Game storage is a topic that has always intrigued me. I’m not talking about where to keep your games, rather the cardboard or plastic inserts that organize the cards, dice, pawns, boards, score trackers, meeples, and assorted cardboard bits. So many games come with horrible inserts or no inserts at all, leaving players like me to try to fashion something myself from foam core board, battle foam, or some other material. My closets are full of Plano boxes and I’ve purchased enough small plastic zipper lock bags that I am certain I am on a DEA watch list. Certainly, a few publishers put thought into their inserts but, unfortunately, most do not.
All of that could possibly change with the introduction of Game Trayz, a wonderful new and exciting product from Noah Adelman. While Game Trayz is a revolutionary way of thinking about how tabletop games are organized, how Adelman got here is a bit more prosaic. “I graduated … in 2001 with a degree in Computer Engineering. After running a website development and marketing business with my father and brother in law for many years, I decided to take a marketing position at MiniatureMarket.com. My love for board games started several years before that, but my collection greatly grew while working at Miniature Market,” says Adelman.
“I always went out and purchased $8-$12 plastic Plano boxes and little plastic baggies to keep all my games organized, and saw all my friends doing the same. I thought that if I am willing to pay that much for a generic solution, I would gladly pay more for a perfect, well-thought-out solution. After a year at Miniature Market, I had made many contacts in the gaming industry. My idea was to design trays not only to store the game pieces safely, but also help with setup and in game play. I saw other solutions made from foam and wood, so to approach from a different angle I started looking into thermoforming. Another friend of mine had worked in the thermoforming business for many years and was able to get me a job at his office where I have been working for the past year. There, I gained knowledge of the thermoforming process and with the help of my friend, we designed the first Game Trayz for Terra Mystica.”
While the Terra Mystica trays were more of a proof of concept than a complete solution, Adelman went on to approach a friend of his, Stonemaier Games’ Jamey Stegmaier, about creating a complete solution for Stegmaier’s game, Euphoria. “He [Stegmaier] generously offered to put a blurb in his monthly newsletter about Game Trayz, and we instantly got over 600 fans on Facebook! There was much excitement just from the preliminary design mockups. Since then, Stonemaier has been pivotal in helping get the word out about the trayz, and his fans were very responsive to the idea.”
As you can see from the images in this post, the before and after photos of Euphoria are pretty breath-taking. Everything has a place in the Game Trayz and figuring out where to put the components is pretty easy because Adelman has taken the extra steps to put icons or labels in most of the cut-outs so you know what goes where. Adelman also plans on including videos and instruction sheets to be perfectly clear about how to use the inserts, but he says “I strive to make the Game Trayz as self-explanatory as possible by engraving symbols in the plastic to show where all the pieces go.” Additionally, Euphoria has a simple lid to keep all the pieces from falling out of their bins, if the game is stored on its side.
Each insert has been thoughtfully considered and prototyped before being offered as a product. Trays for the resources used most commonly in games are duplicated for either side of the table and are small enough and positioned to be accessible so they can be quickly removed from the box and put into play. Adelman plans on offering the trays in a variety of materials, colors, and thicknesses. “We use plastic that is 2-3 times thicker than most of the flimsy plastic trays that come in some games,” says Adelman. “They are designed to last as long as the game pieces.”
When Adelman sets out to create a new tray, he has three considerations: “One, store the game components safely, plus allow for the box to be shaken and stored vertically without pieces falling out of place. Two, decrease setup and cleanup time to get games started quicker and put away faster. Three, add in-game organization and optimization to streamline play and de-clutter the table. If I can achieve this, the game needs some Trayz!”
The company, though in its infancy, shows potential for big growth. Just this week, the designer took the big step of leaving the security of his day job to pursue developing Game Trayz full time. Even though there are only trays for two games, Adelman says that will change soon. “Right now we have many preliminary designs for games like Belfort, Eclipse, Tzolkin, Caverna, Coup, Power Grid, and Escape! We are planning on running a poll to get some feedback on what games gamers want Game Trayz for. [We are] also working on how to structure a possible Kickstarter for Game Trayz.”
Additionally, Adelman is in talks to make a custom Game Trayz as a stretch goal for a game currently on Kickstarter called New Salem. It’s a great and really interesting idea for a game on Kickstarter looking for a unique stretch goal.
While the Game Trayz have been in existence for about a year, Adelman is only just now starting to see some real traction. But his early fans are passionate. “I love getting feedback from people who say the trayz have shaved 10-15 min of setup time. Plus, there is always the bling factor, and people love to show off their tricked out copy of Euphoria!”