Even on the brightest and most straightforward of self-imposed moral paths, many often find video game piracy an alluring prospect. Video games are, after all, overpriced, and many larger companies, in what seems to be most players’ eyes, clearly don’t deserve the money of their hard working patrons. Life is full of marketers and business types who all want their nice percentage of our anuses from which to scrape even the most measly amounts of extra cash. Despicable. Let’s show them up and take. Take it all. Take the shooters and the RPGs. Take the kart racers and the strategy games. Take Crysis and The Sims because EA is the devil. Take Assassin’s Creed and From Dust because Ubisoft is the fool. Take the Humble Indie Bundle because quite honestly, screw anyone who even has even the slightest slug-like impudence to sit on a tower and demand even a penny of your hard earned money. Take take take. If it’s bad, they deserve it. If it’s good, I’m entitled.
To be honest, this is a subject I’m slightly apprehensive about bringing up. Internet piracy of games is a low level problem in our society filled to the brim with social issues that deserve for attention, and many people and business who oppose internet piracy attempt to solve it in ridiculously stupid and sinister ways. Furthermore, there are endless grey areas that complicate the issue to no end. For me personally, however, beyond some foreign music and film never released here, piracy is something I avoid, and I thought it might make an interesting post to go into why. Perhaps my prohibitionist-level distance from the act may sound like wholehearted snootery and patronization. I get that. My position is perhaps uncommon in this world we live in and I’ve come to terms with that. But there’s an element of my position that I feel needs to be explored.
No, I don’t pirate games. Save for a few emulations I downloaded of games I’d already owned, I never have. I don’t bring this up to try and prove I have some conceited moral high ground or that I’m somehow a better patron of the arts, or some snobbish excuse like that. I have plenty of pirating friends and I honestly don’t think any less of anyone who does (despite what the following post may have you believe, I promise). No, I bring it up because I honestly think piracy does something to people. Something dangerous. Indeed, the core reason for my abhorrence of piracy is fear. Not of being caught, that’s just silly. No, the fear is a more intangible admittance that I am flawed and capable of becoming more flawed. In short, I am afraid of the damage I would attain by spoiling myself.
You see, constant access to internet for the last eighteen or so years has done something interesting. It’s made us feel awfully entitled. You see this all the time regarding content that is free. For every Mega64 and That Guy With the Glasses there is a legion of “fans” who do little but complain about free, consistent entertainment.
This, everyone, is entitlement. It’s the overwhelming belief that we are owed something free and we are owed something good (aaand FAST). Not really because of any particular debt. Just… because. It’s different from want or desire, as want and desire often don’t find themselves connected to premature ownership. We don’t always feel like we deserve the things we want, we just know that we want them.
No, entitlement is something that’s at the tail end of every individual’s trek into the magical world of video game piracy. And you know what? I think that’s really gross. It devalues games and belittles those who enjoy them. To me, my relationship with games is rewarding because of how it forces me to manage my finances to accomodate it. It forces me to play moderately, instead of scarfing games down my throat like a toddler let loose in a cake factory. I have to work for my games. I have to research my games. Every game in my collection has some story behind it, even if it just comes down to impulse buys. And my relationship with games is, to be honest, better for it.
Now I know the argument is out there that many use piracy as a demo service. Some pirate everything and buy what they like. And I’m not going to vocalize much against this. If you use piracy as a means of research, good on you. You’re using your resources available to make informed buying decisions. But it’s a slippery slope. It’s so painfully easy to pirate, and I’m not convinced I’d have the mental strength to really go out and buy a game that I can just keep playing on my PC for free. That’s a personal weakness, I know, but it’s why I personally stay away from this practice. Again, good on you if you can though.
This whole argument of mine is really only targeted to those who have access to the medium. If you live in Tansania and you want to play games, you go ahead and you play those games. I don’t rightfully care how you get them. But if you live in the myriad places in which games are made widely available, you’re a little less innocent. There are many ways to play games without spending that much money. And if you live in the developed West, there’s a good chance you can afford games if you can afford a computer on which to torrent and play them.
But I really do want to avoid getting overly preachy and accusatory. I am not trying to tell you to stop. You know I know that won’t work. I just want to give out the recommendation to what may be a stubborn crowd. Buying games isn’t that bad. You might just like your games more if you do.