The Expert

Posted on Dec 18 2012 by pomomojo in Backgammon, Board Games, Chess, Poker

In earlier blog posts I discussed two types of collectors – The Eclectic and The Epicurean. The Eclectic bases his collecting on variety and rarity. The more unusual a game or a version of a game is, the better it fits into his collection. The Epicurean’s goal is to create the perfect gaming experience and is eager to upgrade every component of a game and even the space in which the game is played. Today I will describe a third category of collector – The Expert.

The Expert is the collector who finds a game and seeks to collect as many varieties of it as he can. Most often this type of collector will enjoy playing a particular game – often a classic like Chess or Backgammon that can be found in many countries and forms – and will begin purchasing boards for purely practical reasons. As one spends time playing these games in clubs or with friendly opponents or even online, the subject of boards and components will naturally come up and The Expert might feel motivated to upgrade his personal set. Spending so much time looking at the squares or triangles of the board or handling the pieces will lead to a deeper appreciation of the slight differences in material between versions of the game, differences that casual players or collectors with broader interests might not notice. Leather Backgammon boards are quieter. Precision dice are more accurate. Attache cases are easier to transport. Ebony just looks nicer for the black pieces in Chess. These observations lead to new purchases.

At some point The Expert reaches a tipping point where his collecting transforms from a practical appreciation to an aesthetic one. This is the point where The Expert transforms from a version of the Epicurean into an odd version of The Eclectic. Before, The Expert bought games to improve the experience of playing on them, but at some point his collection starts to grow for the sake of variety. One really nice set of Poker chips is no longer the goal, the goal is to acquire several different types of Poker chips, preferably ones with unique features or some history attached to them. Although variety is the goal here, like with The Eclectic, the variety is confined to one particular game. The Expert, as one might suspect, becomes an expert in the history of the game and its varieties.

What causes this shift in focus from playing the game to collecting the game? I think the more one plays a particular game the more that game becomes part of one’s identity. Once you have identified yourself as a Chess player or a Scrabble player, then one way to express that to the world is to buy beautiful Chess sets or Scrabble boards. The money spent or the variety of pieces obtained is a material expression of one’s self. It’s certainly possible for someone to become an avid collector of a game without having much interest in playing it, but this would be much rarer.

Why bother to point out these different types of collectors? As a collector myself I just naturally enjoy categorizing things, but, more importantly, once you have identified your goal as a collector then you can focus your time and money toward making the hobby as enjoyable as possible for you.

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