So I was again invited to be a panelist at MAGFEST, and not being an idiot, I immediately accepted. I again had a marvelous time, hung out with cool people, and hopefully helped a few. Herein, my comments on this year’s amazing-palooza.
- My panel, “How Not To Make a Game: Revenge of the Lawyers,” was a huge hit. I say that not just to make myself sound good, but because I have photographic evidence:https://twitter.com/LoadingLaw/status/817549252067033089
Note that that’s from several minutes before the panel started. It was SRO for most of the actual panel, and we kept going for twenty minutes after in the room and another half hour outside in the hall.
It is very flattering to me that one of the comments on the MAGFEST app was “100% the most had-their-sh**-together panel at mag.” However, it is also very funny because one of the other panelists and I literally made up the panel format on the flight from Chicago that morning and the other two agreed to it at lunch. (The panel was at 3.) If you attended the panel and have more questions, or, heck, even if you didn’t, please feel free to contact me and we can continue the conversation.
- Shoutout to my other game law friends, including Sam Castree (this is all your fault, Sam – see him @IndieGameLawyer,) Ross Hersemann (@LoadingLaw,) and Joe Neuman (who is a lawyer at EA) for being on the panel with me, Ryan Morrison (@MrRyanMorrison) and Ma’idah Lashani (@BANParty) of Morrison/Lee, Scott Kelly from Banner & Witcoff, and all the others whose names I’ve misplaced (told you I would.) It’s a small community, but a very, very cool one.
- Speaking of Ryan Morrison, another shoutout to him and Sheena Perez (@psychobilly2422), Travis Rupp-Greene (@stealthymoose), and Phil Didn’tGetHisLastNameButEverybodyCallsHimMowtenDoo (@mowtendoo) for the “Video Game Industry Real Talk: The Indie Sequel” panel. Fabulous information, good times. And thanks especially for this exchange:Ryan: “I’m going to ask Marc, who’s in the audience and is a video game patent lawyer, to say something about that question.”
Me: “Yes, thanks, there are three or four of us.” *audience laughs* *answers question*
Ryan: “Thanks. By the way, he wasn’t really joking. There’s like 12.”
- Jax and Tasker and Damocles Thread and Overwatch LARP and Witcher LARP and the Solemn and Venerable Goth Court. Let the record show: Wow. Just wow. Last year this merry band of magicians introduced me to LARP and it was amazing. This year, it was just as amazing and the people both old and new were too.
Friday, we did “The Fall of Overwatch,” a LARP based on some of the game’s backstory. Somehow I ended up not only as a combat engineer, but as head of security for Overwatch Central. Running around yelling “Holographic Display!” and reminding everyone that this was the 21st century and we had portable communicators just never got old, at least for me. (The ST may feel differently. ) Despite never having played, I got into the story immediately thanks to the skill and hard work of the storytellers. They made excellent mechanics choices and allowed all of us to become super-soldiers, etc, with just a few key choices and random assignments.
Then, the amazing Jax did “Goth Court.” I don’t know that I can put into words how something so wrong could become so right. I played a Normie who accidentally let my Goth neighbor’s pet snake eat her pet rat (One of the highest praises I have ever received: “Are you a Goth? Somebody get this man some eyeliner.”) as well as an expert witness in both Goth Dry Cleaning (of COURSE there is) and Gothic Interpretive Dance (of COURSE there is.) Jax was a little worried in that there were like four or five actual lawyers in the LARP and we’d laugh at her. I knew she was wrong and as usual, I was right. It was fantastic. Extra points also to Lauren the Bailiff (“I sentence you to my bailiff.”) and Abby the Clerk of the Court (“The record will show: Whoa.”)
Saturday, we did “The Witcher: When the Wyvern Wills,” a Witcher-based LARP. I haven’t played any Witcher games, either (yes I am lame shut up) but we did one last year and it was fine, and so was this one. While Ryan may have had the most amazing characterization (“I’m trying to see things from the perspective of the little people”) I consider myself to have won, because a) nobody realized I was the one who woke up the wyvern, and b) the person I wanted to get the throne actually got it, and c) NOBODY REALIZED ANYTHING I WAS UP TO THE ENTIRE GAME. Plus I got to use my magic power which was cool. (“I hit him ba…” “Oh no, you don’t.”)
And in particular: Ryan and Marshall, so good to see you again. Lauren and Aaron, it was like meeting two (awesome) old friends for the very first time. Those of you whose names I didn’t catch or don’t remember (warned you,) you all rock.
I’ll briefly recount the other panels I attended as well. I will be covering the indie game booths I reviewed in separate posts elsewhere, but in general, I was really pleased with what I saw. Keep doing what you’re doing, guys.
“Lights, Sound, Movement: Taking Cosplay to the Next Level with Arduino:” I have mixed feelings about this panel. The description made it seem a lot more intro-level than it was. It was really interesting and gave me some ideas (I really want to make a Diskos. ) but the flow was choppy and random, and given the size of the crowd I suspect there were a lot of people for whom they skipped way too many steps before diving into coding the controller.
“The Morality of Worldbuilding:” I really enjoyed this panel. Despite the fact that the panelists were all clearly of a particular position on the issues, they were extremely evenhanded in their approach. As someone who has been dealing with the fact that a few pinheaded players will ruin a massive online game system for everybody if you let them for many years, it’s interesting to see that while the stakes have changed, the basic problems have not.
“Video Games: Unique Among Media (Just Like All Other Media:)” Loved it, and not just because Sam was on it. Starting from the old question, “Why do video game movies suck?” the panel explored the differences between pop culture media in what they can and can’t do well, poorly, or at all. Hopefully it gave the creatives in the audience some food for thought about what medium a particular story, or way to tell it, would be best suited for that purpose.
“The Rise of Mobile Gaming:” This panel was… confused. The people on it were fun, and they obviously love gaming. Hard to find fault with that. But I’m not really sure I understood what it was they were trying to accomplish. Certainly some interesting facts and figures (I did not know that the first smartphone was made by IBM) but it needed more specific direction to really be good, in my opinion.
I honestly did not interact with anyone the ENTIRE WEEKEND who I did not enjoy interacting with, so if you got left out, blame my bad memory and eight hours of sleep. (Sounds like a lot… but that was over three days.) Thanks so much, and see you next year!
I attended MAGFEST 2016 in National Harbor, MD (just outside Washington, DC) this weekend. MAGFEST is a major computer game conference with an emphasis on music and creativity. And wow was there a lot of creativity on display!
I was there as an invited panelist. My presentation, entitled “Third Party Trademarks vs. Your Game, Your Dreams, and Your Money,” was part of the MAGES Legal sequence, and given in collaboration with three great attorneys from well-known law firm Banner & Witcoff. It was an honor to be up there with them. If you’d like to see the materials from my presentation, I’ll have a link here in a day or so, or follow me on Twitter and wait for me to post the link.
First, heartfelt and grateful thanks to:
Sam Castree of Crawford Intellectual Property Law, for the invite, the Legal panels, logistics, and candy from Russia. Sam, you are aces.
Tasker, Jax and their merry band of LARPers, whose games were fantastic and a great way to enjoy the festival if your ears aren’t quite up to some of the… louder stuff. Brilliant, creative, and engaging people. This is the kind of thing I hope to encourage by assisting creators in dealing with business and legal matters.
The doctor of psychology at the Gaming and Immersion panel whose name, shamefully, I forgot to note, for being open minded to my alternate theories on the psychology of game immersion and loss of self.
My fellow presenters Steve Chang, Ross Dannenberg, and Scott Kelly. I really enjoyed collaborating with lawyers of their caliber, and dinner was great fun.
And the MAGFEST staff for their hard work, friendliness, and overall ability to make 20K gamers behave themselves!
Here are my thoughts on the panels I attended:
The other MAGES Legal Panels – They were all great. You should be very confident in hiring any attorney who presented. Special shout-out to Suzanne Jackiw (@zedthegamer) and Ross Hersemann (@loadinglaw) for being young lawyers with mature advice!
What Games Get Right and Wrong About Reality: Expert’s Perspectives – This was really interesting. The experts knew their stuff and were very personable. Lot of good observations and thoughts on how to do better.
Bootlegs, Counterfeits, and Lies: Fakes In the Video Game Market – Went to this on a whim. Though it was a bit chaotic, the panelists knew their stuff and I learned interesting things. They also responded with good humor when they learned that they had two IP lawyers in the audience.
The Worst Panel You Will Ever See at MAGFEST – Exactly what it said on the tin. At least for me: it was apparently aimed at long-time MAGFEST insiders/volunteers. Even for them it seemed rather random, chaotic, and obnoxious. I left early.
Video Game Industry Real Talk – I was blown away by how good this panel was. Though young, the panelists were the real deal, knowledgeable and honest about both their successes and their failures. They were having fun, but they were laying it down. If the hopeful indies in the audience were paying attention, they got their money’s worth.
Therapy and Tabletop Role Playing Games – This had a lot of potential, but to be brutally honest the panelists lost control. At one point, an audience member went up on stage and started plugging her book. Now, I’m pretty sure she (and many of the other people who co-opted the talk) had legitimate issues of their own, but it was hard to stay engaged when half the panel was audience members meandering through their ill-defined rambles. The panelists did have some interesting points when they managed to get in a few words.
Therapy and Gaming -Same people put this on as did the prior one. Same objections, plus it seemed a bit redundant. Left a few minutes in.
Brains & Games: Designing Videogames that Incorporate Mental Health and Human Experience – Enjoyed this. This panel had a similar demographic to the prior two, but the panelists maintained control. Good information on using games to implement self-improvement and mental health assistance programs, including a CBT reinforcement game and games to help with grief management.
LARPs by (among others?) Damocles Thread Development – The ones I did were the Fallout “Vault 71” game, the “Not Shady, Just Fierce” werewolf social game, the Witcher “From Novigrad with Love” game, and the “Gaudete Sunday” Victorian Tea Party game. (Best quote: “I did not anticipate that this game would need combat mechanics.”) They. Were. Amazing. I had so much fun. And extra kudos to the storytellers for dealing with huge turnouts as well as anyone could be asked. Even with the crowds things happened, people participated, and a good time was had by all. If you see DTD putting on LARPs at an event, GO.
The Mind’s Eye: Gaming and the Role of Immersion – The moderator lost control of this one, and didn’t seem willing to stop the endless tide of look-how-smart-I-am questions or just outright I’m-just-going-to-pontificate-for-a-whiles. That being said, it was a fascinating subject and the panelists were extremely knowledgable and insightful. Very glad I attended despite the runaway parts.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, and see you next year!