Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia by John Dunlop MD, Free for CAPC Members
Dunlop’s book tackles a subject that few of us would care to read about in a way that encourages, informs, and relieves fear.
Today over at foul-mouthed but entertaining and insightful video-game related web-comic, Penny Arcade, there’s a comic and discussion about the ethical issues surrounding used games. Writer, Jerry Holkins (or Tycho), did an excellent job of boiling the issue down to its’ fundamentals:
In a literal way, when you purchase a game used, you are not a customer of theirs. If I am purchasing games in order to reward their creators, and to ensure that more of these ingenious contraptions are produced, I honestly can’t figure out how buying a used game was any better than piracy. From the the perspective of a developer, they are almost certainly synonymous.
…I traded in games for a long time, there’s probably comics somewhere in the archive about it – you can imagine how quickly my cohort and I consume these things. It was sort of like Free Money, and we should have understood from the outset that no such thing exists. You meet one person who creates games for a living, just one, and it becomes very difficult to maintain this virtuous fiction.
It is an argument that can be applied to pretty much any medium. Whether it’s a movie, album, or the Complete Lost Series DVD set, if you’re borrowing or buying used, you’re not really supporting that product in any tangible way. At first glance, it’s a pretty compelling argument for buying new whenever possible, but after thinking about it for a bit it seems a little bit like a double edged sword.
The truth is, there are some games, movies, etc. that we watch, engage with, but just aren’t crazy about. It’s not that we wish the developer evil. We don’t want them to be fired, but we also aren’t crazy about them getting rich off of it. I’m thinking about things like: Modern Warfare 2, Transformers the Movie, and even stuff like Sunday School Musical.
Generally, I want to reward aesthetic risk, thoughtful plot, genuine characters, and fair-minded critique in all of the media I take in. This is why I’ll never sell games like Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, or Bioshock 2 back to Gamestop, and why I’ll be buying the next thing their developers do on day one. Borderlands, Battlefield: Bad Company? Eventually, those games will find themselves on Amazon, ready to be snatched up for cheap by someone who will also be decidedly uninterested in rewarding games that are good and all, but probably a little overrated and over rewarded in the grand scheme of things.
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