I’m not much of a collector when it comes to games, a point to which my eBay feedback rating attests. The titles that remain on my shelf for longer than a couple of months fall into one of two categories: Either they’re games that I would gladly introduce to a friend, or they’re games that I intend to finish (or, in rare cases, start) playing in the near future. The rest are boxed up and shipped to the highest bidder without so much as a twinge of regret.
I do, however, collect desktop icons.
OK, they’re not just icons – double clicking on each one opens a different game, from Mondo Agency to Modern Warfare. But unlike my entertainment center’s shelves, my desktop is actually a relatively comprehensive reflection of my gaming habits on that platform. Skeptics may denounce the impermanence of direct downloads, but in my mind, they’re the only games that I can’t get rid of – short of dragging them to the recycle bin and throwing away my $40 investment. So instead, I leave them in the stack, even the ones I have no intention of ever clicking again. If nothing else, they’re a reminder that yes, I really did spend an entire weekend in a single Civ IV campaign and no, Half-Life 2: Episode 3 still isn’t out yet.
My compulsory collector’s impulse is merely one example of how the way we game changes with the medium. And, as the authors in this issue, “Alternative Access,” make abundantly clear, that medium may be changing faster than we realize. In “Gateway to Gaming,” Christos Reid speaks with the founders of GamersGate, the up-and-coming Swedish digital distribution portal. Michael Comeau sounds a warning call to gamers in “The Downside of Direct Downloads.” In “The War Continues,” Tom Endo examines the competing strategies of Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. And Ray Huling looks at the Cloud-y, streaming future of gaming in “Destroy All Consoles.”
It’s an issue about gaming without discs, brought to you by the magazine without paper. Enjoy!