By Kevin Douglas Femmel
(October 1st, 2011) — Today is a sad day for gamers. We all thought Nintendo had a great solution to curtailing piracy on the 3DS. Developers praised Nintendo for coming up with a system that was so hard to hack. Sure, people had illegal copies of DS games running on 3DS units, but no one had been able to get 3DS software running without the 3DS game card.
The hacking hackers have gone and hacked the 3DS which was already having a hackingly tough time. Ok, so hackingly isn’t a word and nobody is going to make it a phrase. I’m that peeved by this news. Videos have surfaced, and I won’t link back to them because that would give support in some shape to the people responsible for this, that show a hacked 3DS running Splinter Cell 3D illegally.
Let me digress for a moment. Last month, I played Mario Kart Wii for the first time since probably early 2010. I had spent hundreds of hours playing it online with friends, and I wanted to get my Mario Kart fix. A good selection of the games I played were filled with hackers. People who immediately started with infinite shrooms or unwavering bullet bills. To say the least, I was upset.
I tried to give the game more time, I played a few more times that week. With the exception of a few games, I almost always ran into someone I knew was doing something against the original design of the game. A game like Mario Kart is supposed to be fun, and its easy to get lost in it not caring about whether you win or not. I love that about the game. It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, it’s what craziness happens before I get to the finish line. Mario Kart DS has been plagued by hackers for years, and its online has been virtually dead to me for a long while.
I understand why people hack their consoles. You bought it, you can alter it however you want provided you understand the consequences for such actions. I’m not against creativity. I found Nintendo would eventually let us store downloadable Wii software onto the SD Card slot instead of the paltry 512MB the console shipped with in 2007, a whole two years before the update actually came out. How? Hackers had got the Wii downloadable software running on SDHC cards with no actual modding whatsoever. I totally understand that good things can come from hacking a console.
But hacking a console can bring a lot more than some random programmer’s ingenuity to the platform that was hacked. I think of this highly unlikely scenario as a fitting comparison. A building is on fire. People need to be saved from the building. There is something blocking the entrance and there are no fire fighters or assistance of any sort arriving for the foreseeable future. A person turns around and sees a shop across the street with some tools to help break down the debris blocking the door to the burning building. The store is closed and there is a mob of people watching the building burn in horror. If the person breaks into the store and gets whatever they need to help clear the debris they will be letting the entire mob of people in the street have access to this store. They people may loot it, they may riot or they might be good people who decide to not steal everything in sight.
Of course, the person in that scenario has to do whatever they have to do to save the people from the fire. This person can’t stop and ask the dozens of people in the street to play nice and remember what their mothers told them about stealing. Yes, the independent programmer/hacker who finds a useful outcome to their hacking of a console isn’t saving lives. But that hacker must take responsibility for the people whose jobs depend on how much profit the game they worked hard to create brings back to the publisher. They are saying “I’m above stealing games” but they are opening the door for thieves. Just because you don’t condone a terrible action and just because it isn’t performed by you doesn’t mean you are any less responsible for it by not standing up and doing something.
I also understand that when these hackers come up with something neat that enhances the functionality of a product they want everyone to know about it. I would want to put it on display for the world too. But how often do you see these hackers not give out their information because they are afraid of other hackers using their techniques to perform illegal actions which hurt the gaming industry? You got the 3DS running illegal copies of 3DS games? Good for you. You’re a smarter man than I in that regard. We can’t pretend real people aren’t effected by this. Jobs are effected and families are changed due to this. Opening the flood gates for others to exploit a weakness in a platform is taking money away from people who are trying to feed their families.
I know this is a controversial topic, and I won’t pretend to know everything about it. What I do know is I love playing video games. It is a big part of my life. That hasn’t changed over the last 15 years of my life, and I doubt it ever will. I want more video games, and this website is called gimme gimme games. Pirating video games, or aiding people in the pursuit of pirated game software hurts my chances of getting more games. There are so many things that can lead to games getting cancelled or drop into oblivion after they sell poorly. Perhaps the publisher didn’t market the game well enough, maybe the game wasn’t worth the initial asking price. What I do know is these are things real people are getting paid to fix, and when their games fall short of sales expectations due to piracy they no longer get paid to fix those issues. I want the talented people who make the games I love to keep making more games.
With so many things standing in their way from producing a compelling product that meets their financial needs, I think the least I can do is thank those hard working people by purchasing their game. How else will I play more awesome video games if the developers making them don’t see that I respect them enough to pay them for what they do best?