Properly store a video game collection may seem obvious to many, and yet... The ravages of time sparing no one, some young collectors would be surprised seeing the consequences that can have simple details, insignificant day to day on our beloved video games, but heavy after several years ... Firstly, it's about to know of what are made the objects we want to collect. Most of the time, a game consists of a plastic box, a plastic cartridge filled with printed circuits, eproms and metal contactors, a plasticized paper sticker, an insert, and a paper manual (sometimes packaged in a baggy). There are exceptions, such as the NES games, Super NES or N64 featuring a printed cardboard box, or 3DO games mixing printed cardboard and plastic.
Anyway, the common point to these objects is the presence of paper or derivatives, namely carton. These are - usually - made by offset printers: the ink molecules are incorporated into the paper surface. We have here the two weakest components of a video game: paper which constitutes packaging (insert + sticker + insert) and the ink applied to the surfaces of these. The sturdiness of the boxes depends on a lot of their mere conception. Carton boxes are the most fragile of all. It is very difficult to find these in perfect condition, and their conservation is tedious. Media involved with this type of packaging are:
Game Boy/ GBC/GBA
Neo Geo (1st génération & MVS)
There's also some PC Games released during eighties and nineties, or also special editions of games on certain systems: we can think of Sonic for the Neo Geo Pocket or ICO for the PS2, and there's probably many others that I don't remember... The advices lavished below are initially suitable for Neo Geo AES games, but these should also be applied to other collections: Genesis game library is packaged similarly to SNK's one, as well as that of the Master System, but it is also valid for the Playstation or Dreamcast, with the difference of media for the latter (Compact Disc).
OUR GAMES' WORST ENEMIES
I hear you thinking here, and the first worst enemy of games that comes to mind is the satanic sunfade! The sun's rays are among the worst factors that can ruin a collection. Direct exposure to these rays for a dozen of hours is enough to degrade colors, insert or sticker. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, even behind a glass, ends in completely bleached colors. In case of indirect exposure, the phenomenon occurs, but in a very moderate way though: signs of discoloration appear only after years of exposure. Artificial light is even more subdued, so that degradation is virtually nonexistent.
There's yet another more insidious enemy, and which nobody really cares about... Yet it is even more formidable than the sun. It is moisture. This is a pretty difficult factor to control, and depending on the location and even the region in which you live, your games will be more or less exposed. Moisture damages greatly paper: once it is infiltrated, the paper twists lightly, and keep this deformation forever. Worse, an insert can easily tear if it is subject to repeated assaults of the water: moisture gets into it, then dries, comes again, then dry, etc ... The material works and eventually crack invariably.
Many and varied parasites can be considered as another threat. The simple fact of having a cat or a dog nearby, or just a not clean enough environment, can cause the presence of many parasites, in the form of insects, bacteria, or even rodents (especially in attics, attention! ). These are not good friends for our games, and also remember that fungi and wood-boring insects will feast your cardboard or paper covers, as well as mice or rats, ready to eat anything. The last enemy of your games, is yourself. It's pretty easy to damage a game simply by manipulating it, sometimes without realizing it. Try to touch as little as possible of your collector games, and if you want to use them, take a few simple measures to avoid having to use the mechanisms of openings or moving boxes, manuals and cartridges.