In “Software Piracy: The Slaying of a Hydra,” (Sept.-Oct. ‘82), Roe R. Adams III exhibits tunnel vision. Neither the behavior nor the realization of those who steal programs is unique; everyday there are other individuals who violate moral values and rules and make elaborate excuses.
The “core of the problem” is not the cost of the software; it is the soft morality that accompanies the belief that others are not to be trusted and that moral codes may be violated if one feels put upon.
While teaching philosophy in a community college, I all too often heard students (and sometimes colleagues) trying to justify unethical acts by the argument that someone had treated them unfairly. One “ripped-off” an employer who demanded too much work; another cheated in the class of a teacher whose standards were too high; a third stole from a corporation whose policies were abhorrent, and on and on.
If the software publishers ask too high a price, there is a proper (decent, honest, ethical) response: don’t buy the item. Publishers will then lower the price if they can or stop making the product if they can’t.
There are too many unanticipated consequences of the reasoning Adams and others present. Apologists for software theft (“piracy” like “ripping-off” is a euphemism intended to evade facing what that act really is) are teaching youngsters growing up with computers that moral codes are irrelevant to the good life. That will come back to haunt us all, not just the computer-using community. We would all do well to recall Aristotle’s words in the Nichomachean Ethics of the 4th century B.C.:
“States of character arise out of like activities … It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather it makes ALL the difference.”
Palo Alto, CA
ED. — Thank you for your refreshing letter. Refreshing in that discussions about the pros and cons of software piracy rarely produce such eloquent statements of the larger truth. The soft morality which you refer to is the outgrowth of the fact that so many computerists grew up in the age of situational ethics. Perhaps software pirates should stop and take note of the fact that ultimately moral and ethical codes should be based or transcendental realities rather than personal opinion.
Enclosed is a check for back issues of CGW. The problem with your magazine is that it is TOO good! I loaned out issues 2.2 and 2.3 and never got them back. From now on I’ll give the guys subscription forms.
I hope your magazine is doing well. I had the fortune (?) to be managing editor of a small magazine for over a year, and I know some of the problems you’re running into. Keep up the good work!
I think you would do well to analyse/review the new SSI game “Battle For Normandy”. Although I had to send my copy back due to a disk malfunction (it would not put up the correct characters after accessing the disk) everything else is magnificent.
First, you can play against the computer or another person and save the game at any time (typical SSI stuff).
Much more interesting are the ‘what ifs?’ You can set different parameters up for different strengths (supply, air power, sea power, etc.). This provides an almost unlimited method of handicapping a player. Playing a first time wargamer? Cut way back on your supplies and tactical air. It makes the game a challenge for both of you.
Another major improvement is that the displays of unit strengths, etc., can be adjusted to show up for a period of 1-9 seconds. This is a major advance in the field of computer gaming. It means that an experienced player does not have to suffer through … [a long display when a short peek is all that is needed] … to pick out the important part(s).
SSI is indeed making major advances in computer wargaming. They should be congratulated for putting these program enhancements in a 48K game.
Keep up the quality of CGW. I thoroughly enjoy each issue cover to cover.
Bruce M. Johnson
Ed. — I’m glad to hear CGW is so popular in Buckeye. If a few more of your issues are “borrowed”, we may have to start paying you a commission for subscriptions from Arizona.
Yes, CGW is doing well. It is growing so fast we sometimes have trouble keeping up. Our move to larger quarters and an increase in the staff will help us make CGW even better. We are a year old now and look forward to another great year of covering one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world.
The character set problem you mention in your comments on Battle For Normandy is related to the 10K ROM operating system in the Atari computer (I thus assume you are an Atari gamer). Early Atari computers that have the Revision A operating System Cartridge will not be able to run SSI’s Battle For Normandy until they are upgraded with a Revision B Operating System. If you have no immediate plans to upgrade, you can return your old disk or cassette to SSI and they will replace it with a program that will run on Rev. A Operating Systems.
Although I would not classify the adjustable display in Battle For Normandy as a “major advance in the field of computer gaming”, I agree with you that any attempt by any computer game manufacturer to make their games more “user friendly” is an advancement for the hobby.