Stolen Pixels #36:
You Only Hurt the Ones Who Love You

By Shamus
on Nov 7, 2008
Filed under:
Column

I have launched my latest rhetorical / satirical volley at the juggernaut that is EA. I’m sure they will crumble under the power of my arguments any second now. While we’re waiting for that, you can read today’s comic. You can read on here for an earlier version of the joke:

sp036.jpg
This was the original strip I wrote, before EA issued their retraction. It’s still rough, and it probably would have evolved a bit from this point if I hadn’t thrown it out.

The metaphor here is kind of screwy. We’ve got Mr. Stock Photo Guy here (I love this guy) who I’ve been using as my all-purpose EA spokesman. Here he’s supposedly playing some sort of beleaguered forum moderator. It works well enough until the last panel when he… talks to the forum post? Hmmm. Not a deal breaker, as we’re playing fast-and-loose with reality already, but I probably would have looked for a more elegant way to do this.

The first three posts themselves also needed a few touches to personalize the individual posters. Maybe some obnoxious sigs and some forum avatars would have completed these characters.

The thing I really wanted to draw attention to was how this “anti-piracy” measure was being used against consumers while not having any impact on pirates. The pirates would not only retain their ill-gotten copy of the game but also be free to post asininity because they could create new accounts at will. So the measure wouldn’t stop either piracy or forum hijinks.

We’ve sung this hymn enough times here that I think everyone here knows it by heart, but there are a number of readers at the Escapist who never come here, and my outlandish demands for customer service and respect actually sound sort of novel to them.

I sure hope EA surrenders soon. I’m running out of available stock photos to use against them. Certainly they can’t withstand my withering critique much longer. Perhaps it is time for an ultimatum. Yes, I believe it is:

I’m sorry to bring out the big guns, but really they have left me little choice. It’s about to get personal. EA must abandon their mad scheme of using online activation for single player games or I will be forced to imply in a future article that EA boss John Riccitiello is, in fact, a newbie.

I’m sorry to have to resort to such dire measures, but EA has forced my hand. They called down the thunder and now they will reap the whirlwind.

Newbie. Think about it, John. That sort of shame doesn’t fade easily. Don’t let it come to this.

You’ve been warned.

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20208Feeling chatty? There are 48 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Going to lock the comments?

    Are all their games going to work this way?

    Pwn Th3 n00bz111

    My best attempt…

  2. Annon says:

    Is the strip this eventually became up? ‘Cause I’m not finding it…

    Or is there no strip related to this, and you just felt the need to showcase your aborted brainchild? Not that there’s anything wrong with it, just want a little clarification…

  3. Ambience 327 says:

    Not to mention – are we going to see the non-“earlier version of the joke”, or just this ancient and unrefined “humor” with which you have decorated your blog today. :)

  4. Blurr says:

    You also didn’t link to the escapist from your article. God knows I’m too lazy to find it myself. :P

  5. Annon says:

    That’s just it–I’m not too lazy and I can’t find it myself…

  6. mc says:

    I would like it if you made post 1984 something about extreme DRM…it’s just appropriate. ;)

  7. Shamus says:

    Blarg. So, I set this to go an hour early. (Stupid daylight saving time. Hate. Hate. Hate.) Then I left the comments open.

    Ah well.

  8. Shamus says:

    mc: Post #1984 already went up. (It was the RIP Michael Crichton.)

    They’re numbered in the order I write them, not in the order they appear. Yes, it would have been cool if 1984 had been some anti-DRM screed. (Goodness knows I write enough of them.)

  9. Hal says:

    You know what you could have done? The panels could have looked like a forum conversation, but Mr. EA Spokesman could have been one of the posters, with his picture as his avatar.

  10. Shamus says:

    Yeah… one long single image of a forum thread. That would have been nice, it would have made sense, and it would have been funny to see Mr. EA in that context.

  11. Frank says:

    Revealing him as a newbie. That’ll teach him!

  12. K says:

    I like both versions, but this one really made me laugh, the other one just chuckle. “and I did your mom”: priceless.

  13. Jeremiah says:

    Oooh, throwing down the gauntlet! I’m sure they’re running scared now! They better bring it!
    (heh)

  14. Binks says:

    “but I probably would have looked for a more elegant way to do this. ”

    But the last panel is the best one by far! Reality’s overrated anyways.

  15. Loneduck3 says:

    Did you happen to see that Wall Street Journal article where they suggested that Disney should buy up EA? Don’t know if that would be better or worse. Probably worse in the long term.

  16. Jeremiah says:

    Also if you don’t look regularly, xkcd’s comic today is about EULAs.

  17. Maroon says:

    Something just struck me: pirates and animals are free.

    EA is Big Brother. Oh god.

  18. Kris says:

    To be honest, I like the rough one better, not that the other one isn’t good as well. The “and I did your mom” at the end is great.

  19. Mari says:

    Don’t forget to also question John Riccitiello’s sexuality. Remember, nothing stings more than being called “gay” in an MMO chat channel. Except maybe being called “ghey.” I’m sure Mr. Riccitello would curl up into a fetal ball and whimper for his mommy, though, if we were all to start calling him a ghey n00b. (and yes, I do hate myself for using leet there even if it was satirical)

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I like this version better as well.And,damn,I was beaten to xkcd mention.Oh well,at least I can post the link:

    http://xkcd.com/501/

  21. Rustybadger says:

    The actual idiom is “[for they] sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind”, and unbeknownst to most people, actually comes from the Bible. But I like your version too!

  22. illiterate says:

    Perhaps you could write mr. stockphoto and ask for more pictures? Let him read the comics, see if he likes them enough to help on the cheap.

  23. Josh M says:

    Newb… Sheer genius Shamus. No one can live down the horror of being called a newb! I worry though… seeing as how it appears Mr. Riccitiello isn’t really a gamer (as no real gamer would make his fellow man suffer through DRM), will it impact him in the same way? I worry…

  24. Telas says:

    “And I did ur mom”

    “Dad, I told you to stop posting here!”

  25. Wil K. says:

    I also like the rough draft better – it elicited a most audible laugh (well, if you could superlatize audible…).

    I liked how the “Banned” comments were directly over parts of the posts – that contributed to the conversation like bit at the end (it helped suspend my disbelief (the ban comes as an interruption of the post, just like in speech)).

  26. DaveMc says:

    Shamus, in the interests of science, you must see if you can produce an alternate version of a Stolen Pixels comic that is so awful that absolutely nobody will prefer it to the one that you actually sent to The Escapist. If anyone can do it, I’m sure you can. (I kid, I kid — it just strikes me as funny that whenever you post an alternate version, it’s wildly more popular in the comments than the “real” one.)

  27. Kris says:

    Well, let me know if you need some custom photos for EA’s figurehead. I’m sure I can get a volunteer into the studio for it. :)

  28. Ben says:

    I think the final version carries the point much more firmly, particularly to an audience who isn’t used to hearing the message. However, I laughed much harder at the rough draft. As a work of comedy alone, I think it works a lot better, at least with the audience here on your site. The “banned” balloons interrupting the posts, and the physically-impossible dialog in the last panel both worked really well for me.

  29. Merle says:

    I have to agree with Ben; the final version gets the idea across, but for humor value the last panel of the ur-version cannot be beat.

  30. Ciennas says:

    Shamus, why are you worried about the guy responding verbally?

    He could be one of those guys who reads aloud. Must be lonely in the whitespace void…

    Course, he could just be a cyborg actually linked into the conversation, or using those neat visors that let you see the whole desktop.

    And I also liked this one more. This one though, was better geared to people with all the info already.

    Could you post a link to this version in your comments on the Escapist one?

  31. Mcmlxxxvi says:

    John Riccitiello is a newbie!

  32. Wil K. says:

    @Eric: they dropped making a GHOSTBUSTERS game?!? This enrages me to no end (mitigated somewhat by the fact that I didn’t know one was in the works, but still: dear god why would they do that!). The bastidges.

  33. Mari says:

    @Eric – I dunno, at least Activision is honest about it. EA keeps pretending to do us in the rump for our own good. Activision is just laying it on the line “We want to make crap games and ignore creative titles because crap games make us more money.”

    Although the first (Guitar Hero) one just has me confused. So…they’re going to make me pay to create my own song, which I used to be able to do for free? Or are they saying they’ll make me pay to download other people’s songs which I (presumably, since I don’t actually have the game or any particular interest in acquiring it)used to be able to do for free? I mean, yeah, either way kind of sucks but one (the second) at least applies a little lube before sodomizing game owners by only asking you to pay for content that you otherwise wouldn’t have had (namely other people’s musical “creations”).

    *side note: I wonder how many of those songs users create are about penises (penii? yeah, I like that better) or sex? I mean, that seemed to be a common “creation” in Spore and The Sims. I’m assuming you’d have similar issues in Guitar Hero. Apparently allowing easy user-created content quickly degenerates into the basest sophomoric creations in pretty much all electronic media.

  34. Mark says:

    Where are you getting these stock photos? This guy is amazing.

  35. Heph says:

    I have to add though: being called a newbie isn’t all that bad. It implies you’re worthy of correct (well…somewhat) english. A newbie is a new player, asking questions, not knowing what to do.
    A n00b on the other hand, now THAT’s an insult. The begging, flooding, annoying variation. Damn those n00bs!

  36. Alex says:

    Something that’s been gnawing away in the back of my head whenever I see these EA comics of yours, Shamus:

    Where did you get these stock pictures of this guy(and that dude who played the disgraced vice principle who kept exposing himself)? Are they friends of yours who were willing to pose? Are they google image results? Is one of them played by you(somehow that one seems the least likely, but again, I don’t know)? Was this already answered in a previous post that I missed?

    Just curious. It’s easy enough to spot which games you get screenshots for in regards to certain strips, but these are still a bit of a mystery for me.

    EDIT: Mari- In Smash Bros. Brawl, I have a custom stage called “Dongtropolis”. I’m inclined to believe you on that point about all games with custom content being used for phallic visual gags. (Although I’m certainly not helping the situation with stages like “Dongtropolis”)… -.-;

    I don’t know why, but the urge to abuse custom content like that is just too great for me. Although I think it has its place, so long as some genuine creativity is applied(for example, Penny Arcade’s “Penisaurus Dix” in Little Big Planet).

    Besides, the juvenile, body parts-related user-generated is still better than the racist or 9/11-inspired garbage that usually follows suit. There is something very wrong with this generation.

  37. Shamus says:

    Alex: There are stock photo sites where you can but royalty-free images for a few buck apiece. Both of those “actors” came from such.

  38. Cuthalion says:

    I actually thought the one you posted on The Escapist was funnier than this one. It drives home the point better, too. But the real punchline is the “in case something ‘happens’ to it!”

  39. RR says:

    Add one more vote for the rough draft version.

    The final one is funny, too. But the early version goes for the jugular, and points out once again how pirates continue to be better off. While people who actually buy the products are being punished and abused.

  40. Zaxares says:

    I don’t know whether it was deliberate or intentional, but I chuckled to see that the ‘pirate’ was the only person using proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. :P

  41. neminem says:

    Personally, I like them both about equally. Thanks for making them both available.

    But then, maybe that’s just cause I’ve always had an affinity for the null “your mom” joke.

  42. anon1234 says:

    This is why I don’t buy EA titles anymore. And now it seems I will never buy another Activision title either after reading those other two articles.

    Piracy for the win.

  43. Johan says:

    I preferred this version of the joke, actually :/.

  44. JKjoker says:

    what ? no joke about the missing character in many red alert 3’s copies and EA’s solution of “try to guess it!” ?

  45. Rule #1 of comedy is NOTHING is greater than the joke. NOT EVEN REALITY. Yeah, this comic definitely has the greater punch. The fact it breaks from the logical contraints of that kind of discourse (I made soohfeesteekahted werd!) actually underlies the futility of EA’s whole concept. Just had a guy with different name post the last line, but with a name that clearly indicates it’s an alt.

    Not that any of that’s moot. :P

  46. Man, I wonder if someone could ever contact Stock Photo Guy and tell him where his pictures have been. Pretty soon he’ll be your signature character, Shamus. Stock Photo Guy Posing As The Embodiment Of EA.

    It’s getting difficult to think of EA and not think of him.

  47. Rats says:

    Both of the comics are fantastic, but I have to give it to the “real” comic appearing on stolen pixels as it is more factually accurate.

    @Dorian
    I found myself looking at a photo of the EA CEO on a news site the other day and thinking “he doesn’t look like that! He’s much younger!”

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