Let's Talk About Piracy

Illustration for article titled Let's Talk About Piracy

Have you ever pirated a video game? Do you still pirate video games? Do you play emulated games? Do you make video games that have been widely-pirated? Are you involved in trying to stop piracy? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, let’s talk.


Piracy is the elephant in the gaming room. It’s something that dominates almost every aspect of video games, from how they’re made to how they’re bought and restrictions places on users once they’re playing them. Yet it’s rarely ever spoken of, the avenues and excuses for it swept under a rug marked “ILLEGAL” then beat with a large hammer until nobody wants to talk about it again for a while.

I think that simplifies the matter, to everyone’s detriment. Piracy has been with video games since there have been video games, and while in some cases it is indeed a matter of people simply stealing something they’d otherwise pay for, there are so many other fascinating examples and varieties of it that make it worthy of both discussion and exploration. One man’s piracy may be another man’s demo. One man’s piracy may be another man’s protest. One man’s piracy may be another man’s means of simply playing something that was never released in his market, or is now out of print.

I know you—yes you—have some kind of involvement with piracy, whether you’ve downloaded games yourself or know someone else who has. I don’t care how infrequent it was, or how long ago, whether you swapped 3.5 inch disks on a playground or installed an APK on your mate’s phone. So let’s talk about it.

I’d love to hear your stories, reasons, excuses and ideas. You can reach me via email or twitter, or you could even just reply to this post. Whichever way you do it, know that if I use your quotes or info for a discussion, your identity will be kept anonymous; if you’re paranoid about social media for this, then email might be your best approach.


I don’t know about you, but I would download the shit out of a car.