Players of online TCGs sometimes lament the lack of “real cards,” meaning physical, cardboard examples in the real world of the game tokens they collect and manipulate in the online world. The old Neuromancer term is my favorite: “meat.” They want meat cards, not cyber cards.
Maybe it’s our fault for making the online experience simulate the offline experience. These things don’t have to look like cards, and they don’t have to go into a collection that looks like a binder. We use these metaphors because they’re familiar.
Anyway, my point here is that like with movies and television, we’re selling fun. You don’t get a book to take home when you see a movie. Besides, games are better fun than movies and television because they reusable in a good and changing way (you can watch a movie again, but it won’t be any different) and they’re interactive (you knew that word was coming up soon, didn’t you?). Not a word I like, “interactive” but it says you are not just passive while you’re having fun. Active fun is better than passive fun. That’s why fucking is better than watching fucking.
Here’s another observation for the meat players. I have about 50,000 TCG cards in my basement. I threw away about 80,000 a year ago, but I still have a lot left. They are physical manifestations of the fun I had playing games with them. And they’re worthless. They’re worthless to me because nobody plays those games any more. Even if they do, they don’t play using the old cards I have. I might be able to turn some of them into cash from some crazy collector out there, but I don’t have a box full of Black Lotuses wasting away, and there’s a good chance that the money I would get for the cards I have wouldn’t be worth the trouble to catalog them and put ’em on eBay.
I have moved these boxes of cards, some of them, four or five times. If they were digital cards and those games were no longer online, I’d have more room in my basement. Players always say things like, “If I want to bust out some cards and play a couple games of Super Nova, I’ve got the cards to do that any time I want!” Most people say that, but they don’t. If you do, more power to ya, but I don’t know anybody that actually does that.
I’ve played card games online and offline. I can tell you that I never want to touch another TCG card again. I like playing online better. I like the rules enforcement, the ease of building decks, the ability to find opponents at any time of the day or night, and hell, I even like the automatic shuffling and clean up. Pixels beat cardboard in my book. I understand the desire for tactile stimulation, and your mileage may vary.