Physical vs cloud

August means the Blaugust 2021 blogging event is ongoing, see the linked post for more info!

Syp has a post up about physical media versus cloud streamed content. It is something I have been discussing with my husband of late since we have been contemplating a move. Moving house is a major hassle at the best of times, but one aspect particularly relevant to a pack-rat life-long gamer is the sheer volume of CDs, DVDs and books that we own.

We both have extensive collections of book series for a start. Is it sacrilidge to sell off old novels that I will likely never read again in physical form. For years now I’ve mostly read novels on my Kindle Paperwhite, I find it more convenient to read books in a form with backlit pages and adjustable font sizes.

I very rarely buy books in paper form nowadays, though my husband still prefers to collect some series in print. It’s a similar story with computer games, it’s just easier to download a launcher and the latest version; rather than to take, say, my old LOTRO install DVDs off the shelf and then try and patch the game up to the current state. In many cases such discs are worthless since the patcher will fail to find the current server address or the patch number is so widely out of date that the systems are no longer compatible. Many of the PC CDs that we have, and some DVDs too are even more useless…

With the mountain of tabletop roleplay supplements that I have bought over the last 30+ years, things are a lot less clearcut. Roleplaying games do not have an in-built obsolesence thanks to technological advances. I could take the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons manuals off the shelf and run a game tomorrow and it would work just as well as it did in the late 1980s. Am I likely to ever do that though, not really. I have collected a lot of different systems and editions over the years. Rulebooks do age and become less useful if one keeps up with changes in systems and tastes. But, the lore and setting books that come with those rules can be useful even in the here-and-now. I still use the 3rd edition Eberron setting books that I bought over ten years ago when researching my current 5 edition modules.

I could ‘replace’ a lot of the more useful older content with digital editions actually, DriveThruRPG does a great line in PDFs of older D&D and other popular roleplay system books. Sadly some of the very rare or niche stuff isn’t on there, my almost complete collection of Alternity (1.0) books, for example. I can even purchase integrated modules for some more mainstream rules or content within the Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop. That’s not easy to flick through when researching or looking for inspiration: nothing quite beats flicking through a hardback manual when I need to kickstart the creative mood.

So, just how far to take this, if at all? Downsizing our physical collections would be a *really* good idea if/before we move. But, putting hundreds of books on Ebay and throwing away whole bags of discs is going to take time and effort. That’s not to mention the emotional effort of letting go of such items.

Physical vs cloud