Ok, so I’ve started a new category, dubbed “Ponderous,” to indicate posts that are neither a Case summary, case Update, or News. Ponderous posts represent interesting legal topics of discussion that we find interesting.
This initial post is an extension of the News item regarding the Chinese gamer who got the suspended death sentence for killing a fellow gamer over a virtual sword in Legend of Mir III, and the announcement by Microsoft that Xbox Live, upon launch of the Xbox 360, will have a marketplace feature. Microsoft has indicated that you will be able to purchase game content via the marketplace, but thus far has remained silent as to whether one gamer can sell directly to another.
In any event, I created this skin for my Audi TT in Forza Motorsport:
Is it obvious I’m a Georgia Tech grad? Think it would fetch anything? I hear there’s a market on eBay, but it doesn’t appear to be thriving for Forza yet.
Gamasutra has posted the responses to their Question of the Week, which they posed in conjunction with our article “It’s Just A Game Right? Top Mythconceptions On Patent Protection Of Video Games.” The responses ranged from the mildy supportive to the outright negative. Steve and I also sent a letter to the Editor of Gamasutra. Our kudos, however, go to Erin Mehlos, who drew the following cartoon to run with the Question of the Week Responses:
A chinese gamer who killed a fellow gamer, in real life, over a virtual item from the game has been sentenced to life in prison, with the possibilty of parole in 15 years. The sentence is actually a suspended death sentence under Chinese law.
The story goes like this: Mr. Qui lent Mr. Zhu a Dragon Sabre won in the game Legend of Mir 3. Mr. Zhu subsequently sold the sword for 7,200 Chinese Yan. Mr. Qui subsequently broke into Mr. Zhu’s house and stabbed Mr. Zhu to death.
Admittedly this is a regrettable incident, but it does raise the issue of whether in game property is personal property, or merely data bits stored on someone else’s computer.
Read more here.
As you may recall, the Department of Justice coordinated a raid in early December, 2004, on three Pandora’s Cube stores in the Washington, DC, suburbs where the stores were selling — in plain view — Xbox videogame consoles that had been modified to use pirated software. Well the employees that were arrested as a result of the raid have apparently pled guilty in the ordeal, as reported on the Gamasutra web site:
“A group of retailers in Maryland have pleaded guilty to selling modified Xboxes, called “Super Xboxes” by the group, thereby violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The four retailers were owners and employees of Pandora’s Cube, a shop with two locations in Maryland and one in Virginia.”
Japanese publisher and developer Tecmo has settled its lawsuit against fan website Ninjahacker.net, after more than four months of legal action. The lawsuit began after Tecmo accused the site’s operators of creating or distributing patches for the games Dead or Alive 3 and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball that allowed the already scantily clad characters to be played in the nude. Among other claims, Tecmo alleged copyright infringement, to which Ninjahacker.net replied that their modification was a fair use.
Previous Gamasutra news articles on this topic:
A couple posts on the Workplace Blog highlight the allegation that video game programmers often work insane hours without getting properly paid for them, and union actors want a piece of the “residual” action from video games that sell more than 400,000 copies…
In what is being compared to the first filmmaking schools of the ’30s and ’40s, the University of Denver Department of Computer Science is offering four new degree programs:
- Bachelor of Arts in Game Development and Studio Art
- Bachelor of Arts in Game Development and Electronic Media Arts Design
- Bachelor of Arts in Game Development and Digital Media Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Game Development and Animation
From c|net.com: “It’s like the film industry back in 1930s and 1940s, when the first film schools were established,” said Associate Professor Scott Leutenegger, who heads the University of Denver’s program. “That was not taken seriously. Now everyone thinks those programs are great.”
The below press release was released yesterday by Gatlin Education Services, which is now offering classes to teach individuals how to hone their skills for use in the video game industry. Citing growth of the billion-dollar video game industry, the press release implies that experienced video game developers will soon be in short supply. While this may be true, it also demonstrates the need for companies to protect their intellectual property in their video games to prevent other companies from simply copying “the good stuff” instead of developing their own material from scratch. Again, while copyright is automatic and provides rudimentary protection, copyright protects very little beyond a pirated copy of your game. Patents, which are much more comprehensive and provide much broader protection, should be sought in all possible cases.
—Press Release Begins Here—
Online Video Game Development, Design Courses Now Available
Expanding industry offers potential job seekers with above average, entry-level salaries.
Fort Worth, Texas (PRWEB via PR Web Direct) April 21, 2005 — The Game Institute and Gatlin Education Services announced today their partnership in providing online video game development courses to institutions of higher learning across the country.
These video game development courses are designed to give those interested in the rapidly expanding video game industry the skills necessary to seek employment in that, and a number of related professions, including general computing (corporate applications, databases, web applications), entertainment media development (3D computer animation for film and video), engineering applications (computer-aided manufacturing, robotics, simulations), and emerging technologies (artificial intelligence, biotechnology).
“The videogame industry is a multi-billion dollar global business that is growing rapidly,” Joe Meenaghan, president of the Game Institute, said. “Giving students the opportunity to take rigorous coursework through the Game Institute will open doors for them into this emerging industry.”
Prior to its partnership with the Game Institute, Gatlin Education offered the 3ds Max certification program, a course geared towards the design, development, and animation of 3D video game characters.
CEO Stephen Gatlin believes the combination of his current course offerings and the new programs provides interested students with a well-rounded source for video game training.
“We seek to be at the forefront of technology in education,” Gatlin said. “Working in such a rapidly developing industry requires up to date courses, which we are proud to provide.”
According to the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), 45 percent of the American population (145 million people) plays video games, which places those who can develop creative, state of the art concepts at a fast and reliable pace in high demand.
A survey to be published in the April issue of Game Developer magazine states that the average annual salary for entry level videogame programmers is $54,300, much higher than that of most entry level occupations.
Since seventy two percent of users claim they play because games are challenging and stimulating, staying on top of consumer demand is important when training new developers.
“The leap in required knowledge from competent general-purpose coder to games coder has grown significantly,” Alex Tchernychov, independent game developer said in a review of the institute’s programs. “The Game Institute provides a serious advantage with a focused curriculum and an attention to detail.”
Game Institute courses are developed by experts in the fields of computer science and interactive entertainment, many of which have developed successful commercial game titles, authored best-selling industry textbooks, or taught at the graduate or undergraduate level.
Courses are constantly being added to ensure that the latest techniques and product releases are represented. Several academic partners offer college credit for institute courses.
“Game programming is hard work, but if you can program games, you can program anything,” Meenaghan said. “Our courses teach the hard stuff in a fun and engaging way. Our students appreciate the value of challenging coursework. They come away confident that their training is state-of-the-art and industry relevant.”
Gatlin Education Services is the largest provider of asynchronous web-based, instructor-supported training to colleges and universities. GES open-enrollment programs are designed to provide the skills necessary to acquire professional caliber positions for many in-demand occupations.
For more information on Gatlin Education Services, visit http://www.gatlineducation.com. Direct media inquiries to Sandy Bell at 972-934-2850 or e-mail protected from spam bots.
Gatlin Education Services
U.S. Video Game Sales Up 32 Pct in March: Analysts
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Video game sales rose 32 percent in the United States in March, analysts said on Friday, noting Sony Corp’s top-selling “Gran Turismo 4” racing game as well as an improved supply of console hardware. Citing figures from market researchers NPD Group, analysts also said Sony Corp.’s new PlayStation Portable handheld gaming unit sold 620,000 units of hardware in the month and 1.1 million pieces of software. The PSP was released on March 24. By comparison, Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s DS dual-screen handheld has sold 428,000 units this year, analysts said, quoting NPD. The DS, which costs $100 less than the PSP, launched last year. The supply of Sony’s PlayStation 2 console continued to improve, analysts said, with 495,000 sold in the month, compared with 227,000 units of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and 94,000 units of Nintendo’s GameCube. Microsoft has acknowledged the Xbox is in short supply, which some retailers fear may continue through the year as the company prepares to launch its next-generation console, most likely around the holidays. “Gran Turismo 4” led game sales in the month, with more than 532,000 units sold, followed by the value-priced “MVP Baseball 2005” from Electronic Arts Inc. at just under 338,000 units. Most analysts expect U.S. software sales to grow about 5 percent in 2005, driven by growing sales for handheld devices like the PSP and DS.