Monthly Archives: March 2014

contract obligation

a contract  is an agreement between two or more people or groups/parties. one party agrees to do something in return for a benefit from the other party . if one party outright breaks one of the agreements in a contract then this party can be taken to a court of law and sued. a contract must be looked at by a lawyer on both sides to see if all terms are not breaking any laws. parties will often Hire agents who have an understanding of the industry  to settle terms between each other.

contracts are used in many industries, the  video game industry being one of them. 3rd party game developers will often sign a contract with a publisher containing information about where the profits will be directed and how the profits will be shared as well as information on IP and asset ownership. this contract usually benefits the publisher more due to the majority of profits going to them but it also (if the game is successful) increases the reputation of the development team meaning they might get more publishers in the future or even become a 1st party to a publisher meaning definite work and more money.  a developer may also use a contract to protect a IP because they believe in it and believe it will be profitable in the future.

NDA
A Non-Disclosure Agreement (often abbreviated to NDA) is a contract signed by a party which stops the party from given away shared confidential information or code to them to another party or to the public. If the information is not kept confidential, the damages will have to be paid in a court party. this is put forth to help protect the unique code and engines that the company’s programmers have created. if the information got out it would not just allow people to hack their games, but also would allow the companies rivals copy their game codes or even improve upon them.

examples of  contract incidents of the past would be the “Team bondi vs Rockstar” controversy. Team bondi, according to old members, worked there employees to the bone, forcing them to work 12-hours a day. the way team bondi kept its workers from leaving was that they wouldn’t be credited at the end of the game if they decide to leave the company before hand (as legalised and agreed in the contract). By the time the game was made 100 people left or made redundant (possibly due to the work times being too much).  Rockstar was ultimately disgusted by this and refused to work with them again. Not long after Team Bondi was liquidated in 2011

I believe contracts are important in any industry for it keeps a company safe from espionage and helps keep the world of business in order. Contacts can create bonds between companies and help create friendships between game developers and publishers. It helps keep game develops safe from over abusement from publishers contracts we used in ancient history and will be used for years to come.

 

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Legal obligations

Legal obligations in the video game industry are the rules that Have to be followed by a company or else the law will get involved and their game wont be marketed and the company might be displayed. The famous legal obligation is “copyright law”  and “IP protection”. copyright is a assignable right which gives a company protection of their idea over a set amount of years meaning if someone tries to copy their design they can legally take them to court.

Regulations

regulations are used in the industry to help keep people safe whether in the workplace or at home. within the gaming industry the famous regulation is the PEGI system which was introduced in 2003. This means a company needs their game to be assessed to see what the game contains. if the game contains a lot of violence, nudity or graphic horror the assessor would give the game a PEGI rating of 18 meaning the game could only be sold to people who are 18 or older meaning children can’t buy it (though that doesn’t stop their parents ). while some people believe that these PEGI ratings are for our protection and for the protection of our children while other people believe that they are pointless since parents still buy their children the game anyway. I believe there’s a certain leniency when it comes to age rating. sure its alright for a 15-year-old to play a 18-year-old game but letting a 10-year-old play it is madness.  Children are very impressionable before 15 and so video games might have an effect on their psyche.

copyright

Copyright law began in England from the Statute of Anne 1709 common. The Copyright Act was then passed in 1911. The law gives artists  (literary, dramatic, musical, art or  sound recordings) of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used. The copyright law covers the public performance and broadcast, copying, renting issuing, adapting and lending copies to the public. In many cases, the Artists will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions or remixes of his work. This law is now international and protects the big name artists. i believe that the copyright law has benefited may people over the years but has become too strict. a lot of old generation musicians started their careers by doing covers on past artists (standing on the shoulders of giants so to speak) but now, if a some includes any part of an existing song without sorting out the legal issues it will likely be taken down.

Registered Design

A registered design is a legal document that protects the   IP’s (intellectual property)  visual design. The registered design document protects the creation of the shape as well as its configuration or composition of pattern or color.
If you do not apply for a registered design, you will receive limited protection through unregistered Design Right or copyright. A registered design document can only the three-dimensional shape whereas Two dimensional designs can be protected by copyright but this is more difficult to enforce than a Registered Design. Protection only lasts for a maximum of 15 years.

A good example of legal obligations in the industry is bungee copyrighting claiming right over the master chief character and model  which ultimately made them rich due to the popularity of the character. Back in 2000-2001, while writing up a contract, Microsoft Game studios decided to let Bungie keep the rights and copyright the character “Master chief” believing that character wouldn’t live past the game. To their amazement, Master chief went in a completely different direction to what they believed. He is now possibly one of the most recognisable characters in shooters so Microsoft needs to keep coming back to Bungie if they want to make a halo game. I see this is a incredibly intelligent move on Bungee’s part and it shows us that if we belive in our creations then maybe they’ll achieve greatness.

In my opinon these laws help keep the industry on their feet and stops companies from constantly leeching off other peoples ideas. It aslo helps a person protect his creations that they worked so hard for. without these laws in place the video game industry would of collapsed by now instead of being as strong as ever.

 

Ethical considerations

With video games becoming a new mass multimedia there is a lot of scrutiny over the ethics of gaming. Ethics is a set of moral principles that if followed ,not by law, but by what people think is right and wrong. game designers have to try and consider peoples moral principles and beliefs when designing video games because if there is any controversial content they will get berated by the media costing sales and money as well as their reputation.

the three biggest controversial ethical debates in video games to date are;

women portrayal in video games

since the beginning of the video game industry feminists believe that they have been objectified by video games. in early games women have been pictured as weaker which caused this controversy. so “are women being objectified by video games?”

once side of the argument is that women are being objectified in modern games. From being the helpless princesses in the castle to the heroin in Skimpy clothing feminist groups have been fighting a constant war against video games. An example of a  controversial female character in video games is Lara croft from “tomb raider”. She is often seen from two perspectives. one being “a smart but beautiful role model for women” and the other being ” eye candy for boys and objectifying women”. Some say that princesses are objectifying women making them as some sort of collectible. The whole aim of the Mario games is to “save” the defenseless princess peach. this game objective has become the most powerful ammo in the feminists artillery against women in video games.

the other opinion on this ethical debate is that women aren’t being objectified and its simply a overreaction  by over sensitive feminists looking for a popular topic to attack and get there opinions seen. women in modern games have become equal to men. an example of this is games like Dragon age or Fallout since women are seen as equals and not objectified as-well as the fact that you can play as a women. games have grown since the old “save the girl” side scrollers with branching relevant stories and deep character development.

violence in video games

When it comes to violence in video games people rather love it or loathe it.  some people see video game violence as just another addition to  gaming adding adrenaline and action to games while others s

violence in video games has become a massive argument of late due to the media constantly berating the industry, blaming violence in real life on violence in video games. the news has said that video games are the cause of mass shootings because the game was found the shooters home. this greatly damages the industry since one of the largest genre of games is action. Concerned parents are also attacking the industry about this claiming that video games have caused their children to become violent  and aggressive. personally I believe its the parents fault for buying the children 15-18+ games before they reach a age where  they’re not as impressionable.

micro-transactions

micro transactions are becoming common-place in the games (mainly appearing on mobile games) causing large debates over the introduction of the “mini-payments” into the gaming norm.  the ethical debate on this new marketing tactic is “Is it alright to spend hundreds of pounds of real world money for in-game money?”.

One side of this argument is that a person should be able to spend THEIR money on what they want because its THEIR money.  we have no right to dictate how a person should spend their hard earned finances. People will often buy in game items in currency  rather to speed up the games “time-based” mechanic to collect there items sooner or to get premium items such as weapons or clothing that hit harder, look cooler and to simply to show off to the gaming community. buying these micro transactions could also be seen as supporting the creators of the game since games with micro-transactions are often free meaning the only profit the company has coming in is from ad venue. i mean how much difference is there between purchasing  an online sword to donating to a company on kickstarter to get a unique item?

The other side to this is that people shouldn’t be able to spend purchase micro transactions and companies are making micro-transactions mandatory to beat the game (pay to win).  money is necessary to modern day life. Food, warmth, shelter all costs money so if a individual is spending all his money on video games its potentially life threatening  as it takes money away from the day to day essentials. some see micro transactions as being forced upon us by greedy video game companies so we can complete the game we have already paid for. in MMORPG’s its worse because of the competitive of it all. people will buy a better weapon to beat there friend who will then buy a better weapon to beat him and so on.

my personal opinion on this debate is that micro transactions are a growing part of the gaming business no matter what we do. Micro-transactions are good in the case of free games because its giving money to the creator and could almost be seen as a form of donation. The form of micro-transaction i don’t agree with is  big name games jumping on the band wagon.  games that you have already paid for should not contain more payments. As for my opinion on people spending massive amounts of money for online games I believe, even though its probably help ruin there lives, its still their money and we have no opinion in the matter.

I see ethics in video games a “lose-lose” battle since along as there is one person who believes in different things, there will be controversies and ethical arguments. As long as the industry tries its best to try and not offend it’ll grow to a point where no-one will care and move onto another industry to complain about.Image