Atari Controller

Why are Video Game Companies hostile to gamers?

Inspiration of Gamers

captain power toysWhen I was a child, they had these toys which were combined with interactive VHS tapes. You would hold this space ship like a gun, and you’d watch a VHS tape of enemy space ships, and you’d shoot at the screen. The controller would record hits and misses. It was a pretty novel idea, and for many people this was the first real “video game”. My imagination was sparked.

Birth of the industry

People like me grew up and in the 1980s, began experimenting with writing video games on the IBM PC platform. Video games back then were very rough, very simple, very linear. There were lots of really terrible games, but every now and then something remarkable and fun would emerge. Most of these games were created entirely by a single individual.

Goldrush of venture capitalists

Sierra Online logoVideo Games started making money, and businessmen showed up like sharks smelling blood. They would find these especially talented programmers and hire them to make games exclusively for their labels. This was the begining of the modern video game industry. Sure there were console video games and Japan was doing it’s thing, but the real explosion happened when PC games appeared on the scene with ground-breaking titles such as DOOM.

Billion Dollar Industry

Today, Video Games are a multi-billion dollar industry. They make more money than Hollywood. That is a huge leap to have occured in only 20 years. It is partly due to the incredible talent of game creators, but it is mostly due to the giant hole in interactive entertainment which video games have filled. Businessmen are not necessarily gamers, in fact many of them don’t play any games at all. And many who claim otherwise would be found to only dabble in click-games on their cellphones, which is not really the same thing as being a “Gamer”.

Transformation – Ripping off the customers

Blizzard entertainment logoThe widespread availability of High Speed Internet has had a huge impact on the video game industry, both positive and negative. I am going to focus on the negative for the purpose of this rant. We now have Massive Multiplayer Online Games, which are by themselves a great concept, but are being completely abused to rip all of us off. We also have downloadable content, again a great concept, but again it is being abused to rip people off instead of to improve the gaming experience.

In MMOs there are two business models, I will discuss both:

Subscription Models

First is the subscription model, which is the original MMO model. The idea is that operating a persistent world requires a lot of infrastructure and manpower, and when sales slow down the money to support that has to come from somewhere. Why not ask the customers to pay for it? This seems reasonable at first, but why does every single MMO publisher charge the same $15 per month fee? If you know about server and datacenter costs, you know that that is way more money than they need to maintain their infrastructure, especially for a game like WoW that has many millions of subscribers. They are following the rule of supply and demand, setting their price to the highest possible amount that the largest number of their customers are willing to pay. This has created a hostile environment for competition, which means fewer successful MMOs, which is bad for gamers!

Microtransactions

The other model is microtransactions. At first this might seem like a great idea, spending a few dollars here and there rather than $15 per month, but when you look at the sort of things you’re expected to pay for, most of it is stuff that you used to get with the game when you buy it. Nowadays it seems you are buying a preview or a trailer, with a neat packaging, and access to purchase the actual game brick by brick. And if you do the math on all the microtransactions required to purchase the whole game, it is usually several hundred dollars.

Downloadable Content

The other big way we are being ripped off is downloadable content. Video game publishers have their $10 and $20 DLCs planned out well before release. They are charging you top dollar for the game, at this time that is $60, with the intention of squeezing you for another $20-$40 in DLCs bringing the actual game’s price to $100 or more. But the amount of total content hasn’t changed! To use a grocery store analogy, they have reduced the number of chips in the bag, and are offering to sell you the chips which used to be in the bag, at 200% or more mark-up.

Why do we tolerate this?

Why do we tolerate being ripped off by the industry which we created, which we supplied with funds, and which would die if it were not for our loyal support? I suggest there is no reason to tolerate it. Stop paying companies for games which are ripping us off. If the game has Day-1 DLC which is not free, do not buy the game. If the game has overpriced subscription models, do not buy the game. Is a few hours of “fun” really worth the price of your dignity? Are we all really suckers?

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What Bad Customer Support Looks Like, Courtesy of SquareCash

“Square Cash supports standard, U.S.-issued Visa, MasterCard, or Discover debit cards.” That’s quoted directly from Supported Debit Cards with Square Cash. And yet my debit card which fits the description does not work.

On top of that, every time I log in their website demands a “sign-in code” which must be sent to my e-mail, and sometimes the emails never show up.

I contacted their support department. I expected a response like “That’s terrible! We will get right on it to make these things function properly!” But instead this is the response I received:

Hi,

Thanks again for the phone call. My name is James and I’m writing you from the Cash team at Square.

It appears the debit card that you tried to link is not supported with Square Cash. To send and request money with Square Cash, please link a different Visa or MasterCard debit card.

If your card becomes supported at a later date, I’ll reach out to let you know. In the meantime, you’re welcome to link a different card for sending and receiving Cash.

I apologize for the inconvenience. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. I’m happy to help.

James
Square Support – Cash​
squareup.com/help

This answer is of course, unsatisfactory. Why would I have half a dozen bank cards laying around? I have one bank card, and it is supposed to be supported. I responded to ‘James’, telling him that his answer was no good. And then I responded again 2 days later, and again 2 days later. I responded 5 times over the course of 10 days, and James ignored all of my e-mails. Is James real? Is James a script? Is James an asshole?

If you do a google search for SquareCash, there’s a lot of praise, but I think that’s not an accurate picture. It seems clear to me that SquareCash is aimed at taking on PayPal directly, and it also seems clear they aren’t ready. Business customers big and small need stable card processors, and SquareCash has shown their software and their support team to be Pre-Release.

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artist rendition of a neural network

What is Consciousness?

Watching some interviews about “What is consciousness” with neuroscientists, this guy David Eagleman who seems really sharp explains why we chase materialism theories, that is that the squishy brainstuff is where consciousness hides, even tho it doesn’t make much sense, but we chase it because we have all this evidence of damage to this area causes these changes in people.

I think the brain functions like RAM. It only works because it’s active 24/7, every day of your life for years. I think strokes support this. If you have a stroke, every minute of a stroke causes huuuuge changes in a person’s personality. I think this is because the brain is “off”. So all of those carefully memories you’ve been carefully storing for decades are rapidly fading away, and when the brain is reactivated anything that faded away is gone. Now people can heal from strokes, somewhat, but that can be explained in the differences between organic matter and silicon. Perhaps a memory didn’t entirely fade, and can be rebuilt.

There’s a software tool used in usenet piracy that can rebuild a large multi-volume archive from a tiny portion of it’s data as long as you have enough “parity” files which are big chunks of generic data based on the entire archive. Brains might work similarly.

I’ve been interested in Cyberspace and The Matrix concepts since I first heard of them, but I think they are impossible currently.. while we might be able to pinpoint very rudimentary connections between brain activity and basic shapes or colors. The brain activity that is responsible for complex memories such as tastes, or classical music, is going to be unique in every brain. it will be a completely unique network of activity, as a result of that individual’s unique learning experiences thru life.

One of the reasons I find language so fascinating is because it allows us to share, in a very rough way, those ideas and memories even tho the way they are stored in our individual brains is completely different from one another.

I could be wrong, I’m not a neuroscientist, but I think I am right.

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Simba, laying in the grass at night

Love.

Pumbaa: “Simba, what do you think?”

Simba: “Love.. I dunno.. love.. love.
Love. Somebody once told me.”

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My Birthday Gift Wishlist

19 is going alright so far. I don’t expect anything from anyone, but if you want to get me a gift here are things I like, in no particular order:

High Priority:

  • To wake up as me, instead of hu.
  • My friends to stick around for 2 more years.
  • A Honda Accord in decent condition, with security features to prevent theft, or modern hybrid.

Firearms:

mp5sd
MP5SD
  • An AR-15 Rifle with olive drab furniture and some kind of CQB optics.
  • PSA Lower Pictogram – 1560 AR-15 Lower. Since my first AR-15 lower is built, a more affordable alternative to this would be upper receiver parts, as I have not built any of the upper yet. High end bcg and barrel are requirements.
  • A pair of new ornate 1911 pistols, preferably not only scralling leafy flowers, with a variety of available holsters (location?/style?). Should include a fancy case. These would become an heirloom to be passed on across generations. Could be the same color, as long as some other detail is visibly different while holding them.
  • an FN P90 or MP5SD.
  • A pair of functional but decorative classical dueling pistols. Should include a fancy velvet-lined case.
  • High quality leather shoulder holster for my Full-Size Beretta PX4 Storm.

Music:

Computer:

  • A new dedicated gaming PC (parts list here).
  • A 25th anniversary “retro” Thinkpad.

Guitar Pedal:

  • Looper
  • Delay
  • Filter
  • Reverb
  • Wah
  • Distortion Got

Miscellaneous:

P.S. To any government creeps who may be reading this, I wish to continue enjoying all of the amendments to the United States Constitution, especially the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 11th, 13th, and 14th. Happy birthday to me!

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broken telephone and the hammer which smashed it

The telephone is obsolete.

Some guy told me that my future depends on having quality telephone service. I think not.

The telephone was invented in the 1800s, and was a fantastic piece of technology for 200 years. Since it’s invention we have also invented more advanced forms of communication. E-mail. Text-Messaging. Video-Conferencing. And with the advent of high-speed internet based on fiber and coaxial networks, none of these technologies rely on or even utilize the telephone.

The future in no way relies on the telephone. And anyone who believes the telephone to still be a relevant technology needs to step into the 21st century, where the rest of us are currently living.

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Universal Gladiators – PREMIERE

I’ve been in a sci-fi mood, so in addition to building a space empire based on the ideals of liberty, justice, and caring, I am planning for entertainment based on Professional Wrestling, to be beamed into our space stations and planetary settlements.

orbital_way_station


Genuine food can be had on the station, with different meats and foodstocks flown in from other worlds, as well as local fare.

Steak_frites

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US Flag - Distress

Gun Control Doesn’t Work

On December 15th, 1791, America made eternal it’s founding principals. One of the keystones of our nation is that the government serves the people, and not the other way around. Because the people are the power of this nation, it is important to protect their right to bear arms. If the rulers of the nation are not going to bear arms, than who should?

Violence is a disease. We can all agree. We’ve tried many things to solve violence, but for the last several decades a significant portion of the population has become stuck on the concept of gun control, as if they were a skipping record. Gun control has failed, and any person who is serious about reducing or ending violence will recognize this to be true. Gun control is a tool of tyranny and fools. People such as Dianne Feinstein are trying to embrace a fairy tale land which does not exist, and they’ve become agents of evil in the process.

Violent people who consider themselves real American patriots, and who have become disenfranchised with their lives and feel hopeless, have been committing terrible acts against the public as their suicidal outbursts. The idea that somehow we can control these people is _retarded_. They are not stupid people, they are angry people. They see the methods of control being used and they find ways around them. The solution is not to cast a wider net, destroying all of the things which make America worth living in, that is what created the monsters in the first place. Is it any wonder there’s been an increase of mass shootings even tho overall violence has reduced? We see the effect of a focal adjustment, but the results are not satisfying to anyone who really wants to reduce violence.

If we’re to reduce violence in our nation we need to address the root causes. We need to fix our systems of employment so that people can find meaningful work in their lives. We need to raise our children in ways which do not encourage violence, and which build strong distinctions between violence in entertainment, and peaceful behavior in real life. We need to protect the founding principals of the United States of America, because patriotic Americans do not want to feel as tho their country has been sold out from under them. Countless thousands of lives have been sacrificed to protect the ideas which are the foundation of this nation, and when “the Feinsteins” stand at their podium talking about gun control, it’s a sincere insult to all.

Human beings have free will. It is absolutely impossible to “control” a free willed individual, when they are determined to achieve their goals. Utilizing tyrannical methods to force American citizens to adjust their behavior is a failed experiment, which arguably never should have been attempted. It’s time to grow up, and address the problem as if we are intelligent beings, instead of reactionary fools.

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