Veronica Stachurski

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EverQuest: A Game Changer
EverQuest, a multiplayer online game, was launched in 1999, and quickly became a big hit for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). The creators of the game, John Smedley, Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover and Bill Trost credit text-based “MUDs” (Multi-User Dungeon games) as their inspiration for EverQuest. The game reached over 450,000 in only four years, and went on to have 17 expansions released. One of the reasons for its extreme popularity was the players’ ability to interact with others via roleplaying and the ability to join player guilds. EverQuest was the second MMO (massive multiplayer online) game to be released, but the first to use a three-dimensional game engine. Its popularity and content is said to have been an inspiration for the creation of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

Past-Time: Re-Encountering EverQuest – Article Summary
In her article, Emily Bembeneck states that launching the progression server that allows players to play the game as it was before the expansions, while it is supposed to allow players to recreate their primary encounter with the game, is not allowing them to relive “the good old days,” but inventing a paradox: nothing in the game is new to an old player because he/she already knows what happens, and because the player has changed, he/she is experiencing the game like they never have before.

As gamers who have played the game before, they already know the story, and it has therefore not reproduced their experience with the game, but caused them to redo everything they had done before. At the same time that they are “re-reading the text and re-running the paths,” they are doing it as a person who has changed since the last time they saw this virtual world. In this sense, everything is happening for the first time.

The Importance of EverQuest
Bembeneck describes the social and cultural impact that the game has had through her emphasis on the players’ embracing of the option to “go back in time.” The server was at full capacity not long after it was launched, and Sony announced that they would be opening a second server the next day. While she emphasizes the players’ desires to get back to what they once knew, she does not fully address the (albeit slight) changes/omissions that were made. For example, in the original game, players had to run back to a corpse to obtain any of the items that were left when your avatar died. In the re-launched version, this aspect of the game is automatically turned off, and individual players can choose whether they would like to reactivate this feature or not. Bembeneck also ignores the impact that the graphical updates may have socially. Graphics have continued to improve through the years (which we all know, and love to mock our parents’ 8-bit games for), but contemporary graphics were included in the re-launch, rather than the graphics of the original version. A commenter addresses this potential cultural issue when he states that “practically every ‘change’ is going to be seen as a ‘break’ by someone.” It is important to think about the company’s decisions to change/omit, because it will have a very significant impact on the social and cultural aspect of the gaming community.

A Conversation about EverQuest
While I have never played this game, it is interesting for me to think about all of the times that I have the opportunity to replay games from my childhood. I believed that, in playing this game, I would be (virtually) transported back to when/where I was the first time I got to play the game. While I quickly realized that that was not the case, I agree with Bembeneck’s assertion that I cannot get back to the place I was before because I have changed. As one of the commenters described it, “it is a completely new experience not because the game has changed, but because you have changed.”

Works Cited:

Bembeneck, Emily. "Past-Time: Re-Encountering Everquest." Play the Past. N.p., 26 Feb 2011. Web. 08 June 2015.

"EverQuest." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 20 May 2015. Web. 09 June 2015.

Wiki Article #2:

Anonymous (AKA “Anons”) are a group of hackers who “represent(ing) the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain.” These activists have protested against anti-digital piracy legislation, like SOPA and PIPA, in addition to using their international popularity to speak out against international issues (e.g. OpTunisia).

SOPA – (State Online Piracy Act) and PIPA – (Protect IP Act) give the office of the Attorney General the ability to pursue anyone “engaging in, enabling, or facilitating the activities" of copyright infringement or counterfeit products.” SOPA is largely meant to focus on sites that are outside of the United States, while PIPA focuses on domestic sites that could be aiding the sites outside of the country that are engaged in the copyright and/or intellectual property infringement.

Why are SOPA and PIPA such a big deal? SOPA and PIPA, while they sound like a good idea in theory, pose a threat to free and open information because they are too extreme. They give the office of the Attorney General the ability to completely shut down a site that somehow interacts with copyright infringement or counterfeiting, even if the site itself is not participating in the piracy. That would be like an officer requiring an entire flea market to close because one vender was selling stolen goods. This begs the question: What good is a law when it doesn’t punish the people it targets? Not only are the makers of this law essentially punishing entire domains because of individual users’ infringement of copyright data, SOPA and the Protect IP Act don’t actually have provisions to “remove copyrighted content, but rather focus on the censorship of links to entire domains.” SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy, or even punish the people who pirating, but it will cause a great increase in the cost of free information on the internet.

An increase in the cost (and censoring) of the information on the internet would cause groups like Anonymous to become ineffective. Their “Freedom Ops” depend on easy dissemination of information. OpTunisia, OpEgypt, and every other cause for change they have participated in would not have been successful if they had not been able to inform so many people of the event. SOPA and PIPA stand to effectively prevent this kind of dispersion of information on the internet.

Members of Anonymous told the people of Tunisia, “This is your fight…you must hit the streets or you will lose the fight.” It was important to Anons that the people of Tunisia realize that they must get directly involved in order to create any real change. Edward Snowden’s dilemma, however, was that people were unaware that they had anything they should be fighting to change. Snowden was not concerned with the online piracy laws that groups like Anonymous were attempting to prevent, but he was interested in how the government was getting the information; he cared that the rights of the people of the United States were being violated by the government. Snowden, in an act that he describes as civil disobedience, decided that he did not agree with the ways that the NSA was obtaining information, and he gave it to journalists to let the world know what was happening with the information they were sharing online.

At first, it may be hard to understand what an NSA “spy” has to do with groups of hackers who use their anonymity to protest legislation that would change the way that materials were shared on the internet; the group of hackers didn’t want the government to be able to censure that they were saying and where they were saying it, while Snowden didn’t want users like Anons to be spied on illegally. When you look at the root of each of the activists’ crusade, however, it becomes clear that these are really just two sides of the same coin, where the coin is government control.

Legislation like SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA present multiple opportunities for the government to target specific people and/or organizations to stop the dispersion of information on the internet. The vague diction of the bills creates abundant opportunity for targeting and other abuses of the legislation to occur. As Alexis Ohanian describes it, “if someone wants access [to our private belongings] we would say go get a warrant …” Groups like anonymous focus on the fact that CISPA, if passed, would mean that a warrant isn’t necessary if it’s on the internet and the government believes that you may be involved in something potentially dangerous. On Edward Snowden’s side of the coin, however, is the fight against the government’s control of users’ information. The NSA didn’t care that they didn’t have a warrant, or that it was technically an invasion of online privacy, they took your information anyway. Snowden made the people aware of this; a fight for privacy they didn’t even know existed.

Works Cited

Zetter, Kim (2013) “Reddit Cofounder Calls on Google’s Larry Page to Oppose CISPA” [1]

(2015) “Anonymous (group)” Last modified June 20, 2015 [2]

Havey, Jason (2012) A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP [3]

Magid, Larry (2012) “What Are SOPA and PIPA And Why All The Fuss?” [4]

Norton, Quinn (2012) 2011: The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread [5]