Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Game Room: Librarium

The last element for a proper gaming facility in your home is a Librarium. This will be the place where you work on some of the more delicate hobby operations, such as painting and assembling. It will be a place to keep all of your army books, rules manuals, and fiction. Likewise, it should be a place where you can display your work and be proud of your trophies.

First, the location needs a proper work area and sufficient light. This is likely the most time consuming part of the hobby, so ideally it should be in a family area, like the TV room. Painting in the basement lacks natural light and painting in the garage risks getting dust where it should not be. Here are some options:
  • Some people work on a TV tray from the couch with a light over their shoulder. This is actually a pretty good way to go for many reasons. The TV tray can be easily moved to the Strategium when not in use, it keeps you close to your family, and the light can be moved around easily. It is also small enough to force you to work on just a few figures at a time. Obviously, it can get knocked over and doesn't give a lot of extra room for paint, water, glue, and brushes.
  • Some people work on the kitchen table. If you do this, put down a few layers of cardboard to protect it from paint and knives.
  • Others work at the computer desk, but this will probably get you kicked off when someone else wants to use it.
If you have the space, you can do what I do:
  • Get a nice table and set it up near the TV. Do not let it directly face the TV, since you can easily become distracted by the images playing upon its surface. Ideally it should be by a window.
  • Add a hutch or a painting shelf to it for storage of all your painting gear and reference books.
  • Get two lamps, one halogen and one incandescent. The mix of two light sources will mimic natural light.
  • Invest in a good desk chair with proper back support. It should have adjustable arms and high-quality casters.
  • Put down a plastic carpet protector for the chair to roll on.
  • Pop in a good DVD commentary or start a podcast.
The Librarium should also house all of your gaming books. I have gone back and forth on what to do with my old codexes. I once came close to throwing a bunch of them out, but I examined the new ones and determined that the fluff and painting guides in the old ones made them worth keeping, even when the new edition came out. These old books now provide a handy resource whenever I look to start a new army or clean up and refurbish an old one. I also keep all my old gaming magazines. For storage, I bought a number of heavy-duty magazine holders from the office supply store. Again, they form a handy reference once you have several years worth saved up.

When buying a book shelf, get ones that have solid wood shelves. Pressboard or plywood is not rigid and will bend over time. Magazines and RPGs are particularly dense books, so will require a good quality bookshelf. Don't be shy about putting them on display. Game books tend to have bright colors and interesting covers. They are sure to spark a conversation when the neighbors come over to play cards. If you are lucky, they might decide to try out a little D&D instead of playing poker! These shelves can also be a place to store your more popular board games. This way they can be brought out at a moment's notice instead of having to be reclaimed from the Enginarium.

You should also invest in a display case. It is important because you should be proud of the work you have put into your hobby. How many houses have you been to with a display case full of plates that were painted in a sweatshop in China or antiques created by someone with only modest talent a hundred years ago? Think about it- the time, effort, and artistry that went into painting your Warjack is a hundred times more valuable than any of that other garbage. Do not fall into the fallacy that just because something is "nerdy" it should be hidden. Explain to the viewer such things as shading, highlights, color theory, and brush work. Get them to appreciate it for what it is- artistry and craftsmanship. The display case will also inspire you to keep improving. Take a look at what is in there and challenge yourself to replace it with something better!

When selecting a display case, look for a couple things. First, make sure it is lighted. Ideally, it should have two bulbs- one at the top and one at the middle. Second, it should have doors on both side that give you enough room to get your arms in. Finally, the case should be big enough to display what you want to show off. If your game is 40K, you will want a bigger one in order to fit an entire army. If you play Malifaux, a smaller one will probably be fine.

Even if the Librarium is also the family room, it should be a place of quiet meditation and reflection. Is there a fireplace? How about a grandfather clock? Consider adding a few wing-backed chairs. This is where you will go to reflect on your victories, stretch out on the couch, and ponder your next move.

I hope my reflections on the gaming environment have been helpful. I was lucky enough to have all of these elements in my last house. I had a large gaming room that was connected to a good sized storage room. The light was good and it had a utility sink and bathroom connected. There was room for a couch and several comfy chairs next to the gaming tables. Now that I am back in grad school I am not so lucky. But even here in my one-room apartment I have all that I need.

Cheers, and happy gaming!


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