Gaming is not a Crime.

By Ben

 

*Disclaimer: Until final, official, announcements are made; I am in no way accusing any names or entities contained within proceeding with any sort of unethical or immoral acts or regulations. This is an article to convey my thoughts on where an industry is or may be headed. Examples given are simply that: examples.

 

 

I remember a time when being a gamer simply meant you were free to enjoy video games in your own way, on your own time. There was no debate over their influence on young minds. I was never alerted to the dangers with my insistence that I Gotta Catch’em all! My mother didn’t buy me Mortal Kombat when I was young. As a child I didn’t need to be exposed to – then considered – graphic blood and violence. She knew that if I couldn’t watch movie Y do to content, then I shouldn’t play game Z for the same reasons. Game companies didn’t impose regulations on the consumers, either. The sequence commonly went as follows:

Step 1) I liked the look of the game.

Step 2) I rented said game.

Step3) I bought said game.

Step 4) I played said game to completion. I then either played said game over at friends’ houses or traded/sold said game to others.

It’s a simple process. There are no ethical quandaries contained within. No perceived illegal activities going on. No question of a gamer’s dedication to his/her favored medium. In the past few years, all of that – my entire gaming experience – has come to mean diddly in the face of child-violence paranoia, and extreme preemptive actions taken to stop supposed software pirating.

 

 

 

Look, I hate political opinion. I hate having to interrupt my hobbies to then worry about what some schmuck in Washington telling me that the games I play, whether table-top, TCG, or video games, all lead me down a path to death and destruction. Equally I hate hearing from some self-righteous religious leader, or “concerned” parent, that those same mediums will send me to Hell and corrupt “the children.” All of these opinions are voiced by people who have no clue as to what they are referencing and none of these people have the right to chastise another person simply because they have a few sets of d20s or both Pokémon Red and Blue. Thankfully these thoughts and actions were always outside of our own kind. TSR never said, “Oh guys, by the way, we’re dropping D&D. It supports baby sacrifice.” I never heard a game developer mention its fans being ungrateful or thieving. I was never told on my Twitter feed that some over-paid grunt from a console developer thought my opinion on an always on connection was stupid. I can’t run a vacuum when the power’s off, sir? No kidding, but I use my Xbox for more than online multiplayer, jackass. I’d like to be able to play Far Cry 3 if my Verizon bill is late by a few days.

 

Within a day of Microsoft announcing the Xbox One people were even more up in arms than they had been during the reveal. It was just a rumor, but it was one that wasn’t immediately shot down, and that’s what made it so dangerous. You could buy a used game, but you would pay a “registration” fee in order to play it. Your console may not always be connected, but to play a used game you better have your internet up and running so you can pay that additional fee. Otherwise you just paid $30 for a blank disc.

 

Say what you want about used games. Some won’t buy them. Some have such an issue with the credit given versus the resale price. Some just don’t care. For me, they are a convenience. As a father and husband living in the glorious upper echelons of the lower economic class, buying used means the difference between waiting over a year for a new game and purchasing one with a less than perfect condition box. I prefer new, in fact often times I will wait until I can buy new. I also like to pre-order whenever possible. The bottom line is I appreciate the ability to purchase or resell used games. Whether or not I ever exercise that ability, it exists. And that is the main issue I’ve taken with DRM or registration of used games.

 

As a consumer I should have the right to do whatever I feel like with my property, so long as it is done abiding to laws and regulations placed therein. I understand the fear a company may have in regards to piracy. Game makers work hard to produce their titles. I know I’d be beyond pissed off if someone were to take my hard work and distribute it illegally so that they could make a quick buck. That’s money out of my pocket and I doubt that every employee of even a big name developer or publisher can afford a few hundred dollars less each paycheck. They aren’t all Cliffy B. So on that front, I appreciate the concern. It’s valid and justified. However, when it comes to items that I have purchased, I should not be forced into a decision by a corporation. For decades used games and the used games market have existed. For a company to in essence tell me to my face,

“Hey you spent $60+ on a game, tough crap if you ever want to play it over at a buddy’s.”

Oh, that’s right, I can just download my profile to a friend’s Xbox One, search my cloud saves, and play the game off of my gamertag. Great! I can take triple the time to play the game than if I could just put the disc in the tray. Plus this guarantees that I’ll only be able to game with friends who are of star quality and can afford the best internet connection available. Oh joy, Microsoft, I’m so happy you make my decisions. I’m too incompetent to do it myself. I’d just screw everything up….*pouty-face.

 

That’s it right there folks. My rights as a consumer have been taken away. My decisions made for me and my choice in the matter completely unconsidered. I have been told by the company that this is the way it is and I better just deal with it. I have a hard time swallowing that pill. My hard earned money keeps those companies afloat. I’m only one person, but my decisions and my actions do matter. I stand behind my brothers and sisters and refuse to give up our rights as not just gamers, but as consumers. We have choices we should be allowed to make. I don’t care if a person is for or against used games. These decisions made by corporations take away your rights. They take away your ability to make up your own damn mind. If this is allowed to happen who is to say that other industries won’t decide to start doing it? Imagine iTunes requiring registration fees any time you transfer an mp3 from one device to another. What about not being able to marathon Firefly or Star Wars with your party members the night your campaign finally finished and you took on that lich-king? This is not a matter of game companies losing money due to used game sales. This is a matter of my rights and abilities as a consumer being taken from me. I refuse to support that.

 

Neither should game developers. As one of the only industries to almost universally support its fans the gaming scene has nearly always lobbied for gamers’ rights. Hell, our own ratings board is a thousand times more efficient than the MPAA and we take it upon ourselves to enforce those ratings. Why is it now that developers are taking to the sidelines and allowing a console developer to dictate what we as gamers, as the fans of those same companies, can decide and accomplish? We should have their support. We should have them being as vocal as the masses. They should be the generals at the front of our charge, the grizzled veteran fighters that lead the troops to storm the gates. Where are you?! Microsoft can do whatever they like with their console, that’s great. But if full support is put behind them by developers, we are being shown that as gamers we really don’t matter.

 

Want to know something? Inmates in prisons almost always outnumber the guards by as much as 100 to one. How easy would it be to for them to unify and riot and bring down the prison walls? Want to know why it doesn’t happen? Because they are consistently told that it cannot. That they, the overwhelming majority, have no power. We as gamers are not bloodthirsty killers, but it is our money that keeps companies afloat. We are the blood in their veins, and the breath in their lungs. We keep them alive. We can also be the inmate population that topples the guards’ towers and brings the prison to rubble. I’m not advocating any sort of violent act. I don’t convey a hostile course of action to be undertaken. I simply point out that our dollars are what these companies need. Microsoft may have billions of dollars of profit each year, but that profit comes from us. Without us they wither and die. It’s time to exercise that power. I have been an Xbox gamer since the original. I was there when Halo made history. When Xbox LIVE gave console gamers a taste of what real multiplayer gaming was. As much as it hurts me – it truly does. I feel as though I may have to walk away from something I love dearly. It isn’t easy. – I stand here now before God and the Internet and vow one single statement: I will never purchase a console that takes away my rights as a gamer or forces my hand and makes my decisions.

 

I am consumer, hear me roar.

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