Guildford leads the way in gaming

12 Aug 2016


Yes! Guildford! In Surrey! The writer is a proud Guildfordian (40 years).


Guildford has always been known as one of the commercial powerhouses of Surrey. Noted for its fine high street shopping and professional services, the town is now also known as the Hollywood of the games industry. In the lead is EA Games, a massive and highly regarded concern, but others include Hello Games (of ‘No Man’s Sky’ fame) – and all eyes are on Hello this week.


No Man’s Sky is likely to be the biggest game for the PS4 in 2016. The game is truly massive in its ambition and its scope. There are 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 worlds to visit in this intergalactic behemoth; some writers have estimated it would take 400 billion years to visit each one.


The game gives new meaning to the words ‘intellectual property’, doesn’t it?  


The game developers used an entirely new system of self-generation of worlds, setting the parameters and letting computers do the rest.


The legal angle though is this: here, a relatively small number of 18 or so brilliant people (in Guildford) have created something unique. Anyone in their position needs to consider: (1) who owns the intellectual property? An employee working on a project will be governed by the provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, but what about consultants and third-party contractors? They will need to be bound separately by contract; and (2) how best to protect the IP.


Where intellectual property is being marketed, it may need to be disclosed to third parties. The owner will need to look at confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.


Then, of course, if the owner is a company, it will have shareholders. How can the rights of one shareholder be protected against another? Shareholders’ agreements can set out the rights and duties of shareholders.


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