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  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 2:18pm


    Swords are readily available. A sword made of tool steel or spring steel will run you ~$350 and would be regarded as magical in contrast to those used in any era that we actually used swords in warfare, up to WWII.

    Modern anti-tank weapons or even pyrotechnics are godlike in contrast to old classical fireballs.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Given that TV is linked to culture

    US Homicide rate is about 3.9 per 100,000 persons, including gun and non-gun homicide. Most European countries are around 1.0 or even less.

    But then, Ukraine is 4.3 and Russia is 9.5. Gun ownership is banned in both of these nations.

    I don't know why.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Video Games don't kill people

    PS some people evidently still believe SRA is a real thing that real Satanists do. Today. In 2018.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 2:07pm

    Video Games don't kill people

    But Role Playing Games do.

    Or at least that was the sentiment regarding AD&D in the 1970s and 80s during the Satan craze (which happened after The Exorcist was a big hit in cinema). People genuinely believed that RPGs lead children into the occult, included real spells that could affect real physical change, even killing someone.

    We human beings suck at deciding what is dangerous or not. Or even what is deadly or not.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 2:03pm

    "Weapon" / "Destructive" / "Assault"

    Lawrence D’Oliveiro you've made the argument before that certain devices may have specific deadly uses. You've called guns weapons before and pointing out that their purpose is destructive, whether a gun is taking down an elk so that a family can eat for a winter, or dispatching a mad dog, or defending a woman from an assailant, or even mortally wounding a dozen or so children.

    That is all semantics. That a gun might be classified as a weapon doesn't affect how they should be regarded by society.

    By trying to classify guns, it sounds like you're saying we civilians are generally too irresponsible (or malicious, but that comes down to temper or desperation) to handle dangerous things.

    Frankly, I don't think we're responsible enough to vote, or raise kids, or operate motor vehicles, or feed ourselves.

    But neither are the officials and agents of the state, including law enforcement. Including the military. Including our elected representatives. They're all as incompetent as we are. And they will use their additional power (are already abusing their positions to further their own interests) which means they shouldn't be responsible for guns (kids, cars, policy, food) either.

    And since we can't find someone to be responsible for all this crap for us, we have to assure that civilians have control over the same stuff that the state has. Otherwise, it quickly turns into a caste system, where the upper classes are not answerable to the lower ones.

    In fact, that's what we got now. Because civilian gun access wasn't enough of a check to stop the corruption. We have police officers gunning down innocents indiscriminately, and not even losing their jobs over it.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 1:39pm

    "I've also never seen evidence of video games creating solutions"

    I was going to advise trying a bit of Bridge It or Kerbal Space Program, both of which show that games can very much be about solutions.

    Or any one of the Silent Hunter series which is all about firing solutions.

  • Feb 25th, 2018 @ 1:28pm

    I will grant you gun CULTURE in the US is abominable

    I once observed how commonly it comes up in gun dialogue the assumption that the right to bear arms is the right to use those arms to murder someone. I've heard it / seen it implied from both gun-rights and gun-control advocates.

    So yes, in the United States, gun culture has gotten a bit weird. In the 70s and 80s, the gun owners I knew were all about proper handling and cleaning protocol, proper gun safety, not missing and avoiding hitting others behind your intended target.

    These days people leave their loaded guns on the coffee table as a demonstration of exercising their rights or more accurately, dissing the bleeding-heart left.

    I still don't thing this is a reason to abolish guns, and I still think assault weapons bans are heavily problematic. It feels more like a social sickness, say a response to scarcity and a feeling of powerlessness that is driving people to idiocy.

  • Feb 24th, 2018 @ 12:46pm

    Gun access

    Guns vary by state. Here in California you have to be sixteen to own a gun and cannot handle one unless you're sober enough to fly a plane.

    In Texas children can own guns, and there's no restriction on drinking and shooting.

  • Feb 24th, 2018 @ 12:43pm

    MPAA R-rating

    R rating restricts viewers under 17 who must be accompanied by an adult -- which means someone sixteen or younger can get in if any adult (even an eighteen-year-old stranger) vouches for them.

    NC-17 is 18+ only. Minors are not allowed. Period.

    The ESRB M rating is similar but it only states a game cannot be sold to someone under 17. Anyone can play it. Left 4 Dead had players as young as five with parental supervision. Nine without supervision.

    I think the legality of minors viewing adult material in private varies from state to state, where some give allowances for parental supervision, kinda like drinking. I remember parents who were more concerned about exposing her kids to extreme violence than blatant sex or nudity, so private standards vary.

  • Feb 24th, 2018 @ 12:26pm

    When EA was less evil

    I was fond of some of EA's franchises, such as The Westwood Studios stuff like C&C Generals or Battle For Middle Earth and the Maxis stuff like The Sims 2. Lots of good work was published under the EA label.

    Design quality plumeted (even when graphics and production values continued to escalate) right when EA mandated Origin service. I refused to accept its one-sided ToS even for a sequel of a franchise I was following. But I'm sure others are more devoted fans and would not blame them for falling victim to EA's failure of integrity.

    I'd love to play current Star Wars games (for which Disney gave EA exclusive liscense) but they're EA, require Origin and lousy with microtransactions and whale-fishing, and I don't go near that stuff and advise my friends to avoid.

  • Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 6:41pm

    The opposite example of that Bullshit ep.

    Penn & Teller's Bullshit did an episode about violence in video games, which centered around a kid (I think he was ten) who religiously played Call of Duty. They took him out to the firing range to try an AR-15 for size (supplied by an off-duty US Marine who also was fond of CoD). The lad aimed the rifle took a shot at a target and was done. It was, for him, a scary, overwhelming experience.

    These days, we have data from the opposite end, in the form of drone pilots who pilot a predator over Afghanistan or Pakistan, fly surveillance over villages and other population clusters. And very often, word comes down from on high that that cluster has been selected for a strike.

    These pilots are the guys that ultimately pull the trigger on hellfire missiles. They can be thousands of miles away, sometimes over here in the states operating controls of the remote UAV on the other side of the world. It's about as removed and video-gamey as war gets.

    And it fucks these pilots up.

    To be fair, they actually see (at a distance) the villagers as they live their lives, work, play, go to school, eat, shit, fuck and so on. They'll watch them often for days before a strike command comes. And they see that these are peaceful civilian families, including children and grandmothers, before they get the order to massacre them all.

    And after the strike the pilots then have to fly low and survey the carnage they've wrought, maybe looking for a person of interest to make sure that face is on one of the corpses.

    That can't be easy to do.

    But our pilots sure can tell what they're doing is real and not a simulation, not a video game.

    Our drone-strike programs are running short on pilots because they burn out fast, and no-one outside the drone program wants to do the job.

  • Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 6:07pm

    Gateway Drugs to Censorship

    Here in the states, the ESRB haggles with devs much the way the MPAA haggles with studios, and much the way that studios now insert extreme content as negotiating chips (e.g. I'll take out three of the five exploding heads if you let me keep the love scene.) Some of those extreme scenes wind up ignored by the ratings board and left in the final cut.

    (I hear in Disney's musical animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame there's a version of Esmeralda dancing nude in the flames during the Hellfire number. Never officially released, of course. Rather it was cut out to save some of the other more disturbing bits.)

    While I can only guess that devs extreme up bits for bargaining, it has been curious what would push a game to AO-Adults Only rating here in the states:

    Bad guys aren't allowed to be too human lest they disturb the sensibilities of the player for killing them. Hence games that depict war aren't allowed to be too warlike. They're not aloud to express too much pain or beg for their lives. Hence, most mooks in shooters sound worse than eighties action-movie grunts who went to wrestling school.

    Children are not allowed to be killed except in ephemeral or off-stage ways. It makes it far more precarious endangering children than in the movies, since it can be arranged that kids always escape. But in video games, there are consequences for failure, and people sometimes get chewed up by zombies (or worse, by a player-weapon misfire). Skyrim just made children impervious to damage. Most games just don't include children at all.

    Story writers can't play with Christianity too much. The Binding of Isaac which places with biblical myth would never have gotten past the ESRB. Fortunately, Steam didn't care, though Apple does, and BOI is banned from iTunes (and thus all non-jailbroken i-devices).

    And of course, sex and nudity are even more tightly governed in games than they are in movies, which means the industry has only barely explored love and sex in interactive media. Mostly there are porn games and games where the girl is the prize at the end...and Huniepop which is a good casual match-three game with porn.

  • Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 5:42pm

    "EA isn’t this stupid."

    EA's willing to permaban people who complain too much about EA games, regardless of the legitimacy of their critiques. EA's also willing to nag players of their mobile games for five-star ratings, and then try to divert them from rating if the player wants to post less than five stars.

    So I'd say EA just is more subtle about it, and knows how not to commit blatant fraud...usually.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 4:35pm


    As a note, when The Division was first released, PvP play was optional. Ubi has since made PvP the focus of most new updates and the only place to get best loot.

    That would have been a dealbreaker for me, and I wouldn't have purchased the game had I been properly informed. Action PvP is always biased towards better internet connections, hence against Comcast regional monopolies. For games that are not intrinsically competitive (such as The Division which is intrinsically cooperative) Forcing PvP is a cop-out. It's justification to overrestrict (as per the game's draconian trading restrictions.)

    The Division treats single-players and co-op players as PvP as a means to justify DRM, not because it makes the game better.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 12:02am

    Trump and Hillary

    Us and them; And after all we're only ordinary men

    Me and you; God only knows it's not what we would choose to do


    Black and blue; And who knows which is which and who is who?

    Up and down; And in the end it's only round and round and round

  • Feb 20th, 2018 @ 11:55pm

    I have a number of friends who play The Division

    I played it for a while, until I found I couldn't do housekeeping without being currently signed into the network. I hadn't encountered an MMO-lite until then. Tried it for a while and left disgusted by a dozen points.

    Curiously, it's a game where civilians and enemies are only discerned by the color coding of the HUD. Either way, they're desperate Americans in a quarantined lawless city. But it's okay for these Americans to gun down and loot those Americans because we're members of a secret government department and we've been ordered to do so.

    And that fiction is accepted unironically throughout the game.

  • Feb 20th, 2018 @ 11:36pm

    Our Insect Overlords

    I'm pretty sure most of the 21st century wouldn't have happened if there was an overlord cabal controlling things. The whole point of having such an institution is to prevent chaos such as the 9/11 attacks, or the torture program or the opioid epidemic or the surveillance state or the Russian Meddling / Trump administration.

    When the Goatse pic appeared en mass on Atlanta digital billboards, that kinda showed the Illuminati orgs had been haxx'd apart.

    Munroe pointed it out in 2013 regarding our all-too-frequent government shutdowns. The point of such organizations was to prevent unrest, not agitate it.

  • Feb 15th, 2018 @ 12:52pm

    You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

    I've confessed before to being a Lennonist.

  • Feb 14th, 2018 @ 6:52pm

    Government undermining of our common values and freedoms.

    We've had numerous articles right here on Techdirt that have analyzed released documents from within our agencies noting that the public is now regarded not as citizens with rights but enemy combatants.

    We are assured by newsmedia that we, the general public have rights. But any given individual who dares to exercise those rights can still be pressured by the police (violently) to relinquish those rights. And they are.

    But for now our news media and our fictions tell us we still have those rights. I'd be curious how much of the public still believes them.

  • Feb 14th, 2018 @ 5:03pm

    Was the law enforcement officer right?

    Given the propensity for law enforcement officers to plant evidence, I think we cannot say with certainty that he was right.

    Was the quantity of drugs substantial? Was it, say five kilograms of narcotics, more than would be convenient for a trooper to walk around with?

    If not, we can't rule out the trooper planted the evidence to justify the arrest. There are so many incidents of bad faith in law enforcement that we cannot merely accept good faith.

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