April 28th, 2013

Digital Downloads are Worthless

So I’ve been trying to get my mom into the whole digital revolution and she hasn’t taken to it. I also can’t disagree with her.
I’ve been trying to get her to buy books she might enjoy on Amazon which comes up with a few problems:
“They are three times as expensive as the physical book I can buy at Wal-mart!” True, fair enough. Amazon eBook prices are ludicrous.
“What if I don’t want it anymore?” You can just delete it from your library. “Do I get my money back?” No. “Then I don’t want it!”
See, with something digital, you can’t sell it back, nor sell it to someone else. It’s worthless once you pay for it the resell value starts at $0. It’s worse that buying a car!
So I talked her into getting some free books that are offered for a short time or books that were free forever. That seemed cool, but then she wanted the books by the authors she read for free. That’s her mindset, digital items needs to be free. Why? Another point. She had read about a woman who was locked out of her entire Amazon library and there was NO WAY she was getting it back. She couldn’t sue because she wasn’t in the US and Amazon was ignoring her.
“So they can lock me out of all my book at anytime?” Yes… yes they can and for whatever reason. Then you just hope the courts back you if/when you sue. I tried to explain to her why they can do that.
Well mom, you don’t actually buy (a copy) of the book. You more or less rent it.
“So I pay triple the price to rent it? BULLSHIT!” Yeah you do mom… That new game on PSN, you just paid $70 as a rental/license fee. You don’t own that game. Sony can at any time stop doing business and you won’t have access to that game. They can do that. It’s even worse for Nintendo owners as it’s tied to your device and if your device dies.. you ain’t getting your games back ever! I think the way you can transfer the account is through one of those transfer things, but it’s only ONE per device and once the device is dead.. it’s too late.

Let’s take a look at physical objects. When you pay $70 for a physical copy of the game, you own that game. You get what’s called “First Sale” rights to sell that game to someone else. (Of course now game companies have eroded that away with DRM and such that people embraced with open arms.) You can take that game and put it into a blender. You can lend it to your friend, who you hope won’t put it into a blender. Or as my mom enjoys, gong to a used book store and buying used books that she can access, sell, burn whatever.
With digital game, you can do this. At any point the $3000 you spent on games can just be cut off. The companies don’t even have to compensate you for it NOR provide you with a copy on physical media. It’s… just.. gone… poof.
Of course people will argue “Well you never owned the right to physical media…. DRM… license… etc…” They basically rolled over and let companies make new laws on how YOU the consumer get to do with what YOU OWN.

Let’s look at what an actual license let’s you do. You can get a license to drive, a license to sell alcohol, a license to fish. However if those licenses are revoked, you don’t lose your car, your bottle of booze, or your fishing tackle. You just aren’t authorized to use them. You can take those items and sell them, donate them, or find someone with a license to use them for you. In the case of digital media, it seems that the license is the thing itself, the game/book/movie was revoked. You can’t even let a friend use it. Also in all those cases, not having a license doesn’t prevent you from driving, selling booze nor fishing… you just hope you don’t get caught.

So yes, digital downloads are worthless and you pay for them. You can never get the money back you spent on them, nor can you get a physical copy of what you spent your money on.

SOLUTIONS! There are of course easy solutions to this, however it’s getting companies to agree to them.
If for whatever reason you are banned from a service (Amazon, Steam, PSN) that company MUST provide you a DRM free copy of whatever you bought in a format that is most understood for no charge. (That fee was in the initial cost). The latter part basically so they can’t give you a DRM filled .XYZ file that you need a specific program to access it with that you can’t use because you’ve been banned from the service in the first place.
Allow you to sell back your purchase at a discounted price, OR allow you to sell your copy to another person. The only problem with this one is, digital things are like bacteria. They can split off and make more of themselves, thus what’s stopping someone from buying a new copy. With physical media you can count the copies. Still, it could be offered that there are “used” copies available at ripoff GameStop prices ($5 off the new price and you one get $5 of that!)
Allow you to request physical media FOR SALE, where the DVD/CD/BD might have a code on it which when activated dumps your entire library off the computer and only available from the disc. Problems however include having to have internet access to do this, which physical media (is supposed to) not have.

In the end, mom was right. This digital thing muse be approached with caution and questions, lest you end up with no money and no items.

November 17th, 2012

The BorderHouse Article “Fight Club”

So once upon a time I decided to write an article for The BorderHouse, that gaming blog that focuses on social justice issues. I submitted it back in August and let’s just say that was the worst experience I’ve ever had.

First let’s start off with when I first wrote the article, at the time I was being barraged by hatred and threats of violence from a certain devs fan club for a video I did as a response to someone’s own grievances with the games. So I wrote an article detailing out how his games were sexist and misogynistic and submitted it. A few days went by before I was told to edit a few tiny things. So I did and resubmitted it. Crickets. Then the abuse kept going and the game dev himself decided to get in on the abuse, so I detailed that out as well and resubmitted my article with the added parts. Silence.. I didn’t even know if it was received or not. So I enlisted the help of a someone that had been already published on TBH to help edit the thing and it improved and finally another friend of mine, Tekanji (of Shrub.com), offered to look it over. That final version was submitted about a month ago.

So here I am, being kept in in the dark about what was going on with my article, twiddling my thumbs, waiting. Finally TBH comes out begging for articles with the “Call for Writers”. At least I feel it was begging, why else would they have a call for writers if the barrel wasn’t getting low. My article hadn’t been published so what was I to think. You have nothing to publish and you are drumming up more content. Nothing. Meaning my article was obviously rejected. So I left a small comment on the blog “Speaking of articles….” and sent an email to the editor in charge of my article (Anna) about it being rejected. What I got back was blaming ME for getting it rejected.
The answer I got back was from the point of view of the editor:

“The article’s formatting was broken and I had to go through it line by line”

Rather than… sending it back and tell me to resubmit an html or a doc?

“Life got in the way and was busy”

OK so uhh.. maybe send it to someone less busy?

“I was going to speak to the editor about the emails in there, I’ll admit a mistake there”

Those email snippets I might add were in there since that one big edit I remarked on… back in August? September? Soo uhh… why not talk to the other editors before that while you were reformatting it or whatever… NOPE
Three times it was admitted that mistakes were made on TBH’s side but guess who’s fault it was ULTIMATELY it was rejected? MINE.
Why?

But, I do wish you had addressed this with me or with the editors as a whole first instead of putting it up as a comment on the site. That seriously disappointed us.

Yup, over one, tiny, little comment. I was supposed to email a person that’s given me nothing but silence for most of this whole affair, who has been to busy for anything to ask about my article. Why?

However I’m not the only one silenced by TBH, it seems that Tekanji also stuck up for me since she spent some of her time helping edit my article too, so of course she wants to know what’s the hold up, however her comment was edited and the other deleted:

Maverynthia: Speaking of Articles
Tekanji: Y’ all seriously don’t think it’s in bad taste to publish this when you have been holding an article for over a month without publishing it, asking for edits, or rejecting it?
Your conduct regarding move’s article is unprofessional and in direct contradiction to your stated “typical process”. If you’re going to post it, then post it. If you think it needs work, then edit it and/or request that she edit it. If you don’t think it’s a good fit for the site, then tell her so and let her move on.
But stringing her along for over a month and then having the audacity to post this call for writers while her piece remains accepted but unpublished? Seriously uncool.

Tekanji made another post after it, but that one unfortunately was deleted and there is no record.

The final email I got was basically:

“We don’t like to run emails because blah blah private”

Despite the fact this was a tactic used by this game dev to corner me and harass me? Yeah, let’s just toss that into “shit that should never be private!” Fine OK so you didn’t like the fact I was pointing out my harassment, cool cool.

“I got an email about the article being discussed in comments..”

The only comment I know of is the one I made and Tekanji made on the “Write for us” post. If anyone other than me posted on any other article, it was out of my hands and really only them looking out for me, because seriously what the hell.

“and in IRC”

!!

First of all it is super rare any of TBH editors ever set foot into the IRC, so if it wasn’t them sending the emails, it must have been someone else. Which makes me feel all grody that someone was spying on us as “Hahaha see what they say in the IRC! Isn’t it terrible!”
That being said I guess this means if you write for The BorderHouse you are to never speak of your article, not to your friends, not in the IRC chat, not on any forums… you are to keep quiet about it. For if you tell anyone, ANYONE, that your article exists and that it’s taking a bit of time to get to it… your article no longer ceases to exist! Just like Fight Club! Speak nothing! Say Nothing!

So in the end I want to say, to me, emails are semi-private. If you tell me non-personal information in an email, to me I have a right to make that public, especially if it is harassing me or is needed to clarify what was said. Since some people want to play the “I didn’t say that!” game. Copy pasting exactly what was said as irrefutable proof is needed in today’s age.

Also, The Border House does not speak for me as a gamer and as a feminist any longer. Lately it seems that their offerings to me of articles are weak at best and downright offensive at most (The Borderlands 2 Siren article). They chose to silence me rather than support me and that makes me feel very betrayed. So, I’d rather part ways. My article will go up on the internet, just not there. It will also go up late since I really wanted it published at the time of the incident.

Overall it was a situation that made me upset and stressed out and that’s not something any woman should have to go through with all the shit life gives her.