Games Industry Obligations

The Games Industry have many obligations they must adhere to which include contractual, legal and ethical obligations. 

Legal obligations include intellectual property, copyright, trademark, patent and registered design. Intellectual property can refer to anything that a company makes including anything someone creates using their mind i.e. images, designs and literary works. IP has two categories: industrial property and copyright. Copyright is used to protect any intellectual property. Sometimes it is difficult to protect property, but tangible property tends to be easier to protect as it can be replaced if stolen, however, if intellectual property is stolen, it can be difficult and if the information is leaked before any copyright has been put on, then the property holds a risk that will ruin the chances of the information bringing in a certain amount of money and the company may receive less as well as less publicity when the product is released and maybe, complete. The best way to keep the property safe is to put legal action on it immediately so if it does get leaked, they can take legal aid and get some sort of profit back from what they will lose.

Copyright is used to protect an author’s work, copyright can help stop other people using your work without your permission and can protect photos or literary work i.e. books. In the games industry, the games company will use copyright for any ideas they have for a game after the pre-production stage in order to secure it for their company and usually they would pair this with NDA’s to stop the work going out to the press prematurely, however, even if it were to be released, the idea would be copyrighted and therefore nobody could work off of it, although some companies have ways to not copy but have something similar and if they got it out first, they could benefit more from consumers. Even though the copyright is very important, it can still be gone around once something has been released or leaked. Usually, if something is originally written, it can immediately fall into the copyright law, for example blogs, but as copyright laws only last for 100 years at most, it is important that if the company is a large company, i.e. Sony who were founded in 1946, in 2046 they will have to ‘upgrade’ their copyright so if they are still generating products in that time, their products will still be protected. If property has been copyrighted, people will be able to know this because there would be a © in front and usually the company’s name and the years with active copyright. There is a possibility that companies can copyright through another company which can help prove the copyright if it is ever disputed. 

Trademark uses ™, ® and SM. Trademark in the games industry could be used for company names, the products name and logo. These are to ensure that nobody will use original company names, product names or logos and to keep theirs original. Trademarks help to not allow anyone to put their products with yours, so they can use the names as long as it doesn’t affect the same class you’re in. ™ is used for unregistered brands and promotes goods, SM is used for unregistered brands which promote services and ® is used for registered brands. 

Patents are used for new inventions, there are many different patents including design patents, business patents, etc. A patent is a license for a right to a franchise which excludes others from using this and a patent can only exclude others for a set amount of time. Patents may be used in the games industry for a new type of gaming technology that has been invented by a company. An example of a patent would be consoles and headsets, as well as anything else that has been created. 

Copyrighting a registered design is where a company will make something in a certain way, or design something in a certain way and then that particular thing or anything else cannot be recreated. An example of this would be consoles as even though they look similar and pretty much do the same thing, there will always be differences in designs even without logos, that single them out and make them separate registered designs; the PlayStation tends to be more slimmer whereas the Xbox is more bulky. The logos within both the PlayStation and Xbox logos are also a registered design and it means other people cannot reproduce In order for a product to be registered, it must be new, have an original character which means that it has to look original and have its own identity or design, not be offensive or make use of flags and international emblems inappropriately. 

Ethical obligations include game ethics, ratings, violence, education, stereotyping and addiction. Ethical obligations ensure that the game fits well with society and keeps a moral nature. The games industry is known for many controversial games, such as Grand Theft Auto and Doom as well as many others who have had torture, violence against women or any kind of realistic violence and glorification of drugs which have been heavily scrutinized by the general public as well as the media. Keeping to guidelines and using PEGI’s rating system helps to categorise these certain games that are not suitable for certain age groups keeps the game industry out of too much fire as the public and potential buyers are warned of such graphical negativity in the games before purchased. Despite there being a perfectly suited age restriction chart, it has been known for parents to go out and buy certain games for their children which are not suitable for their age group which kills the idea of having the chart in order to stop any disputes; these same parents can then go on to fight against games such as these who hold a high violence level despite buying the game for their children. Although, in the gaming industry there are many games which help with education and keeping children learning, there are many who categorise gaming as nothing to do with education – there are also cases of parents thinking if their children are exposed to games that involve descriptions from an 18 rated game that they will learn the ways of that (even though, in many cases, they have allowed their children to be exposed to this) – despite there being historical games for example, Assassin’s Creed and Dynasty Warriors which can help teach the gamer about the history. There are also many stereotypes within the games industry, women do not tend to be the main lead in most games (with some exceptions) and tend to have a similar personality (once again, with some exceptions) when women are introduced into a game and tend to be happy-go-lucky and willing to take their clothes off or fight a mythical creature in next to nothing with maximum bounce. There are also stereotypes in men, where men are supposed to look strong, act strong and be strong – in few games are the male protagonist presented as weak – and have the save-the-day attitude when it comes to fighting mythical creatures, probably saving the woman as she flutters about helplessly. Stereotypes also fit in with race, depending on the race there will be someone who fits the stereotype: whether this be a Chinese man with his noodles, a Mexican man cleaning or fixing things, an American overweight or the British sipping tea on the side lines (or even the French surrendering with their baguettes and mimes). This could also include stereotypical teenagers who are probably smoking, stereotypical parents, teachers, army men, children, screaming babies, everything. When it comes to computer games, there are also risks of becoming addicted to playing those games which could lead to serious medical problems i.e. depression or anxiety, Computer gaming addictions can be the cause of not wanting to live a normal, real life and wanting to keep to their virtual lives and therefore developing medical issues when being removed. The only way a gaming addiction can be good is if the gamer works in the industry and it’s their job.

Contractual obligations include employment, development, license, NDA and collaboration. The employment side covers all terms of employment which includes what the employer expects and what the employees will have to adhere to. This will include the job description of the job and anything health and safety related as well as what the company plans to do for you. The company can provide many things for the employees including a pension if they work for a certain amount of years (how many years should be stated in the contract) or paying for travel to and from work.  This also covers anything to do with competing with the company for example the potential employee cannot be trying to make their own company using knowledge of the company and will not aim to be a competitor of their company. 

When a publishing company decides to bring in a developing company to help them create the game they aim to publish, they will have to include the development side in the contractual obligations which covers how much the publisher will pay the developing company and how long they have to complete developing the game and at this time, the game has to be completely finished as to not void the contract. The publishing company will also have to write down if there will be royalties involved and if so, the rate of the royalties. They will also include the ownership of the IP and the potential employee will have to swear they will not use another source code and the company will have to swear they have the right to ask the developer to create the particular game. 

If the publishing company decides that it is a film they want to work on to recreate it as a game, they will have to obtain certain rights by creating a contract between themselves and the film’s IP owner and figure out the terms of the license. The contract will also have to specify the preferred platform and preferred parts of the world as of where the game to be published and released and how long the contract will run for. 

The potential employee will have to sign an non-disclosure agreement as well as any other confidentially agreement which will most likely be put together to create one form for the potential employee to swear to and agree upon (usually by signing and dating) the terms will include the secret of which could be a game or a piece of technology which as of yet has not been publically announced. Once signed, they have sworn that they will not release any information as of which has been signed against and if done so, the potential employee and offender will be punished in court which could be as of what the contract has stated will happen if one was to void the contract and release confidential information. 

When indie or hobby games developers want to create their own company and get their game published, the collaboration agreement is put in place and this will focus on how the project is managed, who will own the IP, how the game will be used, how any income will be handled and if the project came to termination how it would occur. 

Professional bodies linked to the Games Industry would be companies such as Ukie which have worked alongside games companies for a very long time and provide help and assistance for all companies but specialise in aiding indie companies start up to create their games and give them free benefits, for example, advice on how the indie company would obtain funds, write up contracts as well as any other advice the company may need. They also offer discounts on business services, training, networking opportunities and industry facts. Other professional companies include IGDA who also offers support for companies by giving resources in business and legal and offer guides.

This assignment is incomplete.