Sometimes I’m disgusted to call myself a gamer. Communities rife with pirates, racists, sexual harassment, homophobia, nationalism, hackers, threats… put the kettle on I’m writing another novel-length opinion piece.
I’m not a programmer, I’m not a designer, I’m not anyone who makes content for sale. Despite this you all know my opinion of piracy; I hate it. Even companies like EA and so on who use DRM and publishers that spit on developers, people who don’t deserve money, aren’t exempt from that stance. Onto my point, some gamers regularly break the law, often in ways that they think nobody cares about. Well people do.
A big one is piracy, if you haven’t pirated in this day and age, you’re likely either new to the internet or a liar. I myself have pirated in the past, but I have since fallen away from that. I’ve seen many excuses for justifying piracy. The classic “I can’t afford it”, well I can’t afford a car. “I disagree with their policies”, well don’t buy it. “It’s not in print anymore”, can’t argue with that. “I have the right”, no you don’t. “They make plenty of money”, not if you’re an obscure indie developer.
I wouldn’t call piracy theft, or blame it on lost sales, but it does genuinely put a dent in someone’s bottom line. There have been people who buy a game and pirate it to circumvent various issues with the game such as DRM, which I can agree with. But you’ve heard all this BS before so I’ll spare you the rest.
Another one is threats and hate speech. I recently moved back to the United Kingdom, and let me tell you, Americans have it easy. You can call any minority any number of slurs, but in Europe, such things are illegal. Playing on my cousin’s XBox recently, I heard the foul language that it’s known for. Not only that, but I’ve also heard a few death threats from people who take the game far too seriously. If I felt like it, I could actually send a few men in uniform towards the general direction of their homes for that “Sheepshagger” comment.
Unless you live in some nowhere country, making a death threat, or any threat at all, opens you up to getting charged with a crime. A few crude phrases wont get the police at your door, but I have had more than one person try to dig up info on me after I screwed up in an online game. Fortunately I keep my online and IRL identities completely separate so there’s probably a handful of people wanting my head wandering Nebraska.
Are you a female gamer? You’ve likely had to put up with sexual harassment. Sexual harassment isn’t likely to land you jail time, but it can cost you your job and subject you to lawsuits. However, if you were to sexually harass a minor, then it’s a completely different ball game. If you were to start making lewd comments to a 13 year old girl and demanding she show her boobs, you would be thrown in prison, put on the sex offender’s register, and anyone who does a background check on you would likely outright refuse to hire you. You can call it boys being boys, but they would change quickly if someone was to pretty them up and make them stand frequent a gay bar for a week. Kids use the internet, you can’t deny that.
Then you get hackers and script kiddies. I’m sure plenty of us have used maphack or similar programs to gain an advantage in online games. Some allow it (like open battlenet), some prohibit it (Valve), but that’s not really hacking, it’s cheating. Accessing server info you have no business to be in or bringing down a server has consequences. A while back, a private PSO server I played was DDOSed by some immature prat. If you lose your temper and decide to DDOS someone’s server, you can be locked up for ten years under UK law, and one US teenager was given a year in prison for instigating a DDOS a few years ago. Actual hacking in the US can land you in prison for up to 20 years depending on the severity.
Piracy, hate speech, sexual harassment, threats, hacking, these things can and do happen online. It’s rare something comes of it, but when it does, it hits the news and attacks the entire gaming community. Scumbag gamers of the world who make things unpleasant for the rest of us think they can hide behind anonymity.
People try to justify things through their first amendment right, but the first amendment, though powerful, is not truly absolute. This is a major fallacy and myth that makes people believe they can act with impunity. They can’t.
If you’re one of those scumbags, think about your actions. You might be digging your own grave. Hell, if you broke the law recently, they might be on their way to your house. Try explaining to Mum and Dad why you’re being sued for DDOSing a server you got banned from for sexually harassing the owner’s little sister.