I like the piracy issue. No really, I do. Every time there’s an article on piracy you can guarantee the first photo will be of some shady chav, eye’s covered by an anonymous black rectangle, face slightly pixelated, handing out 3.5” discs from a tatty Tescos bag to spotty under 10s in front of the local Circle K – trading crumpled fivers for the latest copy of, well, fuck knows what, really. Nothing comes on 3.5” discs these days…
We do so hate to disappoint…
“Yeah... I’d like a half ounce of Chaos Engine, a Quarter of Xenon 2 and 20 Sensis” - that’s actually how it goes down – this is the evil that killed the Amiga, folks! And don’t forget, it’s the gateway habit! It’ll be MP3s, hardcore pornography and softcore drugs next!
What I don’t like is being asked to write a piece on piracy. First thought that goes through my head is; “what the fuck are you trying to say? I’m not a pirate!” But after an afternoon of reflection, I think I’m actually happy to say that I am. It was me. I killed the Amiga games industry through my illicit swapping of disks at the age of fourteen. My best mate’s Multi Game Hunter and Blockbusters’ stupid rental policy killed the SNES. I guess I’m also wholly responsible for the dearth of quality PS1 titles thanks to my chipped console and CD burner. Best not forget that that grey import Dreamcast – that I spent a fortune on – helped speed the wonder machine to its untimely demise. And don’t forget the chipped Xbox in my lounge – that’ll be the next one for the scrapheap then…
Cubit’s bought an Xbox – we’re going to need a bigger scrapheap
“Remember kids: you’re only hurting the ones you love…”
Let’s take a step back. What have I actually done? Was I single-handedly responsible for sourcing a copy of Xenon, back in the day, and spreading it like wildfire among my peers? Oh yes. Did 30 bloody skint 12 year olds, as a direct consequence of that action, subsequently save like buggery to be the first to hear the wonder of Bomb The Bass, sampled, through their 1084S speakers? You bet your ass.
Did I go out and buy Battle Squadron, a copy of XCopy3 and an external drive (it was the only way to beat the copy protection, at the time) just so my best mates could sample one of the greatest shooters of all time? Hell yes!
Did we rent SF2, copy the bugger and spread it around the fledgling ‘net just so our – now Uni-bound – mates could warm-up their combos in time for the summer antics? Er, yes. Did they all get so addicted that they then spent the next fifteen years buying successive iterations of the game right up until last years Anniversary edition? Well, I think you can guess…
Not that kind of combo. Unfortunately…
But the poor developers!
Let me guess, these would be the same developers that downloaded Half Life 2 just to look at the shader tech, right? (Which, of course, never happened ever, no matter what you might hear. So don’t download the Russian playable version, whatever you do eh…)
Doesn’t look that impressive to me…
Please. I’m willing to bet my solitary pair of clean grundies that it’s the developers that seed most of the pirate software us ‘pirates’ get our hands on these days. At the very least, where do you think that the tech to make Xbox ISOs comes from?
But I digress.
For years, Edge has been telling me that Computer Games are Art (capital A, folks) and that’s the crux of it for me. I physically can’t afford to sample all the delights of this wonderful medium. What I can do is download 100 piles of dross in the hopes of stumbling upon the next Ico, Rez or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. What I can do is share this with everyone I know, sing its praises, advocate the newest, most wonderful piece of software that I’ve ever seen to anyone that will listen. Does this hurt sales? No. I buy Nintendo, I buy safe. I take my risks on the ISO playing field and – mores the pity for my wallet – I still end up buying 10% of the dross anyway.
He’s got a camera! Quick, somebody call the Garda!
But, I’m the kind of person that would take a photo of the Sistine Chapel and stick it on the web. I’m a pirate and there’s no moral high ground in stopping the spreading of art, expression and wonder to those that would otherwise over-look it.