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March 30, 2016

A Fond Farewell after 16 years.

Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 6:51 am

I will be ending my third three year term as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the International Game Developers Association at the end of this month. I am also leaving my volunteer position as General Counsel to the Board of Directors. It has been a significant part of my life for a long time. But times change. So, I will be stepping back, though I will continue to support the IGDA and contribute to the extent I feel is appropriate.

As I look back on over 16 years of involvement as a volunteer and nine years on the Board, I wanted to take a moment to list out my contributions to the IGDA as a volunteer. This may not be a complete list. But, I’ve done my best to recall what I can.

I joined the Computer Game Developers Association at GDC in 2000. At the time it had about 350 active members. Later that year, by serendipity, I participated in the discussions at the Figueroa Hotel at E3 around the management deal between the CGDA and Miller Freeman Group that led to the 5 year management agreement that probably saved the floundering organization for an ignominious end.

The following year I founded the South Florida Chapter of the new “IGDA” and was chapter coordinator from 2001 - 2008. I also moderated the old Business and Legal Forum on the IGDA web site from 2001 until the first of several attempts to upgrade the IGDA web site that resulted in the loss of our forums.

Throughout my years with the IGDA I contributed to numerous IGDA White Papers including:

• Publisher Contract Walkthrough v.1 - 2003
• Publisher Contract Walkthrough v.2 - 2003
• Intellectual Property Rights White Paper - 2003
• Quality of Life White Paper - 2004
• Publisher Contract Walkthrough v.3 - 2006
• King.com - Position Statement on Trademarks (Editor)- 2015
• DMCA IP Enforcement White Paper (Editor) - 2016

I was elected to my initial three year term on the IGDA Board of Directors in 2005. This marked the first time that I really felt accepted by game developers and real part of our industry. It remains one of the high points of my career. During that first term I assisted the IGDA in extracting itself from the relationship with CMP (formerly Miller Freeman) that I had witnessed the beginning of 5 years earlier. Throughout my early years on the Board the IGDA was struggling with the transition into an independent member non profit association completely financially responsible for its own well being.

As a member of that Board I contributed to some very basic fundamental items that remain at the core of what the IGDA is. This includes the drafting and adoption of the IGDA Mission, the original “three legged stool” of Community, Advocacy and Professional Development. I also served on the Taskforce that developed the Core Values of the IGDA: Community, Professionalism, Expression, Innovation, Impact, Leadership, and Fun. These Core Values still serve as a guide to everything the IGDA does and stands for.

In addition to being involved with the Quality of Life White Paper, I led the QOL SIG for several years and was involved with and spoke at the IGDA Quality of Life Summit at GDC in 2005. A year later formed and led the IGDA Employment Contract Quality of Life Certification Taskforce, an effort to set standards around employment practices in our industry.

In 2007, at the urging of Neil Kirby of the AI SIG, I succeed in getting the Board to approve the formation of the IGDA Foundation for which I served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees from 2007 until stepping down in 2014 to serve as Chair if the main IGDA Board of Directors. After serving at its Treasurer for a year in early 2015, I left the Foundation Board of Trustees later last year.

In 2008 I was elected to my second term on the IGDA Board and served as IGDA Treasurer in the last year of that term. That term saw several monumental events for the IGDA and for our industry. For the IGDA, I conceptualized and won approval for creation of the IGDA Lifetime Membership. This allowed members to step up and invest in the future of the IGDA and, in the process, not have to renew their membership ever again.

I was, along with Jim Charne, one of two industry lawyers involved on behalf of the IGDA with the IGDA/AAAS Amicus “Friend of the Court” Brief in support of the video game industry in the United States Supreme Court case, Brown vs EMA; the case that established for all time that video games are to be treated as art for all purposes. This case changed everything. Games could no longer be targeted for special treatment and would be treated the same is literature, music and film in terms of the creative freedom of expression guaranteed by the US constitution.

I also took time to help our continuing efforts to maintain the IGDA’s effort to host its own event by participating on the content committees for the last two IGDA Leadership Forums in 2010 and 2011. I continued supporting IGDA event initiatives in a similar function for, and speaking at, the IGDA Summit at Casual Connect the following year.

In 2010 I relaunched the IGDA Seattle Chapter, serving as Chapter Coordinator from 2010 to 2014. During that time we held regular meeting in both Seattle and Bellevue, working with Bungie and Amazon who hosted our events. In addition, in 2013 I created the Game Creators Summit, a one day developer conference in Seattle, and the following year covered for the Seattle Indies by running their Seattle Indies Expo (SIX), moving that event from being held in conjunction with Casual Connect, that had relocated out of Seattle, to the same time as PAX Prime where it still happens.

In 2012, at the request of Dustin Clingman, then Board Chair and acting Executive Director, I accepted the volunteer position of General Counsel to the IGDA to help with contractual matters related to the IGDA staff transition. I continued in that capacity drafting the documentation for the international affiliate chapter agreements, reviewing and helping negotiate contracts as well as other licencing and legal matters, including securing registered Trademarks for both “IGDA” and the IGDA logo.

In 2013 I ran for my third term on the IGDA Board of Directors. Dustin was still Chair at the time and my friend Kate Edwards was coming on as the new Executive Director. The organization with in disarray and I wanted to help pull the organization together and move it forward. Kate and I had worked together on the Seattle Chapter steering committee for several years and had developed what I believed was a solid friendship and good working relationship.

The following year I was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the IGDA. In addition to serving as the Board Chair, I conceptualized and launched the IGDA Webinar Series that ran for a year doing weekly Webinars open to all on four different subject areas - Business and Legal, Programming, Game Design and Leadership. Videos of these Webinars are all available on “theIGDA” you tube channel. I have chaired the Business and Legal Special Interest Group for the past 5 years and still do. Oh yeah, I have served as Chair Emeritus of the Board for the past year…

I think that’s pretty much it, in a nut shell. It’s been a great run and I have done my best to build something solid for our industry and to help not just IGDA Members, but all game developers along the way. I have met and worked with some great folks in my IGDA Family that will remain great friends. I’ve also probably pissed a few off as well. But, all in all it’s been a great experience for me and I am proud of what I have been able to contribute to all game developers. I have witnessed a great deal of change in the IGDA and the game industry over the years.

The tribal underground feel of the industry in the early years, the growth of our industry from youth to adolescence to its present position as an established part of our culture. Now it’s time for me to take my leave of the IGDA leadership. As I said, as of March 31 I will no longer be on the Board or its General Counsel. I leave the organization in good hands and wish them luck.

Thank you to everyone I have had the pleasure of working with at the IGDA over the past 16 years or so. I wish you all the best. Keep on doing great work and stay true to our Core Values…especially that last one, FUN!

GL&HF!

Tom Buscaglia
The Game Attorney


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