Internet Censorship and the Free Society

If I were given a dead kitten for every mind blowing piece of information I saw on the internet, I would be quite rich by now, selling those dead kittens covertly online to a bunch of shady dead kitten enthusiasts and then investing that money on a webpage dedicated to dead kitten paraphernalia, photos and Google AdWords. (Of course, one has to assume that I do not fly into a blind rage and kill the nearest human responsible for the kitten’s death and go to jail thereafter. But this is also the internet, and anything is possible)

Yes, anything is possible on the internet. This one invention has fundamentally changed all civilization touched by it in a matter of years, akin to the steam engine and electricity. It has become a tool with which any layperson can become aware of a niche subject if said person puts their mind to the task, and learns concepts, ideas and practical use of the subject from the comfort of their homes. It is a medium of communication that far outperforms any other kind of relay that human civilization has used in its history. However, the biggest draw to the internet is that it is not subject to any kind of restriction wherever it has been put to use, and users can freely roam it in search of atypical and curious information.

An astute reader would, at this point of time, either chuckle at my seemed ignorance about internet restrictions, or write a harshly worded comment forming an ad hominem argument relating the size of my genitalia to the propensity to naiveté regarding the aforementioned internet restrictions. I believe the last sentence of the previous paragraph may be worded as the biggest draw to the internet is that it is not seemingly subject to any kind of restriction wherever it has been put to use, and users can freely roam it in search of atypical and curious information.There definitely are restrictions on the internet, and while the ways to circumvent these bans and blockages do exist, oftentimes the methods prove to be quite cumbersome for those who are not very internet-savvy; they do not even bother with knowing these methods because they either do not know of the existence of the banned places, or they do not bother about the aforementioned banning because they were not going to go there in the first place, right?


Censorship is the granddaddy of book burning. Book burning itself is a symbol and method of proscription, and its political ramifications of essentially erasing’ a religion or a reign’s past so that the current dominator can write their version of history. In George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty Four, the protagonist works in a department of the totalitarian regime built on this very concept of erasing and rewriting history. Ironically, Nineteen Eighty Four was itself banned or challenged for its views as being intellectually dangerous for society.


So if a three hundred and twenty-six page book written in the year Nineteen Forty Nine has challenged the views of great number of people, many of whom were in positions of authority to actually effect an injunction on the book, I wonder how many such quantities of text, photographs and videos have appeared over the years on the internet that have been censored due to their content being deemed unpalatable for the general public’ by a core group of people in positions of authority?

Does this not easily look like an abuse of power vested in those people? Internet users in the United Kingdom have recently been plagued by the same question with four of the country’s big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) bowing to the pressure imposed indirectly by the Mothers’ Union to shield children from sexualized imageryand have decided to make sexually explicit sites an opt-in’ for those who wish to see it. Elsewhere, the admins of Reddit have banned a community under the website called Jailbait where people could find non-nude photographs of girls who are allegedly underage.

Both these bans come under the broad principle of a small bunch of people deciding what is right or wrong for the consumption of an extremely large populace.

The mothers of Mothers’ Union UK has obviously never heard of parental internet control software such as Net Nanny which makes me question their knowledge of the internet as a whole. These people do not understand the anything goes on the internetconcept and have firm rules about what and what should not be viewed by society. Of course, they are the same people who arbitrarily decide on what societyshould be or not be. These are the same people who wish to make upstanding members of the society’ with their ideals akin to a factory production line. And (this is admittedly a long shot) these are the kind of parents who make trash like Toddlers and Tiaras possible. If only they would wake up and browse the internet for a while with an open mind, but no they have to think of the children!


On the other side of the spectrum is Reddit that has always been a champion of free speech and free see, and free hear and free download. The ban of /r/jailbait has struck a controversial chord in the community and has polarized discussion on what constitutes free speech and what should never ever be done because the reputation of the site is at stake. This argument regarding the reputation of the site stems from the fact that Reddit was seen under an awful light by Anderson Cooper of CNN when he did a one-sided coverage of the site that indirectly claimed that Reddit consisted of a huge population of perverted pedophiles who spent their entire day watching lithe, semi-nude bodies of society’s underage daughters. If you had been to erstwhile /r/jailbait, astute reader, you would also claim that if these were society’s daughters, then society has gone to the dogs. Indeed, when an unsavory community is made specifically to test Reddit’s determination to uphold its protection of free speech (I am talking about a community that links to pictures of dead children) but Reddit fails the test with another community page because of some TV news anchor’s one-sided report, it does boggle one’s mind.

Nevertheless, there is a case for Reddit’s administration, for the subscribers of /r/jailbait might have been engaged in a trade of child pornography which is morally and legally base. However, how does the case stack for Mothers’ Union UK, as they are essentially muting a bustling industry (which is quite harmless to the consumer as opposed to the tobacco or the alcohol industry) because they do not understand (or want to understand) the internet and how to educate their child about it.

The question that arises here is one of perceived freedom. How does a civilization such as ours claim to be free when, given an opportunity, it crushes any sort of deviation from the apparent norm? Why is homosexuality such a grievous sin and how do two men or women falling in love with each other in any way harm children? This entire perception of society colors the word very word deviantin a terribly bleak and distrustful hue that burns pictures of perversion against said deviant in our brains.

Have we, the urban civilians, really become free from the bonds of prejudice or have we really invented another form of prejudice under the vague umbrella of being morally right’?

Color me disappointed.

Fellow Gamers Are Helping You Retain Your Legal Rights!

EA and Sony have become recipients of yet another slew of criticism for the addition of some unsavory legal clauses in their Terms of Service (ToS). When you agree upon these clauses (whenever the user clicks on the I agree to the terms and conditions’ checkbox), you are essentially waiving your rights to sue the company over any legal issue with the use of its products. This is obviously completely unacceptable!


In the age of technology and considering that the products in question are digital distribution platforms, it seems completely cranky that the only way to get yourself released from these binding clauses is by sending snail mail with your dissent to the clause to the company’s headquarters! I mean, think about it, you buy the game online, download it from the net over wireless and you have to go out into the wild urban areas populated by terrifying cars and motorbikes just to send a piece of data to the company!


A bunch of gamers from Chicago have made their website called Gamers Opt-Out that allows you to send the opt-out letter online, for free. Indeed, it will not cost you a penny to send the letters to the respective companies. Just fill up the online form and the good folks at Gamers Opt-Out will send the mail for you. The site primarily functions via the donations received by other gamers that help send the snail mail (it actually costs money! How strange!)

Jokes apart, I think the people here have shown the world that concerned gamers do exist. Mad props to them! (If you can, please donate to them!)

The Witcher 2 Version 2.0 Will Release With Major Changes

You have to hand it over to the guys over at CD Projekt RED (CDPR). They make brilliant games and they make sure that the customers who bought their games enjoy it for a while to come. With the original The Witcher, the Polish developer pushed a huge update that changed the game from a buggy and stunted experience to a fleshed out and stunning one for free with the Enhanced Edition. With their sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CDPR has been releasing update upon update since the day of release. On the 29th of September, the 2.0 patch will be available for the game featuring a host of fixes and three new gaming modes for replayability and additional challenge!


The three new modes for The Witcher 2 are Tutorial, Dark Mode and Arena. Most of it is self-explanatory, but I will write a couple of lines about each because we run a respectable blog here!

  • Tutorial: Considering how suddenly the game dropped you in the middle of a war camp and expected you to know everything implicitly (which was a good thing and a break from the norm of having a tedious tutorial mode), CDPR decided that a [perhaps] tedious tutorial was required. In this mode players rescue a knight called the Bastard of Bolton of Ironford while learning the basics of gameplay, swordplay and… alchemy-play.
  • Dark Mode: This is akin to the Hell Difficulty in Diablo II. Basically every foe in the game is extremely powerful and at times it feels like the game is cheating on you. However, there’s a sub-quest throughout the game outlining a dark legend and some powerful items of said legend are scattered throughout the realm for you to find and use. Sounds like fun!
  • Arena: What I found to be lacking in the original game was that while the combat brilliant, in my zeal I used to commit genocide of every foul thing present in an area and found monsters lacking after a while. The Arena pits Geralt of Rivia against an endless horde of monsters and thus try to quench my enormous bloodthirst.

So will you be re-installing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings to install this update? I, for one, have not uninstalled the game yet.

EA Also Inserts Class-Action Lawsuit Prevention Clause in Origin’s EULA

In all honesty, Sony’s lawsuit prevention clause in its PlayStation Network Terms of Service (ToS) is quite fancy. If you agree to section 15 of its new ToS, you are essentially waiving your right to a class-action lawsuit against Sony Network Entertainment International, LLC (SNEI) and in effect you are giving the gaming giant free reign to do whatever it wishes to do with your account and registered games.


Electronic Arts (EA), the gargantuan beast of gaming decided that Sony’s ToS change is pioneering and went about copying that to its own End User License Agreement (EULA) for the Origin digital distribution store that it operates. If you accept these terms of service, you will be denied the right to sue and bring the company to trial by jury. Only individual cases will be considered against the giant.

By accepting these terms, you and EA expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.

One can opt out of both of these binders by submitting a written application to the company, but why is that even necessary when these clauses can be done away with entirely?

It is rather sad to see that these pinnacles of the industry put forth these gags against the civil voice instead of making sure that the service they provide is hassle-free and fair for both the users as well as the developers.

Dota 2 Beta Will Not Have an NDA With Testers

IceFrog, the developer of the upcoming tower defense game Dota 2 is a real cool guy. Not only does he make some really fantastic mods (the original Dota to be precise), but he makes changes to beta plans to make them accessible to all the gamers clawing to get at the video game.


Originally, Dota 2 was supposed to stay in beta for over a year with all the participants agreeing to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This means that the beta players cannot share information about the game to anyone outside the beta slot. So extremely fun games would be played and recorded, but they could never be shared with the outside world for an entire year. Considering that the original mod found acceptance in the entire community due to the recorded games and screenshots that were shared amongst players, this was not a very good idea. In fact as IceFrog himself says:-

So we decided our original plan was dumb.

So now, the beta is no longer under purview of the NDA, and the Dota 2 team will be adding more players to its closed beta test.

But there’ll be no restrictions on what players can do with it they can release screenshots, make movies, shoutcast matches, write guides, publicly make fun of our HUD, or anything else their hearts desire. While they do that, we’ll be shipping regular updates with more heroes, new features we’ve been working on, and improvements on the existing content as we get more and more feedback.

So, do you want in on the up and coming tower defense game? Just sign in on this web page with your Steam credentials to be added to the list!

Diablo III Release Date Pushed to “Early 2012”

I cannot decide if this is good news or bad news. The good news part is wholly selfish, because I have tons of work throughout the rest of the year. The bad news part is that the Mayan apocalypse might occur and we will all die before Diablo III releases. Sad smile


There is as yet no word on exactly why the release date was pushed to early 2012. Maybe the closed beta that is proceeding right now may have turned up some issues that need ironing out and the employees want to chill during Christmas before sorting it out. There may be family feuds that have to be settled in closed beta PvP (Player vs. Player) matches. Blizzard might be building another secret cow level. Who knows? The fact is that while many fans might be disheartened by this, it is only fair that the game gets a beautiful bug-free release after years of development, as Blizzard’s President Mike Morhaime says-

With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn’t put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready. The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we’re taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players. Next year is going to be an incredibly busy one for Blizzard, and we hope an incredibly fun one for Blizzard gamers.

So… neutral news. But it does give you time enough to exercise those finger muscles and prepare them for the torture of the Mouse Click.

Square Enix Announces Several Classic jRPGs for iOS and Android

By several classic jRPGsI actually mean Chrono Trigger, which is worth more than a cartload of its kin, even though there are quite a few other amazing retro Japanese RPGs (jRPGs) that are being released by Square Enix for Apple’s and Google’s mobile platforms. Showing off their upcoming games’ slide at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Square Enix showed off Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Legends, Itadaki Street and Dragon Quest Monsters that will be available on their app marketplace for Android, with the imaginative and interesting name of Square Enix Marketplace. While there is the very correct concern over why a new marketplace app is needed when the Android Marketplace works well enough, they are secondary to the fact that Square Enix is releasing Chrono Trigger and a free download of a marketplace app is forgiven when the prize is so brilliant. (A similar kind of logic is applied to the Amazon Marketplace app by me and several others one downloads it to get the free app of the day every day)


Square Enix also announced three brand new games developed for the mobile platforms Chaos Rings 2, Diffusion Million Arthur and Demon’s Score. The company also showed Final Fantasy 1, 2 and Crystal Defenders for the Android Marketplace in a sizzle reel. This is shaping up to be a pretty good year for mobile RPG lovers!

LOIC Alternative RefRef Ready In Time for #OccupyWallStreet

We have all heard about the Low Orbit Ion Cannon a deceptively powerful, yet quite simple tool for bombarding a server with meaningless data until all its resources are used to answer the bombarding queries instead of serving pages, commonly known as a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. Now, Anonymous has developed its own DoS tool, calling it RefRef.


RefRef was developed to assist the setup of #OccupyWallStreet, that will begin September 17, at noon at the famous financial district of New York City. Peaceful protesters will set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy the entire district for a few months.

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.

(This one simple demand is still under vote, with Revoke Corporate Personhoodleading)


The expected number of campers is around 20,000. However, considering a similar protest that was done earlier at the same venue where protesters were spurned away by the police, only tomorrow will tell us what the real number of protesters there will be.

RefRef will be released at noon on September 17th along with the start of #OccupyWallStreet.

Digital Swapping Comes to the Biggest Digital Distributor Near You

I was about to write bestdigital distributor, but I remembered and relegated Steam to biggest. It certainly is one of the better modern game digital distributors, of course, what with Valve games being there and nowhere else.


So, getting back to the topic, Steam has uncorked the finely beta-aged wine of Steam Trading and allowed all Steam users access to its digital trading feature. Steam Trading is, very simply, a digital trading service built atop the Steam client that allows users to trade Team Fortress 2, Spiral Knights and Steam Gifts with one another. Valve have also said that trading of items from Portal 2 will soon be open. Steam Gifts can be traded for other games or TF2 and Spiral Knights items as long as you have not opened the gift:-

Any game you’ve purchased from the store as a gift, or received as an Extra Copy, can be traded to other users. They can be used to trade for other Gifts, or for items in Team Fortress 2 or Spiral Knights

This is quite a lovely step up by Steam and is a boon for many online game trading forums that relied on trust instead of a portal like this for their trading. Of course, you could also stock up a sizable collection of hats from Team Fortress 2 , but that is completely up to you.

Bethesda Softworks Sues Mojang Specifications Over “Scrolls”

Scrolls is an upcoming fantasy game from Mojang Specifications whose owner is Markus Minecraft NotchPersson. It is a strategy-action game where you use magical scrolls to fight and on the outset is similar to the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering and its derivatives. The Elder Scrolls is a series of fantasy Role Playing Games (RPG) from Bethesda Softworks. Now that we have the required data, let us get down to business.


On the fifth of August, Notch received a fifteen page letter from a Swedish law firm that represented Bethesda claiming that Scrolls infringes on the trademark of The Elder Scrolls. Considering that Bethesda’s games have little to do with scrolls (the last game had demonic gates sprouting up everywhere and your job was to destroy them, more or less) this came as quite a shock to gamers as well as Notch. However, he took it with a pinch of salt:-

First of all, I love Bethesda. I assume this nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers, and a result of trademark law being the way it is.

IGN has contacted Bethesda reps for more on this issue from their side, but there has not been a comment from their side yet.

For now, however, the internet has already come up with ways to trivialize the issue, like the advance copy of Skyrim that apparently does not work on the drive (hint: it’s a real scroll) or who Bethesda will be suing next.