I was trying out the latest install of EPSXE for GNU/Linux. My goal was to prove myself (and the world) that gamers don't need Windows.
And then I realized the freedom that emulators give, and how this fits also in the Free Software philosophy.
According to Richard Stallman, there are 4 freedoms that software must give to someone:
* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
In emulators and games, we're talking about Freedom 0: The freedom to run a program (in this case a game) for any purpose. Whether you want it or not, every console system you have is a little DRM machine, defective by design, just waiting to break so you can stop enjoying your favorite games.
Now think about that little copy-protection included in your PlayStation2 DVD's, so you can't back them up. Oh no, you need a modchip to be able to play them. And what happens when people sell you that modchip? According to the DMCA, you're breaking the law.
Breaking the law just to be able to back up your games and play them? So, what's the alternative? The alternative is spending some extra money to buy another original DVD because your old one broke. Who's going to pay you that money? And let's not talk about consoles. What happens when your favorite console breaks and stops working (*cough cough* red rings of death in XBOX 360 *cough cough*)?
All the games you purchased are useless. You can't play your favorite game in another system (like the PSP) because it's not compatible. Even if it's the same title. Why have to purchase two different licenses-of-use for different consoles, if it's the same game?
And so we realize that the console sellers, just like the RIAA and MPAA, have become intermediaries. The console they sold to you no longer works, in other words, the license to use a game that you didn't buy from Sony, depends on the durability of the product Sony sold to you.
But I don't want anything to do with Sony, I already paid Konami for their game!
But Sony doesn't give a damn. The software is RESTRICTED to run on THEIR PLATFORM. Stupid exclusivity agreements.
Emulators to the rescue! If you have purchased a copy of say... Castlevania Symphony of the Night for the Playstation 1, you shouldn't have any problem playing it on another system, even if your PSX broke, right?
You just have to install a PSX emulator on your Windows or GNU/Linux machine, set up the plugins, the BIOS (ah yes, more copyrighted stuff - let's hope it's not illegal to use the BIOS in an emulator, provided you still own the console you used), and voila.
See? It wasn't that hard. But here's the catch... the catch is that console manufacturers don't want you to realize that you CAN play your favorite console games on a general-purpose Personal Computer. Otherwise, their market would break down.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, consoles are DESIGNED to become OBSOLETE. Just think about ALL the games you have purchased since you were young. Think of all the money you gave away to Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft... all the games that you had to resell cheap because they devaluated. Who's gonna give you back all that money? You can't play those games now, can you?
Ah, but if you have an emulator, you can play your SNES, Dreamcast, etc. games on your PC.
So why is the industry so fed up about emulators? You're only exercising your right, am I correct?
Now there's another issue with Consoles. Due to the excessive copy-protection they have imposed on their hardware, hobbyist programmers can't enter the market by publishing their own games. No, they have to sign an agreement with the console companies so they can authorize and press their DVD's.
What does that do to creativity? In the end, only a few, the rich and powerful, are the ones who decide what content (read: games) you can put on "your" box.
The game publisher associations have become another RIAA.
How to end this madness? Simple - by promoting an open platform for games. Until then, we'll have to stick with Mednafen and Epsxe, and enjoy the luxury of backing up your favorite games and playing them on your friend's computers when you're visiting. Simply because you already paid for them.
Don't you think?