Thursday, October 19, 2006

Last night I logged into a game from the last decade and was happy to claim (thanks to EQ customer support) some quest rewards that had not been given to my character. The rewards (hereinafter referred to as ph@+ l3w+) were missing, even though I'd successfully explored the Blightfire Moors, slain the fungus person overlord, and helped the dwarven miner determine where he'd left his ore. I've been busy.
More modern games are getting all the press, as well they should.
Game sales force hardware upgrades which has a noticeable impact on the whole computer industry.
One of the most anticipated upcoming excuses to buy a new graphics card is Battlefield 2142. I've seen screenshots. This giant armored robot combat game looks amazing.
I won't be buying a new computer to run it, though. I've decided that I wouldn't even pick it up from the bargain end cap at Target at this point.
The first reason is that EA, the company releasing the game, has suggested that players uninstall Microsoft Security Patch KB917422 in order to play the game. In fact, leaving this patch (which fixes a vulnerability which can "allow an attacker to compromise your Windows-based system and take control of it") can result in a run-time error when trying to launch the game.
This suggests poor coding to me.
The second reason is that EA has instituted add-on software which is installed (without user consent) when games are installed.
This software is by every definition I can find spyware.
Here is what it does:

1. It installs silently with no user choice.
2. It does not appear in add/remove programs.
3. It combs the local (and presumably network) drives for personal information, especially internet history.
4. It transmits this information back to EA over the always-on internet connection almost all serious PC gamers enjoy.
5. This information is used to deploy in-game advertisements to allow marketers to tap into the huge group of people who stare at a computer screen more than a TV.

Even for me, that sounds evil.
I don't want to have massive robot combat with a Starbucks branded mechwarrior.
A theatre in the background of a battlefield in 2142 should not still be showing Snakes on a Plane.
Is team-based cooperative multiplayer better if the giant robots are stomping through a Toyota dealership? Ok. Maybe.
But I'm exposed to enough advertising. If I'm playing a video game, the constant drone of consumerism is the first thing that can be reliably drowned out.
There should be no message in video games driving us to get the latest and most awesome thing that just came out to keep up with the rest of the horde of consumers.
I'm just glad my current game of choice doesn't stoop to that mentality.
And I'm even more glad I got my stack of potions, Treant Staff, magic belt and shiny rock so I can keep up with the other players. The support people also gave me a coupon code for $5 off at the Sony Style store. How nice is that?

4 comments:

Tommy A said...

INC Garrick's new "Got SOW?" T-shirt from the style store!

I fully back the EA boycot. You would think they would have learned from Sony's prior mistakes .

Anyways, I forwarded you some good emails from (company name removed to comply with non-disclosure agreement). Account Care is officially pwned.

Garrick said...

Hey! I've got SOW!

I much enjoyed the email about the pwn@g3.

Andrew Moore said...

Hey Mr. "Look at me I'm so tech saavy" -

Did you actually just post your address on the net?

Didn't you get a death threat like, four months ago?

The fuck?

Garrick said...

I did post my address, but I'm 100% Google-able anyway.
I edited out my email address. I fear Spam more than crazed stalkers.

Was the death threat only four months ago?