Friday, 18 October 2019

Fortnite out[r]age

Epic Games' wildly popular battle royale game, Fortnite, was unavailable to play for several days in preparation for its next iteration: Fortnite Chapter 2.
So said CNN Business earlier this week. This was quite an event. the outage map went mad (or, rather, presumably, it just went black).
When I started working for DEC in 1984, and first met the word outage a colleague and fellow arts graduate explained that this was a typo for outrage. My initial resistance to the neologism...
(well, relative neologism. Etymonline dates it to 1903 [in a US context] but it didn't impinge on my consciousness until the early 1980s
...has been worn down since then. I'm not "the first on whom the new is tried", but neither am I "the last to cast the old aside". I have become inured, or as the medics say (of some regrettable thing you just have to live with – tinnitus, say) habituated.; what once made your life a misery becomes just wallpaper.
In the words of a speaker on the Media Show:
The servers ... went down for a full weekend, and nobody was told it was going to happen. It... just ...a black hole appeared ...and people kind of lost their minds about it...Nobody was told about it. They had no access. It was essentially the equivalent of your mum taking your X-box off you, and you not having it [HD – for a weekend], but for millions of people.

Media Show, 16 Oct 2019, from 21'15"
The Earth did not stand still. As another guest on that programme explained, it was the equivalent of any commercial website with a big software update to implement announcing that its service will be unavailable for a few days...
<RANT subject= "Santander, who treat their customers like beta testers">
...or sometimes weeks. Any old rubbish bit of kit held together with chewing gum and baler twine, they just stick it up and wait for someone to complain, leaving it to their overworked (and largely impotent) help desk staff to fend off the predictable brickbats. But I  digress.
This is the sort of minor irritation that 21st century customers are used to. But in the case of Fortnite the customers weren't regular commercial users accustomed to the vagaries of software updates; and they weren't told what to expect. They were, for the most part, children, quick to detect the end of the world. The weekend is for many their chief (or only) relatively unfettered playing time.

And the owners of Fortnite were happy to trade on their users' naivety. It's hard to avoid the suspicion that they intentionally made it feel like the end of the world, to underline the fact that it was the end of the world as far as Fortnite, Chapter 1 was concerned.

Radix malorum, as  Chaucer's Pardoner was fond of quoting, est cupiditas.
Pardoner's Tale quotes best before end May 1968.
 In other words, Cherchez la canaille capitaliste.

Time for my constitutional.


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