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Inside the LA Video Game Industry

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013

Top executives speak to J.D. and M.B.A. students

By Kelsey Schreiberg

The Business Law Society kicked off the semester by uniting several disciplines impacting the video game industry:  technology, law, and media. The organization’s evening event, “Inside the LA Video Game Industry” attracted a full classroom of J.D. and M.B.A. students eager to learn more about this ever-evolving industry.

Industry experts spoke to students about multi-platform distribution structures, video game business models, and copyright issues.

The panel included George Rose, former executive VP of Activision Blizzard; Brandy Carrillo, general counsel at Konami; Patrick Sweeny, partner at Reed Smith; Steve Goldstein, partner at Stubbs, Alderton & Markiles; and Roxanne Christ, partner at Latham & Watkins.

The event took months to plan and coordinate, and came to fruition because of the vision of several law students.

“Our goal in planning the event was to treat J.D. and M.B.A. students to a comprehensive discussion between top video game industry lawyers,” Dmitrii Gabrielov, Vice President of Finance in the Business Law Society said.

“We wanted a mix of lawyers who work at firms, lawyers who work as outside counsel to the studios and lawyers who work in-house at studios.”

Experts detailed the video game industry’s start in the early 1970’s and explained that it has since become a fractured business. Today, employees need a combination of business and legal skills to succeed.

“To become a good lawyer, you need to put on a business hat,” Carrillo said.

One of the industry’s biggest challenges is the inability to profit from mobile games. Although there is high demand, consumer’s willingness to pay for product is low.

“People expect everything for free on the Internet, and economics have changed dramatically in recent years,” Carrillo explained.

Additionally, given that the interactive entertainment industry is code driven, companies rely on specialists and their own gamers to create new content. More than ever, users and publishers are working collaboratively to create content.

“Users want to be apart of it and still feel a connection to the end result product,” Carrillo said.

Looking ahead, panelists forecasted an increased demand for patent lawyers, and a heavier reliance on mobile phones for distribution. Furthermore, new laws may open up the possibility of online gaming and gambling.

“It’s hard to think of a job out there that is more multi-faceted than video games…it’s a lot of fun,” Rose encouraged.

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