Double Dipping

Recently, when I found myself once again looking over creaking shelves and skittering piles of games, I pushed the despair aside for a moment and started to dig a little deeper into what I actually had. Things weren’t quite as they seemed. I was certain I’d seen a copy of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 just five minutes previously. The same with Sacred Gold, Tomb Raider 1&2, and more. How did this happen? Why are these duplicates taking up valuable shelf space, adding to my mental, ‘how the fuck am I going to get out of this mess’ burden?

I admit that some of it is deliberate, but some of this duplication (in some cases triplication and more) has to come down to having zero organisation as far as my games go. They are grudgingly dumped into rough categories – handhelds, PC, Xbox 360 and so on. That’s it. No alphabetisation, no genres, no favourites, no played, unfinished, or unplayed sections. Chaos. Blissful, beautiful chaos. Only it isn’t great or blissful as far as memory goes. Because of the fuck-awful mess that my game collection is in, I’ve bought Tomb Raider and Broken Sword on budget label twice. I’ve ended up with two copies of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 after forgetting that I’d been bought a set for Christmas one year, and thanks to losing either cases or serial codes and then finding them again once repurchased, Mark and I have accumulated at least three C&C: The First Decade sets.

As for the deliberate double dipping, it’s more a PC thing. With technology advancing like the tide upon Canute’s dreams, operating systems and machines slowly age and wither away, leaving games stranded. When I look over my jumble of PC games, I see titles stretching back well over a decade. Some may well work with Windows 7 – some do, in fact.  Others, I suspect, I wouldn’t have a chance of playing. Not without buggering around with patches or modes and other temper-inducing irritants. So the better choice is to rebuy the game as a later release, usually on a budget label. Or, for very old games, snap them up from GOG or Steam (and hope they work without resorting to user forums – GOG). So I have.

I now have digital duplicates of Dungeon Keeper Gold, Desperados, Commandos, Pharaoh, and more. Only I haven’t thrown away the physical copies because I like them and secretly begrudge having to own virtual and ‘puff of smoke’ games in the same way I loathe not using a pen a paper for writing. I suspect that I’m not alone here; whether or not other people go on to tear themselves away from their physical copies is another story, but with more folk making the move to digital – and with GOG, in particular, being so reasonably priced – it’s no wonder this is where most gamers, like myself, are likely to double dip.

Other doubling up, as far as my game collection is concerned, has occurred as a result of that rarest of things in my household: multiplayer. Usually as welcome as a guest at Fawlty Towers, multiplayer has, on occasion, been known to be indulged in. Several years back, Sundays were the domain of big Burnout Paradise sessions with many of the GL Crew: barrel rolling in the airfields and demolition derbies in the quarry – good times. That required two copies, only, somehow, we ended up with three, due to having a guest to stay one weekend who also wanted to join in. Left 4 Dead 2 and Red Dead Redemption also required one copy each for multiplayer purposes. Other Xbox doubles were usually Mark and I wanting to play the same single-player game at the same time, such as Fable 2, or Oblivion, which, again, is understandable, if not impatient.

Somewhere else I believe I’m not alone in this habit is in the form of collectables. I love special and limited editions (to a point – so many these days are shit and lazy), so I’ve accumulated a fair few, many of which are doubles of what I already have: Bully, Sims 3, Borderlands 2 (we must have about four or five copies of that between us in various forms, for various formats), Anno 1404, Anno 1701, Assassin’s Creed II, Risen 2, Black Mirror 2 & 3, and more. Whether or not you have regular editions, as a collector (semi-retired), there is a drive to gather the rare and unusual, so double or triple dipping is a given, especially with savvy publishers often releasing multiple special editions (Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed being a prime example), just to make life trickier, wallets lighter, and shelf space more limited.

When I think of the amount spent and the space consumed, I have to ask if it is worth it and the answer is almost always yes. The accidental occurrences, no, of course not, but I wouldn’t trade in the doubling up for multiplayer sessions, which have long become some of my favourite gaming memories of the last generation, nor would I wish away some of the collector’s editions on my shelves.

Ending up with multiple copies will continue to be a necessity as my PC games age, or I become even lazier with regards to getting them working on current laptops/PCs, and if there is a collector’s edition set released that I think is actually worth the stupid prices charged (unlikely), then I daresay I’ll be all over it, standard edition or not.

I don’t think that double dipping is confined to the realms of gaming, though. It isn’t just a compulsion unique to the genre, but rather to the human condition. We horde. We covet. We collect. I know film buffs (and am also guilty here) who have multiple copies of the same film, largely due to special editions or extra features. Book lovers (me also) who have multiple copies of certain books (check out the Barnes & Noble leatherbound editions and tell me you wouldn’t either). So next time I find myself flinching at multiple versions of this or that, and wondering, for a brief time, what on earth I’m doing, I can comfort myself with the thought that I’m not alone. My multiple copies of Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider are someone else’s ornamental plates, rare DVD boxsets, or identical favourite jumpers. It’s stupid, it’s unnecessary, and it can be problematic. But it’s human.

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One Comment

  1. Ste Ste says:

    I’m not that bad for it, mainly because I’m fucking tight but there are a couple of games I can think of where I’ve bought 2 or more copies, the prime example being Bastion. I have it on the 360, PC and iOS.

    I can absolutely understand why people do it though, especially with them collectors editions.

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