Today's census questions are all about pirates. Yaaarrrrrrrr!

It's a touchy subject in the video game business. Despite having been around since the dawn of time, when young men swapped 3.5 inch floppies on the school playground (ooo eerrr), piracy is increasingly being cited as a serious problem by video game publishers and retailers, who have seen profits eaten into by the advent of free, illegal internet game downloads.

While we understand it's a controversial issue, and that some people may feel reluctant to take part in a survey centred around illegal behaviour, we also feel it would be a disservice in a feature like this not to broach the subject.

Needless to say, just like we're not passing on any of this on to marketing or advertising companies, we're not passing any of this onto publishers, either. It's for SCIENCE (and fun).


We'd also like to point out that this entire poll is about piracy. Downloading or otherwise getting hold of games you didn't pay for. If you make copies of your own discs, for security against small children or convenience, that's cool, we're not including you as a "pirate". Same goes for downloading copies of older games you own (say, Super Mario Bros. on cartridge). Publishers may technically say it's illegal, but since you own the game, we'll let it slide.


Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A Console Game?

Doesn't matter how you got hold of it or how you play it once you do, we'd just like to know. If you've never owned a console for which games can be copied - so a PS1, PS2, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube or Wii - please do not answer.


Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A PC Game?

Doesn't matter whether you burned it or downloaded it, we'd just like to know. If you've never owned a PC on which you played games, please do not answer.


Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A DS Or PSP Game?

Whether it be via an R4 (or similar device) or simply downloading it to a PSP, we'd like to know. If you've never owned a PSP or DS, please do not answer this question.


If You Do Pirate Games, Why Do You Do It?

So you're a pirate. It's OK, we're not judging you. We'd just like to know, why do you do it?


If You Have Played Pirated Games, How Did You Obtain Them?

As the question says. If you've played a pirated game, how did you get hold of it?


Do You Think DRM Services Help Prevent Piracy, Or Promote It?

Digital Rights Management services are a recent, and also unpopular aspect of PC gaming, where publishers are able to control how many times you install a particular game, and in some cases, even the circumstances under which you can play them. Because of this, there has been immense backlash from amongst the PC gaming community - a group of consumers for whom access to pirated games is often easy and immediate - prompting us to ask this question,.


Does DRM Software Influence Your Purchasing Decision?

In a similar vein, DRM services can have an adverse effect on people who have previously been able to enjoy a game they've purchased whenever, and wherever, they've liked. So we'd like to know, do you think DRM is severe enough that it'll influence your decision on whether you'll buy a game or not?


Have You Ever Downloaded A "Classic" Console Game Which You Don't, Or Didn't Previously Own?

Let's say there's a classic N64 game you want to play, but you never had an N64. So you download a ROM and play it on your PC. Or, let's say there's a classic Japanese Game Boy series that was never commercially available where you live. So you download the ROM, and play it on your PC. Technically, this is illegal, so we want to know, have you done it? NOTE: If you ever owned the game you downloaded - say, you had Mario Bros. as a kid - we're not counting that. This is strictly for stuff you never owned.


Have You Ever Downloaded An Emulated Arcade Game?

Nice soft one to finish up with. Emulated arcade titles, played on a PC program such as MAME, are technically illegal (well, many of them are), as they're copies of old arcade ROMs that you're getting hold of without paying for. Have you ever downloaded any of these and played them?


That's it! Thanks again for helping out by taking part, and stay tuned tomorrow for a whole new set of questions, none of which will be about walked planks or shivered timbers.