Friday, April 3, 2015

A Thought to Chew: Why Physical Trumps Digital Copies

At the dawn of gaming, there was no such thing as "downloadable content". If you wanted something, you bought it at the game store (or whatever they had in the '80s).
You see, games came in boxes that were themselves in boxes, sometimes in more boxes. There's a lot of boxes involved, I know. One box was called a "cartridge". The other was called a "container". Sometimes, they came in these things called "bundles". Foreign concepts, I know. If you're confused, just stop reading. It won't make sense to you.
What am I getting at? Video games have always been cartridges and CDs, and I want that tradition to keep going.
I'm what I like to call a "materialist". If I want something, it has to be something I can hold in my hands. It doesn't have any weight or meaning to me if I can't see it or feel it. That being said, I avoid digital downloads like the plague unless it's the only option.

Having a digital download is like having a pet cat who's in some state of metaphysical existence. He's technically there, but if you wanna cuddle, then it sucks to be you, 'cuz Mr. Snuggles over here won't do crap to you. You can say you have him, but he's not really there.
In addition, imagine an analogy that actually makes sense because the one I just wrote was terrible. Sorry, Mr. Snuggles.
Anyway, the only games I have downloaded are games that I got for free or games that I wanted but there was no other way to acquire. Even so, there are countless amazing games that I have simply never played because of this. As a rule of thumb, I typically don't buy Eshop cards because if you're in a video game store, why not look at all the pretty games on the wall instead of that hideous, rotating rack of card-vomit in the corner? As useful as those cards are, I never get the chance to obtain one because it doesn't mean anything to me. You also know, though, what that means? No Cave Story, no Shovel Knight, no VVVVVVVV or whatever its name is, no ANYTHING, and it's a real shame.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, this seems to be the fate of gaming. Things like Steam are taking over the PC market, dominating physical copies. Games like Earthbound are now playable through Virtual Console and emulators without the pesky $100+ pricetag. After all, why go through the trouble of buying an SNES only to pay more money to get games when you could just go ahead and buy Super Mario World for less than ten bucks?
Did I not just poorly explain why?
Games will probably continue to come out in physical copies, but with the indie scene growing bigger, games being rereleased for other consoles, and companies realizing that it's much cheaper to make things downloadable than go through the distribution process, they will slowly become more obsolete. Gaming is in a constant state of evolution, but no change will be as drastic as the massive turnover into the realm of digital gaming, making materialists like myself soon being forced to deal with intangible items.
It's impossible to explain in words, and I've probably failed already, but there's nothing like looking at all of the boxes displaying themselves on your shelves and looking at them as your eyes zigzag all the way to the bottom.

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