the babel machine


Thursday, March 31, 2005

piracy column piece cited in itjourno asia

ITJourno Asia, the subscription-only site for Asian tech journalists, cited my "Consumers and piracy" column piece in today's Epitome.

Epitome: You know you’ve done a good job when...

By Victoria Lea
31/03/2005 11:25:00 AM

… you’ve struck enough of a chord with readers that they talk back. As Stefan Hammond talks to Ariel Tam in today's 'Epitome Response', or as one irate reader emailed Joey Alarilla.

"You are SUCH a writer: all rhetoric and no sense of opportunity," INQ7's Alarilla quoted the reader as saying.

The quotes came from an email sent to Alarilla and related to an article by Alarilla on the need for the Philippines to vigorously fight piracy. The email had been published by the author on the web already, so Alarilla wrote he felt free to re-publish it himself.

"Joey, you dream of the day when the Philippines will become a world-class game development center, instead of becoming a developer of games and gaming systems that lots of people enjoy," part of the email read.

"You dream of the day when our country will become a major market for international game publishers, instead of some local entrepreneur seizing dominance in a market deemed too small to be touched by the global players, (he can develop games like Patintero Online and World of Sungka). You dream of the day when Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft will launch their consoles in the Philippines, instead of wondering why we need to make these corporate bastards richer than they already are."

"Stick to writing, Joey."

Ouch? All credit to Alarilla for publishing the critique, and for the way he managed to then himself defend his argument. You can see the story here.

You can also see the reaction of Computerworld Hong Kong's Stefan Hammond, and one Chee Sing Chan, to an article penned by Ariel Tam at Today newspaper, in today's 'Epitome Response' piece, here. Something about lads versus ladies, perchance?

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 12:44 PM :: 4 Comments:

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Sam sticking out her tongue. Posted by Hello

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Sam poses with Pampa at Shopwise. Posted by Hello

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Sam, who's three years and three months old, with my wife Ellen and her Lola Linda. Posted by Hello

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Sam and Tita Neng. Posted by Hello

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Sam and her Ninang Kay, who recently visited the Philippines. Kay lives in Australia. In the background is Uncle Mike. Posted by Hello

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

peter moore story in itjourno

ITJourno Asia, the subscription-only site for Asian tech journalists, cited my "Microsoft VP stresses support for Asia's gaming ecosystem" story in today's Epitome column.

Here's what Epitome had to say:


INQ7's Joey Alarilla penned another of his gaming industry features today, this time interviewing a bloke with one of the world's longest (and damn our jealousy... most impressive) job titles: Peter Moore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Marketing and Publishing for the Home and Entertainment Division.


Alarilla went digging into the future of Xbox's Xenon - particularly in the Asia-Pacific - and concluded it was bright.

"As the world prepares for the next round of the console wars, the industry is already starting to place bets on which video game system will win the support of most gamers – whether it will be Xenon, the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Nintendo Revolution," Alarilla wrote.

"Of course, Sony is way ahead of the pack with the PlayStation 2 in this generation of consoles, with 81.39 million PS2 units sold worldwide as of December 31, 2004, according to figures from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Nintendo reportedly has sold over 18 million GameCube units worldwide.

"Yet think about it: Xbox became the world's number two console with little support from Japanese gamers, relegating the video game industry legend Nintendo to number three despite all the skepticism that greeted Microsoft's decision to enter the console market and the criticism hurled against the big, ugly black box."

Interesting times are ahead, he mulled.

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 12:29 PM :: 0 Comments:

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True, it's hard to resist the lure of piracy, but what does this mistress demand from people in return? Who pays the price?

Most people who have commented on this issue have kept an open mind, discussing the issues soberly and respecting each other's opinion even when espousing opposing views.

Lyndon Gregorio, however, creator of the Beerkada comic strip that appears in The Philippine Star, felt the need to attack me for bringing up the issue and expressing opinions which he doesn't like. I don't mind it if others disagree with me -- I don't delude myself into thinking I'm always right, or dismiss the opinions of others because they don't fit in with my own views. We can all learn a lot from each other.

But to attack a person because you don't agree with him -- well, that's pathetic.

You can read the entire message Lyndon e-mailed me in my @Play column, as well as my reply to him. But here's how he ended his e-mail, which he also made a blog entry.

"Stick to writing, Joey. The entrepreneurial mind never regards the buying public as criminals and terrorist supporters. And as syndicated columnist Dave Barry once said, 'Don't you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don't even have to be true!'

"And you get paid, whether or not people like me enjoy reading your article/s for free."

Actually, Dave Barry is one of my favorite writers. Too bad Lyndon is reduced to quoting his tongue-in-cheek statements. Hmm, repeating words? You mean like this? Pathetic. Pathetic. Pathetic.

You can read my reply to Lyndon in my column, plus feedback from UP professor R Feria. After having his reaction published, R Feria e-mailed me to say he was going to post a blog entry about piracy.

Meanwhile, The J Spot also posted an entry discussing my previous column and blog entry about piracy.

Have you blogged about piracy lately, or do you have comments on this issue? Feel free to share your views.

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 10:11 AM :: 10 Comments:

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ts online philippines

Are you ready for another massively multiplayer online role-playing game? Romance of the Three Kingdoms: TS Online will arrive in the Philippines soon with the launch of the open beta in July.

Read my Infotech article. Posted by Hello

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 9:54 AM :: 0 Comments:

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anino mobile

Anino Mobile, the new mobile game developer co-founded by Anino Entertainment guys Gabby Dizon and Niel Dagondon, will launch its first title this Saturday, April 2. The game is a squad-based tactical shooter called Black Ops.

Read Erwin Oliva's Infotech article.

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till there was ryan

Say hello to Ryan, our Tuesday YOU Blog Addict.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

consumers and piracy

I'd like to thank everyone who has shared comments on this thorny issue, whether in reaction to my @Play column, my previous blog post or my Infotech article. I really appreciate that you took the time to share your views and whether we agree or disagree, we are engaging in a real conversation.

In particular, I'd like to thank the second Anonymous who posted a comment on my "Piracy and the Philippines" blog post. Do read that comment first because he or she raised very valid points about the economic and political reasons intellectual piracy can't be eliminated in the Philippines. I've posted a brief reaction in the comments to that post, but here's a longer take on the issue.

I agree, and I've said as much, that law enforcement alone won't be enough to eliminate piracy. That's why I'm focusing on consumer education, our individual efforts as buyers. As Anonymous pointed out, a Mindanao bigwig reportedly owns the area in Quiapo that acts as a "central bank" for pirated CDs and DVDs. Just as with any crime in this country, law enforcement is hampered not only by the poverty that drives people to commit crimes, but also powerful vested interests that protect such criminal activity.

As I said in my column and my blog post, individual pirate vendors are not necessarily directly involved with criminal syndicates. They're the small fry who are doing this to earn a living. It's like the beggars who are used by syndicates, or prostitutes who have to remit part of their earnings to pimps and their protectors, or jueteng bookers. I'm not passing judgment on them. It's likely that this is a case of kapit-patalim for many of them. Even though this still does not justify piracy, we can understand why some people are forced into a life of crime -- without romanticizing their condition or condoning their actions.

I've gotten to know many pirate vendors, and for the most part they're nice people. Sometimes, they even offer better customer service than their counterparts in legal establishments, but that's another story.

But as we know, petty criminals might not be directly members of criminal organizations, but their petty crimes can and do translate into funds for large-scale criminal activities. They are the retailers, but how can piracy exist in the first place without bigger fish ensuring that these goods are smuggled into the country, who collect whatever money needs to be paid to protect these individuals from law enforcers, and so on.

As Anonymous pointed out, powerful vested interests protect them, like the Mindanao bigwig he or she mentioned. Just as with every other crime, law enforcement is stymied by the fact that some government officials, businessmen and law enforcers are also part of the distribution network. Look how an illegal gambling activity such as jueteng continues to thrive. Didn't we kick out Erap partly because he was supposed to be the lord of all gambling lords? Yet jueteng has outlived the Erap administration -- it certainly existed before he came into power, and still does today.

As consumers, however, we also become part of this distribution network by buying the products and helping the pirates earn revenues. I'm not saying there's just one monolithic organization directly benefiting from the pesos we individually shell out, but we are, one way or another, helping generate funds for piracy by buying these goods. Can I say that the money I paid for my bottle of San Mig goes directly to the coffers of San Miguel Corp.? Nope, but I do know that by patronizing San Mig (the best beer around, by the way), I'm contributing to its sales and growth.

Most of us don't have the power to clean up our country, but we do have the power to make individual choices. And yes, our individual choices do matter, and collectively they can enable us to help clean up the mess we Filipinos have inherited.

As individuals, many of us do have a choice. The choice is to save up for the things we want to buy. If we can't afford the original, then let's not buy at all. Again, I'm not being holier-than-thou, but what I'm saying is that we should stop looking at piracy only in terms of getting a bargain.

We can't change our society overnight, but we can decide today to stop buying pirated goods. That's a start. Many of us may have bought or are continuing to buy pirated DVDs, VCDs, computer and video games, audio CDs and software applications. Yet it's never too late to stop.

I know, this isn't easy -- I'm not a rich person myself. I know it's especially hard for students. But it's all about stopping to consider pirated goods as an alternative. Face it: Don't we shell out money for things we really like? How much do we shell out to buy a book we really want, even spending a lot on the hardbound edition if we are really excited over the latest title and can't wait for the softcover to come out? How much do we spend on prepaid cell phone cards, prepaid Internet cards, and prepaid cards for massively multiplayer online games like the highly popular Philippine Ragnarok Online? How much do we spend on movie, concert and theater play tickets? How much do we spend on comic books, whether individual issues, graphic novels or trade paperbacks? If we can save our money so we can have enough to spend on these items and activities, then why aren't we willing to do the same for DVDs, VCDs, audio CDs, computer and console games, and business software?

This is really due to the nature of the digital world -- bits are bits. Depending on the quality of the disc and the settings, a copy can be just as good as the original when it comes to optical media. But the copy is cheaper because the pirate isn't paying for the intellectual property. The price of the bootleg copy, for instance, does not take into account the contributions of the actors, writers, director, and others, when it comes to movies.

Yes, I realize most of us will no longer be able to enjoy as many titles as we used to when we were buying pirated discs. If this means that we'll have to buy original VCDs most of the time and only occasionally get original DVDs, well, that's the "sacrifice" we have to make. I'm personally a cheapskate myself and buy original VCDs regularly, but have to think twice about original DVDs. Sure, some original DVDs now sell for less than P300, but compare that to P75 for some original VCDs.

If we can now only buy fewer titles, then that means we'll be choosing quality over quantity. Some people buy a lot of pirated titles at a time, say 5 or 10 or 20 titles at a time. At, say, P80 a pirated DVD, that's P400 to P800 to P1, 600 at a time, depending on how much your suking vendor sells DVDs to you and the discount for getting many titles in one purchase. So for these cases, it's not a question of not being able to afford to shell out P400, P800 or P1, 600 -- it's just that we want more titles for that amount. Even if you don't buy a lot of titles at one go, have you considered how much you end up spending in a month?

Most of the time, particularly for those with more disposable incomes, you buy a pirated DVD not because you really like it or it's a classic, but because it's cheap and who knows, you might end up enjoying the movie. After all, it's just 80 bucks (maybe even P60 or less depending on where you buy). How many PC games do you really end up playing when you keep buying lots of pirated titles? How many of them are really worth playing if they weren't so cheap that they've become almost disposable?

At the very least, we'll have to become more careful in our buying habits, and possibly save ourselves the trouble of cluttering our homes with piles of pirated DVDs and other discs.

Yet something has to be wrong with our mindset and environment if our "common sense" tells us it's better to buy a P80 or P75 (or whatever price your friendly neighborhood pirate gives you) pirated DVD than the same title as a P75 original VCD. To feel that this isn't a good choice because the pirated copy is DVD quality.

If we truly believe that piracy is wrong, if we are otherwise law-abiding citizens who have just gotten hooked on the bad habit that is piracy, then we should do something about it the best way we can -- as individual consumers.

Otherwise, what are we saying? That piracy may be wrong, but it’s OK for us to do it since everyone else is doing it? That it’s OK for us to buy illegal copies if we can’t afford, or don’t want to shell out that much cash, for originals? That anyway piracy is only to be expected in a Third World country like the Philippines?

This is the kind of mindset we’ve been conditioned to accept, and like it or not, this is the kind of thinking we’ll be passing on to our children and future generations of Filipinos. Yes, our experiences with the government and Philippine society have left us cynical, which is why many of us no longer believe we can change things because “that’s the way things are.”

Yet we’re not even being asked to do anything extraordinary or exceptionally heroic. All we have to do is stop buying. That’s the extent of the sacrifice we’re being asked to make.

Sure, we may not be able to stop pirates from continuing to ply their trade. Sure, we may not be able to change the government and society overnight. But we can change ourselves. Piracy may be impossible to completely eradicate, but we can stop being part of the problem and prevent it from worsening.

At the very least, we have to try, right?

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 9:59 AM :: 8 Comments:

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

mary crystal's back

Good news: I heard from Selwyn Alojipan just now and he said that everything is OK and his daughter Mary Crystal is back home.

He did not give specific details but he said that she is safe and sound.

Thanks to all those who have expressed their concern and who have posted the details on their blogs and mailing lists. I really appreciate it, and may God bless you for all your help. Please pass on this update to your friends.

As the father of a three-year-old daughter, I can imagine how worried Selwyn and his wife were and I'm just thankful they have been reunited with their daughter.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 7:55 AM :: 5 Comments:

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