The Problem With Digital
The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows people free access to the hardest of hardcore pornography, it offers access to every piece of information ever, allows people to stay in touch over continents, allows people to shoot each other in Call of Duty, and perhaps most importantly, allows people to upload funny pictures and videos of cats and dogs, FENTON!! But guess what? There is something that I’m not happy about, and I’m going to let you all know what it is right now. OH JESUS CHRIST!!!
As well as all these wonderful uses of the internet, a worrying trend is taking hold, and that trend, is the trend of the digital download trend. Let me explain. Call me a Luddite, but I don’t like all this digital download nonsense. OK, it’s fine for music, much easier to download the few good tracks on an album than have to buy 12 songs and 10 of them be shit. Yes it’s easier to sit at home and look at itunes or Amazon, and click your mouse as all the latest tracks from Westlife or East 17, or whatever all you crazy kids are into these days, get downloaded right to your hard drive. It’s OK for music, but it’s not OK for decent honest mediums of entertainment, like films, TV, games and books. ‘Why?’ I don’t hear anyone ask, well if you just hold on a second, I’ll tell you…
Lets take books to start with. I like books. I like the smell of a new book, the weight, the pages, the excitement of what is inside. The cover promising all kinds of delicious adventures. If you download a book on to a kindle, there is none of this. No matter what you are reading, a kindle still smells like a kindle, and it looks boring. I like to read in the bath, I don’t think a kindle will survive a fall-to-sleep dunking in the luke warm water. I get why a kindle is useful, you can carry a million books with you and they all weigh less than one small paperback, I get that, but I don’t like it. I also get that with a kindle, you could be reading anything, on the beach no one can see what rubbish you’re reading, 30 years old? Well with a kindle no one knows you’re reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but you know what, if you are ashamed of that, then you are the one with the problem. People should proudly display what they read, how else are people supposed to make fun?
There are the environmental considerations. Digital books, games and films etc. don’t have boxes or packaging, and I can see that, especially in the case of books, this is a plus point. But then again no, most packaging and boxes etc. are, or could be made of recyclable materials, and as for books, they are the oldest form of mass produced entertainment we have, and I don’t want digital downloads to kill them. The Library at Alexandria was one of the marvels of the Ancient world, every book in existence was said to be housed there, imagine walking around the collection in hushed awed silence. Not quite the same if some guy is flicking through his ipad or kindle, not the same effect is it?
As a Geek, I like to collect things, I like to look on my shelf at my DVD or Blu-ray collection, my Games collection is a source of pride for me, the memories, the good times, and the bad. It’s just not the same looking at your desktop and seeing an icon that represents that movie or that game. IKEA would go out of business if we didn’t all need book shelves and DVD racks and the like, and we wouldn’t want that to happen. Where else would husbands and boyfriends be harassed on a Saturday morning? Be honest, if you go to a new friends or Girl/Boyfriends house for the first time, one of the first things you do, when you get a chance, is check out their film, music and book collections. It’s the easiest way to find out if this person you are hanging out with is a normal healthy person, or if they are a weirdo who has the entire collection of Scrubs on DVD, Mein Kampf on the book shelf, and Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics in their Wii. You simply can’t do this if everything is digital, it doesn’t work.
How about cloud gaming? The OnLive service is in it’s infancy, this service allows a customer to play games from online servers,with no need for a home console. I can see the positives of this, less fuss, instant access to games etc. But what about the negatives? For a start, I don’t know about you, but my ISP isn’t 100 % brilliant all the time, it goes in and out, and sometimes doesn’t work. What happens when this happens? You won’t be able to play your games. How about this… companies like GAME and Gamestation are pretty much kept afloat by trade ins and second hand games, and many gamers find it difficult to afford new game prices, they need the option to trade in old games for money off new, and the option to buy cheaper second hand copies. This Christmas period was especially busy for AAA titles, how many people could have afforded to buy all the games they wanted without the trade in or second hand option? Services like Valves Steam, offer the gamer an amazing service for digital downloads, however, I feel that hard copies will always be preferable. What if Valve had to close? Not too difficult to imagine in these hard financial times, oops, there goes your Steam account, and all those games… still think hard copies are old fashioned?
It’s not even as if purely digital media is cheaper either, and you’d think that it would be, with no shipping, packaging and retail costs, but no, a kindle book is as expensive, if not more (thank you Mr. Tesco) than a hardback book, or DVD. This is ridiculous, and I am at a loss to explain why this should be, well apart from the bare faced greed and cheek of publishers. I do however, have a solution.
When I buy a Blu-Ray film now, quite often I am offered a triple pack, that is a Blu-Ray and a DVD in the same pack, along with the option for a Hi-Def digital download. Everybody’s needs are covered here. People like me get to proudly display their purchase, and can watch the film on a laptop, DVD player, or Blu-Ray, and someone who cant stand the mess, can have the option of putting it all on their digital device. Now, here’s where my idea comes in. If I buy a game or book from a digital download service, I should be able to have the option, for perhaps a small extra fee, but no more than a couple of pounds, to have a hard copy sent to me, then everyone is catered for, and I will be happy, and that, I think you will agree, is the most important thing.