A pixel art image of dozens of spectators queueing for a water sled ride under blue and white tents, a black–on–yellow marquee labeled “Splashdown” at the entrance.


I was fortunate enough to scoop this baby up from the source material before the Culture Police flagged it for deletion because of the copyright regime. An educational website using a screenshot from a video game beloved by millions of people, for purely educational purposes, has to have its size reduced by a bot three years after the upload. This is despite the fact that such a low–resolution image ruins all educational value from it, making the interface unreadable and the art style corrupted.

Copyright vultures will tell you that copyright protects their business interests. I would like to know how removing a single screenshot from Wikipedia has any effect whatsoever on those interests. I would go on, but let’s be real. Anybody who supports copyright are either fundamentally misguided as to the purposes of business (copyright stops your product from spreading, despite companies spending billions on marketing to spread that product), or cunts.

The Unknown Artist who made and uploaded this image was far from a cunt, but the creator of the game, Chris Sawyer, is. Come on, Chris, baby. You got a real nice game that was so popular you got a free software remake of it (plus your other game), and the only thing stopping it from being free is your copyrighted art. What do you get out of keeping our culture under lockdown? What do you get out of selfishly hogging our freedom until a hundred years after you die? You don’t have to be a cunt, forever.

Bro, we are gamers, Problem?

I really do feel for video games. Just fourty years young, and already they’ve changed the world. They’re the biggest form of entertainment today, something that everybody can relate to, and every game that our children are playing are being held from them in proprietary, non–free formats, and unjust laws. A child who wants to become a programmer will not be able to see the source code of a Nintendo game and find out how it works. They will not be able to alter that game. They will learn swiftly that Nintendo doesn’t care about them, for if they did, they would let their fans be fans and not just customers.

It is ironic that Nintendo has made a very good DS game that teaches you the fundamentals of programming, game design, drawing, and music creation, called WarioWare D.I.Y.. The microgames that you can unlock are open source; you can see the flag–based language which makes them run. But the game that contains those microgames is nonfree. The language is proprietary. You cannot see how it runs. How unfitting for Nintendo to release a game that teaches kids to be creative, and doesn’t let them express that creativity by seeing how it runs.

I’m now forced to ask why there haven’t been any great free software video games that aren’t based on an original property. The Quake code is free software… and if I need to go on just how influential that was to the video game community, I’ll bury my face into my palms and never retreat. I think I’ll just use the Toaster Games description of “Quake is one of the legends that set an unnatural amount of standards for FPS gameplay,” and you can bet your ass that it wouldn’t be so legendary if two decades of modders didn’t have access to the source. It has been estimated there are still 300 people playing DOOM online at any given time, though my source for that is long gone.

The sole reason why “It Runs Doom!” is even a thing, the benchmark for the capabilities of the computer that is hacked for the sole purpose of running Doom, is because the source code was released in 1997. It became a legend through being one of the most innovative and kick–ass games of its time. It stays a legend because of the dedicated community who breaths life into it twenty years later.

The gesture of kindness and respect for gaming that Id has shown by being so generous as to release the source code of their two biggest games, back in a time where so many people, beyond a small segment of happy hackers, even knew what free software was all about, is an unprecedented act of love for the games industry and for computing in general that I cannot express the proper words to thank them with. I will forever be grateful that the reason such a large part of our culture, perhaps the largest part, will remain free because of the generosity of a few good actors.

(and for further reference, here is a chart of games and engines that would not exist if not for the free software Quake engine. the impact that Id has on this industry cannot be overstated.)

Progress only exists because some very smart people were generous enough to give away what they know, give away what they made, and allow their ideas to spread free as far and wide as can be, so that their forebearers can take their influence and make the world a better place. This is how math, science, and the arts have operated for millenia, and there has never been a greater threat to the future of ideas than the enforcement of copyright.

You must remember: every time you obey copyright, no matter who is asking you to, you are killing an idea before it’s even born. Those who are afraid of ideas are those who are afraid to be criticised, afraid to show who they are, and afraid to see what would happen if they gave us the freedom to use our fundamental right to human culture.

Every act of filesharing is an act of freedom. You must be a pirate, for pirates are free, or you will be subservient to those who want to take away your freedom. You have a choice, the same as you have a choice to set yourself on fire. But you must understand, most of all, that no matter your justifications for your choices, you can still be dead wrong.

And it feels a lot better to be as dead right as us.

Date: 2017–02–28. Size: 7,484 bytes. Colours: 32.

Upscaled Dimensions: 675×525. Original Dimensions: 225×175.