Do You Smell Your Video Games?

Do You Smell Your Video Games?

Here’s a fun fact about me: I was born without a sense of smell. Here’s a fun fact I learned today: people like to smell their physical video games. Help me square these two facts, readers.

While browsing reddit today, I came across a thread about someone surprising their wife with a video game.

A commenter suggested the OP install the game for their spouse, to which the OP replied that their wife likes to be the first one to open the game so they can smell it.

This idea confused me. As someone without a sense of smell, I tend to forget that smells exist outside of what I’ve dubbed “smell events”—when people hold their noses when walking in front of trash cans, fan the air above good food toward their face, or otherwise performatively smell things.

It never occurred to me that video games boxes or discs would have a distinct smell, the way people say books or cars do. Once my surprise at this (admittingly unsurprising to the smelling public) fact subsided, I wondered what games smell like and why someone would enjoy it.

I enlisted my colleague Ethan, who looked through our unopened games like he was considering a bottle of wine before choosing to unwrap Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet for the Xbox One. He said it smelled like new plastic and lamented the absence of the manual, which he said imparts its own distinct smell. Gita weighed in to agree that the smell of a new game makes her feel “nostalgic.”

Fahey said that he asks about smells when he buys games off eBay. Our EiC Stephen said he buys his games digitally and went back to doing things that weren’t shoving game boxes in people’s faces.

So tell me, readers: Do you smell your video games? Do you like it? Bonus points if you can describe the smell, and even more bonus points if you can describe it without using smell words, which is one of my favourite ways to torment smelling people. Thanks in advance for your indulgence.


  • Of course I do.

    Can’t beat that new game smell. I miss it whenever I buy a digital game. But whenever I get a physical game, first thing I do after I take off the shrink wrap is open the case and experience the wonderful aroma of a new game.

  • The smell of collectors edition games, OMG. My FFXIV collectors edition is probably my favourite game to smell, it came with some leather stuff in there and it just really adds a new deeper smell profile.

  • Yeah, I do. I mean I don’t deliberately open the cover move it up towards my nose and take a deep breath. But, when I open the cover there is a distinct smell that is not unpleasant. It smells almost the way plastic tastes, I guess.

    • This comment made me curious… From my understanding, smell is tied to taste, so if you’re born without a sense of smell, theoretically things wouldn’t taste the same (or at least not as strong). So would plastic even taste the same to Riley?

  • Hmmm, I will have to try this.

    I do love the smell of freshly published glossy material like brochures.

  • Woah…you open something like an Ultima VII. Disks, crisp manuals, cloth map. That’s the goood stuff.

    • I’m jealous. I’ve licked several Switch cartridges but I never seem to get the ones that have the special coating on them.

  • Like the author I have no sense of smell so I will just have to smell games vicariously through everyone else. Well, I do have a sense of smell but it is super dull so the smell has to accumulate over time before I start noticing it and even then I only really know I’m smelling something and couldn’t really associate it with anything.

  • As someone that has caused immense damage to the nerves in his face this really surprised me. Do they actually smell like anything?

  • Gran Turismo 2 came with a scratch and sniff logo on one disc. Smelt like burnt rubber and petrol.

  • No sense of smell? If you don’t mind me asking how is your sense of taste?

    As I understand it alot of our taste sense are in fact smells and I’d dread the thought of not being able to taste food.

    • I was thinking the same thing.

      As someone who loves food, this kind of made me very sad. I hope another of their senses is boosted , like daredevil, or that they can perhaps see an extra colour or into another dimension to make up for it.

  • My take on it is that when the discs are stamped and the cover inserts are printed, the cellophane wrapping seals in the scent of the inks, so what you are smelling is kind of a plastic-y, inky combo smell. Mmmm, almost gives me shivers just thinking about it. Gotta go and crack open something quick!

  • This resonates with me so much. I try to smell as many brand new products as I can. It’s what I imagine herion feels like. Fresh instruction booklet smell is second to none, the way you can flick the pages across your nostrils so the nectar is directly administered to the sense. Bliss…

  • My brother snuck a fart into a games case once and I foolishly took a huge whiff expecting to small new plastic. I think it was the worst thing I’ve ever smelt. Bastard.

  • I remember spending an extra $40-ish one day a few years ago when purchasing a Sega Saturn game to get a copy that was still sealed, just so I could get some sweet 90’s new game smell, and you know what? Worth it. So worth it.

  • Not since the early days of introducing DVD covers and you would pull off the shrink wrap and the toxic smell.. I ended up binning the case and storing the games in an envelope

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