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[Column] General: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,044MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

There is a lot of creative thought floating around the internet and in game development these days. It behooves those who are the creators to make sure they protect themselves and their work. Check out today's Fair Game to see our take on the subject before heading to the comments.

Today’s column was inspired by my own long experience in the arena of comics industry publishing, and further fueled by author John Scalzi’s recent condemnation of some particularly horrible prose publishing contracts. I aim this not only at writers and artists, but to aspiring Indy game developers as well; knowing that gamers are, by and large, a creative lot, and knowing that plenty of us aspire to making, rather than just consuming, the games, movies, books and comics we love, I dispense the following cautionary advice:

When it comes to making the best of a bad contract, you can’t.

Read more of Lisa Jonte's Fair Game: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t.



  • TorvalTorval Posts: 11,953Member Legendary
    Very good advice.  Thanks for the article and reference links.
    Centuries ago, in primitive times, before the dawn of civilization, there were things that would be inconceivable to us today; such things as poverty, disease, violence, senility, and love.
  • ohpowerohpower ParisPosts: 72Member

    Hum... I must say I have somewhat mixed feelings about this article. The warning is heard, and I take your word on the fact that an unfair deal is not something one should tolerate. However, It seems to me that you do not consider the problems in their concrete context: very often, the choice is between bad offers and nothing. And working for something is nearly always better than working for nothing.

    So the question of why one shouldn't accept bad deals -and countering the arguments that try to make these bad deals sound not-so-bad- is not completely without interest, but the real question is not what is bad but what is best, and the barrier between not very good but encouraging and really bad. Where is the thin red line? What is starting a career and what is being exploited? 

    And likewise, knowing that you yourself aren't smart doesn't tell you anything on what you should do? Are there people you ask if what you are getting is good? Are there ways to negociate out of bad contracts or should one refuse them entirely? All the "positive" stuff (the "what to do" instead of the "what not to do") seems quite absent from this otherwise interesting article. Maybe for next time, I hope ;)

  • MykellMykell MackayPosts: 656Member Uncommon
    That would never happen to me. I'M different. image
  • StormwindXStormwindX LondonPosts: 168Member

    I know the pain. Trust me, I know. I recently published a novel (My first one) that sold out within less than a year of being out. Not bad at all for a first-timer, right? Things were looking all sweet for me, until the publisher underwent some huge internal reestructuring, and then all of a sudden they no longer have the resources or manpower to publish the rest of my series. Now I'm stuck with a bunch of complete books, all related to that first one, and a publisher that won't publish me.

    And yeah, I know, I'm a sucker for having signed a contract for only one book... but then again, back then I didn't really know it was going to be a long series. 


  • tawesstawess LkpgPosts: 3,644Member Rare

    A good read. Will read again.



    Tawess gaming

    Tawess soapbox

    This have been a good conversation

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,021Member Uncommon
    I  not a writer, never wanted to be.  What does this article have to do about gaming?
  • tokinitokini third hut on the leftPosts: 370Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by erictlewis
    I  not a writer, never wanted to be.  What does this article have to do about gaming?

    surely, a warning to inexperienced people can be applied to more than one field?

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,677Member Uncommon
    Good points. In way too many instances people rationalize bad contracts, and end up regretting it.  In many walks of life, the old saying is true; "They who are their own lawyer, have a fool for a client".  There are far too many complications, hidden meanings, and trick words/phrases for someone who is not a specialist to know about and deal with.
  • TithenonTithenon Everett, WAPosts: 113Member Uncommon

    "All the brains and talent in the world won’t make up for a solid knowledge of standard contract provisions and practices."


    The problem with this is that, by the time you have the legal knots untied in your own head, two things have happened:


    1) you're too scared to give anything a try in an IP you really love, and


    2) things have changed enough to make it necessary to go back and restudy everything.


    There is so much legal'ese and garbage, that unless you actually find someone who has a heart, and who has a lawyer that will work with you, you're screwed all the way around.


    Lisa, I recently cited an article of yours, I believe about Sexism in Gaming for a Sociology paper in my college studies, because of your excellence in putting down what you believe, and I scored high on it, so I thank you for that.  Again, you have hit the mark with this article.  My own personal experiences have placed me in the not-so-unique position of having been hammered over something that had no rules to it, no contract, just a potential under-the-table exchange.  I am truly glad I didn't go through with that.


    Perhaps, if enough folks have the right discouragement, they will get out, write and publish on their own.  It seems generic tabletop game adventures, generic maps, generic systems are the way to go, now.  Perhaps, if enough of the present game publishers are pushed out of their high and mighty places -and this is about where you are with regards to working in the games industry, inside or out- due to lack of incoming material from we saps who want to work it, they'll begin to realize they can't screw with us the way they have been so long, and will begin to turn things around.  I realize they're in it to make a living for themselves, but that means if they're in straits dire enough, they should not be offering contracts for new materials, they need to be busting their own tails to get more out. 


    Will smaller publishers ever make it to the level of success they would need to begin offering contracts and jobs?  If we go with the standard business model in this nation, which says 95% of all new businesses will fail within the first year, and of the remainder over 50% will fail within 5 years, and then we consider how niche gaming remains, whether it's cRPGs, FPS, RTS, MMOs, tabletop, etc., then that makes the total about 99% of gaming businesses that will fail within 5 years.  The good news, however, is that anyone in that 1% that makes it, is more likely to be able to begin contracting within five more years, if they remain solid producers.


    Anyway, excellent article.

  • KonfessKonfess Dallas, TXPosts: 1,466Member Uncommon
    Brava!  I only wish I could find a lawer that I could afford and who knew what we are talking about.

    Pardon any spelling errors
    Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
    Boy: Why can't I talk to Him?
    Mom: We don't talk to Priests.
    As if it could exist, without being payed for.
    F2P means you get what you paid for. Pay nothing, get nothing.
    Even telemarketers wouldn't think that.

  • HellteronHellteron FerrolPosts: 3Member Uncommon

    Hey Lisa:

    Nice to see you around here. Greetings from Spain :)



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