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How Videogames Help Fund the Arms Industry 410

Posted by timothy
from the bidding-for-bad-guy-guns-seems-lucrative-too dept.
FhnuZoag writes "Eurogamer has an expose of the shady world of games developers licensing guns. From the article: '"We must be paid a royalty fee — either a one-time payment or a percentage of sales, all negotiable. Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price for the agreement. [...] We want to know explicitly how the rifle is to be used, ensuring that we are shown in a positive light... Such as the 'good guys' using the rifle," says [Barett Rifles'] Vaughn.'"
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How Videogames Help Fund the Arms Industry

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  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:01PM (#42752801) Homepage Journal

    It's shady because the condition of the licensing is to only show the good uses of a morally neutral tool.

    In other words, the condition of the licensing is to use the game as a propaganda tool.

  • Re:Shady? Really? (Score:4, Informative)

    by FhnuZoag (875558) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:06PM (#42752885)

    It's shady because the games publishers are (perhaps understandably) evasive about the amount of money they are funnelling into the weapons industry, and are working under direct conditions to portray guns in a positive manner so as to encourage gun sales, even as they claim to be non-political and not pushing violence.

    5-10% of retail sales is a *lot*.

  • Re:congratulations. (Score:4, Informative)

    by operagost (62405) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:07PM (#42752913) Homepage Journal
    They also sell to private gun shops, which the federal government orders to purposely sell to Mexican drug runners and their straw purchasers.
  • Re:Shady? Really? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Silentknyght (1042778) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:23PM (#42753139)

    So there's a copyrighted look, a trademarked name, and a patented design. Players demand real brand-name stuff in their games, so developers deliver by licensing real brand-name stuff in their games. To do this legally means getting a license.

    What's so shady about that?

    So, read the actual article.

    The article's arguments, for the "TLDR" crowd, amount to this:
    1. Like the candy cigarettes before them, the depiction of realistic guns--especially with the real names attached--amounts to advertisement towards a target population of young individuals, to influence them to purchase the real thing. They provide some anecdotal evidence that it works. As a personal anecdote, I know that it's worked on me (I own a BB gun that's a model of the USP .50; it was my favorite gun & skin from Counter-strike 1).

    2. The "shady" part is that the game companies would, seemingly universally, prefer not to talk publicly about any of this (i.e., that there's any ongoing collaboration, licensing, or even two-way discussion between them and gun manufacturers). This is likely a socially-perceived "negative" topic, and therefore discussing it would likely negatively impact sales by casting their companies in a negative light.

    Like candy cigarettes, any advertising of an inherently dangerous/deadly product towards an adolescent target audience probably should be carefully scrutinized, regulated, or eliminated.

  • Gray area (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:24PM (#42753157)

    The use of real items in a fictional context is a very gray area in Law. The idea that any manufactured item requires a license when it appears in a film, book or game is plainly a nonsense. Consider an urban scene in a movie. Within seconds, tens of thousands of manufactured items are visible, each with a product name and a company that produced them. Do you REALLY think the fact that these items are onscreen requires the produces to seek permission, or gain licenses?

    Does this situation even change just because the character in the movies says "do you want a Coke?", or "I'm going to use the Hoover?" (and I'm not talking about product placement, which would be the OTHER reason to mention brand names).

    Dirty, corrupt Hollywood lawyers have worked over the years to leverage an artificially created 'uncertainty', and now shill sites like this with the idea that anything 'real' used in a film or game must be paid for (with lawyers taking a VERY nice slice of the pie). The truth is the opposite, except under very rare circumstances.

    In a game, where the gameplay involves the use of modern weapons, there is absolutely no reason why the people that produce the game need permission from the real life weapon manufacturers. If the weapon were shown in a bad light (say, by malfunctioning, or having sub-standard performance), the manufacturing MIGHT be able to take legal action, but even in this case success in the courts would be most uncertain.

    The fantasy of mandatory license requirements was built by said Hollywood lawyers in a very crafty way. Most countries pervert their legal system to allow 'sponsorship' of sporting events. Corrupt politicians create obscene exceptions for the people that run major sports (the Olympics and F1 Motor racing are particularly egregious examples).

    Now, many computer games from the second wave of consoles were 'sports' games, and pretty quickly these 'sports' games moved from the generic (play football, play basketball, etc) to the specific (play official FIFA football, play official NBA basketball, etc). Official sports are covered by exclusive licenses permitted by exceptions to the Law made possible by the actions of corrupt politicians.

    However, it was with RACING games where all this came to a head. Official racing commonly involves certain models of car. But what if a computer game didn't pay for an official license, but still used the same model of car? The 'Hollywood' lawyers spotted an opportunity, and suggested to the car companies that their product could ONLY appear in a game if they gave permission (got paid). This represents a MASSIVE distortion of the law. Even if a game mentions the name of a car, there is no mechanism in law suggesting the game producers should have to pay to use the car in their game.

    Manufactured goods are NOT works of art, or protected IP when it comes to their visual portrayal in media. The Law actually makes this point clear in most nations of the world. However, the biggest game companies pay large amounts of money to buy the rights to many events, so they tend to see the perversion of licensing as a weapon against would-be competitors.

    Most game companies now feel obliged to produce generic versions of items representative of manufactured goods, and to name these items with fictional product names. If the REAL names and shapes are used, the game company feels obliged to form a relationship with the manufacturer (which may actually involve money, goods or services flowing toward the publishers- emulating sports sponsorship). The computer game "Battlefield 3" (a putrid sequel to a once class IP) actually chose to be a propaganda storefront for Obama's wars of aggression, and got into trouble because of its close link with weapons companies actively promoting violence across the planet in real life.

    Computer games don't FUND the arms industry, but they do PROMOTE the military industrial complex of the West. The recent attack on a gas facility in a remote Saharan desert location within Algeria could have

  • Re:Shady? Really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:54PM (#42753443)

    This article does a great job pointing out the 'shadiness' of the NRA's about-face in participating in the video games industry, then turning around and declaring it the root of all evil.

    The NRA does not represent the firearms industry; it represents firearms owners. They're not the "gun lobby", they're the "gun owners' lobby". The NRA therefore has nothing to do with gun manufacturers' licensing of realistic guns for video games. Based on Wayne LaPierre's recent statements, the NRA's leadership is most likely opposed to this practice.

  • Re:Why this is bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:37PM (#42753971)

    Van Halen did that out of legitimate safety concerns.

    http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/vanhalen.asp

    The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen's contracts not as an act of caprice, but because it served a practical purpose: to provide an easy way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read (and complied with). As Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth explained in his autobiography: Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to move the gear through.

      The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . ." This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: "There will be no brown M&M's in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation."

      So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error. They didn't read the contract. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

  • Re:Shady? Really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:30PM (#42756709)

    Exactly, though they don't use that word (well, some of them do, calling the NRA terrorists, I shit you not.) The government uses the term "national security issue", which it seems lately they throw that term on just about everything they don't like.

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