The Gamer’s Bill of Rights (kinda like the other Bill of Rights, only it doesn’t mean anything)

August 29th, 2008

Figured I’d be a few hours late to the party instead of a few weeks (like normal): Stardock (developers of one of those OS X Dock hacks for Windows and probably other stuff) and Gas Powered Games (developers of the technology to end games’ names with “Siege”) have teamed up to pen a Gamer’s Bill of Rights. Edge Magazine ran a piece by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell, who lays out his mandates in a clear-cut manner and goes into a little detail on a few of the juicier declarations. The document is basically a laundry list of complaints both old and recent regarding the PC gaming environment (the consoles are largely devoid of these grievances). Though I try not to make a habit of reposting large chunks of others’ content, I feel having the entire body of work will help the discussion along (go check out the article as well, of course):

The Gamer’s Bill of Rights

We the Gamers of the world, in order to ensure a more enjoyable experience, establish equality between players and publishers, and promote the general welfare of our industry hereby call for the following:

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

Personally, I would have liked it if such an important document had been created by some sort of gamer legislature, instead of a missive from above (you know, a series of laws instead of a pair of stone tablets), but it’s hard to argue against any of the points made. The efforts on the part of game companies to curb piracy has resulted in an environment that hinders the average legal game owner’s ability to actually play the game they paid for. I love The Orange Box, but it feels awful weird having to connect to Steam whenever I need a quick offline Portal fix.

The saddest part about this whole document is that it had to be made in the first place. Most everything listed (except maybe having the physical media in the drive to play; it’s an effective anti-piracy measure that every owner of the game should be able to easily comply with, so quit yer whining) is common sense.

Of course, I do understand the needs to stop piracy, and a company blindly accepting these as policy without coming up with alternative means of protecting their assets is just asking for trouble, but it’d be nice if they gave some thought toward their customer’s… well, I wouldn’t exactly call them rights. More like ideals. In any case, I’ll readily support any company that supports such a bill (printing it on the box would be a nifty gesture). Speaking of which, this is apparently a picture of the document, possibly as seen at PAX?

(courtesy of GamePolitics)