Category Archives: What is Your Take

Gambling in Games

I think back to my childhood of some of my favorite games and realize the concept of “chance” played an important role. In many games, the system is made to utilize random chance to extend playability. A game like World of Warcraft utilizes this in item/loot drops. Each enemy has a specified probability of dropping a range of loot. The entire game is just pressing a variety of keys on an elaborate slot machine where the reward is loot instead of monetary credits.

One of Blizzard’s other hit franchises, “Diablo” has gambling functions within the game. The in-game gold is used to purchase unknown item classes with variable stats. This may or may not have been the reason so many users spent countless hours farming the in-game currency. I see little difference in using real Canadian dollars to purchase the in-game currency, and then use these “credits” to purchase items with randomly assigned values; and then potentially “cashing out” by selling these items back in exchange for real world currencies.

Are we training our children to keep pushing the neuro-gratification button? When the games become boring will they make their way to the slot machines? The exploitative American gambling laws we heard about today in Nevada – will the people ever need to leave their computer chairs? When the system is set up such that the “house” slowly dwindles your money while distracting you with flashy lights; or perhaps worse, makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something by destroying a game sprite demon of some kind — do these people even have a …chance?

Virtual property protection in China

Virtual property has been protected in China: http://www.guangzhou.gov.cn/node_420/node_428/2006-04/1144636826100185.shtml

China Government Bans Online Virtual-Currency Dealing Platforms for Minors: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-22/tencent-shares-fall-after-china-announces-virtual-currency-ban-for-minors.html

Virtual Currency In China Is A $2 Billion Economy: http://www.businessinsider.com/virtual-currency-in-china-is-a-2-billion-economy-2009-7

X-Plane & Uniloc

A few weeks ago I alluded in class to the lawsuit facing my favourite (ok, pretty well the only) commercial flight sim X-Plane which appears to be in quite a fight against a “patent assertion entity”.

Here is a link as promised to the relevant page from the X-Plane website: http://www.x-plane.com/x-world/lawsuit/

Also via Claudio Satorelli a graduate of the MDM program at the Centre for Digital Media a reason TV story about the lawsuit featuring Austin Meyer the founder of X-Plane as well as comments from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDg-Wh0XA-w&list=PLEqpzAExPV-xr9gIhSqLMxTSXrimGF6pA&index=11

Any thoughts/reactions/perspectives?

jon

Could it Pay to Read that EULA? – Incentivising to Increase Consumer Readership by Michela Fiorido

After reading Roch’s posts and thinking more about EULAs, I got to brainstorming some ideas that might increase consumer readership. Some might ask why it matters that consumers read EULAs in the first place and some might ask why companies should care to get consumers to read their agreements. Consumers should read EULAs so that they are made aware of clauses that a lot would not agree to. An example is EA and their new game service Origin where, originally, before it stirred up so much attention, the EULA stated that by installing the application, permission is given to “collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer, operating system, application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware.” In other words, you are giving EA access to your computer hard drive.

On a lighter note – you could get $1,000 like this lucky person for reading a EULA:

http://www.pcpitstop.com/spycheck/eula.asp

So why then, should companies care to get people to read EULAs to the point of providing incentives? Because maybe then, if a judge knows that a person has scrutinized the agreement, it might actually be enforceable.

Ideas to increase consumer readership:

Sprinkle in various prizes throughout the agreement, like PC Pitstop did in the link posted above. These could be monetary prizes or they could be a code for unlocking a special weapon, character, or level in the game you have purchased.

Provide a list of code words, ask the consumer to locate them all throughout the agreement. When they are found, the specific paragraph numbers are sent back to the company and the consumer is entered into a draw for a prize.

The most drastic but most effective – not allow the consumer to play the game until they read the agreement. Random letters, code, numbers or characters will be strategically placed throughout the agreement. The consumer must locate them all, in order, and input it into the opening screen of the game in order to begin playing.

Of course with these comes the issue of transferability, if you sell your game, the password has already been used and the new user will have no incentive to read the agreement.

Any other ideas/thoughts on ways to increase EULA readership? Is it even necessary? And even then, will the EULA be enforceable?

A Post IP World

Two thoughts re: whether we really are in a post IP world when it comes to video games.

1) Many minors play video games. I don’t think a plaintiff would have much luck enforcing a EULA against one. Particularly relevant in the technology context since I’m sure there are many teenage programmers out there who have the skills necessary to modify or use games in ways that publishers and developers may not like.

2) Privity. If I sit down and play a game that’s already been installed on Jon’s computer, I’ve agreed to nothing vis-a-vis the publisher/developer. The EULA is unenforceable against me.

In both cases 1) and 2), IP, however, would apply.

 

Thoughts on Today’s Class

A few thoughts on today’s class.

1. All our discussions on EULAs reminded me of this story I had read some time ago, and was able to miraculously find without much difficulty using Google: http://www.cypherpunks.ca/dell.html

2. It also reminded me of this: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20002689-71.html

3. When I draft a contract, my primary goal is to clearly state the rights and obligations of the parties so that they can refer to the agreement when necessary to figure out what they have to do and what they’re supposed to get so the parties can avoid litigation. Basically, the contract is there to eliminate (ideally) uncertainty. Aside from issues re: enforceability, I don’t think it matters whether the contract requires a conventional signature or is a click/shrink/browse wrap agreement. 

4. If there is a good or service for which you are supposed to sign a EULA before using, then I think in most cases a perfectly viable option is not to use that good or service. I do not have a right to become a Night Elf Mohawk on my own terms.

EDIT: 9:30pm, 6 February 2013

5. I completely agree that innovation is done standing on the shoulders of giants, but also think that incremental improvements can be valuable and worthy of protection. To elaborate on the example we discussed in class today, here are Maxwell’s Equations: http://www.antenna-theory.com/definitions/maxwellseq.jpg

and here is a very simple radio: http://www.sentex.ca/~mec1995/circ/whisker1.html

You start with the equations, which in and of themselves are in the public domain, and through a series of incremental improvements over the years arrive at a practical invention that bears little resemblance to what you started with.

EDIT: 9:46pm, 6 February 2013

5.1 Even better, here is one of Marconi’s very early patents: http://www.google.com/patents?id=7lRCAAAAEBAJ&zoom=4&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false