This article stems from my recent move. In my previous home, we had enough room for me to have a "Man Room (tm)". Then, the baby came. So we converted the garage into the "Ultimate Man Room (tm)". Fun while it lasted, we eventually had to break it down to sell our house to move closer to family, resulting in my repurposing part of the living room space into the Secret Gaming Headquarters. Once our house sold, I had to compact even further, basically using half a closet to stow my collection, let alone share the television with other household members. At first, I thought I'd basically be down to one console hiding in a closet with a few games, but with the right equipment, I found that I can still have full functionality of all my systems and games.
Today's modern systems and their disc-based formats make for an extremely easy way to slim down your collection. While a pile of discs haphazardly thrown together can result in hundreds of lost dollars via scratches, a super-compact disc storage system such as the DiscGear collection can let you access hours upon hours of entertainment with a simple slide and click. I personally have two DiscGear 80 disc holders keeping most of my collection, and a small 20-disc tower holding my newest collection pieces in their cases, while the games in the DiscGear have their boxes stowed carefully in a Rubbermaid tub for when the Man Room makes it's triumphant comeback.
While next-gen is shying away from backwards compatibility in order to resell you your old collection, the right combination of consoles can let you access everything with less units plugged into your television. On the handheld side, you may have games from the Game Boy, GB Color, GB Advance, DS, and 3DS, but a Game Boy Advance SP and 3DS will cover all the bases you need. If you can't find a fully BC PS3, a slim PS2 and slim PS3 take up little room together, and if you're using non-HDMI, you can even share the port on the back of the TV by swapping the cord between consoles. Identical ports on the Wii U and Wii mean a few cord swaps can bring out your old Wii for GameCube fun while keeping your slimmer and easier-to-stow Wii instead of a boxy GameCube. If you want to go further back, look no further than Hyperkin's RetroN5, the coming-soon device that will play most every cart you have sitting around.
3) Prioritize and Organize
I have found that these Sterilite 3-drawer units are press-and-snap-together, meaning that a few 3-drawer units can soon become a 9-drawer unit off in a corner. Unless I need my SegaCD/32X megacombo system, each unit fits in one of these drawers with one to four controllers and a few choice games. Another drawer holds the rest of the games. This means any retro system is a few seconds from plugging in.
Speaking of plugging in, sometimes the biggest hassle of wanting to play a system that doesn't have room at your television is the plugging in. You really have to prioritize your plugs, especially if you have a TV with only a couple inputs. Modern systems all use HDMI, so one cable can swap between them, or an inexpensive switchbox and cable set can even do the work for you, auto-switching with programmed priority. If you can't get behind the TV regularly, a set of extension cables will put ports in an accessible place. Also, a squid-like multitap can't be put into more than one system at once, but it will allow you to click between multiple systems without multiple ports.
5) Shrink the Collection Economically
Let's face it: you are guaranteed to have one game you promised yourself you'd play one day: it ain't gonna happen. If you don't have that full-set completionist attitude, head on over to Goozex, which is climbing back into popularity again. Trade out a few low-point games and pick up the big one you've been looking for for little to nothing.
6) Share and Share Alike
My new setup has my wife and I using the same television. Originally, she had a few shows she liked, which gave me time on another television to game. Take away the spare TV, and one of us has to lose out, unless the gamer can shift gears. I found VGA cables for most of my systems, allowing me to port a console over to the PC monitor for a gaming session. Portable games are amazing at that time, as is the Wii U, giving me a chance to play games requiring a solo screen whilst she uses the television. (On a side note, she has sacrificed for me as well, watching the episode she wants on the next night via instant streaming online.)
7) Pimp My Space
When I had my man room, I had tons of decorations. My NES Advantage had it's own shelf for display, each console had it's own section, and nerd posters had permission to fly with pride. Now, delegated to a single closet area, it can seem rather uneventful to game. When I picked up my HDMI switchbox, the line designation light put this awesome blue glow behind my systems, making me remember just because it's minimal doesn't mean it has to look pitiful. I got artistic and painted up my 360 and picked out a few of my old anime action figures to adorn the sides. I still have a little room to be proud of my collection.
Each and every gamer would like to have their own personal space to show off their collection, even if they are the only ones to ever see it. But just because you have to take up minimal room does not mean you have to make major sacrifices. A few organizational tips and smart cabling with a touch of design for fun can ensure that you will be gaming like a pro, even in a minimal space.