Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Brother is alive and well in Microsoft

People assume the concept of Big Brother is some government organization spying on you. It's not. Come on people, you've been watching too much X-Files shows. Big Brother is Microsoft. And I've got the proof.

I own a lot of arcade games. I like the variety of choices I have when I try to pick the game that best suits my mood. Sometimes I want a sidescroller, sometimes a tactical RPG or a puzzle based game. But not all of the time that I play the arcade games I'm hooked up to the internet. When I take my system over to my parent's house to meet up with dain for some co-op play we don't always have the luxury of hooking our console up to my parent's internet. For some reason they don't like having a long ethernet cable running from one room of the house to another just so we can play on the big TV and be connected with our friends. So we play offline.

The problem with playing Arcade games offline is that you only get to play the trial version of the game. Yep, that's right. Even if you've paid for the whole kit and kaboodle you're left with just a level or two of a trail game. If you want to play the whole things (and have access to earning achievements) you've got to be plugged in to the internet so Big Brother . . . I mean Microsoft can watch everything you do.

It's bad enough that I purchased three games (Double Dragon, Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe) but I can't access the full game, whether I'm connected to the internet of not, since the winter dashboard update. I still haven't heard back from Microsoft as to when these are going to get fixed. They said 30 days. It's now been about 50 days.

So why is is that I have to be connected and logged into someone's service (Microsoft) to play a game that I've downloaded to my machine? Why can't the full version of the game be available for play when I'm off line? If the games are tied to our profiles and I'm logged into mine why shouldn't I have access to everything associated with that profile? Microsoft doesn't seem to see things that way. To them if you want to play the full version of games that you've bought and downloaded you've got to log into their service first. Which I guess, to Microsoft's perspective, offline gaming doesn't happen at all. Maybe they figure that the only way, time, or place someone wants to play a video games is when they can get online and play with someone else. Well I've got news for Big Brother: SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO PLAY OFFLINE TOO!

And don't get me started on the time when I was playing Bejeweled 2 and up to level 37 or something when I got the "disconnected from Xbox Live" pop up message. I continued playing the level only to find out that when I reached the next level I got the message that I needed to unlock the full game before I could continue on. And to top it all off I lost all my progress up to that point. Way to go Microsoft.

I find it greatly annoying and a little bit creepy that Microsoft is watching what I play. I seriously don't think there's a person sitting at a computer that says "oh look, Pengwenn just logged in and she's playing Puzzle Quest . . . again". I know they're keeping track via an automated process, but in some respects that's more creepy. Am I a person or an IP address to Microsoft? With some of the customer service problems some people have had I'm beginning to wonder about that.

I remember when the year was 1984 and everyone was wondering how close our society was compared to the one in the book of the same name. They worried that our big government had turned into Big Brother and was watching our every move. A generation has passed since then (24 years) but instead of Big Brother as a government entity it's now moved to the private sector and a corporation named Microsoft. Now you can say I volunteered to be watched by getting an online account and playing on their system. But that doesn't make things any less creepy or annoying when I want to play a full game without having to string a cable across two rooms of a house. Maybe instead of background checks the government runs potential employers could just send a request to Microsoft. With their Xbox 360s and their PC products they've probably got a file on just about everyone. I wonder what it says about me. Or what it says about you.


metallicorphan said...

about the whole offline aracde games,i have just spent the last month or so having to play offline games..and all my arcade games were back to trial games

i have no idea where they are going with that,it just doesn't make sense

as for Big Brother/microsoft...i now disconnect my xbox live vision camera,so they can't spy on me...but they can still listne in on my headset....:{

pengwenn said...

Oh orphy, the watergate tapes are nothing compared with what Microsoft has on you. Don't be fooled by the "mute" button either. Your team mates can't hear you but Big Brother still can. ;)

Zenra Nukenin said...

You know, I had bought into their whole convoluted digital rights management (DRM) story until now. You've opened my eyes Pengwenn. I'll be sad when you suddenly dissapear in the middle of the night :(

"Pengwenn who? We've never heard of any Pengwenn".

pengwenn said...

Zenra who's to say I'm not a stand in until the real Pengwenn finishing the reprogamming process. Since everyone must be brain washed . . . I mean reconditioned and they do it alphabetically you've still got some free time left. Enjoy it while you can.