I have a confession—I used to be a pretty big pirate. Games, movies, music, TV shows—I wanted it all. What can I say? I was young and penniless. It all seemed so harmless. But now, things are different. All of that is in the past, but it certainly wasn’t easy to give up. Nevertheless, some of the things that moved me to this point are having this job and realizing the beauty of sales.
As to how I got into piracy in the first place, I’m really not sure. All I can remember is coming across torrents at a young age and falling in love with them. I believe I discovered YouTube around the same time, so these both went kind of went hand in hand. For instance, I would come across games on YouTube and then proceed to search out torrents if I spotted something that interested me. I was happy with the collection I built, but then everything changed once I got my first job—being a game journalist.
That’s right, what you see before you are the fruits of the first paid job I’ve ever had. It’s been quite an experience thus far, but one of the most important things that it’s taught me is to appreciate the value of hard work. When I think about the several hours that I spend almost each day trying to make a living, I relate it to how game developers must feel as they slave away for months on end. It’s that thought among many others which helped me to wean away from piracy.
But of course, another big factor related to this job that influenced my change of mind was the fact that it’s given me my own cash to spend. I never had an allowance, unlike many kids. Thus, if I wanted something, I’d typically have to wait until vacation time with my family. The reason being is that I grew up in the Bahamas, and there isn’t a huge selection of goods there. The few things that are there are about double of what one would pay in the USA. Since that’s where we’d always vacation, I looked forward to our trips mainly because I knew I’d finally be able to get new stuff. After I started working a few years ago, I no longer had to rely on my parents or those trips since I finally had my own funds and also access to Amazon and eBay. Yet, not too long after getting used to this newfound ‘good life’, I moved away from my home country down to Ecuador. I’ve been here on my own for the past few months. As a result, the money I make is typically no longer used for pleasure, but is now almost explicitly for survival.
I understand the feeling of seeing new games, but not having the funds readily avaliable to buy them. This is a major reason as to why people pirate software.
When I was living with my parents, I made purchases without much of a second thought. It’s not as if I was floating in money—not by any means. I simply didn’t any other responsibilities to tend to. Now that I’m living on my own 2000 miles away, I over analyze even the smallest thing I buy. Ever since I’ve moved, almost all of my spending has been dedicated to taking care of life’s necessities (food, bills, etc.) As a result, I continuously have to keep holding off from buying anything unnecessary like games unless I save beforehand.
Being in this situation has made the desire turning back to piracy quite strong, but my conscience has become far too sensitive against it for me to do that without feeling incredibly guilty. But, I’m happy. All of this has helped teach me to acquire qualities that my younger self, and fundamentally everyone who’s a pirate, lacks—patience and self-control.
Real pirates were known as sailing robbers. Their levels of greed and selfishness were quite high, and thus they plundered ships and even murdered their owners in order to take whatever they deemed valuable. Modern-day software pirates don’t go anywhere close to those kinds of extremes, but those same two personality quirks are the reason why piracy is still a thing: greed and selfishness. While these are two distinct qualities, one doesn’t really exist without the other. A greedy person is selfish, and their selfishness increases their greed. Piracy involves a person taking something they don’t have the right to have, whether that be plundering a ship or downloading torrents. Going back to the topic of my job and my current living situation, discovering sales was another big contributor in my change of mind.
Digital stores like Humble and Steam have become well-known for offering frequent steep discounts. This makes every dollar travel a little further.
What’s pretty much the default argument for software piracy in most cases is that people do it because they can’t afford to buy whatever they’re downloading. Truthfully, games in particular are very expensive. The $60 price-tag of most large games makes buying just one (let alone more than one) a real challenge for some gamers, from young ones who don’t have the funds to adults who simply can’t afford it. This is why I’ve come to love sales so much. Here on PC, discounts are particularly plentiful. I’ve seen a variety of games on sale relatively regularly. This encourages budget-conscious gamers such as myself to try and stay patient when it comes to buying games, since we know there’s almost always a strong chance a deal will creep up eventually. It feels awesome to nab a game when it’s price has been slashed in half, and sometimes even more. Thanks to sales, that previous $60 purchase which would have only granted you one title, can now give you three $20 games, or a $40 game combined with a $20 game. You get the point—sales are amazing.
Waiting on sales along with allocating my money for more important things caused me to realize something that I totally missed back when I was a pirate: entertainment isn’t necessary.
Everything that people pirate are non-essential items, mere ‘luxuries’. We all enjoy playing games, listening to music, watching movies and the like, but they certainly don’t outrank real priorities like food and shelter. Since most of my money has to be spent on actual necessities like those, it’s helped me to keep in mind that I can live without them. That doesn’t stop me from wanting them of course, but I don’t let the desire consume me like before. Taking that into consideration, this all brings up one clear point: there is no real justification for piracy.
Having food to eat, clothes to cover yourself with and a roof over your head are important. Playing games? Not so much.
If money is holding you back from getting something, then simply do without it. Wanting something doesn’t give the automatic right to have it. Since most pirates are consumed by their own greed and selfishness, they don’t really stop to think about that. Still, another argument that’s brought up in favor of piracy is in the case of a product that’s legally unavailable in someone’s country (like I mentioned before being from the Bahamas). Even still, that person would not have the right since, again, what they want isn’t a necessity.
When I came to terms with that fact, it moved me to get rid of everything in my pirated collection. Games that I already had downloaded I ended up buying from Steam. Those that were available there, I’ve simply gotten rid of completely. I had hundreds of songs I obtained via YouTube converterters, and I dumped them all in favor of a monthly subscription to Deezer. I still haven’t bit the bullet when it comes to Netflix, but that’s mostly due to it being too much for my measly budget. Thus, I watch movies on the rare chance I go out to the theater, or if a friend invites me over.
Now, I must say that I didn’t write this post to seem all ‘high-and-mighty’. I just happened to be reflecting on the past, and I figured telling my piracy story was a good article idea. I understand the convenience of piracy, but no matter how you slice or dice it, there isn’t anything truly good about it. But thanks to modern marvels like digital distribution which breaks down borders and frequent sales that put wallets at ease, these luxury goods are a little more attainable for all of us.
It wasn’t easy to let go of piracy, but the sales make it a simpler transition. Not to mention it feels good knowing that the developers are getting the support they deserve for all their hard work. Patience = profit!
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Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.