Capitalism and video games, in case you wanna talk about that

We started talking about Borderlands, piracy, theft and capitalism in the main page, so we came here to continue discussing and stop annoying the other users.

My ‘definition’ of capitalism, now that farmboy asked.


Could you express that a working definition rather than a meme?

I’d say my definition of capitalism would be “The accretion of capital through the investment of capital by private parties”. Which more or less comes down to, those with money can invest money to make profit, getting more money so they can invest that money. In short, making the rich richer. Problems arise from the dependency of the individual to the capital. So while in theory any individual is free to not accept an unfair wage, an individual cannot simply compete with the large capital.

On a different note. I don’t think games are at all linked to capitalism. Games as entertainment industry might be, but I see games as being composed of two parts, play and narrative. Neither of those have anything to do with capitalism. Play has been part of us since the dawn of humanity, and narrative has too. We have told each other stories, we have played games together for as long as we can both remember and retrace. Many video games now are made not for profit, but simply for vision, artistry, ideology. Those are not the big budget, big name studio games, no, but they’re still made.


I forgot that this was all in the context of pirating a game. Are we just trying to justify piracy here?

If you want it in a serious non-meme form the best way is to read Das Kapital. Most points still stand today but take into account that exploitation when Marx was in the middle of writing was on a whole different level than it is today.

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Can capital exist without private property? Which comes first? Are humans free without self-ownership. These are the real questions.

With respect, we are not talking about play and narrative, or even games in their purest form. We’re talking about video games, which are predicated on computing technology. They do not exist without hardware and software, which doesn’t exist without our profit-driven market economy.

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I’m familiar with it. I wanted his definition, not Marx’s.

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I think this is much simpler problem. Piracy is not exactly theft but it is copyright infringement which is illegal and considered unethical especially since it potentially economically hurts the party whose IP is being infringed upon.
I think you can hardly justify piracy in this case especially if the reason is “2K bad”. Piracy of some old abandonware not available for purchase or a game that doesn’t work without a crack because servers went offline is easily justified, though.


Good distinction. Not all piracy is equal.

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I’m fairly certain they had computers in communist economies. Unless you’re willing to pose that those countries were never truly communist. Nevertheless, the drive for profit can be universal, a general drive to get better is more human nature than a drive for personal gain.

Unlawful isn’t the same as unethical. Otherwise morals would suddenly change when a law is changed, and they constantly are. It’s a funny thing Robin Hood is still almost universally portrayed as this morally just figure, when piracy from big companies seems to be such a dirty thing. (while being far less harmful than straight up robbing the rich)

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I sometimes get criticized by the classical economics for but it’s the reason I’m a huge proponent of UBI and in general the removal of entry barriers. There are some economically justified mechanisms that involve the intervention of government in the economy including subsidizing the populace that promotes free market more than if left alone to its own devices. What I mean is that the most important markers of a healthy economy and society, in my opinion, are both general welfare of the citizens and freedom of choice which UBI and similar interventionist policies promote. Some would call any of these policies “socialist” but I see them as solutions to inherently flawed pure capitalist system, which are pro free market despite how seemingly self-contradictory it sounds.

To answer to Cleru’s post on the main thread.

“corporatocracy” seems to be a perfect term for what we recognize as capitalism today. I like that one.

Where I disagree is in that you say that ‘exploitation is not an standard practice of capitalism’, because it kinda is. Or let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn’t, but it was obvious that, given the ideas and politics of capitalism, it would eventally adopt that (and it has).

And going back to the piracy issue. I (shockingly) agree with farmboy. Not all piracy is equal. I would never say that piracy is theft, but it can be very unethical. In this case, and knowing 2K and Andy Pitchford practices, I would say some people would find unethical to support the company. Some would react never buying the game, othera would want that anyway and will pirate it. I won’t lose sleep if 2K gets a few less money when it will get millions anyway.

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Is capitalism based on voluntary exchange or exploitation of individuals? It can’t be both. If what you call capitalism is based on exploitation then we’re talking about two different things.

As usual, this comes down to different worldviews.

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I would disagree that (any significant) exploitation is inherent to capitalism but I would agree that it is very often one of its byproducts. My main argument would be is that it’s severity is extremely variable and controllable by sensible policies.
In a similar fashion it’s easily argued that a true free market eventually leads to a monopoly which restricts the freedom of trade and government intervention, which itself is such a restriction, is necessary to maintain free market.
My point in simplest of terms is to maintain the freedom of trade even if it means curbing some of that freedom. The best analogue I can think of is Popper’s paradox of tolerance where a tolerant society must curb intolerance to maintain its status a tolerant society. I can imagine that people who subscribe to virtue ethics would be for pure 100% free market and freedom of speech even if that leads to destruction of both of these things since in their mind it’d be better for them to end than betray their beliefs but I digress.
I suspect I kinda agree with what your saying but it’s an issue of wording at this point.

As for piracy I’m probably not getting BL3 since I don’t like EGS nor Pitchford nor performance degrading DRM (I know properly implemented Denuvo doesn’t impact performance and how it’s CPU bound only anyway but it seems like BL3 is possibly suffering because of it seeing how poorly it runs relatively to how low fidelity the graphics are). Shame Gearbox as a whole is getting shafted for higher ups’ screwing up because I can imagine BL3 is as good as previous game from purely gameplay perspective.

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I did not mean to say that communist countries have never had computers. I meant to point out that the IT revolution, and specifically consumer electronics, quite clearly came from countries that hold Western values and participate in global trade. The US, Japan, and South Korea would be the prime examples.

Thought the USSR did give us Tetris. That was pretty good

There are myths about computers developed in one of USSR’s puppet states being faster than their Western contemporaries like IBM’s PCs and there is evidence to believe it was more than a myth. Look up Karpinski’s K-202 which failed miserably due to a combination of sabotage by government backed competitor and terrible mismanagement by the creators of the computer itself. It was such a low hanging fruit at the time USSR might as well have played a huge part in IT revolution if they played their cards well. They had so many talented computer scientists and engineers I’d argue the problem was mostly in the form of bad management. USSR didn’t neglect technological advancement, they were quite keen on it from what I’ve heard, but it never exploded like it did in western nations because they failed to market it, ironically.

Seems like this thread is dying, so I’ll share my final thoughts.

I think the people who have issues with capitalism are making a very simple mistake. You are of course right to be upset by shitty business practices, but I think you need to realize that that isn’t a problem with capitalism; it’s a problem with human beings.

We’re really talking about greed. Greed is a human flaw which exists independent of capitalism. Greed is within us all and can corrupt any system from within. In my opinion, greed is actually punished in a free market because we generally don’t want to do business with greedy people. I talk to a lot of business owners, and the successful ones all say the same thing: yes, I want to make a profit, but I can’t do that by taking advantage of others. The best way to make a profit, and continue to make one in the long term, is to make a good product and sell it at a fair price.

Again, I’m operating under the worldview that the tenets of capitalism (private property, profit motive, and voluntary exchange) are inextricably tied to the principles of the modern world. Capitalism would not exist without the freedoms of speech, religion, and association. For me to seriously consider dismantling capitalism is to also seriously consider dismantling the civilization in which I live. And I happen to think my civilization is pretty good.

Finally, to return to the original topic at hand, I still find complaining about capitalism on a video game forum incredibly ironic, childish, and frankly, dumb. I can’t put it any simpler: video games would not exist without capitalism, and to believe otherwise is to ignore basically the entirety of Western civilization. Take a look at countries that don’t have private property and free markets—you’re not going to find many video games. You’re likely to find a lot of poverty and death.

As an aside, I’m curious, where is everyone in this thread from? I’m from the US.

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Very interesting. I’ll have to look into that. Doesn’t it just prove that you need a free society for good ideas to flourish?

Absolutely but I can give a counter example where too much freedom leads to nothing but exploitation and subsequent removal of said freedom. A good example is the so called wild capitalism in Eastern Europe. After the famous toppling of communist government in Poland, the fall of Berlin Wall in Germany and subsequently the fall of USSR a lot of the countries that used to be in the Eastern Bloc embraced capitalism but it often manifested itself as what’s called a wild capitalism which is a “system”, if one call it as such, where exploitation ran rampant, pyramid schemes were an everyday occurrence and so on. It was subsequently curbed (mostly) by governments in those countries.

My point in a nutshell is that a free society cannot let the economy run rampant lest they want to see their freedom gone.
In a free market a bad manager can temporarily ruin a company until replaced and market forces judge their performance though on the other hand completely free market is rife with exploitation and things like monopolies in certain economic sectors. But in centrally planned economy such bad manager can ruin the entire market without being replaced until his term ends with his performance being graded arbitrarily by someone else potentially just as incompetent.
That’s why I personally think it’s important to look past whether government policies are left or right leaning and focus solely on those which improve the state of the economy and citizens’ welfare. But that’s just a pragmatist point of view. An idealist would disagree for some valid reasons, too.

I’m from Europe btw

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