Random Babblings: Save the Rainforests!


posted 2/4/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
There’s a dilemma that has been plaguing the world for quite some time. Dozens of acres of the rainforest are bulldozed every year; much of the fallen timber goes towards the making of paper. Activists have worked long and hard to preserve the natural environment through protests and petitions, but it’s all for naught. Want to know how to save the rainforests? Conserve paper. And where’s a better place to start than with computer gaming? In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a huge influx of titles shipping with cheesy paper cases as opposed to the hard jewel cases that we have come to know and love. Judging by how well these titles are selling, I’d say that a large amount of the bulldozed timber goes towards the making of these flimsy excuses for CD houses. There is absolutely no reason why I should spend $50 on a game (which is far overpriced by the way) only to have to shill out more cash for a set of jewel cases so that I can protect my investment.

The idea of overcharging someone for a game and not having the decency to deliver it in a plastic jewel case is insulting. It’s insulting to those who bust their butts every week just to earn enough extra cash to purchase a game, it’s insulting to those who support their favorite companies and it’s especially insulting to me, a guy who has seen the gaming industry go through a serious moral degradation in the recent years. While earnings and profits are at an all time high, production values and customer loyalty is at an all time low. Sure they can overcharge us for their high-profile titles (remember at this time last year, a high-profile PC title actually cost about $39.99) but they don’t have the decency to deliver it in a suitable package? This is especially painful for someone that has followed a company like Epic from the days of their shareware all the way up to their recent release, Unreal Tournament 2003.


Imagine my surprise as I opened up the box to discover a jewel case sized booklet and three paper sleeves. So what are they telling me here? That I need to supply my own jewel case if I want to be able to hang onto this title? My jaw hit the floor; the company that I had supported for 10+ years had given me the proverbial swift kick to the nuts. Even Jazz Jackrabbit came in a suitable case, and that only cost me $20. Perhaps most insulting is that the installation program for the game commands me to enter the CD-key on the “back of the jewel case.” Oh wait, there is no jewel case, so where do they print it? On the back of the freaking manual. Whoops Apparently, even the guys who code the installation program weren’t aware of this heinous act and were expecting much more of their company.

Another Atari game, Neverwinter Nights, came in those luxurious paper cases. Of course the game was a steal at only $49.99 so I guess one could understand why the company had to cut such corners. I mean, what can 50 bucks really get you today anyways? What’s that you say? You can feed a family of 8? You can take your girlfriend out to a nice meal? You can feed Sally Struthers for 15 minutes? Nah, you must be lying because apparently 50 Washingtons are only good enough to net me three paper cases.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of this dilemma is the need to purchase separate housing for the CDs in order to protect them from sustaining scratches or surface damage. So let’s see, I’ve paid $50 for the privilege of playing the game and now I have to shill out more money for a solid case so that it doesn’t get all f***ed up? Jesus Christ, why don’t you just cut off my balls while you’re at it? Here, take my wallet and keys to my car, I’m not going to be needing it. I won’t be able to afford gas money anymore, I’ll be too poor from spending my paychecks on jewel cases.

Because of my job here at the Nexus, it’s truly rare for me to have to actually venture out and purchase a title. However, I hold just the same expectations as the crowd that I cater to. I expect only the best out of my games and when I plonk down 50 of my hard earned dollars, I’m expecting a masterpiece. Games like Data Becker’s Highland Warriors are not masterpieces.

It’s quite obvious that jewel cases have been reserved for only the most upper echelons of gaming.

It’s a shame that the industry has come to this, I’d expect this from a low-brow company or a business that is just getting a start in the industry. Maybe the gaming industry is in cohoots with the world’s logging industry, perhaps this cost cutting is the key to their increased success. I don’t know who the genius was that decided to start this trend but it’s an annoying one that needs to end before it becomes more popular. Blaming it on the smaller sizes of the boxes isn’t good enough for me either, EA’s recently released Battlefield 1942 came with a plastic case that held the game’s two CDs and it came with a manual that was larger than that of UT2003’s.

I’ve heard of saving the rain forests but this is ridiculous. Maybe next time I’ll find more creative ways of conserving paper, like holding on to the little slips of green inside my wallet.