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Indie game developer Jeff Vogel (head of Spiderweb Soft.) wrote a thoughtful piece on piracy on Wednesday, for his blog, The Bottom Feeder . As an industry veteran and most important of all, human, he explains why piracy isn't always a bad thing, and can often be downright justifiable given the right circumstances. No matter where you stand on the issue, he approaches the topic with a realistic mindset, rather than one guided by profits.

He admits to feeling reluctant about writing the post, because game sales support his family. It puts food on the table, and clothes on his kid's backs. He knows that piracy could lead the PC game industry into the bleak world of ad-supported flash games if it were to continue to escalate. Yet, despite all these realizations, he can still find justification for piracy in the real-world.

There has always been the argument that piracy doesn't affect sales as much as press releases want us to believe because most pirates download games they wouldn't normally purchase. That is debatable, but the reality is that some people cannot afford to buy games in the first place. Vogel tells the story of a typical e-mail he receives from children in poor countries:

Every so often, I get an e-mail in broken English from some kid in Russia or southeast Asia or India. He says how how he is playing my game in a cyber-cafe, for fun and perhaps to practice English. The disparity in the strength of the currency between our two countries makes it impossible it is for him to get the 25 or 28 hard US dollars to buy my game. (It's entirely possible in much of the world to not be dirt poor and yet to be entirely unable to scrape together a chunk of hard U.S. dollars.) The message ends with a sincere and heart-rending plea for a registration key.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Yeah, the kid is probably making it up." I doubt it. Remember, my games are easy to pirate. Anyone who wants to steal my games can grab them any time he or she wants. Maybe some of these pleas are fake, but I'm sure that most aren't.

When I get one of these message, what I want to respond is, "PIRATE MY STUPID GAME!!!"

Vogel understands that in reality, not everyone has enough money for games, or in some cases, food, shelter, etc. In situations such as this, he encourages these people to pirate his game if it brings them joy, and provides a distraction them from their uncontrollable plight:Someone who is facing long-term unemployment and bankruptcy probably should not pay for my game. And, in that case, if stealing my game gives them a temporary reprieve from their misery (and there's a lot of misery out there right now), I'm cool with that. I'm happy to help. These are my fellow citizens, and I want to help out how I can.

Vogel does stress that piracy is an evil, just not an absolute one. He denounces frivalous piracy and rich kids with broadband connections. Ultimately, he needs to make a profit to justify game development in the first place and encourages everyone to support their favorite gaming companies buy voting with their dollar.

For a deeper look into the mind of an indie game dev, I encourage everyone to read Vogel's entire post over at The Bottom Feeder blog.

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Last Post by Potence
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^ Sorry, call me a callous bastard, but if you can't scrape together $30 US, you should probably not be playing video games. If these people are genuinely financially secure in their home country, let them buy games made over there for $1 US or whatever. Russia, China, etc. have better programmers than we do in the States anyway.

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The point he was trying to make is that they aren't financially secure.Saying that people down on their luck shouldn't play games is a very robotic stance. You could argue that they should work every spare minute of every day, but if they are victims of economic instability, it's likely that they are unable to find work. So, given the fact that they are unemployed and possibly depressed, where is the harm in picking up a controller for an hour? Wouldn't you appreciate some form of entertainment if your life is spent in poverty?

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The point he was trying to make is that they aren't financially secure.

Actually it seems he says the opposite...

The disparity in the strength of the currency between our two countries makes it impossible it is for him to get the 25 or 28 hard US dollars to buy my game. (It's entirely possible in much of the world to not be dirt poor and yet to be entirely unable to scrape together a chunk of hard U.S. dollars.)

Saying that people down on their luck shouldn't play games is a very robotic stance.

Alright... saying that poor people should be able to steal games because they deserve to have fun is a bleeding-heart hippie stance.

You could argue that they should work every spare minute of every day, but if they are victims of economic instability, it's likely that they are unable to find work.

I would count *looking* for work as work in this context. They might not be getting paid, but the time spent is an investment in the future.

So, given the fact that they are unemployed and possibly depressed, where is the harm in picking up a controller for an hour?

That's one hour that you could have spent looking for a job. This of course assumes that they are unemployed and not simply making too little money to afford US games. In this other case, I maintain that games should be made which can be profitably sold to individuals in that socioeconomic status.

Wouldn't you appreciate some form of entertainment if your life is spent in poverty?

Honestly I think I'd prefer to spend time trying to find a better life. Then again I don't really know what it's like, and then again it doesn't really matter what my situation is when arguing a point like this.

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Alright... saying that poor people should be able to steal games because they deserve to have fun is a bleeding-heart hippie stance.

You seem to be painting this picture in a different light. They aren't just poor, but in some cases, oppressed by uncontrollable forces. Jeff is sympathizing with these people, not rewarding them. He is essentially promoting a form of game donation by permitting "piracy" of his software. He believes it can be beneficial for someone who is suffering to have a little fun. Should we cancel toy-drives because it is too bleeding-heart of us to help our fellow man? I do not think piracy should be sanctioned for poor folks, but he is essentially giving his products away, so who's stealing? His blog is about his games, not games at large.

I would count *looking* for work as work in this context. They might not be getting paid, but the time spent is an investment in the future.

You are right. Instead of playing a game at 10PM before going to bed, these people should be making the rounds, looking for a job. Get real. You seem to think that these people are lazy and would spend time during business hours goofing off with games. If that were the case, then I'd agree with you. This, however, is not the typical person described in Jeff's post.

Then again I don't really know what it's like...

Good point! So you admit that you have no idea what it's like to be poor, and cannot sympathize. If the dev wants to gives his games to people that he feels are owed a bit of slack, that's his business.

I'm not sure if your problem lies with the author giving his own goods away or the fact that games are a healthy distraction from reality when used in earnest. I do not think that people are entitled to free games because they are poor or unemployed, but far be it from either of us to criticize a dev who gives his own product away to people he deems worthy.

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I don't think anyone who has posted a reply has quite understodd the full meaning of the author.

Vogel understands that in reality, not everyone has enough money for games, or in some cases, food, shelter, etc. In situations such as this, he encourages these people to pirate his game if it brings them joy, and provides a distraction them from their uncontrollable plight

What the author seems to mean is it is ok to pirate his games, not if you are lazy, or can't be bothered to look for a job, but if you can break even, pay for bills, food etc.
He is saying that if you don't have $25 to spend on a video game at the end of the month due to your financial state, he understand and thinks it is ok for you to "steal" his games.

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