House Entitlement

Tobold over at his blog is soapboxing on an issue he’s had with Facebook. It appears that Facebook doesn’t like his alias, and so banned him. Unfortunately for Tobold, he actually had invested in his identity on Facebook to the point where he had purchased virtual items from Facebook games. Now it appears the money is sunk. In other news, people are tearing apart the click-through legal agreements for EA’s Origin platform, which facetiously asks such things as a sacrificing your first born and selling away all rights to your genetic matter.

I find these issues interesting, but I find it more interesting the responses they evoke. There seem to be two generic responses. The intelligent response is “I won’t buy it,” or some form thereof, and the entitled response is “that’s not fair.”

I say entitled because the would-be consumer seems to not understand the simple rule of “house.” See, the consumer is entering another’s house, which is different than buying a book and bringing it back to my own castle. There are times when I want to enter another’s house, and I have to abide by different rules. Some rules, I think, are stupid, like taking off my generally clean shoes.

Other rules I don’t really care about in the commercial houses. If I pay $30 to see Lion King, the theater can be damn sure I am going to bring a few of my own suckers to keep my two-year old occupied. I might even bring a soda for myself at the bottom of the diaper bag. At a casino, I have my own methods for blackjack that might amount to counting cards. Yet, like an adult I understand that these are rules of the house I am breaking. If I get caught I might get thrown out without a refund. Them’s the breaks.

The other side of it is acceptance of stupid rules, and cover-your-ass rules, which are in place to limit liability. Yes, yes, I sign the silly waiver of liability at a birthday party for my kindergartner’s friend at a gymansium. In the event god deems this gymnasium needs a nuking from above, I won’t hold them liable. Would any parent here not the sign the waiver in the event that their kindergartner cannot now play at the birthday party with all their school friends? If you say “yes” it is unlikely you have kids.

Which leads to me the luxury of games. I want to re-emphasize luxury. Entering someone’s house for games is not necessary, and therefore the rules have way to be stupider. Afterall, unlike the need to eat and sleep, one can simply walk away from a luxury house with stupid rules.

Then it simply becomes how much does one want to play versus how stupid are the rules. There is no issue of “fair” or “just.” This is someone else’s goddamn house! My kids call me unfair all the time and I don’t bat an eye, and anybody think a cold-faced corporation cares what its kids are calling it?

The choice is simple: don’t like the rules, don’t go in the house, or go in and take it any which way it is given. Break the rules and likely take it in a place you don’t want to.

I am finding more and more that people want something, feel entitled to something, so much that there is no more consumer option of simply walking away. They must have it, but they want it on their terms. I think corporations realize this. The masses are letting them get away with more stupid rules because at the end of the day, most people don’t care enough. Their want outshadows the stupid rules by magnitudes.

Think about that next time you enter someone’s house.


30 thoughts on “House Entitlement”

  1. Facebook is not a house, but let’s pretend it is. If Facebook gets to be a house and gets to have the protections of a house, should it not also have the obligations of a house? Hospitality? Legality? If I go to your house and you throw me out, as is your right, you don’t get to keep the coat I had hung up by the door. You do get to throw it out after me, but not keep it. That is called theft.

    1. Facebook is a “house” because you are a guest on their property. Their obligations and yours are explicitly described in all those wonderful legal documents.

      If I make you sign something when you enter my house that says I can keep your coat, then it’s not theft.

      1. There’s a limit to what type of contracts can be legally valid and enforceable. I.e. even if I freely sign a contract that says you have the right to chop off my hand if I don’t give you back your 15$, that contract won’t help you in court if you do actually chop off my hand. The question is where do you draw the line in cases that aren’t quite as obvious.

        Now we can have extensive laws about what type of contracts should and shouldn’t be allowed, but since most sane people don’t want to have every possibility covered in the law, instead you get indirect pressure, such as say Mr. Tobold bitching about the stupid practices of facebook. “Entitled” or not, bitching about things and getting people to agree with your bitching is one of the ways we get people to change their behavior.

        1. Consumer power is a whole ‘nother post. I’m not saying stupid rules aren’t stupid and shouldn’t be changed from a consumer’s POV. I’m saying rules of the house rule, and I would guess many people don’t have an ounce of mindfulness when they enter another’s virtual house.

          Saying “not fair” in hindsight is what I’m getting at. Proactivity, like what RPS was doing for Origin gets my full support.

  2. “Fairness” is a pernicious concept. Life’s not fair. Business isn’t fair. It just is, and as long as the parties to a transaction understand what is offered, nothing more can or should be expected.

  3. Ahh. The “customer is always right” effect. Sigh. Working in retail, I’ve come to learn that rarely is the customer ever right because when that phrase is evoked is ALWAYS when they are caught trying to screw over the business. ‘This coupon expired last month, but I want to use it now. The customer is always right.’ ‘This says one item per transaction, so just make it 20 transactions. I don’t care about the 30 people waiting behind me. The customer is always right.’ ‘I deserve cash back despite not having a receipt, and purchasing this at your competitor. The customer is always right.’

    I 100% agree. Entitlement is rampant among consumers.

    1. Yeah, I am SO glad our business policy is “Respect the customer, even when they are wrong.” We can point them at customer service, we can fudge a stupid rule, we can cover up the malfunctioning bar code, we can enter it in manually, but if they’re being an ass about it, the final service we provide is pointing them to the door.

  4. It’s about Fair value. If you want to know how your game is behaving on my systems fine, if the game reports and error and you want to know what was running at THAT time fine but if you want to know what I’m doing after I leave your game that’s not fine. In real life if someone was to follow you around like that it’s called stalking

    1. Errr yes, but in real life AFAIK you have not explicitly given someone the right to follow you around like that.

      House rules can extend beyond the house.

  5. Fully understand that when you break house rules you stand to be thrown out and lose the price of your admission. However doesn’t the issue of virtual currency complicate things a bit. When a company sells you virtual currency you are not paying an admission charge rather you are lodging money with them against a promise of future services. I don’t know the legal implications here but it does seem to me to be different than an admission charge.

    To take the casino analogy that you yourself suggest. They can certainly throw you out for counting cards but they don’t steal your chips.

    1. True, but what if you got thrown out of a county fair for bringing in alcohol… do you think they will refund your unused ride/food tickets. That’s how the government views these virtual currencies more than casino chips.

  6. A big problem with the “house rule” in question for Facebook is that it isn’t applied with even the tiniest fraction of consistency. When enforcement of a rule is that arbitrary, it is generally a bad rule.

    Kids, pets, fictional entities, and all manner of other garbage is rampant.

    Apparently Facebook has a rule against adding friends just to exploit or gain an advantage in an app or game. That’s like 90% of what people who play Facebook games do. We’re talking hundreds of millions of people doing that.

    In the end, the problem is that we are not Facebook’s customers. As a result, they will not treat us as such. We are raw materials that go into the creation of their product that they sell to advertisers and app/game developers.

    This is why my company’s new game, Coin ‘n Carry ( is not on Facebook. Yes, we’re giving up extremely easy access to tons of customers. But Facebook game developers are making even bigger sacrifices, imho. They are giving Facebook:

    1) The power to ban their players right out from under them.

    2) The ability to change code on a whim and totally shut down their games.

    3) Control of their monetization, and a huge 30% cut off the top (though frankly, most Facebook games are so horrible, Facebook probably deserves 90% of their income).

    We actually consider our players our customers, and so having our game on Facebook is just not conducive to that relationship.

  7. House rules aren’t exempt from a standard of decency and reasonableness. If Facebook decided to exclude anyone whose name began with the letter ‘G’, they’d be rightly criticized. If Google+ decided to exclude people based on skin color, they’d not only be criticized, but it would potentially be illegal. Both of those are far more unreasonable than the actual rules, of course, but a statement of “house rules” isn’t a blanket refutation of criticism.

    Regarding Origin, you can’t consider house rules without remembering the government-granted monopoly that is copyright. There’s no legal way to take your business elsewhere for an Origin-exclusive game. As much as certain interests would like to convince people that copyright is the natural order of things, it’s a special privilege granted by governments for specific reasons. Viewed in that light, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to criticize copyright owners for creating abusive contracts of adhesion.

    1. This is exactly what I am talking about. Yes, house rules can be completely crazy BS and your copyright arguments falls prey exactly to my entitlement argument. You do not need that particular “work.” Your business is buying other “works.”

      There is also the issue that at least for MMOs, you fall under copyright and license to use a _service_, which just gives the copyright holder more latitude to make crazy BS.

      Again, it is not unreasonable to pro-actively criticize copyright owners for crazy BS… but IMHO it is in hindsight because you agreed (by overlooking most like) to crazy BS so you could play.

      1. I think it’s a little of column a, a little of column b.

        Legal agreements can’t override statutory rights and obligations, at least here in the UK.

        That said, there’s quite a lot you can do, and that’s where “not reading the terms” comes in to play.

        The problem is that T&Cs are a) applied to practically everything, no matter how minor, and more importantly b) are deliberately presented in an obfuscated fashion.

        Pretty much every “agree these terms to continue” box has a honking big scrollbar on one side. The content is written in legal terms which may or may not be readily understandable.

        There *are* examples of doing this right, which typically involves explaining what rights you’re receiving/giving away in clear and plain terms, before also including the legally blessed text.

        Still, the notion of “need” is all too common. It’s the part of the “it’s too expensive/I don’t agree with the DRM policy/loading screen colour, I’ll just pirate it” ”’argument”’ that most irritates you. If you don’t like the price, or the DRM or … whatever, your option is to buy or not buy. You don’t *need* this item, you *want* it. And now you have to decide whether you’re willing to exchange whatever the “price” may be for the item you want.

        1. Quite so. How dare those entitled rights-holders claim they “need” my money? My house, my rules, my Internet connection, my torrent client. If they don’t like my downloading it for free, they shouldn’t have offered it up for sale in the first place.

      2. So your argument is that, yes, house rules can be crazy BS, but if you’ve ever agreed to them you’re entitled for calling them crazy BS?

          1. So it’s crazy BS, but it’s not unfair so long as it’s “house rules”?

            That Rosa Parks sure was entitled for objecting to the house rules of the Montgomery bus system.

            1. OK, the lunch counter sit-ins, then. Restaurants are a luxury. Those people were entitled?

            2. I fail to see the correlation between not being allowed to purchase a luxury because of race and contracting away specific “rights” so that a luxury may be gained.

            3. “The choice is simple: don’t like the rules, don’t go in the house, or go in and take it any which way it is given.”

              So, for a certain class of customer, the way it is given is “not at all”. Or only if they sit in the back. But that’s the house rules, right?

              I’m not saying that the two situations are anything like the same on the scale of injustice, or even that the specifics of the Facebook/Origin thing are an injustice at all. But saying “house rules and anyone who doesn’t like it is entitled” is bad argument that has a history of supporting bad policy.

            4. I see your point. Yet, in the context of this all… I have yet to see it scale to the point of injustice. Regardless, I think the tangent went too far.

              If we got past the point where consumerism want selfishly outweighed house rules, then I think this discussion would be much more helpful.

              Right now, I feel it’s at the McDonald’s put byproduct in burgers phase. How can you argue when you keep stuffing them down your gullet?

  8. I can’t see myself ever paying to play a facebook game, at least in their current iteration/gameplay mechanics. But honestly, Facebook is really a third party to this entire thing. Zynga or whatever is the house. You pay money to Zynga, you break zynga’s rules, you’re done.

    EA’s Origin is another matter entirely, because they are essentially admitting upfront that they are shady and not to be trusted when they state they’ll cancel your account.

    Itunes doesnt cancel my account if I don’t upgrade my phone or don’t buy a song from them for two freaking years.

  9. Think about that next time you enter someone’s house.

    Ah, a Libertarian.

    I think that’s a beautiful argument, as it will never impede in any way me punishing you or anyone else for making any demand on me large or small, right or wrong, while “in your house”.

    You see, friend, you are not always “in your house”. And whatever you do “in your house” will be remembered and repaid as much as I want “outside of your house”. To any extend I feel like, fair or unfair.

    Tobold is getting back at Facebook in just that way. I have no idea whatsoever what moral nonsense you have created why Tobold can’t say whatever he wants about Facebook “in his house”. Is it because you, and Facebook, like baring fangs at people and don’t like them baring fangs back?

    I’m afraid that’s not really something I care about, “in my house”.

  10. Yet another area where in the hacked/pirated version will be superior to the legal version. I use the hacked version of several games that I have purchased disks for, just because the hacked version is DRM free and therefore better.

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