You Can Play: Video Games and User Freedoms (ESRC)
This project examines how player creativity is understood and regulated in the video games and eSports industry.
Copyright law tends to evolve with new technologies. However, under the existing copyright paradigm, a player’s creative input, whether with Pac-Man or Minecraft, is treated exactly the same. Despite the creation of new tools for creative expression, and new platforms for sharing them, courts across the world have consistently denied the capacity of players to have an authorial interest in the act of playing a video game. The emergence of new industries, such as eSports and online influencer cultures, have exposed this contested issue by transforming the amateur user into the professional player. Creative interactivity with a game can now affect a player’s social, economic and legal realities.
Copyright law has not captured this evolution, and instead private contractual regulation via end-user licensing agreements (EULAs) and user-generated content (UGC) policies have become the norm for the video game and eSports industries. EULAs and UGC policies offer a window into how player creativity is conceived and regulated at industry level, and how this contradicts and interplays with the existing copyright regime. This project investigates the content of video game and eSports EULAs using legal analysis, content analysis and critical discourse analysis methodologies to better understand the construction of player creativity in these industries.
ESRC IAA User Engagement and Follow-On Fund: ‘You Can Play: Developing User-Generated Content Policies for Video Game Creators’
PhD Scholarship in collaboration with international law firm CMS and CREATe
Thomas, A. (2022), Can you play? An analysis of video game user-generated content policies. CREATe Working Paper 2022/06
Kluwer Copyright Blog, Getting paid to play? Copyright, contract, and the rewards for UGC (21 June 2022)
You Can Play: a digital resource that catalogues user-generated content (UGC) policies for video games.
Kluwer Copyright Blog ‘All he has done is to play the game’: eSports players and copyright (29 March 2021)
The Society of Legal Scholars, Virtual Conference “The Place of the Professional Player: A Discourse Analysis of eSports EULAs” (1 September 2020)
Copyright Licensing Agency Blog The Fortnite Dance Controversy: Ethics of Reuse (7 May 2019)
BILETA, Queen’s University (Belfast) “EULAs in eSports and video game streaming: copyright as a new commercial imperative for game owners” (15 April 2019)