD A SPOT WHERE I COULD PLAY ALL OF MY SYSTEMS WHENEVER THE HELL I WANTED!  


The closet itself was only 6 feet long and 3 feet deep, but it was enough to FULLY IMMERSE myself yet again into the wondrous world depicted on my grainy CRT!  It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a dedicated game room that I could physically walk into; all that mattered was that I could FULLY GET MY GAME ON without fear of water damage or glare, since the sun NEVER DIRECTLY ENTERED THAT ROOM!
Moral of the story:  Regardless of where you live and how cramped and crowded your conditions may be, all it takes to create your own little gamer haven is some innovation and ingenuity.  If I lived in a FUCKING SHOEBOX, I would still be able to find a way to create a dedicated area I could escape to if the real world got too hectic.  Even if you live in a house with loud, obnoxious roommates, it is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE to create a gamer paradise in ANY SITUATION!  


As long as you can sit down and become fully enveloped in the warm light of your TV surrounded by the sounds and flashes that you love so much, YOU MADE IT!  Paradise is different for everyone, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else, but if it makes sense to you, YOU MADE IT!  It could be a cavernous room, a dedicated area in a cramped bedroom, or a shithole apartment, if you can proudly display your prized possessions and FULLY ENJOY them whenever the hell you feel like, YOU MADE IT!
Many of my friends on Twitter currently live in situations like this and have to contend with other situations beyond what I listed here (i.e. cats, dogs, etc.), but the truth is, we all know as retrogamers how hardy our consoles can be.  It amazes me to this day how ALL of my retro systems have withstood the test of time through simple maintenance, occassional repair and preventive measures.
The same goes with cartridges and CDs!  The only original title that I didn’t have to rebuy is Monster Rancher 2 for Playstation, and it has been through A LOT and is still running!  Below are some of my tips to keep your retro systems and games clean and safe:
1)  If you have animals that could chew on cords, wrap the cords in plastic tubing or aluminum foil if you REALLY ARE A BROKE-ASS (Of course, DO NOT WRAP THE METAL TONGS OF THE PLUG WITH ALUMINUM FOIL, UNLESS YOU LIKE ELECTRICAL FIRES!).  Cats and dogs alike HATE ALUMINUM FOIL and it does a great job of repelling them!
2)  If you DO NOT have problems with flooding, old shoeboxes are PERFECT for storing games and keeps out dust and sunlight.  If you DO have problems with water and mold, use airtight plastic containers or shelving units to keep your games dry and safe.  Many retailers will simply GIVE YOU THESE IF YOU ASK!  Craigslist sometimes has FREE SHELVES available for pickup!
3)  Even something as simple as opening your retro consoles and removing the dust can be enough to increase their life.  NO TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED!
4)  DO NOT STACK YOUR CONSOLES ON TOP OF EACH OTHER!  I had a friend who did this once and COMPLETELY FRIED his Atari 2600!  I recommend placing them apart with at least two inches of space between them, using shelves if necessary.
5)  Invest in tools and cleaning materials over time to remove corrosion from cartridge contact points and dust from inside your retro consoles.  Not doing so can reduce the life of your consoles and games, so it is a WORTHY INVESTMENT!  Nintendo Repair Shop is a good place to look as well as eBay and Amazon for these items, some WAY CHEAP!
6)  Place your consoles in an area that would not be tempting for a cat to jump up on or a dog to brush against.  I have two cats currently and I position my consoles on a lowboy that is only three feet off of the ground.  Cats like tall places to jump on and dogs like to frequent common areas and the perimeter of their living quarters, so arrange accordingly.

7)  ALWAYS USE SURGE PROTECTORS!  Many shitty apartments have intermittent (and sometimes CONSTANT) power surges and if you are directly plugging your systems into the wall, YOU ARE ASKING FOR TROUBLE!  I lost one Gamecube due to this mistake and I wouldn’t want ANY of my fellow retrogamers to feel the same loss I did!
Hopefully, this blog reaches someone who is looking around at their house, wondering WHERE THE FUCK they are going to setup their consoles and store their games safely.  The two situations above were my most extreme cases over the years and if I could make it work during those times, ANYONE CAN!  Thanks for reading!!!

Lumpz the Clown is an avid gamer who does Let’s Plays, reviews and other assorted clowny goodness   He aspires one day to make video games his full-time career and enjoys interacting with like-minded individuals with the same passion for gaming.