Everyone is talking about it and so are we: the South Korean survival drama Squid Game. Its astounding popularity aside, we are especially curious about what the show tells us about games, play, and their relation to very real class disparity. (Our main story is spoiler free, so no to worry. We’ve got a separate and clearly coded spoiler part at the very end of the episode.)

In our side quests, we discuss the pricing of the Nintendo Switch Online Extension Pack, the legitimacy of pirating newly released games, and Kena: Bridge of Spirits.


3 comments on “Squid Game

  1. Hi all,

    I’m the writer of the piece “Stop Defending Corporations From Piracy You Freaks” that you talked about on your Squid Game episode. I appreciate the discussion y’all had about the piece. I do have something to say in response to the concern that I was being too flip in my dismissal of concerned fans’ worries that piracy – and the admission it exists – is going to take away their favorite franchise.

    Metroid Dread has already outsold each of its predecessors’ lifetime sales numbers in Japan, and is one of the top selling games in both the US and the UK. So from a purely demonstrative angle, it seems clear that piracy hasn’t hurt game sales enough to trigger the possibility of Nintendo pulling the plug on the entire franchise, like you posited it might. As far as the studio who made Metroid Dread is concerned, they have bigger problems right now than piracy; recent reports have uncovered a culture of mismanagement and disarray that has effected employee health and wellbeing (https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2021/10/metroid-dread-studio-hit-with-allegations-of-poor-organisation-and-management). If anything prevents them from making the next Metroid game, it will probably be this toxic workplace culture (and not piracy).

    Finally, there is a pretty rich tradition of fans of Metroid making their own Metroid-style games in lieu of getting new franchise content. The main impediment of this kind of behavior is Nintendo itself, who – as established – is extremely litigious and will go after anyone who makes anything resembling their intellectual property, regardless of how dormant it is.

    Piracy is often framed as either an act of pure instant gratification or as an act of moral purity in the form of liberating a game for archival purposes or getting the game into the hands of economically disadvantaged players/players in the Global South who are gatekept from it. Piracy is simply a reaction to a legal framework of enclosure that constrains cultural works, and regardless of the reason it’s committed, the threat from companies like Nintendo is both clear and universal: they’re going to sue you or have the federal government come after you for criminal damages no matter what, and that seems fucked up and absolutely worth opposing, even if you don’t like that some folks might be doing it for selfish reasons.

    Anyway, thank you for reading and thanks for the shoutout,
    Kaile Hultner (they/them)
    No Escape

    1. Oh no, it broke up all the paragraph breaks. I’m genuinely sorry for the wall of text this made.

    2. Hey Kaile,

      thank you so very much for your comment and the elaboration on your argument—we’re truly happy and are going to hint at it on our next episode so that people can read up on it 🙂
      I do very much agree and find your strongest point in the last paragraph. Capitalism is no fun, truly, and the injustices caused by intellectual property rights too many to enumerate (I regularly find myself frustrated by this when doing research).
      Yet, at the same time I struggle with the idea of endorsing piracy for newly released games. And after some self-inquiry, I suspect that my discomfort comes from the fact that I fear a disservice might be done to the people that passionately work on games. Abstracting from Metroid Dread, which I haven’t played myself, I would want devs to receive bonuses and feel a sense of accomplishment after working extensively on a project.
      It might sound naive to a certain degree, but when I think back to the many debates revolving around boycotts, I recall the people actually working on the games in question claiming that it would hurt them most. My argument would be that it is similar in the case of piracy—unless specific conditions apply, which you already mentioned. To me, it seems that this structural issue of cultural works falling under the constraint of gatekeeping must be met with a structural response ?

      P.S. Your blog is awesome!

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