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Does vertically standing boxes wear? Should they be laying down horizontally instead?


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I know it's the norm for games to stand in a shelf like books and it's convenient but does it wear on the box and inserts? Smaller area of pressure = more tear is that the equation? I don't know the physics but my hunch tells me it's more lenient that it's laying down especially with paper inserts and manual, those standing on the tiny edge of the paper ought to be wearing on it. I think people are biased too towards vertical standing because horizontal requires more space so they'll automatically defend it but what do the physics say?

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1 minute ago, Calan87 said:

I feel like laying them down would lead to more scuffing on the front and back of the box than anything. Eventually the gloss would wear off I would assume.

Friction could do that if you're making them slide when you pull them out but that's an unrelated issue we're talking about gravity not friction.

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Just now, Calan87 said:

So you're just laying them down and not stacking?

Yes that's what i am doing on a smaller scale already. Not stacking though as that would be the worst option. In that case vertical would be fat better but i'm talking about horizontal without anything on top of it.

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Member · Posted

If you're talking about decades old games that have been standing on shelves for their whole lives, I would imagine the damage would have been done by now.

If we're talking floppy manuals and whatever, then yeah over time they will bend I think, usually creasing around the staples.

However, if the paper materials are inside a bag and/or held tight against the side of the box, then probably they WOULDN'T suffer the same problems.

Fortunately for me, I'm not a condition freak, so I don't really think a lot about this particular issue. But yeah I can see how it would happen.

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I think it 100% depends on the game.  For instance, many NES titles were pretty snug within their boxes.  The cart, the styrofoam, manual, flyers  were packed in there and it gives the whole game structural support.  Honestly, the more ephemera in the box that fills it up, the better.  Stacking these games standing up might be the best option because fewer points of pressure are coming in contact with a surface.  But, friction distributed across a wider area might decrease micro-scratching.  A game lying flat is likely to wiggle just as much as a game standing up due to simple shaking of a house from people walking around or even micro-tremors, but there is less weight pressing down on the whole bottom so the affect isn't as damaging. 

Regardless, if you wanted to have unprotected items setting out, you might want to consider putting felt under them or something like that, so that it can protect the item and it won't scratch. Regardless, all of this is waaaaay over thinking the issue.  The best option is to have really clean cases and keep them in there so they aren't even touching the shelf and the slip case takes the wear, rather than the game.  If it's a really, really valuable piece of shelf candy, get it graded or certified so it's locked away.  At that point, all you want to worry about is how to place it for viewing to maintain the integrity of what's only visible for years to come.  Most games sealed in such a case will probably look great for the rest of our lives.

Going back to displaying nice CIB items that are not entombed, felt shelving can help with shelf wear.  After that, if a title has internal paper that will hang depending on orientation, then it truly might be different from game to game.  As I mentioned NES titles can probably stand up just fine since most of the items are all pretty. snug.  In fact, this is probably true for all games with strong trays like the SNES and the N64, but not all game boxes are created equal so, again, it could be a game by game choice.

Games like SEGA Saturn titles are a real pain to consider for the long run.  If you don't have the foam inserts, then your manual will bow and sag if you let it stand veritcally, or lay it down face up.  The cases are also rather breathable, so I could see the back inserts sagging with enough time if you choose to lay them face up.  I leave my Saturn games standing up and I just make sure all of my really worthwhile titles have the foam inserts. It's still imperfect, but unless I go the extra, extra eeeeeextra mile of disabling the cases and contents and storing them individually, there's not much you can do to keep each piece in perfect shape.

I have no clue if those foam inserts came with every title.  Also considering the Sega CD and early PS1 games had similar cases, I don't know if they had foam inserts either.  Those manuals will definitely start to bow with time and will need to lie face down if you want to keep them in excellent condition. Alternatively, look for foam inserts that you can place in those games, even if they didn't come with those specific titles.

But... foam inserts for these games raises long term, important questions.  What are they made of and what affects do they have on the paper material, and the tops of the CDs they press against?  I've never seen any staining or discoloring from an OEM foam insert on a Saturn title.  I assume they are fine (for now) but who knows what another 20 years will do to them.  At best, they are likely to become brittle, they will become dusty and the dust will fall in whichever direction the case is lying.  Cleaning can take care of that, but the pressure from the books will warp the foam inserts and with enough time will make the brittle foam crumble.  With dust in the cases, means there's greater increased chances of scratching.  It gets... complicated.

So, what do we do about that?  I don't but I'm sure someone will figure it out.  Probably properly sized/shaped, acid free card stock folded and assembled in such a way to push against the manuals could last longer than the foam inserts.

Of course, there are other types of games like those in standard CD cases.  CD cases with the manuals in the front, slipped in are a tough one to consider. The foam in the Saturn cases puts good pressure manual against the cover, but for a standard CD, you're still going to have the manual sag on the four semi-circle pegs that hold it in place.  Pull out any game that's set face-up for a while, and you will likely see that those semi-circle shapes have been pressed into manuals.  I guess storing those games face-down is best, which isn't good for shelf candy.  Changing the angle and storing those games vertically will help that some, but if the manual is thicc, it's going the those semi-circle marks because of the pressure from the manual pressing on them.

Double-disc cases are a different story and are even worse.  Some of those manuals sit in their rather loosely, and some titles even had a single disc in a double disc case for more room for paper.  Even those double disc cases for single disc games can have loose paper.  This means that paper will eventually bow and sag.  Depending on where the manuals sit, you will want to lay those flat but top-side up or bottom-side up will affect the shape of the paper.  I've seen manual corners sag as they've hung through the middle plastic part that contains the two clear covers.  Flip it over and let it lay on the game or back tray, and you will get the shape of the container.  There's just no perfect answer.  You could make acid-free cut-outs to avoid this, or take all of the paper out of your double-disc games and store them separately, but maybe that's taking it to far.

Sorry for the text wall.  But, I really do pay attention to the fine detail of things.  You can always take your preservation one step further than what you've done and, to be honest, I've both cared about all of my collectibles for practically my entire life, and I often think ahead 2-3 steps further than I actually execute.  With time, all of this stuff is going to break down and turn to "dust".  The best we are doing is staving that off as long as we can, but every single collector needs to find the right balance for themselves.  If you try to keep everything perfect to the microscopic level, you'll drive yourself insane (and maybe I've already breached that line!)

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1 hour ago, cartman said:

I know it's the norm for games to stand in a shelf like books and it's convenient but does it wear on the box and inserts? Smaller area of pressure = more tear is that the equation? I don't know the physics but my hunch tells me it's more lenient that it's laying down especially with paper inserts and manual, those standing on the tiny edge of the paper ought to be wearing on it. I think people are biased too towards vertical standing because horizontal requires more space so they'll automatically defend it but what do the physics say?

For disc based games horizontal is murder. The disc will weigh on the back of the box and eventually you get an imprint of the disc holder on the back cover art. You do not want this. 

For cart based games especially with older cardboard boxes the tray or sleeve is designed to support the cart. Also, the game boxes were designed to be shipped and stored vertically. I think with NES games you are better having the styrofoam insert supporting the weight of the cart than having the back of the cardboard box supporting it. Older carts are heavy! At least, they are heavy compared to the boxes they come in. And the older flap style at the bottom is stronger than the single layer of cardboard on the back of the box. 

I think for say Game Boy games up through Game Boy Advance, horizontal is probably fine as long as you aren't stacking them too high (at that point you are crushing the boxes with the weight of the boxes on top of them). For DS stuff the box is heavier than anything else. 3DS, PS Vita, Switch - we are at the stage where the cart is so tiny and light that it doesn't matter but the boxes are also so thin and light that stacking them would be a terrible idea. 

Edited by MiamiSlice
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1 hour ago, RH said:

I think it 100% depends on the game.  For instance, many NES titles were pretty snug within their boxes.  The cart, the styrofoam, manual, flyers  were packed in there and it gives the whole game structural support.  Honestly, the more ephemera in the box that fills it up, the better.  Stacking these games standing up might be the best option because fewer points of pressure are coming in contact with a surface.  But, friction distributed across a wider area might decrease micro-scratching.  A game lying flat is likely to wiggle just as much as a game standing up due to simple shaking of a house from people walking around or even micro-tremors, but there is less weight pressing down on the whole bottom so the affect isn't as damaging. 

Regardless, if you wanted to have unprotected items setting out, you might want to consider putting felt under them or something like that, so that it can protect the item and it won't scratch. Regardless, all of this is waaaaay over thinking the issue.  The best option is to have really clean cases and keep them in there so they aren't even touching the shelf and the slip case takes the wear, rather than the game.  If it's a really, really valuable piece of shelf candy, get it graded or certified so it's locked away.  At that point, all you want to worry about is how to place it for viewing to maintain the integrity of what's only visible for years to come.  Most games sealed in such a case will probably look great for the rest of our lives.

Going back to displaying nice CIB items that are not entombed, felt shelving can help with shelf wear.  After that, if a title has internal paper that will hang depending on orientation, then it truly might be different from game to game.  As I mentioned NES titles can probably stand up just fine since most of the items are all pretty. snug.  In fact, this is probably true for all games with strong trays like the SNES and the N64, but not all game boxes are created equal so, again, it could be a game by game choice.

Games like SEGA Saturn titles are a real pain to consider for the long run.  If you don't have the foam inserts, then your manual will bow and sag if you let it stand veritcally, or lay it down face up.  The cases are also rather breathable, so I could see the back inserts sagging with enough time if you choose to lay them face up.  I leave my Saturn games standing up and I just make sure all of my really worthwhile titles have the foam inserts. It's still imperfect, but unless I go the extra, extra eeeeeextra mile of disabling the cases and contents and storing them individually, there's not much you can do to keep each piece in perfect shape.

I have no clue if those foam inserts came with every title.  Also considering the Sega CD and early PS1 games had similar cases, I don't know if they had foam inserts either.  Those manuals will definitely start to bow with time and will need to lie face down if you want to keep them in excellent condition. Alternatively, look for foam inserts that you can place in those games, even if they didn't come with those specific titles.

But... foam inserts for these games raises long term, important questions.  What are they made of and what affects do they have on the paper material, and the tops of the CDs they press against?  I've never seen any staining or discoloring from an OEM foam insert on a Saturn title.  I assume they are fine (for now) but who knows what another 20 years will do to them.  At best, they are likely to become brittle, they will become dusty and the dust will fall in whichever direction the case is lying.  Cleaning can take care of that, but the pressure from the books will warp the foam inserts and with enough time will make the brittle foam crumble.  With dust in the cases, means there's greater increased chances of scratching.  It gets... complicated.

So, what do we do about that?  I don't but I'm sure someone will figure it out.  Probably properly sized/shaped, acid free card stock folded and assembled in such a way to push against the manuals could last longer than the foam inserts.

Of course, there are other types of games like those in standard CD cases.  CD cases with the manuals in the front, slipped in are a tough one to consider. The foam in the Saturn cases puts good pressure manual against the cover, but for a standard CD, you're still going to have the manual sag on the four semi-circle pegs that hold it in place.  Pull out any game that's set face-up for a while, and you will likely see that those semi-circle shapes have been pressed into manuals.  I guess storing those games face-down is best, which isn't good for shelf candy.  Changing the angle and storing those games vertically will help that some, but if the manual is thicc, it's going the those semi-circle marks because of the pressure from the manual pressing on them.

Double-disc cases are a different story and are even worse.  Some of those manuals sit in their rather loosely, and some titles even had a single disc in a double disc case for more room for paper.  Even those double disc cases for single disc games can have loose paper.  This means that paper will eventually bow and sag.  Depending on where the manuals sit, you will want to lay those flat but top-side up or bottom-side up will affect the shape of the paper.  I've seen manual corners sag as they've hung through the middle plastic part that contains the two clear covers.  Flip it over and let it lay on the game or back tray, and you will get the shape of the container.  There's just no perfect answer.  You could make acid-free cut-outs to avoid this, or take all of the paper out of your double-disc games and store them separately, but maybe that's taking it to far.

Sorry for the text wall.  But, I really do pay attention to the fine detail of things.  You can always take your preservation one step further than what you've done and, to be honest, I've both cared about all of my collectibles for practically my entire life, and I often think ahead 2-3 steps further than I actually execute.  With time, all of this stuff is going to break down and turn to "dust".  The best we are doing is staving that off as long as we can, but every single collector needs to find the right balance for themselves.  If you try to keep everything perfect to the microscopic level, you'll drive yourself insane (and maybe I've already breached that line!)

But the manuals/ads are still pulled downwards (gravity) does the hard "filling" inside provide enough force to counter it? I think no. The trey and cart are probably not enough to prevent the paperwork from reaching the bottom and starting to stand. A frame is closer to what you seem to be talking about there the item is stuck firmly but boxed games are not like that.

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22 minutes ago, fcgamer said:

@cartman : I've had this same thought for years, and therefore have (when given the chance) always store my games on their side. 

Just like you, it's something I thought about before, though many people don't.

Altough if my thinking is legitimate the side wouldn't be optimal either. Probably less bad than standing up but even on the side there's still the issue remaining of the thin edge being pressured downwards. 

I'm talking about the box laying flat.

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1 hour ago, MiamiSlice said:

For disc based games horizontal is murder. The disc will weigh on the back of the box and eventually you get an imprint of the disc holder on the back cover art. You do not want this. 

For cart based games especially with older cardboard boxes the tray or sleeve is designed to support the cart. Also, the game boxes were designed to be shipped and stored vertically. I think with NES games you are better having the styrofoam insert supporting the weight of the cart than having the back of the cardboard box supporting it. Older carts are heavy! At least, they are heavy compared to the boxes they come in. And the older flap style at the bottom is stronger than the single layer of cardboard on the back of the box. 

I think for say Game Boy games up through Game Boy Advance, horizontal is probably fine as long as you aren't stacking them too high (at that point you are crushing the boxes with the weight of the boxes on top of them). For DS stuff the box is heavier than anything else. 3DS, PS Vita, Switch - we are at the stage where the cart is so tiny and light that it doesn't matter but the boxes are also so thin and light that stacking them would be a terrible idea. 

Mitigating gravity just to be adding actual weight on top of a box would be pointless. The horizontally laying box would be having nothing on it, that's the outline for the topic.

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1 hour ago, cartman said:

Altough if my thinking is legitimate the side wouldn't be optimal either. Probably less bad than standing up but even on the side there's still the issue remaining of the thin edge being pressured downwards. 

I'm talking about the box laying flat.

I don't think anyone would be able to do that, without stacking, which would be bad.

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1 hour ago, fcgamer said:

I don't think anyone would be able to do that, without stacking, which would be bad.

The main difference that any standard or non-standard storage unit has a large amount of space between each level. On a common shelf each new surface is the height of a book or DVD right. Well if you'd like to store say NES games laying flat you'd have to have each space being not much higher than the thickness of a NES game and storage units are just not made with a design like that. Unless there are holes on the sides that allow you to choose the space between each shelving floor yourself but then those holes will have to be present throughout the full range covering bottom to top. That too is not a common design for sale.

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1 hour ago, fcgamer said:

This could be a decent Kickstarter idea, haha, shelves for storing old video games safely.

I wonder how your idea would actually look, in practice if someone did it.

If you want good ideas, hit up various museums. They have made it a multi-century art of preserving and displaying frail items.

Eventually we are going to have boxed games, disassembled, placed gently in glass cases and the boxes will be on angled pedestals with mirrors underneath. Put it in a box with a timed light that cuts on for 3 seconds after every 10, and your game room will be at lit as a Smithsonian!

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I bet to an outsider this conversation is like saying I hermetically seal all my games in an argon glass chamber behind a foot thick block of tungsten lined with lead in order to prevent cosmic rays from flipping bits on the chips.

But it’s something I thought about too when opening my games that are a bit harder to find, or use dark ink (black boxes)

Owning a CIB game in mint condition sucks because every time you open the flap you add crease damage to it, and if it has a baggie then when you stuff it in the rear top corners tear ever so much...but if you don’t have a plastic bag then the dust sleeve is slightly lifting the tuck in flap a little.

I hate even opening box protectors too much on mint stuff because I feel that it slightly scuffs the box every time I slide a game in or out.

...

That being said, I never had the feeling that stacking a certain way mattered, as long as I wasn’t stacking anything on top. The box to me is structurally sound, and the foam insert was included for the sole purpose of adding stability to the packaging. Even the mintiest freshiest of sealed games are stored vertically in those acrylic cases.

Also, the oldest NES games have been sitting for 35 years. I’m sure if there’s going to be any significant damage like that within our lifetimes then it likely has already happened.

One thing is do look out for though is not stuffing my shelves tightly and purposely leave breathing room between the boxes.

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I can speak from experience and recent too in buying old 'standing boxes' style PC games that ended up being stored laying as you asked, lying down.

Gravity is a bitch, that's your answer. 🙂

 

Seriously though, it is.  As time marches on those boxes start to sag along the face as there's no internal support and gravity over the many years will push down on it causing it to cave in.  I recently got an original old DOS game, my first I paid for as a kid in 1991, the Simpsons Arcade Game, which is a rather expensive title.  The box was falling in a bit due to gravity and time, but I know ways to fix that, so I had to go about re-firming it back up (which thankfully worked.)  Had something been on top of that one in storage, it likely would have entirely caved in ripping it from the weight on top of the pull of gravity.  Rule is, whatever side has the most reinforcement would be best to keep things safe, so old PC game boxes do best standing up like a book on a shelf and not lying down with the face of it towards the sky.

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9 hours ago, ThePhleo said:

I bet to an outsider this conversation is like saying I hermetically seal all my games in an argon glass chamber behind a foot thick block of tungsten lined with lead in order to prevent cosmic rays from flipping bits on the chips.

Another alternative is we can take care of our games like they are bottles of fine wine and every 6 months we rotate them so gravity is pulling in a different direction.

 

9 hours ago, ThePhleo said:

I bet to an outsider this conversation is like saying I hermetically seal all my games in an argon glass chamber behind a foot thick block of tungsten lined with lead in order to prevent cosmic rays from flipping bits on the chips.

But it’s something I thought about too when opening my games that are a bit harder to find, or use dark ink (black boxes)

Owning a CIB game in mint condition sucks because every time you open the flap you add crease damage to it, and if it has a baggie then when you stuff it in the rear top corners tear ever so much...but if you don’t have a plastic bag then the dust sleeve is slightly lifting the tuck in flap a little.

I hate even opening box protectors too much on mint stuff because I feel that it slightly scuffs the box every time I slide a game in or out.

I understand this feeling completely.  In all honesty, the main reason why I don't really want CIB items in cardboard is for this very reason.  I like cart only, or cart + manual, because when you get the box, I'm either going to have to store the game out of the box so I can play it, or I will leave it in the box and never take it out because opening and closing 20-35 year old cardboard does a lot of damage to it.

I know we are getting a bit crazy on this topic, but I think the real, best solution for maintaining the integrity of this stuff is less about gravity and shelf wear, but making sure your home is properly climate controlled.  We need proper house temps and humidity.  I know extremely dry or extremely humid environments do murder to your games, but hitting that sweet spot helps tremendously.  There should be a moderate normal amount of moisture within this cardboard. Desiccating all of it makes your paper brittle, but to much in the air, and cool air will make it condense, which of course causes warping.  If you can keep your home (or game room) at that perfect place of temp and humidity, I think even many of these sagging problems can be staved off for many years.  Still there's nothing wrong with lying your games down in such a way so that as much as as possible is pressing down on the points that have a straight-line to the shelf (in other words, they are pushing down on internal cardboard that's hanging) then you should be fine for a long time.

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1 hour ago, MuNKeY said:

...or display like a real collector

 

Potato

Dis....play? I that when like you PLAY the games but you don’t like it so you talk bad about it like a DIS?

Thats tough because it would require I open them from cardboard boxes in my closet...

(I’m waiting for my kids to grow a few more years to start displaying my stuff)

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45 minutes ago, ThePhleo said:

Dis....play? I that when like you PLAY the games but you don’t like it so you talk bad about it like a DIS?

Thats tough because it would require I open them from cardboard boxes in my closet...

(I’m waiting for my kids to grow a few more years to start displaying my stuff)

Heh, well in that theory I DISplay a lot of my games here as of late. 

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On 7/17/2020 at 6:13 AM, Tanooki said:

I can speak from experience and recent too in buying old 'standing boxes' style PC games that ended up being stored laying as you asked, lying down.

Gravity is a bitch, that's your answer. 🙂

 

Seriously though, it is.  As time marches on those boxes start to sag along the face as there's no internal support and gravity over the many years will push down on it causing it to cave in.  I recently got an original old DOS game, my first I paid for as a kid in 1991, the Simpsons Arcade Game, which is a rather expensive title.  The box was falling in a bit due to gravity and time, but I know ways to fix that, so I had to go about re-firming it back up (which thankfully worked.)  Had something been on top of that one in storage, it likely would have entirely caved in ripping it from the weight on top of the pull of gravity.  Rule is, whatever side has the most reinforcement would be best to keep things safe, so old PC game boxes do best standing up like a book on a shelf and not lying down with the face of it towards the sky.

Well i don't know about those PC games but every console game from Nintendo has either a plastic/cardboard trey or the cartridge itself filling out the inside of the box and thereby mitigating gravity. So yeah i don't know if you're example can be applied to these console boxes? Or how those PC boxes would've fared compared to if they stood up.

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