Why Politics and Technology Don’t Mix

If there is one thing I am glad about with the rise of technology and computing, it’s never having to hear “So you’re going to be the next Bill Gates?”

You see, that was something I used to always hear every time I told someone I wanted to be a computer programmer growing up. I never had the desire to be like Mr. Gates in anything other than making the mountain of money he had. Back then, even before I saw a Nintendo, or an Atari – back when I first used a computer, well before I transferred to Windsor Elementary, I knew what I wanted to do.

I wanted to make games. I wanted to be the guys that made the video games we know and love/hate today. That’s why I asked for a computer as a kid: Everyone else was going to have the consoles, whereas I had the thing to make the stuff for the consoles.

It’s why, after I got my first job, the first few purchases were nothing but video games: The Sega Genesis that I would love for many years, The Turbographx 16 that I only had 2 games for, and even – well after Super Nintendo was out – the NES I would get was for this. the gaming magazines, game clubs and that, were extensions of that.

That’s why I fell in love with Arcade games like “Street Fighter II” and “Mortal Kombat”, and would go to see the movies made about them. It was one of those things that, surprisingly, pushed me towards a Mac in the first place – the idea being that I’d be able to program on the same chipsets as the current generation of games was being played on. (You have to remember, the first generation of Macintosh computers operated with the same CPU as the Sega genesis – the Motorola 6800.)

I doubt I will ever make a video game in my life, as things have deviated from that course of thought. That still doesn’t take away from the geekdom that makes me like video games. It drives to theatres to see the latest “Lara Croft” or “Resident Evil” or “Final Fantasy”, even though many of these games I have, at best, played partially through, if at all. If I would have had the money, I would have bought three of each system when they came out: 2 to put up on Ebay, and 1 for myself to play. (2 GameStops, 2 EB Games, and a Toys R Us – If I had the money and a car, I’d be rolling in loot right now, don’t you think?)

It’s also why I support anti-piracy laws, and why I pay attention to laws that affect video games. If I were in the capital and ran into Hillary Clinton or Joe Lieberman, I would tell them, flat out, how wrong they are for trying to create policies that would restrict video games. It ain’t that there shouldn’t be something done, but that the government should not be the ones enforcing anything other than fair trade. A game should not be yanked from the shelves simply because it has either violence or sexual activity/ reference, Should it be sold to kids? Not unless the kid is old enough to understand what is going on, why it is happening, and that it is fantasy. If I had any kids, the bare minimum age for any game like Grand Theft Auto would be 9, because I seriously doubt any kid would be smart and responsible enough to understand all 3 things beforehand. (Even at 9, it would be a barely – I would be supervising the kids play at first to make sure he/she wasn’t going to pick up the wrong things from it.)

It’s why I pay attention to the news and the things going on. It’s why I get pissed off each an every time some idiot goes and runs their mouth. Every time there is a school shooting or some other wacky and outrageous killing spree, it’s the news media that goes and blames the rest of the media. It used to be that only fear would dictate such outrage, such as when Mortal Kombat and Night Trap became public enemy number 1. We have a lawyer named Jack Thompson doing everything he can to ban the making and/or distribution of the violent, the sexual and anything “non-kid” (sorry, but I read enough of your interviews to know that is exactly what you’re striving for), going so far as to take Take Two Interactive to court. (They’re makers of the most recent Bully game, published by Rockstar, who also publishes the Grand Theft Auto series.)

Of course, we don’t exactly help our cause. The majority of the games bought are not platformers, Role-Playing Games, or Puzzlers, they’re Sport Sims (Which I can’t fault), Fighting games and First Person Shooters. When something big comes out, such as the Playstation 3, we go to all sorts of crazy lengths, some of us to be the first to play on the new machine, others of us to make money off the those who want to be the first to play. I don’t need to tell you the obvious recmmendation to do an eBay search for one of them, nor do I need to for the Nintendo Wii (Pronounced “We”, not W two – the combo I use in my signature), as you can expect both to be hot toys that parents will be picking up.It’s not so stupid that we’re willing to wait in line for a system that costs $600 dollars for days on end – after all, we do it for concert tickets, films, and other such big-ticket items – but, as the most recent examples on the news, going so far as to rob stores, shoot and knife people, and get into fights over these things. It makes me glad I couldn’t afford either.

It just gets annoying though, when you have idiot political commentators going and making remarks about people and topics they could have no possible understanding of. People like Geraldo Rivera (who should, for the safety of anyone near him, never be allowed to have a camera) and Bill O’Reilly, who come out of the woodworks every time there’s some video game story, positive or negative, to say something that demonstrates why I consider them an idiot in this area. They’re proof that the people who should report and comment in certain should not go off and make statement s in other areas. Leave them to do real topics and stir up the blood of the average person, not waste the time of the geeks showing us just how ignorant you are.

What you’re probably wondering is how this involves anything other than video games, when the reality is that the only reason why the rest of technology ain’t involved in this discussion is that the topic of video games is only one example of politicians and political activisists, along with major media companies and hardware/software developers ruining it for everyone. Never mind the fact that, in the end, it is a parents job to teach their children how to be responsible adults, or the fact that a teachers job is to help a kid understand how to get along with society and the real world, we got to have Politicians making rules dictating how we listen to music, watch movies, and even read books. A statue has to be clothed, not in its natural state as the artist created it, in order to be displayed in public. Artwork, statues and the like with any reference to biblical or religious values has to be hidden because some atheist might get a bug up their butt for having to see it. Let’s not forget those christians, who feel the need to block anything unrelated or speaking against their belief.

Ninety percent of you are people I am not attacking here. You’re normal, everyday working guys and gals who probably stumbled across my little rant by mistake, and feel that not only do I not know what I am talking about, but you could care less. Although I feel you should pay attention either way, I don’t hold against any of you if you don’t. The worst that could be said is that you’re throwing Fuel to the fire, instead of thinking about your actions.

But if you’re the head of a major company trying to keep the average person from making copies for themselves the products they buy from; or the person – politician or not – who decries any form of freedom of speech, be it art, books, TV, Movies, magazines, music, or video games; If you’re the dirtbag going and suing people to get something off of the shelves of stores or out of the view of the public eye, know this: each of your actions makes the consumer resent you more, and pushes them towards the state where open source technology and non-standard – meaning YOU don’t control it, the public does – sources of entertainment take over and dominate the mainstream .Sure, it’s not going to happen overnight – you guys have proven time and again that it’s easier to control by eliminating the competition. Eventually, though, there will be enough resentment over having the government dictate what and how you use something, over how much a piece of software costs just to put onto a machine. eventually, you’ll go too far, shoot yourselves in the foot, and it won’t be one product or a type of product customers stop buying, it’ll be a form of entertainment that they decide to look someplace else for.

I am not saying any of this as an enemy of you or your products; hell, I still want to be a part of the media stream. I’m just letting you know that how I get involved is dependent on how your companies act and how your politicians vote. If you guys can not push for the parents to do their jobs, if you can not push for better quality products, if you can not make products that grabs people’s attentions without making people pissed off, then i’m not going to work with you. And if you’re one of the individuals mucking stuff up, believe me when I say that, if I ever come into enough money, you guys are going to have me as a problem. (I don’t always take the violent route, BTW – there are better ways to skin the ignorant.)

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