If the clutter created by your electronic games is anything but virtual, it’s time to take the bull by the controllers. If your Mario Party has gotten messy or you’re prepping for an influx of gaming paraphernalia, these tips will help you keep organized tabs on your electronic fun.
Establish Your Space
Create a Gaming Zone
Your gaming zone should house all your gaming items and will likely be by the monitor or TV where you actually play your games. There are a few possible exceptions to this zoning rule: (1) games that are used specifically for rewards, (2) games that are otherwise parent-regulated, and (3) instruction and playing manuals.
In order to keep your gaming zone relatively tidy, use some kind of containing. Many entertainment centers and armoires now come equipped with handy gaming storage features. But you don’t necessarily need a piece of furniture to successfully contain your gaming equipment. Even if your gaming system didn’t come with a storage case, you can find some economical and effective video game containing at your local big box retailer. Consider the following options:
- Controllers—Cords tend to be the biggest clutter culprit with controllers. To keep stray cords under wraps, you can use either a cable turtle (a sturdy, spindle-type container; Visit this link for a preview: [http://www.containerstore.com/shop/office/deskAccessories/cordControl?productId=10000329.) or Velcro cord wraps, available at do-it-yourself centers like Lowe’s and Home Depot. (A caveat: the cable turtle is easier for little gamers to use, so unless you want to do cord control by yourself, choose this option.)
- Game cartridges and discs—Game cartridges and discs are the biggest gaming organizing challenge for a few reasons: they’re small, they’re easy (and expensive) to lose, and they are easily destroyed. To tackle this greatest organizing challenge, here are some of my favorite product picks:
- Game chamber video game storage organizer. If you have DS or DS Lite cartridges that are constantly AWOL, this organizer is your saving grace. This organizer is the ONLY locking organizer, which means that your child has to replace one cartridge in order to take out another. (Can you hear the angels sing?) At $19.95, this organizer (available in blue, pink and silver) is worth its weight in gold. Check it out here.
- 3-ring binder with page protectors and alphabetized tabs. This low-cost, low-frills option will help you contain your cartridges and/or discs alphabetically. If you choose to store your discs using this method, you may wish to place them in paper disc covers so they don’t scratch. You can also create an inventory of the games that should be in each envelope so you know what is, or isn’t missing. You can also modify this storage option by using plastic CD storage pages.
- White plastic baskets from Walmart. This 3 baskets for $1 option is perfect for containing cartridges and discs. The pencil size basket is great for cartridges and the large size works well for discs. You can create homemade alphabet tabs so your games stay alphabetized as well. (These types of baskets are also available in black at Office Max.)
- CD/DVD boxes. This inexpensive and functional container is perfect if you have your original disc cases. Alphabetizing your games lends an even greater level of organization.
Gaming consoles and ottomans— If you’re looking for a more permanent gaming console, many furniture stores now carry entertainment systems and armoires with gaming accessible features. One of my favorite gaming furniture pieces of the season is an ottoman available at Costco for $89.99. This stylish, espresso-colored faux leather trunk holds—
- 2 guitars, microphone and drumsticks plus Rock Band or Guitar Hero drums, an Xbox wheel with pedals or a Wii Fit balance board.
- 4 box controllers or up to 8 Wii remotes and 4 Nunchucks (in a drop-in plastic utility tray)
- 16 games (in a sliding plastic utility tray).
WOW! This ottoman is only available in actual warehouses, so if you love it, get it soon!
Establish Your System
Containing only goes so far in helping you keep your gaming equipment organized. You also need a system. Most gamer moms agree that the biggest challenge in keeping gaming items organized is making sure games get replaced in the correct cases—or at all. A simple system is all it takes to ensure that game time is more fun than frustrating. Try these top three tips:
- Establish and enforce a one-game-out-at-a-time policy.
- Create a check-out system for kids particularly prone to losing discs and cartridges.
- Create a gaming clean-up time (either after each gaming session, every couple of days, once each week) to make sure that nothing is lost and that your equipment is in good condition.
Game over and happy organizing!