Last night I participated in a "legal best practices" panel at the new WIN Reactor space (near the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park).
I'm just getting to know about the Reactor program. Its head, Chip Hallett, described it as a "launch incubator" for startups in the game industry.
The panel was a mix of lawyers and game company founders/CEOs. As anyone would expect going in, the founders/CEOs were more interesting to hear. (That said, Seattle attorney Scott Warner did an uncommonly good job of moderating the discussion; he'd be a good moderator even when the topic isn't legal).
I think the whole show (long – 2 1/2 hours?) is preserved for posterity on video - I can actually see it being a good resource for first time game startup entrepreneurs, because Scott was so careful to cover all the basic topics - so I sure as heck won't attempt anything like a recap here.
What I do want to remark on briefly: the answers the CEOs/founders gave to one of Scott's questions, to the effect of, do you read all the legal contracts that affect your business?
Bob Berry of Uber Entertainment, Matt Wilson of Detonator Games, and Randy Chung of Zhurosoft, each said, yes, of course, every line, you have to.
I knew this is the answer Bob would give, as I and my firm represent Uber and know his style. But I was impressed to hear Matt and Randy equally adamant.
Sensing that he had hit an especially rich vein in the silver mine, Scott pressed everyone for examples of where contracts go wrong, issues presented or sections and legal contracts to be especially wary of. Everyone had great examples. We got into not just legal drafting "gotchas" but also the nitty-gritty of payment terms and how important it is to spell out unspoken assumptions.
If I come across a link to the video archive, I'll try to remember to post it here.
I'll leave you with a link to a video calling card that Bob kindly created for me in the span of about 90 seconds, using a fun app created by a startup which is part of the current WIN/Reactor class, Freak'n Genius. It had me in stitches.
Photo courtesy of Julian Allen, REACTOR community manager.