No, Seriously? The Relevance of Patents in the Serious Games Industry


Never has an industry evolved as fast as software has. From next to nothing in the

1970s, worldwide revenues now exceed 500 billion dollars and grow at 15% per

year. Video game revenues alone exceed 20 billion dollars and grow at a

staggering 30-40% rate. Price Waterhouse estimates that by 2011, the worldwide

gaming market will be worth almost $50 billion.

In a relatively small sub-sector of that, things take on a somber and serious tone.

In the serious game industry "learning by doing" is the mantra for a variety of

scenarios ranging from medical mass trauma to shipboard navigation. Although

the serious game industry pulls in a paltry few hundred million dollars per year, it

remains the most vaunted. This is purely a function of potential. Corporate

America has underutilized serious games for training, but this is changing. In the

years since early flight simulators caught our attention, serious game developers

have vastly improved the user experience. Improvements in core gaming

technologies help, such as 3D simulation engines, GUIs, artificial intelligence, and

multi-player networking. Whenever a relatively young industry with huge

commercial potential has low barriers to entry and many existing players, there is

cutthroat market competition. Those existing players look for ways to increase their

market share and inevitably consider the intellectual property system as a potential

competitive tool. Royal W. Craig of Ober|Kaler examines the role patents play in serious gaming.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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