Nashville, TN – Local man Michael Fishtape has spent a lot of time and money on his board game collection. That much is obvious the moment you step in through his front door. There are shelves full of games everywhere you look and where there aren’t shelves, there are games piled atop one another in no discernible order.
“I own around 3,000 games,” Fishtape says. “I guess you could say I’m a bit of a collector.”
Even though his collection – some of which dates back to the late 50s and early 60s – is impressive, it’s not the first thing you notice upon crossing his threshold. That’s all secondary to his other interest: sleeving. Everything in his house is sleeved; his games, his furniture, his houseplants, even himself.
“When I got up to around my 1,000th game, I started to realize that I’d gone from just being a board game player to being a board game collector. I wanted to preserve my games the best that I could. I’d read a few articles online about protecting your games and I started following them.”
He hands me a printout of the articles in question printed off from a well-known game review website. One of the articles is titled “Protecting Your Game Collection: 4 Threats and How To Avoid Them” and talks about ways to protect your games from things like wear and tear from normal game play and sunlight.
“Card sleeves sounded like a good place to start,” he says. “They’re relatively cheap and they’re a good bang for your buck.”
“There was just something cathartic about sliding those cards into those sleeves,” he admits. “And when I ran out of cards to sleeve, I just started sleeving other things; paper money, tokens, player aids, you name it. Before I knew it, I was even sleeving the little wooden resource bits.”
“Eventually, once there was nothing left in the boxes that I could slide into your standard card sleeves, I began looking for other solutions. As it turns out, if you pay some companies enough money, they’ll pretty much manufacture any size sleeves that you want.”
He makes a wide, sweeping gesture with his arm to all of the sleeved objects around him before gesturing at himself. He stands before me in a giant, seven foot tall card sleeve. He doesn’t walk around the room so much as he shuffles across the floor.
“The interesting thing is that I haven’t actually purchased a new game in years. All of my spending money is getting spent on sleeves these days.”
Asked about his plans for the future, he responds, “This sleeving thing is ridiculously expensive. I’m going to have to start auctioning off my games soon to help pay for it.”