Microtransactions: Pirating the Novel and Memberships and Twitter

May 16th, 2009


Pirating the Novel

There’s a .txt file that resides in a folder on my desktop ironically labelled ‘Desktop’. This text file has a list of three things; my backlog of games to buy, current-gen games I need to buy when they hit the cheap and an exhaustive list of second-tier titles that I’d like to invest in, if time allows. I sometimes swoon over this list, as well as that sheet of ‘Games to Complete’ that I sometimes refer to; the one above my monitor. Sometimes it’s better to envision yourself enjoying these games/write about them rather than actually go to the labour of playing them. Hmmm…

Anyways, I was running through my list and came across an aggravating tick of a game. I love the thrill of collection and bargaining, infact I have a couple of eBay titles qued up right now awaiting the snipe, but some games no matter where you find them refuse to budge from their steep price tags. One of those is Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel for the PSP. Ever since I first spotted this in store – and by golly, what a surprise! – it’s remained fixed at $AUD50+. It’s $20/30 (not sure what the going rate on PSP games is nowadays, always cheaper than DS though) shy of a full price title, yet in reality, this is a mostly non-interactive experience, similar to those interactive DVD games, so why the premium? Furthermore this title was blessed with an ultra limited released and overall lack of publicity – you had heard of this game before right? So Digital Graphic Novel puts me in a tight spot, difficult to find and when you do it’s top dollar.

So then I decided to go to YouTube to see if I could find some video and save myself the $50, and sure enough I found a 16-part playlist (woah – almost 3hrs!) that now resides in .mp4 on my desktop, next to the ‘Desktop’ folder.


I’m morally split on the decision though, I mean, if I choose to watch these videos, will it be a form of piracy? A devious, devious sin that I avoid as much as possible. Truth is, I will watch the videos, but more concern lies in the classification of this activity. These videos are on a free to view website and openly available. If one classes MGS DGN as a game then therefore watching the video is the same as watching a play through and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Games are interactive media and there is a layer of interactivity involved which I’d be missing out on, so no worries, right? Then again, I don’t think there will be any glimpses of gameplay in the video (ie. the player will just watch), so in that case we’re effectively watching a long cutscene which makes up the bulk of the game. Now if this is the case then what percentage of Metal Gear Solid 4 (ie. the cutscenes) is available online? Well there’s no doubt a montage of that stuff too, so probably a good chunk, therefore what exactly does this all mean? And what’s fair game?

One could also make the same claim for Linger in Shadows, the PS3 interactive short.

Memberships and Twitter

I recently ranted on about pissant membership groups within the blogging community in a post that I dare not upload in fear that you’ll hate me more than my Australian spelling of colour. Embedded within the article were some rather fantastic (if I do say so myself) musings on Twitter’s role in all this kerfuffle. Take a read;

“Twitter, is the fertile soil to plant, grow, share and trade cultural norms – the medium in which is used to emit and transfer. In fact Twitter is more than just the medium, it’s the ideal medium. The social networking element keeps tweeters in touch on a minute-by-minute basis while not binding them to any real time conversation. The tight word count moderates each sentence making it low fluff and straight to the love. The response system flaunts replies to people within the same network. This whole setup is ideal for users to flirt and trade ambiguous nudge, nudge, wink, wink commentaries among each other, and then transmit their dialogue to onlookers. It’s a contained system, built around the utterance; a distilled cultural transmitter. As said to death in the cultural studies field, language = culture. Therefore Twitter’s composition is a fantastic, quantifiable way to observe memberships groups validating their cultural identity between one another. It’s in Twitter that I draw much of my reasoning as it’s a transparent model to view this culture.

When I cruise through other people’s Twitter pages and observe the small talk, I’m often baffled at what’s actually going on. People declaring their membership roles or attempting to grow their seed, by throwing strings of replies to others. It’s a society alright. A society where people are constantly stating their roles and relationships. To “fit in” people have to acknowledge the presence of a membership group, whether they’re in it or not. And with only 140 characters to play with, you need to be discrete about this, which is where the love letters, and ultimately masturbation comes into play. In Twitter, if you want to be part of the elusive membership group you have to wank it all up on an open stage, and therein lies my frustration, as the audience member of that stage.”



Wow, witty and a valid contribution to the language, tech and culture fields. How do I do it? 😛

  • @mini-rant:

    So I’m guessing you’re like me, in that you don’t congratulate people on their posts if the posts suck?

  • You mean via Twitter? Yeah I hate the exhibitionist fame game of Twitter. I also dislike it as a constructive conversation tool – it’s not. It simmers the already narrow medium of netspeak into ambiguous headline. I feel hesitant using the service, but I think it’s okay as I mostly try to be intelligible, expanding on what I post here.