Avast, Ye Mateys!

Avast, Ye Mateys!
Pirates Anonymous

Darren Sandbach | 17 Feb 2009 13:00
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This was the second watershed moment. In the time I had spent playing on my modded Xbox, PC gaming had moved on. It was still easy to pirate the latest releases, but the advent of broadband ushered in a new era of multiplayer gaming. Official master servers checked for authentic keys for every game, and while it was possible to employ workarounds, I simply lost the motivation. While I had been busy getting fat on a fast food buffet, everyone else had moved on to the decent restaurant next door. I did the only thing I could think of and took some time off from gaming.

This break allowed me to gain some perspective on my addiction. I hadn't been saving money; I was spending it on blank discs, consoles I didn't need and PC upgrades to run games I never intended to play in any depth. Rather than giving me a true, wide-ranging appreciation of the medium, I'd simply been skimming the surface, digesting little. I'd begun to look at games as mere commodities, undermining their value with every disc I copied and shared.

Returning to gaming some six months later, I applied three rules. First, I focused my attention on those genres I knew fit with my lifestyle. Second, I only bought games with plenty of replay value, measured primarily by their online modes. Third, I got rid of every last piece of warez in my house - chips, discs and files alike.


I now play games enough to understand the challenge within them, and spend less as a result of doing so. I played Battlefield 2 and its pseudo-sequel 2142 for nearly two years before I was finished with them. I completed each of the Call of Duty games and spent hours in City of Heroes. I've completed more single-player games in the past year than I did in the preceding two. Games are once again an important part of my life, and I now appreciate them more for the experiences they offer than for the space they occupy on my hard drive.

All this, just because I no longer pirate games. To be a part of a culture rather than exist on the fringes as a parasite is invigorating.

Darren Sandbach has already completed 2 games this year, but has had to put down the joypad for a while thanks to Left 4 Dead-inspired zombie nightmares.

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