Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Task 4 – Contracts, Legal and Ethical Obligations.

In the games industry there are contactual, legal and ethical obligations.



An Employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee. the contract of employment denotes a relationship of economic dependence and social subordination, for example an employer will agree to pay a certain wage, as well as treat the employee with proper respect and fairness, while the employee will agree to complete their given tasks to the extent of the contractual agreement as well as treat their employer with respect.


Within the Games industry, it is common for publishers to hire game developers to create games.When this happens, the two companies form a development agreement in the form of a contract. This agreement states the terms, ownership and warranties regarding the game in development.

For example, within the terms, it will be decided how much the publisher will pay the developer to create the game and whether or not their will be royalties or what the rate of royalties will be.

Ownership: who owns the IP (Intellectual property) the developers or the publishers? This can be essential to both parties. If the IP is successful, ownership can be an asset to both parties, as the party with ownership of the IP will then be able to continue producing related merchandise without input from, or payment to the other party.

Warranties: This is an agreement which binds the developers to using only the source code which they have created, while also binding the publishers to only asking the developers to create a game which they have the rights to.


When a publisher wishes to have a game made about a movie, tv show, toys, etc.. The publisher and the owner of the IP make up a contract which specifies the details of the license.
These details spell out what the publisher can and can't do with the IP. For example, the publisher may only be able to use certain characters or locations from the IP within their game.

However, it can also affect which platforms the IP owner is willing to allow the game to be published on, PS Vita, Wii U, etc..

The territories in which the game is released can also be part of the license, for example: The game could be released within Europe, but not the USA.

There is also a term for how long the contract will last. They don't normally run longer than five years. After this term has ended, the license holder no longer has the right to produce merchandise related to the licensed


An NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) is designed to ensure that confidential information is not leaked to the public by a second party. For example, if a developer were to outsource another development studio, an NDA would have to be agreed upon by this second development studio in order to ensure that they do not divulge confidential information to the public, Gameplay systems, the games story or even the games title are good examples.

This is also true in the case of a Closed Beta. A Closed Beta is a portion of a video game which a game developer or publisher has released to a select few in order to test out a video game, reveal bugs and generally ensure that it is fun. These tests are essential to the development of a video game, but could be catastrophic for the games financial success if information is leaked so early.

Anyone caught breaking an NDA could face dire consequences in a court of Law. IP.


A collaboration agreement would be used in a situation which involves an indie developer, or someone who creates games as a hobby. It is used to figure out the ownership and compensation involved in creating a game.

A collaboration agreement is designed to clearly state who owns the IP, who does what, who gets what, the way the IP will be used, and how the project will end.



IP (Intellectual Property) is a term used to describe many different types of creations originating from a persons imagination. 

Under intellectual law, owners of IP's are granted exclusive rights to intangible assets such as, Music, literacy and art, etc.. 

Within the gaming industry an IP can range from being a single piece of artwork to an entire franchise, therefore the ownership of an IP can be everything to a publisher. It is not uncommon for IP's to be sold on to other publishers or developers, this has happened with many popular IP's such as, "Crash Bandicoot" and "Spyro the Dragon".

Sometimes after an IP has been out for a while they tend to reboot the game. This meaning they make new concept artwork and redesign all the characters. A good example for would be Devil May Cry, With devil may cry they redesigned there main character and redesigned all there enemies.


A copyright is used to protect an authors work from use by another person or company.
A copyright can protect numerous things, from titles, characters, music and the list goes on.

For example, we all know about "Sonic the Hedgehog" the little guy from Sega who runs fast, collects gold rings and spends his time ruining the evil plots of Doctor Eggman. Let's say I created a game called Speedy the porcupine, who runs quick, collects ruby rings and spends his time ruining the dastardly plans of Mr. Manegg,


A trademark is the mark which identifies a product, they can take their form in names, logo's slogans, etc..
Trademarks are regsitered for specific products within certain classes, that's not to say trademarks can't be similar to one another. As long as it is different in some way, it is usually ok.


A patent is basically the function of a product, in the gaming industry this could be related to a publishers/developers game play mechanics.

Without the permission of the patent inventor, others can not recreate and then sell on a product of the same function, it would need to have notable differences to set it apart from the original patent.

However much like an IP, patents can be sold on or rented out. This can lead to many variations of the same patent across the market.

Within the Gaming industry, a good example of this would be the "Unreal Engine" This is a game engine which many developers have used to make various games, however despite this, these games can still be easily set apart.
Registered Design

Registered designs are the eye candy of the whole IP package, they can be the promotional artwork for the game, the box art or any related art work.

Registered Designs allow publishers/developers to give the consumer or even a developer an idea of how they envision the game, this allows the consumer to summarise for themselves what the game will be like from these designs, while also inspiring the developer who is creating the game.



Violence is a common part of video games today. Many people believe that by playing violent games, the player can also become influenced by it and therefore become violent themselves.

Violence is demonstrated in many forms within video games, from the firearm based battles of "Call of Duty" to the stealthy assassination style of "Assassins Creed". It is not uncommon for certain individuals to blame their behaviour on something which they have seen in a game. In fact, there was a case on the release day of "Grand Theft Auto V" in which a gang of youths attacked and stole from another youth in order to gain his copy of "Grand Theft Auto V". Their reasoning behind the attack? "It's what the main character from Grand Theft Auto would have done."

Rating - PEGI 

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings are used to aid parents/guardians in picking an appropriate video game for their children. It does this via a range of age listings and icons which represent the content of the game. These days it is now illegal to sell a video games to children who are not old enough to meet the PEGI rating of said game.

Despite the PEGI rating system, it is not uncommon for those who do not meet the PEGI ratings to acquire video games which are deemed inappropriate towards their age group. In many cases, parents themselves will purchase these games for their children, thus it isn't uncommon to hear a 7 year old during an online multiplayer match of "Call of Duty" an 18+ rated game.


Gaming is generally stereotyped as being a guy thing, therefore it is quite common for most video games to be aimed at a male audience.

However in today's age of gaming there is a wide range of developers, both male and female who are creating games for all sorts of people regardless of their age, ethcic or gender.

Therefore despite games such as "God of War", "Assassins Creed" and "Call of Duty" being aimed at a male audience, it is not uncommon for a female audience to be present, and vice versa.. Games such as "Viva Piñata", "Dance Central" and "Little Big Planet" which are aimed towards a female audience, a male audience is also present.


Like many things, playing video games has become an addiction for many people. For some the chance to escape the real world and engulf themselves within a world where effort and patience will always result in progression is irresistible. 

A video game addiction, like most addictions is not a good thing. It can cause people to lose out on more important things, such as social activities, relationships and even work.


Education can also be found within video games. In a subtle manner from things such as the settings of video games, "Assassins Creed II - The Italian Renaissance" Then there are games which are directed towards providing an education, "Brain Training". These are the positives of education from video games, however, there are also negatives..

These are inherently covered by the PEGI rating system, but can include drugs, bad language and violence. All things which can be learnt about from certain video games.

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