Ok, “saves lives” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but what is true is that a North Carolina man assisted passengers from an SUV he saw flip on a highway, using skills he learned playing America’s Army. Paxton Galvanek, who pulled people from vehicle after it flipped, said he learned about controlling bleeding from playing section two of the “medic” class training in America’s Army, a game developed by the Army as a recruitment tool.
The trend continues, and MMOGs are getting even more popular. Here are a couple recent articles that you might find of interest:
From WIRED, this article discusses three new MMOGs being released in 2008 that have potential to be huge.
From the NY Times, this article discusses the popularity of MMOGs among kids.
As reported by Virtually Blind, Shanda, developer of MMORPG The World of Legend, has been ordered to pay 5,000 Yuan (US $679) and apologize to a gamer for taking away his virtual tools, reports Pacific Epoch. The gamer discovered six virtual items worth more than 1,500 Yuan (US $204) missing from his game account on November 22, 2006 (perhaps the Sword of 1,000 Truths), and contacted Shanda regarding the disappearance. Shanda said that the company had taken the items in accordance with a police investigation regarding the sale of stolen virtual items. But Shanda failed to follow police instruction and return the items after the investigation ended.
Sorry I’ve been radio silent for a while. Life has been busy, you know how it goes…
In any event, it appears that Cory Ondrejka, employee No. 4 at San Francisco-based Linden Lab, which owns Second Life, quit Tuesday and will depart at the end of the year. Ondrejka spearheaded the company’s decision to allow users to retain intellectual property rights to their creations. That’s encouraged a thriving e-commerce market where users spend real dollars to buy virtual real estate, clothes, cars and other items. So it will be interesting to see where the company goes next.
More Second Life news: As reported in the New York Post, a half-dozen entrepreneurs are suing a Queens man, charging him with counterfeiting and selling versions of their products. Here’s the catch: The products aren’t real, and the alleged crimes took place in the virtual world of Second Life on the Web.
We’ll keep monitoring this case and let you know as we learn more.
As originally reported on Terra Nova, Linden Labs appears to have made a potentially significant change to the wording on its home page. The home page used to read:
“Second Life is a 3D online digital world imagined, created and owned by its residents” But now it reads: “Second Life is a 3D online digital world imagined and created by its residents”
The post on Terra Nova has an interesting string of comments. Check it out. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.
As reported on GamePolitics.com, Later today the ECA will announce its support for HR1201, known as the Fair Use Act of 2007. The proposed legislation will give consumers limited rights to circumvent technological control measures for private, noncommercial uses that would otherwise be protected under the DMCA. We will track this new legislation and keep everyone posted.
Well its old news by now, but in case you haven’t heard, Microsoft and Bungie announced on Friday that Bungie has split off from Microsoft, becoming an independent entity. Bungie will still work on the Halo franchise for Microsoft, but will be free to develop other IP as well. Bungie will continue to work with Microsoft as a publisher.
To those at Bungie on my friends list, good luck in your new roles, and may the best be yet to come. See you on Live!
I have a client that I am helping to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. For what? Well that has to wait until the record is published, but suffice it to say that it got me wondering about world records as intellectual property. Ok, I know they’re NOT technically IP, but I’ve always had a fascination with getting world record, so I figure helping someone else do it would be good enough… for now. My day will come.
In any event, I ran across this article describing the exploits of DK’ers (Donkey Kong’ers) setting world record after world record at the game. An interesting read. But a warning, there is a documentary about attempts to break the Donkey Kong world record, and the article is essentially a spoiler to the movie (in case you planned to watch it).
An Illinois man was sentenced to two years in prison for violating copyright law through the unauthorized sale of video games on his Web site, the U.S. Department of Justice announced late Thursday, August 2, 2007.
Timothy W. Hall, of Mount Vernon, Ill., pleaded guilty May 8 to one count of criminal copyright infringement for his unlawful distribution of hundreds of thousands of copyright works on his Web site, Morbidbackups.net. Hall advertised the sale of hundreds of video games, for Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and other platforms, on recordable CDs. Hall also offered DVDs containing movies and television programs, the DOJ said.
Video game crime doesn’t pay!
Read more here.
Well its not a video game lawsuit, but interesting nonetheless. And, yes, this post could be considered shameless self-promotion. Nonetheless, I was recently quoted in USA Today in an article regarding the Facebook lawsuit, and it’s even a good sound bite! Usually quotes get taken out of context or they use the quote that you wish you never said (remember the “work hard, play hard” debacle?) In any event, I thought it noteworthy, so enjoy…
Well it was really only a matter of time. When an industry gets large enough, we need awards to distinguish the good from the bad. MMOs and Virtual Worlds are the latest addition to the awards fray, with “live” ceremonies to be held in Second Life and Entropia Universe.
I guess it’s true: IP begets IP.
Linden Labs recently added voice capabilities to Second Life. Their beta test went public in March, and commentary has been, for the most part, positive. Voice is a natural extension for MMO games, and introduces new IP issues that will eventually crop up, e.g., voice theft. Digital voice means you can capture someone else’s voice relatively easily. Could you create a voice synthesizer based on someone else’s speech patterns and tone? Just a thought. In any event, Second Life just got a whole lot more interesting for the rest of the world who doesn’t already spend every waking moment as an avatar…
(Fortune Magazine) — May 14, 2007: Free software is great, and corporate America loves it. It’s often high-quality stuff that can be downloaded free off the Internet and then copied at will. It’s versatile – it can be customized to perform almost any large-scale computing task – and it’s blessedly crash-resistant.
There’s a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it’s being cast by Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500). The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft’s patents. And as a mature company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google (Charts, Fortune 500), Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free software won’t be free anymore.Read full story here.
Needless to say, this applies to free and open source software (FOSS) games as well.
From the April 2007 ABA Journal, citing the U.S. Department of Justice special report:
Of the 7,445 vicil intellectual property lawsuits filed in 2002:
- 140 (1.9%) made it through trial and received a trial verdict.
- In 83 cases (59.3%) the plaintiff won.
- In 53 of the 83 cases, the reward included money.
- Overall median damages award was $965,000
- Median damages in patent cases was $2.3M
- Median damages in copyright cases was $159,000
- Median damages in trademark cases was $84,500
Looks like Joost is in Beta. If you haven’t heard of Joost, it’s a potential cable TV killer from the founders of Kazaa and Skype. Like Skype, this is legit on the copyright front, and could pose a serious threat to cable and satellite TV, because this time they are catering to the desires of content providers. There was an article in the February issue of Wired, which is a pretty good read. With this new content delivery system, it will be interesting to see if they build in the capability for episodic delivery of video games as well. We’ll all just have to wait and see, unless,… if you have a Joost beta token, send one my way to email@example.com.
Video-game sales a record $12.5B in ’06
By BARBARA ORTUTAY, Associated Press, Business Writer, January 12, 2007
Read full article here.
There have been quite a few distributed computing projects over the years. Sony’s plan is perhaps the most ambitious yet. The PS3 has a Cell Broadband Engine (CBE) chip, the same used in IBM’s new supercomputer. PS3 owners will be able to download a small program to their PS3 to allow scientists to use the PS3’s downtime for scientific research, turning what would previously have taken years to calculate into mere months, or less! Don’t worry though, if the PS3 is running a game, the distributed computing process is suspended so you don’t get any lag, thereby causing you to get fragged.
As you may recall, we took quite a bit of flack from the software developer community on Slashdot for our previous article published by Gamasutra. Some of the comments had to deal with the patent system in general, but many of the comments were directed to patent quality, or the alleged lack thereof. Yes, many people claim that the video game patents we mention are a bunch of hogwash, invalid as can be, etc., etc., etc.,
The USPTO has made overtures regarding farming out patent searches, and opening up prior art for public commentary in the hopes of improving patent quality. One web site has beat them to the punch, so it appears. WikiPatents.com aims to provide “public patent clarity” and claims to contribute to the US patent system by commenting on issued patents and (soon) published U.S. applications. The website appears to operate similarly to previous proposals, as a public sounding board for the relevance of prior art cited against a patent, and a venue to comment on the alleged validity of a patent. WikiPatents.com posts information about issued patents, and expects members of the public to provide commentary on the relevance of the prior art as it may or may not apply to the validity of the patent.
Now the question is: will the public respond? Do enough people care AND have the time to review prior art and comment on issued claims and published applications? Will members of the public even appreciate that what is described is not necessarily what a patent claims? Will patent examiners begin to use this as a resource during their examination procedures, even if informally? Will WikiPatents.com (or other sites like it) improve patent quality? There will certainly be the extremists on both sides that chime in one way or the other, but only time will tell if the site is a success…