Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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Evan Narcisse of the Atlantic rather adeptly illustrates science fiction’s ability to make poignant political and cultural statements when written well; in this case in the first two iterations of the Mass Effect trilogy.

It’s funny, considering the debates I’ve had with folks on the same topic, especially regarding the Krogan – basically, that even in hypothetical circumstances people are quick to accept the rationalization for the destruction of another race so long as it’s not them and to exploit the Other so long as it is always kept under one’s thumb.

They stick to the hardest line “they’re expendable, we’re not” colonialist attitudes with nary a thought to abstract the concept – The Sepoy Rebellions and their subsequent retaliatory crackdowns, for instance, or the Warsaw Uprising. Afghanistan – under the British, the Soviets, the Americans.

Even now we teach soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a proxy war that they are likely never to win but gives us an excuse to leave. Our legacy as an empire is marked a great deal by how well we keep the death our policies cause at arm’s length, politically and socially. Heady concepts to stuff into a softcore sci-fi thriller, but that’s what the genre is for, after all.

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  • Published: Feb 20th, 2010
  • Category: Media
  • Comments: 2

One Last Time

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Shamus Young pitches in to the fray, with statistics about the markets these developers and publishers are catering to; namely, Gamestop, IGN and the console market, whose denizens lash back at the anger directed towards the ridiculous DRM with cries that such is the mere whining of would-be pirates.

The thing is, these publishers are so invested in making sure pirates don’t win that they’ve lost all sight of making sure customers do. This scorched-earth policy underlies how much they miss the point: They’re exploiting the customers and the customers react by exploiting them back.

The message was heard loud and clear for years: “Console gamers are more gullible a market than you. You will accept our crappy console ports and you will buy them six months late and you will pay full price for inefficient code. We do this because you have supported us and made us the big companies we are.”

How RIAA of them. Sounds like Metallica’s infamous argument.

The fanboys that accept the official word and blame this sort of action on pirates are not working in their own self-interest. They’re practically unwitting collaborators. They argue that the companies deserve those profits, and it is the customers’ responsibility to give it to them. The only problem is that it’s not in my interest to prop up publishers regardless of their product, for that isn’t commerce: That’s extortion.

The ‘principled’ customers who say that we should all shoot ourselves in the foot by simply not partaking at all are fooling nobody, least of all themselves, that such will make a difference in the publishers’ eyes.

It’s not a moral issue. It’s an economic one. Ubisoft is poisoning the well it drinks from. Just because they as a business wrap themselves in the flag of moral righteousness does not mean they’re not really bad at business.

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