Watching You, Watching Me

Kinect Dashboard
Kinect Dashboard

The last videogame I bought was Mario Kart Wii. I bought it when I was working at Hollywood Video and because we shared a store front with GameCrazy I was able to buy it early and with a store discount (Ah, those were the days). For me videogames have always been a passing interest. They were great at sleepovers when I was younger and I’ll occasionally play one on my phone in order to avoid conversation with weirdoes but other than that they’ve never really been my cup of tea. Personally, this lack of interest has always made me feel out of step. In high school my friends would have parties for Time Splinters 2 and eventually when I’d be passed a controller I’d end up shot, or exploded, within seconds.

But why talk about videogames on a movie blog? Well, since our society seems to be leaning towards a preference of intangible media and because most of the people I know double their videogame consoles as either DVD players or a device through which to stream movies there are some things worth considering. For instance, Microsoft recently went public with a patent they have for software that would work through Xbox Kinect but concerns movies. The software would basically use the Kinect sensor to count how many people are watching the movie so that no licensing agreements would be broken. This could also be a way for studios to finally charge per viewer in a home setting making this patent a literal game changer.

Of course the first thing to consider is the ethical situation presented by this patent. The cheap way to do this would be to insert a Yakov Smirnoff joke (in future television watch you) and talk about Orwell’s 1984 while wearing tin-foil-hats but I’d like to think we’re above that (here). As I wrote about last week studios are desperate to produce a product that an audience is willing to pay for and since so many people are willing to not pay studios are just looking for new ways to charge the people willing. It’s unfair to say the least and without to hyperbole it’s a major invasion of privacy.

More than likely this effort will not go into production. It’s too weird and invasive for Microsoft to spin no matter how many times they call it interactive. But frankly it’s just frightening enough to know that an option like this is even being considered. So again, just like last week where I called for you all to support the media you feel is worth supporting in an effort to avoid franchise exhaustion I’d like to encourage you all to financially support the media you feel is worth supporting to avoid letting the 1984 people think they’re right. More than ever we consumers have a voice. And if we squander that voice due to the temptation of free media then we shouldn’t be surprised when the people who produce media do everything they can in an attempt to get us to pay for it.

In short, if we pay for our movie tickets, our rentals, our music, and our video games maybe we won’t have as many issues with companies telling us what to do with it or how to use it. Also don’t forget that tangible media is still, for now, an option because as the AV Club pointed out on their podcast tangible media is the hardest to police.

So what do you think? Would you stream a movie through your Xbox if you knew that someone was on the other side counting how many people were there with you? Can you think of any other solution to this studio vs. audience issue? Please leave some comments below so that we can continue our discussion on video games, how to block intrusive software with tinfoil hats, and how fun minimum wage jobs look through the lens of nostalgia.

-Jet Fuel Blogger, Lucas Sifuentes

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