December 4, 2005: A Game Developer's Bill Of RightsEric Zimmermann, coauthor of the excellent game design text Rules of Play, has drafted A Game Developer's Bill of Rights. He's talking about the computer game industry, rather than paper games, but some of the points he makes are relevant to paper game designers too. And the ones that don't apply to paper gaming indicate some very scary differences between the two fields.
(Sidenote: What paper game companies call designers, computer game publishers call developers. What paper game companies call developers, computer game publishers call "assistant developers" or something . . .)
Zimmerman acknowledges that this is a very optimistic screed, not realizable in today's business environment. But, as he continues: "However, if you agree with me that the articles of the Bill are a proper set of ethical goals, then the question is: How can we change the game industry to make it a climate where developers could in fact retain these rights?"
Now, with my publisher hat on, I have to say that some of those points read, to me, like descriptions of the publisher's appropriate task. A publisher that gives designers veto power over, e.g., distribution channels, is a publisher that shouldn't expect to be in business next year. Nevertheless . . . This is interesting.
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