I should not say it, but I feel like I am never going to write another article about gaming. Every time I sit here ready to write about another game, another subject takes its place. Today looking over my reading list from Pulse (a phone app that allows me to read news from Internet sources) I saw a link to this video:
Now before I go into the meat of my thoughts I need to write this side note. I do not agree with everything Henry Rollins stands for and it does not matter. One of the problems I have seen with the world as I have grown up is the lack of growth. What I mean by growth is trying to make ourselves better, rather then just sitting back and letting the world go by. Moreover, this means finding common ground with people. One of the reasons I do not really like talking politics on this blog, or when I do is mentioning political parties, because I have found in my life that we are all a mixture of many different thought processes. We are all liberal, moderate and conservative at the same time. In fact, I would dare say as a society we are ignorant of what those words really mean. Labeling by itself it okay when you need classification, but it is a fine line to walk as we use labels to discriminate. We discriminate because of what we fear. Fear is good way to leave this side bar and get to the meat of this article.
I am a supporter of the Copyleft movement. That is I do not believe in what Copyright has become. The first thought that will come to some that understand copyright will be the thought that I believe in stealing and everything should be free. The problem is, to be blunt, I don’t. I agree with those that say you should be paid for what you do and when it comes to intellectual property, such as creative works and intellectual property there is a value to be assigned. The problem comes down to the assignment of value to these intangible goods.
Before we go down the rabbit hole, did I ever mention that I am a creator of intangible goods?
Now here comes the problem. Copyright started on the right foot in our country, the Founding Fathers allowed a creator a temporary monopoly so they could benefit from their work.
“Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.”
– Thomas Jefferson
The granting of a temporary monopoly was never supposed to be forever because of what the implications what it could do to society. Imagine someone invents a new energy source that could give us all unlimited, boundless energy with few negatives. If a person was allowed to laud this over all of society, they could use it for power and greed. I hate to break the news to you, we as human beings at our basest are not good, we are all hypocrites, looking out for number one. This is not a condemnation of who we are, but a reminder that we don’t always look out for our fellow human beings. That’s why we need law and order to make sure what we do is in line with making sure we do not step on others. Going back to the energy invention, when you think of how a thing like an energy device would be developed, it would be built upon things that exist in the world already. Most inventions do not live in a vacuum, while not impossible there are very few new thoughts in the world. That is an invention starts with a thought built upon what someone else has already done. As someone who makes board games, most of my creations come from other people’s ideas. I see a game I like and get the urge to make it better, or have an idea for a game and draw upon my personal history of games. In essence creation of something is a re-arranging of the present.
In literature, it has been said there are seven main plots. In writing this article, I am using words people long before me associated with thoughts. In music, we see rearrangements of common strains of rhythms and beats re-done on different instruments. It is not saying that those new stories, music, articles do not have value. It takes time and work to make something and I am not here to say what that value is. The world is changing, and that is the problem.
What I am seeing right now is fear, fear of what is happening. One of the problems of the past when it came to content was that a few were in charge of what was found and seen. A publisher chose which creators to put on display for the broader public. If you were in any field that was creative you needed people who knew how to navigate the waters, you needed a guide to get you where you wanted to go. These gatekeepers were the publishers, record labels and television stations. The change that happened was the Internet, and the need for these gatekeepers became less valuable. Now the problem of being discovered could be accomplished without the need of gatekeepers. What we are being told and what we are being sold to the public, is older gatekeepers who say they are still relevant, and with their last dying breath they are trying to influence laws and make sure their power stays in place. Moreover, to a lesser degree it is working, as has been shown with the constantly increasing copyright length extensions, the take down of Megaupload and the crop of laws such as SOPA and CISPA.
If I would tell you that we need to go back to the horse and buggy you might look at me funny. However, people rarely bat an eyelash when congress passes a law to ensure that things like Mickey Mouse never go into public domain.
I feel a need to stop and say this: I do not have issues with anyone making money off what they do. If you make a song and make, a million dollars all the better for your efforts and it also means that people like what you do. Moreover, most in the copyleft movement feel the same way. Nevertheless, copyright is not meant to be a guaranteed lifetime stream of money. In addition, this is the other problem that I am seeing and that is greed.
As much as the older generation complains about the younger, they have their own set of fallacies. Among those is pride and shortsightedness. Too often today it is about how fast a business can make money as fast as possible, instead of being in the game for the longest period of time. And this is why so many in the creative industries are afraid of the new reality. Instead of allowing the change that is coming, they are trying to stifle and destroy it.
When the recession hit upon us, the thought I had at the time was that the old money (those in power, the top of business) were afraid of being left behind. Instead of billionaires, we would see the rise of the trillionaires. I was wrong, what they were really afraid of was the fact that the playing field was going to be equalized. Instead of a few billionaires there would more millionaires and more people in the game with equal power. It’s not that there isn’t money to go around, but a fair by those at the top now won’t have the same power as they did before. It is why the government is secretly afraid of the Internet and freedom of information. It is why they desperately want laws like CISPA to become reality.
Now what gets lost in this discussion is the fact that for society to grow and become better we have to put aside greed and lust for power. In doing so and working together we all can gain so much more. Until then we as a society will continue to grind through the muck of a reality where we keep going in circles.
Coming back to the creative fields, I want to wrap this up with the words of Notch, the man who created the phenomenon known as Minecraft. When a Twitter user about not being able to afford his game approached Notch, the user asked him if it was okay to download the game. Notch said this:
Just pirate it. If you still like it when you can afford it in the future, buy it then. Also don’t forget to feel bad. 😉