Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Playground Piracy

Kieron Gillen | 24 Apr 2007 12:01
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The obvious argument is the nature of piracy has changed in a peer-to-peer world. It almost certainly has. But the nature of a core of pirates almost certainly hasn't. They pirate games because they're compelled to. They may get it from BitTorrent, but they're still passing BitTorrent links to friends. And people, if they had the money, would still rather buy an actual copy.

It may be illegal. For most moralities, it's wrong. But like underage sex, I'm not going to be swift to condemn it too strongly. It's an act born of love (or lust, which is another unappreciated emotion). As long as games are too expensive for a big chunk of consumers to purchase as regularly as they'd wish, they'll turn illicit means to satisfy their desires. Hollenshead should look around the office, even. Famously - see Masters of Doom for further details - John Carmack actively broke into a computer laboratory when he was 14 to steal an Apple II. Somehow I doubt it was to just pawn it.

Similarly, when researching this article and talking to my peers, an odd realization struck: Any game journalist of any note I'd talked to had, at one point, been a pretty serious pirate. Then I had another realization: Why do I know a lot about games? Because I played a lot of games. How did I play enough games to know enough? I bought all I could, then pirated the rest. Why? Because I cared too much about games.

If it's true of the proto-game-journalists, it's just as true of game designers. If they weren't rich - to acquire the mass of knowledge of videogames to be any good whatsoever - they'd almost certainly be pirates. Due to the sheer cost, any game designer wishing to be properly literate in the form will almost certainly involve some manner of copyright infringement.

Developers can be angry at pirates now that they're all grown up, which is completely understandable - especially the militant cracking and hacking communities. But, in amping up their vitriol and linking all piracy to the worst things in the world, it's just too much. The majority of pirates aren't monsters. They're your consumers who find themselves short this month. They're your kids and kids' friends. Some of them are your future peers and the future of the medium. And when you paint them as abominations in league with terrorists, it does make you think, at the least, you don't remember the intensity of passion which once drove you. And at the worst, it makes you suspect maybe - just maybe - you never had it at all.

Kieron Gillen has been writing about videogames for far too long now. His rock and roll dream is to form an Electro-band with Miss Kittin and SHODAN pairing up on vocals.

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