Edit, 12-30-09: Removed some unnecessary stuff that was just distracting.
The idea that there exists "bad words" is drilled into most of us from childhood. There's a certain set of words, completely apart from all other words, that makes you very naughty, maybe even actively immoral, if you use them. The idea of bad words is, needless to say, bullshit.
Notice how people who use the bad words never refer to the words they're using as "bad" or "profane." They see it as a perfectly acceptable, normal way of speaking. The only ones who acknowledge such a thing as bad words are those who are against their use. These people invent the concept of bad words out of thin air (or at least make no argument when it is presented to them as children), and then use that concept to attempt to censor everyone else's speech.
The most visible form this takes is that of the FCC, which unconstitutionally imposes sanctions on broadcast radio and television stations for using one of these bad words. Congress' stated justification of this unlawful free speech violation is that there is a finite broadcasting spectrum which can only hold a finite number of stations, thus the stations have to conform to "community standards of decency." These standards are decided, of course, solely by unelected government bureaucrats.
As is usual, the ineptitude at work here is painfully obvious. The government should stop censoring my speech and let the market decide. If I want to watch something with lots of fucking fucks fucking, there would be stations that would allow me to do that, because they want my eyeballs for their advertisers. But if I don't want to hear "bad words," there would be a station for that, too.
Now, look, although I oppose any government censorship, I understand that there exist a handful of words that are meant specifically to disparage certain groups. I think someone who uses these words when referencing the groups these words are meant to disparage has shown himself to be unable to communicate as an adult and should not be taken seriously.
This does not mean I support a ban on these words in the public arena, or that those who use them on television should be fined. In discussing these words, we should not be afraid to use them. That sort of fear can go to ridiculous lengths, such as the government official who was fired for using the word "niggardly" correctly in a sentence. ("Niggardly", meaning frugal or stingy, has a completely different etymology from "nigger" and is no way related to Africa or black people).
Censorship of words is censorship of ideas. It's that simple. You should be allowed to express yourself however you see fit, not just by the government, but by teachers, bosses, and parents as well. If that means using a specially designated set of words deemed by some to be "bad," so be it.
Friday, December 25, 2009
I don't normally do this, but the PSPgo has been one of the most hated, feared, and misunderstood video game consoles since the Virtual Boy. I've been enjoying my PSPgo for a few weeks now, and I really like it, too. It's not perfect, but it fits my needs very well.
First, my history with the PSP system is very relevant to how I feel about the Go. I got a first-generation PSP-1000 near launch all the way back in 2005. I liked the system, but I never did much with it. Lumines was a blast, and I played that game to death, but otherwise the machine didn't do a lot for me. I actually reviewed it on Amazon at the time. After I set Lumines down for the last time, my PSP collected dust for four years until the release of the PSPgo. I took the plunge, and I'm glad I did.
I was attracted at an aesthetic level to the Go, which for the record is a very slick, sexy piece of machinery. It doesn't have the futuristic-ness of some of Apple's products, but it gets the job done well. I have no problem whipping my Go out in public for some quick gaming sessions. It's pretty small, but not too small. It fits nicely in your pocket. The sliding mechanism is very smooth and nice. Button layout is nice; I never had a problem getting used to it and I don't cramp up after long play sessions. One baffling design choice, however, was to put the select button ABOVE the start button. It's weird and unintuitive, but I nevertheless got used to it quickly.
Much has been made of the fact that buying a Go locks you in to Sony's pricing structure. No bargain-bin hunting, no used games, no renting games etc. And that's just fine for me. I don't hunt for bargains and I don't buy used games, so that's not a problem for me. However, I still have my old PSP, so I can use that to play rented games if I wanted to. And while we can argue back and forth all day about pricing on the PlayStation Store, let me just say that it seems reasonable to me. $15 - $20 for great games like Daxter, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and God of War: Chains of Olympus is a great deal.
But yes, Sony has committed to maintaining "pricing parity" between the UMD and digital versions of PSP games for the time being. You can make the argument that the digital versions of games are worth less, because they cannot be resold, and therefore they should cost less. I happen to agree with that statement, especially seeing how digitally-delivered games cut out factories, trucks, warehouses, and all the rest (although the cost of servers and bandwidth is not insignificant). However, Sony can't afford to undercut its retailers, so for now we have pricing parity. It doesn't bother me really, because like I said, I don't bargain hunt, but it is one of the things you should be aware of.
Also, many have complained that there are still many old PSP games that aren't on the PlayStation Store, such as Lumines and Crisis Core, and are thus unplayable on the Go. Now look, the PSP has been out for almost five years, and so it has amassed a huge library of games. With all the licensing stuff going on, it's unrealistic to expect every one of those to be online. Before you decide to get a Go, make sure the games you want are on the PlayStation Store.
New to the PSPgo is the Pause Game feature, easily one of the coolest innovations in handheld gaming in recent memory. This allows you to stop the game's action wherever it is, so you can go back to the XMB (the PSP's menu) and surf the Internet or put the system to sleep or whatever. It's similar to the "save-state" feature on many PC emulator programs. This is great for games that don't have a save-anywhere option (I'm looking at you, GTA), and makes it much easier to just pull out the Go wherever you are and play for a few minutes.
One quibble I have about the system is the lack of detailed battery information. In my old PSP, there was menu option that allowed you to view exactly how much battery life was left. This was removed in the Go, so all you have to go on is the little battery symbol with three bars, which is not very informative at all. Maybe this was hardware related, seeing as how the Go is the first PSP to not have a removable battery, but it is a little frustrating nonetheless. Also, as on the old PSP, and unlike the DS, the system gives you no notification that you are almost out of battery life. This would have been a nice addition.
In the end, I think the PSPgo is a good option for anyone looking for a new portable game device, current PSP owner or not. If you are a current owner, hold on to your old PSP so you can play rented games on it, if that's your style. If not, then the PSPgo is still a very good, sleek piece of fun technology, provided you understand what the machine can and can't do.
Digital distribution is the future of gaming, and if the PSPgo is any indication of how that will look in practice, I'm very optimistic indeed.
Posted by Judd at 10:50 PM