Featured The Writer Within

The Writer Within VIII
Level 8: NDAs


The Writer Within has returned! Whoo! A round of applause for our special guest today, NDAs!

Unless… well, the NDA prohibits the NDA from making an appearance. That can’t happen! Right? Wrong.

Remember The Game Awards back in 2015 when Kojima couldn’t attend because of the petty lawyers that work for the even more petty company Konami? NDAs and threats played a role in that. I mean, even his working conditions leading into the end of his contract with them were horrible; limited email and phone access, publicly shaming people for taking a little too long to come back from work, and even being constantly monitored with cameras. What in the world? Konami even messed with people who left and tried to blackball them from getting medical. Heartless, Konami.

But why didn’t anyone know this was happening? Companies, especially in the world of video games where everything is treated like nuclear codes, make employees sign documents where they cannot say anything for a certain length of time. Shady? I know. Effective? Oh, you bet. Companies seem to think an NDA makes them the NSA and they run around like they’re the NWA. You know what they say:

Watch a brother blend dope rhymes, with no help
There’s no fessing or guessing while I’m expressing myself

NDAs, in all seriousness, are important but their scope needs to be a lot more limited. In the most practical way, they are created so that no one steals their ideas. In this case, their game.

Maybe you want to make a futuristic Thief game, it’s understandable you don’t want that getting out so you can shock and wow people at the right time and stage. Maybe you started an indie company but lucked out with a contract with Marvel and will be developing a game for them, once again, understandable. You also wouldn’t want future plans and ideas leaking and being used by others. The only things NDAs should cover is everything on the game being made and any future plans concerning the game, series, or company for a certain amount of time before a project is joined, during the project, and set amount of time after completion. That’s it. Work conditions, employee mistreatment, and experiences should not be influenced or controlled by the NDA.

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In the case with Kojima, he and his peers should have had every right and freedom to express what was happening to them so that someone could step in and fix the situation. Also, there is no reason why Kojima should not have been allowed to attend The Game Awards to celebrate with his peers and fans. None whatsoever. What we have are companies abusing their powers because no one will speak out in fear of being blackballed in the industry or to prevent being in a lengthy, and very expensive, legal battle. This is one of the reasons I can understand developers want to unionize but that’s a different topic for another post.

Now, Konami isn’t the only one to do flex and abuse their NDA powers. Let’s not forget this infamous letter from EA:

NDAs can affect us, as gamers, as well. With streaming and game tests, companies also have NDAs that are required as to not have information leak. That’s understandable and EA has recently dealt with an individual who, despite agreeing to various non-disclosure agreements, decided to stream the alpha of Anthem. Not smart and he got a lot less than he probably could have, especially if he was successful in showing more than what he did. This instance, however, got me thinking. How far can a company go? With the above, we’ve seen how dastardly and petty they can be and I wouldn’t put it past them to try to abuse that power against gamers.

My advice? Be careful what you sign. That goes for everything in life. Companies and corporations are money hungry and will devour anyone and anything if it gives them more money. The industry needs to come up with a standard, I think, one for developers and one for testers. That way everyone is covered and no one is victimized. No one is perfect, accidents happen, and a company like, say, Activision isn’t going to accept an apology and leave it alone if you accidentally let something slip out.

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But, hey, what do I know?

I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope.

Do you agree with my NDA thoughts? Do you have any experience with them? How about positive ones? Comment down and let me know! Make sure you follow The Loot Gaming for all your gaming news and reviews!