I moderated my first Anime Central panel yesterday. It was a variant on a panel I’ve done before, which I call “GeekLaw: Law, Pop Culture and Creativity.” I managed to spend most of the day at the con, so I thought a little recap might be fun. Please note that if you were at the panel and you’re looking for the presentation materials, here they are:
I arrived about 11AM and it was touch and go whether I’d even get a parking space. The convention center’s lot was so full it was blocked off already. Fortunately the Hyatt still had a few spaces (the convention is held at the Rosemont Convention Center, which is physically attached to the Hyatt hotel.) Unfortunately, that lot costs a lot more, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
But at least I found a space and was able to make the first panel that had caught my eye, “Scum & Villainy: Why It’s Good to be Bad.” I was under the impression this would be a how-to panel, but it turned out to be how to write about villains. Which was obviously disappointing but it was still a fun panel.
After that I went through Artist’s Alley, which was much better laid out this year than last year – one aisle was still a little tight, but you could get by. I picked up a cute little sketch zine from Lisa Imas (http://hashtag-art.tumblr.com/) called “things i drew when i should have been paying attention, or how i almost failed all my classes.) I got this because it reminded me of the time I almost got thrown out of a class in law school for laughing at the book I was reading when I was supposed to be paying attention. 🙂 I also encountered this retro cosplay:
The next panel I went to was a fan fiction panel. As I sometimes do when fan fiction is discussed, I went to the moderator before the panel and mentioned that I was an intellectual property attorney and that if any questions about legal issues came up, they were welcome to call on me if they didn’t have their own legal expertise.
I’m sure you can tell what happened next.
The question did come up, and the moderator very graciously invited me to stand up and borrow a microphone and talk for a few minutes about the legal issues related to fan fiction. It seemed to be very well received and people commented that it was helpful. I also plugged my own panel, which wasn’t for hours yet but it seemed only fair. So thank you to moderator Pearson Mui (http://www.jurai.net/~pmui/adintro.html) for asking me to speak.
With some time to kill, I headed back to the show floor and scoped out some cheap manga books, as well as running into these two:
In one of the cleverest (and most adorable) mashup cosplays I have seen in a long time, that’s Sailor Ladybug and Tuxedo Noir. (That’s what I call them, anyway.) I had to leave before seeing quite all of the floor because I wanted to attend a panel called “Copyright 101,” put on by Kumate Works. I admit that I went to this to see if the information being presented was reasonable, because while I try not to be obnoxious about it, if I see a presenter giving information that will get somebody sued, I will say something. However, my concerns were completely unnecessary. The presenter knew her stuff and had consulted with an intellectual property attorney to develop her presentation. It was excellent. Once again, I got outed, but once she knew I was an IP attorney I kept my yap shut unless she asked me for confirmation of something. I was very impressed.
Then I had to bolt around the panel room area to get to a paneled identified as “Game Development – The Crash Course.” It was put on by Mark Kakareka of Guilty10Games. Promising to be a “crash course” in the basics of game development, the panel delivered quite well in my opinion. Acknowledging that he couldn’t teach anything of practical substance in 45 minutes, the presenter instead hit the big picture elements – have a plan, write it down, do a design doc, use tools appropriate to your technical skill level – and provided some examples of each. I thought it was about as much as you could ask from a one-hour panel on a topic that you can literally get college degrees in. I got made again when somebody asked a legal question and I volunteered to answer it, but once more I apparently wasn’t too obnoxious and nobody seemed to mind my assistance.
I thought about going to another panel but the show floor had just closed and there were huge lines to pretty much everything, so I took a little break. When it got close to time, I went to the panel room I was in only to find that the panel going on in it was being run by a person I follow on Twitter, @Homura_Bakura. Her enthusiasm and happiness to be talking about something very dear to her was really amazing and while I did come in toward the end, everybody was obviously super happy to be there, so well done. After saying hi while she was on the way out I got set up for the panel.
I was stunned to see that even though we were doing a law education panel at 10:30 on a Saturday night, there were about thirty people waiting to come in. Thank you so much to everyone who chose to use part of their Con Saturday night to be with us! Thanks also to my fantastic co-panelists Sam Castree (http://www.twitter.com/indiegamelawyer) and Diana Qiao (http://www.twitter.com/dianaqiao.) The panel went great, we had wonderful questions, and everybody put up with my rambling far better than I could have expected. (It was a long day.)
Then I went home and passed out.
So thank you again, everybody, and hopefully I’ll see you again soon!
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!