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Posted: 28 August 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Opinion Feature

Pirates, pirates everywhere. It would seem that nowadays, you can't turn around without bumping into some form of internet sea sailing raider. The problem isn't their mere being there, the problem is the effect they have on the gaming medium as a whole. Let me take you back in time here a moment.

1999 August, a date I fondly remember as a gamer. System Shock 2 had just been released and the world was quite bowled over by it. I remember sitting in front of my horribly clunky, cheap grey/white PC with mind ablaze playing that game to death. Like many others, the grand revealing of Shodan is one of my top 10 moments in PC gaming. So imagine my horror when I realised that I spent £55 on this game that I loved, just to find out that my buddy has gotten the same product free. Instantly I asked how he managed it, did he get it as a gift, or was it being freely distributed due to poor sales? Neither, he had illegally downloaded the game, a notion that has stuck with me for years, and utterly permeates the gaming culture of today.

Back then I was just a dopey kid, trying to get stuff for free, like all kids. But to this day he pirates games, films, music and the like. He has, like many others, always tried to justify his use of piracy because things cost too much or how the IP should be free as an artistic medium. But let me tell you now folks, you don't deserve a damn thing.

A great deal of pirates, like I've already ,mentioned like to use price as their bargaining chip in this argument. But the fact of the matter is, games aren't an essential part of life, if you can't afford that's unfortunately just your bad luck. But do you understand that if you don't pay for the game, your favourite developers don't get any money, thus causing them to close, which means no more games for little long John.
You see, when you steal (yes that's what your doing) a product from someone, you cheapen the total worth of the product as a whole, because one less item of stock means that a little less revenue is returned to its creator. So why should you deserve these games? Because you enjoy them? Stuff that.

 These games are like a gift, they just so happen to come with a price tag attached to them. When someone gives you a gift you accept it, but when someone tells you “This gift is not for you.” then you're sure as hell not entitled to just take it. What people seem to forget is that piracy has more of an effect on us as consumers, than they think. When a group of pirates, lets say 100, download a brand new game, lets say priced £45. That's £4500, and that's a lot of money. I live in Ireland, which has 32 Counties in it, that would add up to £144'000 that isn't being returned to the developer in profit, but that also means that it's £144'000 not being returned to the economy.

Obviously if every country and nation-state was to do this, then millions possibly billions of pounds, dollars, rupees and zloty just vanishes from our economy. And here is the fun part, this is where we legitimately get to call pirates stupid. As they proceed to steal and slowly inflict harm on the economy, prices on other goods go up. Their electricity bill is going up because of them, the price of their food, bills and transport all increase because collectively they would rather steal than pay one small lump.

 I'd estimate in the past year I've spent around £200-£300 pounds on various forms of gaming. Now I'd rather pay that price than have to deal with an ever increasing bill, that is being caused because of a thieving lifestyle. Its fundamentally wrong to want things for free, so that you can pay more for them in the long run but in a different manner.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the failing economies are because of pirates, that's just bloody ridiculous, what I'm saying is that they are certainly not helping.

People also like to complain that they pirate games to get around the need for online passes etc. I greatly support online passes, and anyone that doesn't clearly isn't interested in playing video games. When you buy a new game, the pass comes included, giving you access to various online components or bonus content. When you buy a game pre-owned, not a single penny of that goes to the maker. So did you like battlefield 3? Because if you did, you've probably played it online and in order to do that you need a pass. If you buy it pre-owned for £25 and don't get an online pass with it, then that's damn well fine with me because you haven't given the maker any money, why should they give you the main component of their product? Say I rent out a room in an apartment to you, that room is yours, the rest of the apartment doesn't come included.

In a forum post recently (sorry no reference link) I stated that it's fine to buy pre-owend games, but it's not fine to expect the full product for a fraction of the price. The reply I got said “go back to IGN” which just goes to show the mentality of the people we deal with when the subject is brought up. You aren't entitled to everything you're interested in, you have no right to take something that isn't yours. How would you like it if I went all Jason Hammer on your ass and came into your house and took your stuff? I could, by the flawed reasoning of pirates walk into your home, take your computer and all the things associated with it because it's connected to the internet and I pay an internet bill. What's even more sad is that people will undoubtedly quote what I just said, start their sentence with “By your logic” and try to disagree, but you can't disagree with fact, piracy is a crime and you don't deserve a damn thing.

Martin Toney is a rambling newspaper journalist from the north coast of Ireland where he gets to watch Game Of Thrones being made.

Posted: 28 August 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Opinion Feature

 Slender. God-damn Slender. When I first heard of this game I was so very intrigued, then horrified. I frigging well love the Survival Horror genre and to the best of my knowledge have played all the best games that the genre has to offer, be it the classic PS2 era Silent Hill series or the somewhat under appreciated works of Frictional Games. And I've always had an adoration for the art that inspires these creations, the best example I can give is this. I'm Irish, and being Irish I absolutely love the fact that Silent Hill artist Takayoshi Sato was inspired by the Irish artist Francis Bacon ( This love of the Horror sub genre got me thinking. Why do we enjoy being scared? What is it about us that makes us want to be shaken to our core, surely the human condition is one that is centred around self preservation? So why do we throw ourselves into a world full of terror? Do we enjoy haunting beasts that bay for our blood? Let me give you a few ideas and some food for thought.

There was a study performed a few years ago on how fear affects the human body. It out lines the obvious facts such as elevated heart rate and anxiety, heightened senses and sharper reflexes, but what it fails to do is tell us “why” we actively seek fear. When we think of why we play horror games, I generally think of it as a means to restore the human condition to a more empathetic state. Now days when we watch the news, our eyes and brains are bombarded with images depicting war, poverty, famine and death. We have become, through no fault of our own emotionally dead to the world around us. So we must seek our terror and fear in a land of make belief. In order for the player to be scared though, certain methods and subtle tricks must be applied. The aforementioned artist Francis Bacon was famous for his tormented visages that represented the most depraved and low emotions we posses while somehow maintaining a certain level of attractiveness that draws the eye. But simply making something “look” scary, doesn't make it scary.

To induce fear, the creation that subjects us to the mental torture must represent something, it must have its own set of ideals, and its own reasons for committing its atrocities. We give them form and reason, be it intellectual reasoning or purely animal reasoning. Once a creation has a purpose it can become a figure of iconic horror that resonates with our minds, thus rendering it a horrific creation. The Silent Hill series, introduced us to a creature known as Pyramid Head, or Red Pyramid for the purists. Pyramid Head is a tall, well muscled creature with a large pyramidal cage on its head that stops us from seeing its features. Not very scary right? Well when it's given a reason  for existing....well let's just say I wouldn't want to cross him. Pyramid Head is a torturer, the reason for its existence is to inflict torment upon his prey. It can create tulpas, beings brought into existence through sheer force of will, it has a smock made up of the flayed skin of its conquests and victims and it wants nothing more than to shatter your mind. Now that is someone I wouldn't mess with.

Imagine being trapped and alone, being hunted down by the Pyramid Head, it wouldn't be very pleasant would it? But we do imagine being trapped and hunted by it. Because we know that we can outrun it, and maybe even survive its deluge of horror and tricks, and that is what compels us to dive into our fear. I said we have become emotionally numb to our world, but it hasn't changed our will to live, and it goes without saying that once you experience something truly scary that you respect and understand life a little better.

The most recent example of popular survival horror would be Slender ( The Slender Man is a creature, that was created purely with the intent of harming us, we don't really know why and we don't really know how. All that we know for certain is that he is always watching. Slender Man was created by Mark Hadley inside an online forum called “something awful”. Slendy himself isn't very scary though, a tall man with no face that wears a suit and has multiple long spindly arms. Not scary. But put yourself into his game, and he becomes another entity completely.

Imagine this if you will. You wake up in a forest, you don't know how you got there and you don't know why you have been brought there. All you find in your pockets is a flashlight. It's night and the trees loom over your character and quite obscure your path forward. So you move forward, rather cautiously I might add and come across a tree with a page attached to it, with some scribbled writing on it, you pay it no attention and ball it up into your pocket. You turn around and catch a glimpse of something in the trees, a man perhaps? But he isn't there any more. Thus begins Slendies hunt for you because “once you are aware of him, he is aware of you”. Slender Man will now relentlessly follow you, getting closer and louder until your speakers blare white noise static and high pitch wailing. Your screen flickers in and out of action and a tall foreboding man is in your face, wheezing and reaching for you, then its game over my friend.  That's all well and good, but why do we subject ourselves to this torment? Because like before, we just might survive.

Survival is keyed into our very being and we will always strive to survive in even the most adverse conditions, that is why we play these games. We already know, subconsciously that we are numb to the surrounding worlds afflictions, so we must bring the feeling down upon ourselves. They allow us to have a bit more empathy and concern for neighbouring people. I think that this forced fear and forced empathy can only be a good thing, helping us understand those around us and giving us the ability to care. At least that's what I believe, we could just be crazy.

"Martin Toney is a newspaper journalist from the North Coast of Ireland,where he gets to watch Game Of Thrones being recorded."