August 2, 2006

[Misc] Sigh...

I was trying to come up with a decent post for number 600. It isn't often that anything hits 600 installments. Most webcomics tend to falter before they hit 100, and most blogs have faltered within a single day.

So I wanted to do something special. I wanted to look back at the ups and downs of posting over these last few years. I wanted to show the positives of knowledge sharing, show the value of public debate, and show that through the open flow of information, the world coule become a better place...and then I saw this post over at Ars Technica in relation to my recent complaints that pirates were asking for support.

You don't understand! It's the developers who are evil and trying to defraud consumers, and the pirates are just fighting for their rights.
Wow. I'm stunned.

I'm stunned by the ethical leap that someone would have to make to even utter that statement. Of course, I've been stunned a lot lately by ethical leaps and lapses.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the same people talking about molesting the pre-teen female star of "Lazytown." (If you haven't seen the posts from one of these wonderful examples of humanity, just read the comments on one of the videos and weep for the future of humanity.) Following his logic, it seems that children are evil and he'd just be fighting for his rights as a pedophile.

I spent a good part of the morning discussing region locks with Ozymandias over at Microsoft because I felt that region locking caused more harm than good. (I'm working on a post for that topic, but the fact that I was bringing it up at all is the point for now.) I pointed to areas where region locking led to either financial issues for the platform holder, additional support issues for the publisher, and potential lost sales for the developer. I also brought up my experiences as a consumer where I've tried to import items as well. It was a very lively discussion, but at each point, we were attempting to balance the wants and needs of every member of this community: platform holders, publishers, developers and consumers.

While we agreed to disagree, we all agreed that in the end, all of the parties involved were gaining something while losing something else. It wasn't a zero-sum game for everyone (some parties were gaining more while others were losing more), we were discussing it trying to find some sort of equilibrium in the gaming ecosystem.

The attitude from the poster above is not the attitude of a contributor, but that of a parasite. He wants to contribute nothing, but instead reap all the benefits that he can. Due in part to the growth of broadband and the social acceptance of peer-to-peer networks, this community of parasites has grown significantly faster than the rest of the gaming community.

I'm not rich. I make enough to keep my wife and I in our one-bedroom apartment in Dallas and buy a game about once a month. I'm not naïve. I expected there to be some level of piracy because of the history in this industry, but I did not expect the level of piracy that we experienced, nor did I expect the severe amount of chutzpah that the parasites had.

Parasites in nature have a purpose. They feed off of larger entities, only to eventually become food themselves. However, nobody can feed off of the pirates in the gaming ecosystem. The many "benefits" that most pirates claim to produce in the ecosystem are only benefits for the pirate.

I don't know how to end this. I really don't. So I'm just going to stop, say thanks for sticking around for 600 posts, and get back to wondering exactly where this ecosystem fell apart.

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