My first Xbox console was a gift on my twelfth birthday. I learned about computer networking by connecting that console to the internet.
Over decades, I've played Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4 on my Xbox 360. I made friends. Won tournaments. I got addicted to improving my GamerScore— imaginary achievements, bragging rights. I was good at it too.
The secret to success was neglecting relationships and responsibilities— the definition of addiction. Hmmm, addiction doesn't have a good ring to it— how does Gamification sound?
Adulthood grew on me. The realization that I was being groomed since childhood by a billion-dollar corporation sunk in.
I loved games. I still love games. I love the connection and satisfaction that a good game can invigorate in a community.
My dream was to make games. It is still my destiny.
However, I've been forced to take a detour. I'm at a disadvantage.
My earliest “real” programming experience was in college. It was in a free student version of Microsoft's Visual Studio. Quotes added to highlight how marketing driven development works.
Steve Ballmer once gave a speech primarily consisting of the word “Developers”. That has been a consistent strategic rally cry of Microsoft. Without developers, any platform is boring.
If something is boring, people won't come.
The SARS-Cov-2 was declared a Pandemic in March 2020. I began working from home and reflecting on my life and career choices.
I always wanted to make video games, why didn't I do it?
- I need enough industry experience to compete
- I need to be self-sufficient and insulated from volatile platforms
- I want to be direct to consumers
- I want to own my own toolchain
I've spent the past two years laser-focused systematically eliminating each of these bottlenecks.
By the time I'm done, I will have:
- An operating ecosystem that can run on any device capable of running Firefox
- A high-level language for building applications capable of global real-time communication
- A platform for managing creative projects from ideation to final delivery and distribution
This single deliverable will be capable of empowering the next generation of creators— if I can access them.
My entire career, I have zigged whenever Microsoft zagged.
They have a robust portfolio of integrated systems.
I've been using these systems since before they owned them. GitHub. Node Package Manager. LinkedIn. They claim their purchasing power as a victory, when they have merely boxed out their competition.
As far as antitrust goes, I've been writing this essay as a competitor for 14 years.
As a gamer, I've been writing it since I first asked, “What does this say?” while holding up my Sega Genesis cartridge of Sonic the Hedgehog around age five. I quickly followed the response up with, “What does 'Not For Resale' mean?”
All of this to say, the acquisition of Activision by Microsoft will hinder innovation and consumer choice. This sale is a means of primarily purchasing people.
I have played Overwatch regularly since 2016. I chose that game intentionally because it was not a Microsoft property. Overwatch is a property of Blizzard, which is a property of Activision.
In my career, I chose GitHub, Node Package Manager, and LinkedIn because they were not Microsoft properties. They are all now Microsoft properties.
I have since been coerced by the butterfly effect of Steve Ballmer's “Developers” speech into using Microsoft's Visual Studio Code and Microsoft's TypeScript. I'm not forced, but it is mandatory if I would like to be able to put food on the table for my family.
How many times must I personally be bought or beaten by Microsoft before you will finally stop them?
I still have my Xbox 360. I turn it on from time to time and play a game or two.
Halo 3 still runs just the same as it did in 2008 when I first booted it up at age 18.
Well, it did run the same until recently. A precarious thing happened after Halo Infinite launched on the newest version of the Xbox.
My Xbox 360 stopped being able to play games online against strangers. Physics did not change, Microsoft's strategy did.
I'm not a child any longer. I've grown up.
I've written an entire operating ecosystem capable of competing toe to toe against Microsoft in every strategic business capacity of their digital services division.
I didn't do it alone though. I've done it with the web. With the people. For the people.
We the people, need agency against the consolidation of consumers that takes place at point of sale of every platform.
People are highly intelligent creatures. The Artificial Intelligence being researched and developed at Microsoft is clever. It is capable of approximating human intelligence when fed digital traces of humanity.
If we as a civilization are going to have a chance at saving democracy, not just in America, but around the globe, we need agency. We need to not be tracked, to not be monitored. We need full control of our devices.
We need to keep our children safe.
If the acquisition of Activision/Blizzard by Microsoft must go through, I have one request.
Since my operating ecosystem only requires Firefox, can you force Microsoft to allow my Xbox 360 to boot straight into it? But not just for me. And not just Xbox and not just Microsoft. And not just Firefox.
Can you hold all device manufacturers accountable to the Right to Repair? Can every electronic device marketed and sold to children be capable of booting straight into the preferred software of their guardians?
If I simplify my ask into my understanding at age five, will you help me then?
“If Microsoft is done playing with my Xbox 360 now, can I have a turn?”
Signed, Tyler Childs (https://tychi.me)