Big Smoke

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


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as art?

A very chipper Kellee Santiago at the University of Spoiled Caucasians says yes. Roger Ebert says no. Santiago replies. I’m inclined to side with Ebert’s logic, thought that puts me at odds with the established computer gaming writers. Fuck them.

Personally, however, I subscribe to Scott McCloud’s rather inclusive definition of art, being any activity not essential to survival or reproduction. Of course, this definition almost completely blows away any attempts at qualifying the term, but quite frankly anybody who attempts to elevate their particular interest with said term is guilty of at least some form of masturbation.

Another point of fact I find myself at odds with the gaming writers is with Ubisoft’s DRM (again), now that a collective called SkidRow have torrented a sort of Crack For Dummies of their latest DRM iteration, for everyone who wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to use the server referral loop the previous cracks depended on. Shamus Young suggests to Ubisoft that they go one further: Don’t put just some content online, make all content online, making each end-user a mere client on a “cloud” gaming platform, each “purchase” a mere fee for entering into a subscription.

The concept is abhorrent to me. I’m sure all companies would love to just have a direct connection to my credit card info, regardless of whether or what they produce and when, how or even if I partake in their product.

Sorry, did I say “product?” I meant “license,” abridged, qualified and revocable at any time.

Somehow the right to free enterprise became a moral obligation for consumerism, lest we be accused of “not supporting” our creative types (when they themselves are just as often thrown out when inconvenient). Somehow copyrights became the new feudalism. However, I’m not in the habit of allowing purveyors with such unvarnished, abject hostility to their patrons to have their cake and eat it too.


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Ubisoft’s new draconian DRM that was supposed to require a permanent internet connection while playing single-player games has been cracked a mere 25 hours after release of the first PC game to have the DRM – Silent Hunter V.

For their part, Ubisoft deny the viability of the cracked copies:

“Please know that this rumor is false and while a pirated version may seem to be complete at start up, any gamer who downloads and plays a cracked version will find that their version is not complete.”

Specifically, the server-based cloud system for savegames is not available. Y’know, the “feature” they added along with the DRM that nobody gives a shit about because nobody plays the same game on two different computers. To quote the Tom Francis at PC Gamer:

“The only benefit we’re being offered is the ability to store our savegames online. Personally, I’m in the rare position of getting to play PC games at work, and even for me this is a fringe benefit.”

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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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