Impact of technology and technical development
The games industry is slowly changing because of the impact of technology and technical development, downloadable games are becoming more common, systems like Steam are massively successful , this is largely because of the convenience of downloadable games. With some exceptions downloadable games can be a lot cheaper than disc based games largely due to cutting out most of the middle men and getting the game straight to the consumer.
“Whether it is through better graphics, multiplayer gaming, ornew user interfaces, a la Microsoft Kinect, the video game industry will always be in a state of progression. We are now at the beginning of the next progression: gaming-on-demand.”
On-demand gaming can help prevent piracy as it will make it harder to copy games and hack consoles. The gaming industry has lost a large amount of money due to piracy, between 2004-2009 worldwide the industry lost “$41.5 million” and in 2010 the UK games industry lost “$2.31 million”.
With gaming On-demand being cheaper this would be a huge benefit to those playing games as in 2009, in the USA, consumers spent an amount that would equate to $138 a year each and in the UK in 2009 consumers spent “£3.78 billion” collectively.
Legal issues and statutory controls
Nintendo were one of the first companies to introduce software licensing to the video game industry and some people were not happy about this “I think we actually had our golden age when game development was using floppy disks and it was an open free platform when we could all make games like we wanted to make…Nintendo came along and software licensing came in and we’ve been in a dark age since then”. Although some people didn’t like this it was important “The licensing model was one of the most significant changes to the games market when it arrived hand in hand with the console boom. Until that point coders were free to publish whatever they want on whatever they want, as is still the case in the creativity-rich PC software sector. However, the likes of Nintendo and Sony changed this by requiring titles pass their certification process before being released on their machines”. Info from http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/hawkins-blames-software-licensing-for-creativity-decline/082258.
Copyright laws and practice
“The legality of cloning a video game has been an issue for the industry since its conception. In 1976, Ralf Baer, creator of the Magnavox Odyssey console, settled with Atari out of court over claims that Atari’s version of Pong was an unauthorized copy of the tennis game for the Odyssey system. In present-day law, it is upheld that game mechanics of a video game are part of its software, and are generally ineligible for copyright”.
There are certain aspects of a game that can’t be protected by copyright such as “the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it” but “The underlying source code, and the game’s artistic elements, including art, music, and dialog” can be protected by copyright law. Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_clone.
Intellectual Property rights (IP)
This is along the same lines as copyright, this is important as it protects most aspects of someones game. “Intellectual property laws are designed to protect different forms of subject matter, although in some cases there is a degree of overlap. These include Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Trade secrets, Semiconductor chips and Industrial design rights”. Info from http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Intellectual_property.
Tax and national insurance
The games industry maybe getting a planned tax break in the UK, “Chancellor George Osborne said he planned to introduce corporation tax relief from April 2013 for the video games, animation and high-end television industries”. Info from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17464478. It is still unknown if the tax break will happen as there is an EU investigation into the plans but if it does then it will be a huge boost to the industry.
Health and safety
There is not a lot of information about health and safety in the games industry but I did find some health and safety tips from Xbox.com for when you play video games but they could also apply for people working in the games industry. The website breakdowns the key things to consider when you play games.
” Position: Make sure your position is not encouraging discomfort….
Breaks: Stepping away at regular intervals is important.
Health: Keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle.” Info from http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live/healthygamingguide
These same tips can be considered for working in the gaming industry as well as the users of their product. If you sit in an uncomfortable position it will affect your posture, sitting in front of a computer screen will affect your eye sight over time so it will help if you take regular breaks and keeping a balanced and healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, it is especially important for people in the games industry as most of your time is spent indoors and in front of a computer so it is important to keep active.
The computer screen aspect to working in the gaming industry is quite important.
“Computer workstations or equipment can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain…Surveys have found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. These aches and pains are sometimes called upper limb disorders (ULDs), which can include a range of medical conditions such as RSI. Most of these conditions do not indicate any serious ill health, but it makes sense to avoid them as far as possible…That doesn’t mean that DSE work is risky – it isn’t. ULDs can be avoided if users follow effective practice, set up their workstations properly and take breaks during prolonged use. By just taking a few simple precautions, work with DSE can be more comfortable and productive”. Info from http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/
So their can be problems with working with a computer screen but they can be avoided.
Business and financial support
IDEAScotland is a company that helps people start up their business and focus on digital media businesses.
” IDEAScotland™ is a business accelerator programme designed to help start-up digital economy entrepreneurs of any background or experience attract valuable investment to build a sustainable and profitable business…We are looking for start-ups and development opportunities seeking to capitalise on the connected digital economy. We are particularly (but not exclusively) interested in businesses in the digital journalism, digital entertainment, big data and learning technology spaces.” Info from http://www.idea-scotland.co.uk/
This would be helpful for companies that are fairly new/small that have good ideas and are quite ambitious.
The website business.scotland.gov.uk has some helpful info on how to start up a business. This first piece of info is an overview of the basics of starting a business.
“As well as your product or service, you will need to think about what you will call your business, what sort of structure it will have and how you are going to run it. You should also think about how you are going to attract customers and where you will get the money for starting up.” Info from http://business.scotland.gov.uk/view/guide/starting-a-business-the-basics
This covers most of the basics to consider when starting up a business. This is not specifically aimed at the games industry but it is relevant for anybody starting up a business no matter what industry.
Grants and loans
Scottish Enterprise would be a great place to get a grant from as they already support one of the largest video game based companies in Scotland and that is Rockstar North “the internationally recognized video game development studio based in Edinburgh”.
“Rockstar North, the internationally recognised video game development studio based in Edinburgh, has been awarded an R&D Grant from us. The grant of just over £1 million is a 15 percent contribution towards an £8 million R&D project, and has, to date, created 25 new high value jobs in the Edinburgh and Scottish video game sector”. Info from http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/resources/case-studies/pqr/rockstar-north.aspx
Since a massive, successful company like Rockstar is partly funded by this grant it is safe to presume that it would be a good place to receive some help when starting a business.
Industry and professional associations, societies, guilds and unions
The Scottish Games Network (SGN)
” The Scottish Games Network now offers a single unified and strategic contact point for Scotland’s diverse games sector, as well as opening the sector up to the wider cultural and creative industries, both nationally and globally. The Scottish Games Network is open to every company and organisation involved in the video games and interactive industries. Not simply developers, but technology companies, animation specialists, audio companies, publishers, retailers, media, freelance staff, contractors, academic institutions and the government.”
“The organisation pro-actively identifies new projects and opportunities to enable the games sector to grow, evolve and prosper, moving beyond advocacy and representation to pull together the individuals, companies and organisations across the country, providing strategic insight, research, create new opportunities and organise incredibly cool events”. Info from http://scottishgames.net/2013/10/07/the-scottish-games-network-launches-as-scotlands-video-games-industry-body
They are looking to find new projects and opportunities to showcase to others so that the gaming sector will grow. This is needed for the smaller companies/ people in Scotland who are doing amazing things but are not getting noticed, it will shine a light on their talents.