Paperwork and Legislation in Games Design

There are many pieces of paperwork and legislation designed to protect people, concepts, and products in the gaming industry.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA):

An NDA is a kind of contract that prevents the signer from speaking about certain things. Usually, this would pertain to elements of an unreleased game, as the company does not want facts about the game to be released to the public or the press before they decide to release them. When working under an NDA, the signer may only speak about elements of the project with others in the firm who have also signed NDAs, for example, the client, and others on their team. Many people sign these when entering into professional work.

An example of a Non-Disclosure Agreement


Talent Release Forms:

A Talent Release form is a piece of paperwork that signs over the rights to the product of someone’s work over from the creative person, to the parent company or producers. Without this form being signed, the producers have no right to use anything created by that person in their piece of media, as the rights do not belong to them. Talent Release forms are usually signed before a project begins.

One common kind of talent release form is an Actor release form, which signs over an actor or voice-over artist’s performance to the media’s producers. An actor release form commonly covers three areas of the actors performance: image, voice, and performance. Image refers to the actors appearance, and anything that closely resembles the actor; voice refers to any spoken lines of dialogue or other sounds that are created by the actor; and performance refers to the unique way that the actor/actress interprets and acts out their character.

However these are not the only three sections that a talent release form can have. The document can have as many or as few sections as needed, which can be changed in order to suit the kind of performance or media that is being signed over. For example, if signing over a dance routine, the form would have elements that specifically refer to the movements in the dance routine as well as the sections for performance and appearance, but not necessarily for sound; or, if signing over a piece of music, the document may only have a single section signing over any music tracks that are produced.

An Artist Release Form follows the same layout and function of a talent release form, but details any artwork that the signer produces. For example, in a games studio that could be: initial design sketches, concept art, 3D models (digital and physical), or textures.

An Example of a Talent Release form


Codes of Practice/Ethics:

An organisation’s or companies code of practice are the procedures that it and it’s members/employees work to. This code provides knowledge of what the steps of action are to deal with issues in the workplace. An organisation’s code of ethics is a list of moral principles that the organisation and its employees attempt to follow. These moral principles are designed to inspire good practice and make employee’s and client’s lives easier, but are not regulations, simply a moral code.

These two things can commonly overlap, but are not the same thing. Many elements of codes of practice are not punishable in law. However, acting against the code of practice can lead to disciplinary action by the company. Similarly, acting against an organisation’s code of ethics is mostly not punishable by law, but you may be removed from the organisation, or your status within that organisation will be reduced.

Many organisations have their own codes of ethics, including the International Games Developer’s Association (IGDA); the College of Policing (CoP); and the Museum Association (MA).

Intellectual Property (IP), and Intellectual Property Protection:

Intellectual Property is the term for any creative work that is recorded in any physical of digital format. An idea itself  is not intellectual property, but any recorded work towards the development of that idea is intellectual property. For example, having the idea to write a book about wizards that save the world from supernatural ideas would not be considered intellectual property, but any plans you make or drafts that you write down would be considered intellectual property.

There are many ways to protect your IP from theft. The most basic of these ways is Copyrighting you work. In the UK, copyright is provided automatically by law, there is no need to apply or register. It prevents a piece of work from being copied, rented out, adapted, and displayed or acted out in a public space, without the author’s permission. Inside the UK, the length of copyright varies depending on the piece of work being copyrighted. Outside of the UK, the amount of protection that copyright grants, and how long that protection lasts, depend on the country.

Table of Length of Copyright Protection in the UK

Plagiarism is the act of breaking copyright laws, by claiming that a piece of work that is not your IP was created by you. It is possible to commit plagiarism accidentally, if sources and inspirations are not properly quoted or referenced. Those found to be plagiarising other peoples work can be fined or, in serious cases, imprisoned.


NDAs: [Accessed: 4th January 2017]

Talent Release Form: [Accessed: 4th January 2017]

Code of Practice/Ethics: [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 6th January 2017] [Accessed: 6th January 2017] [Accessed: 6th January 2017]

Intellectual Property (IP) and Intellectual Property Protection: [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017] [Accessed: 4th January 2017]


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