Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Things I Don't Have

Today I read Seth Godin's opinion on why I really hate hearing about Steam and iPad games: because I'm jealous and regretful that I chose not to participate in these things.

To be specific, he says "The reason, I think, is that you're reminding people of a decision they made, a decision that might have felt right at the time, but when they made it, they didn't know about what you've got on offer. They actively decided to take themselves out of the running for this magic event, this extraordinary product, and marketing it to them belittles their choice."

It's true that I choose not to buy iWidgets, use Facebook, or use Steam. And it's true that I hate it when a cool game comes out that's only for iWidgeteers, Facebookies, and Steamfolks, and it's paraded in front of my nose day after day.

This is not because I regret not getting those things. In fact, two out of three of them are free. If I wanted to, I could get them right now. No difficulty at all. Seth says I'm upset because I'm a special kind of pampered jerk who chose not to get them and am now regretful.

I can't agree. Sure, I'm a pampered jerk. But the reasons I don't want to use those things isn't because I chose incorrectly or short-sightedly. I don't use those platforms because they are vile platforms.

Interesting things come out on those platforms, and I'm regretful that the publishers didn't bother to make their thing work on platforms that don't require me to get assfucked. I'm angry when I hear about Terraria because an otherwise awesome game requires me to cuddle up with a third-party piece of bloatware that exists solely to grab my hair painfully tight and scream ads into my ear while eating up my RAM, tracking my every move, and installing mandatory patches that never make things any better and usually make things significantly worse.

A platform is not simply a method for distributing or running software or games. It has good and bad points on its own. The idea Seth posits is that if they release good enough software and games, I should at some point be agreeable to them, want to use the platform.

That's a willingness to bargain away your freedom and privacy for a product. Really? You want to espouse the idea that, if only the things we were offered were a little bit higher quality, we would be happy to sell ourselves, our freedom, our privacy?

How about we come from the other direction, and say that a product is not enough to compromise our person. How about we point out that these platforms are not all equal, and many of them exist specifically to cut apart their users, extract anything they can, and either sell it or abuse it for the sake of further profit?

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