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October 29, 2009

Yumm..Humble Pie!

Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 1:15 pm

I sure screwed the pooch on that one…I am, of course referring to my prior posts taken by many to be in defense of Langdell and much of the communication with his numerous critics that followed.

The whole thing seemed pretty simple…trademark, alleged trademark violation, legal dispute…heck, this is just part of the world I live in every day. So, I was insensitive to the mood of things and ended up getting seriously trashed on many of the indie game boards like TIGsource and the Chaos Engine for saying that maybe Langdell had a point. Yeah, I did smell a lynch mob forming and I responded very defensively to the trashing of the IGDA, an organization that I support and believe in, but that’s not much of an excuse. And I took more than a few lumps for speaking my mind. I have since realized that I may well have appeared to be on the wrong side of the dispute, though I never really did feel I was taking sides, just advocating for a fair fight. That’s not the point of this post though…the point is that I did not really comprehend the impact of my actions had on my relationship with many of the indie developers who don’t know me until later.

When I got to Austin GDC a few weeks ago I found that there was an Independent Game Summit going on there. I was surprised that I had not been informed of it as I have spoken at the past two IGS programs and even was honored to be an IGF judge last year. I have also been a “prize” in the IGF at GDC at the suggestion and request of the organizers, contributing over $14,000 in products and legal services to the finalists and winners each year for the last two years. But in Austin, not even a heads up.

As I walked toward the room where the indie sessions were happening I got a horrible hollow sinking feeling in my gut. When I entered the room and walked over to Matthew Wegner, the IGS program director to ask him what was up, the dread on his face as I approached confirmed my suspicions. He was honest enough to tell me that to some indies I was a persona non grata. I am also pretty sure that Simon Carless, the publisher and editor who runs Gamasutra, Game Developer magazine and GameSetWatch, as well as being Chairman of the Independent Games Festival was none too happy with me either. I was sick about it and still am.

I am not going to go into how committed and devoted I am to indie developers too much here…but it is a core mission for me in my legal practice and in my life. I contribute time every day to “my peeps” giving advice and counsel to indie developers without charge and writing articles to help indies avoid getting screwed.

This quote from my email sig pretty much says it all:

“There’s been this tradition in the [video-game] industry that everybody gets screwed on their first deal, I’m doing my best to make sure that that becomes a historical anecdote instead of the way we do business.”
Tom Buscaglia, The Game Attorney - Lawyers Weekly, December 3, 2007.

Sure, when I reach out to independent developers or provide them with free advice I am building relationships that may result in work later…but then, making a living doing what you love for people you like is a good thing, right? Besides, that’s not the reason I do what I do. Nor is it the reason I developed the Game Dev Kit, write articles, do free webinars, contribute my time to the IGDA or give legal services to the IGF winners each year. I am driven by a passion for indies, just like they are driven by a passion for making games. You can imagine my dismay and disappointment at realizing that I had damaged my relationship to a community that I have dedicated myself to.

I am not sure if I will ever be able to get back the cred I have lost or heal some of the relationships I have damaged. I have decided that all I can really do is keep doing what I do and hope that those who may need my help or counsel will see through this stuff and still take a listen or give me a holler…

As for anyone I offended with my thoughtless, blunt and often surly manner, I sincerely apologize if I offended you…it was not my intention.

Tom B

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