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Why It’s So Hard to Stop Marketing Guns inVideo Games

为什么在电子游戏中控枪也很难?



Video games don’t cause mass shootings, butthey do serve as insidious advertisements for weapons.

电子游戏虽然不会引发枪击事件,但也在暗地推销武器。

Video-game guns are so similar to real gunsthat comparing the two has spawned its own YouTube micro-genre. Fans of themost popular first-person shooter games—Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty,PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds—have created dozens of “guns in real life”videos, dedicated to explaining all the similarities between real guns andtheir virtual counterparts: their weight, their rate of fire, the physicalstamina needed to carry and fire them in real life, and their efficacy in eachcorresponding game. Brownells, a real-world gun and gun-accessory manufacturer,has done the same.

电子游戏中的枪支与现实中的枪支如此相似,以至于将两者进行对比的介绍视频在YouTube上都有了自己的页面。如堡垒之夜、apex、使命召唤和绝地求生等很多广受欢迎的第一人称射击游戏粉丝已经创立了数十个“现实中的游戏枪支”介绍视频,试图向观众解释电子游戏中的枪支与现实中枪支的异同:重量、射速、携带消耗体力和弹药需求以及各游戏中的性能差异。作为现实中枪支设计制造商的布朗威尔斯也在做相同的事。



A single game could have hundreds of suchlicenses, one lawyer whose firm offers legal counsel to video-game companiestold me. (The lawyer requested anonymity because of worries that speakingpublicly would jeopardize business relationships.) In exchange for the use oftheir intellectual property, manufacturers would stipulate that the weapons inthe games be portrayed realistically and positively. Money rarely changedhands, but the relationship was symbiotic: Game companies got verisimilitudefrom featuring trademarked guns; gun manufacturers got easy, free exposure, ontheir terms.

一家为电子游戏厂商提供法律服务的律师告诉我,一部游戏可能得获得数百个许可证才能上市。(这名律师要求匿名,因为担心公开发言会损害公司业务。) 作为使用枪支厂商知识产权的交换,制造商规定游戏中出现的武器必须被真实详细地描绘出来。两者很少产生金钱交易,但它们之间的关系互利共生:游戏公司通过使用带有授权许可的枪支而获得真实感;而枪支制造商则获得了轻松免费的产品曝光度。

But then two events changed the tenor ofthat relationship, at least on the surface.

但两件事情的发生改变了两者间的默契,至少表面如此。

The first was a landmark 2011 Supreme Courtruling, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. The Court struck down aCalifornia law banning stores from selling violent video games to minorswithout an adult present. It effectively granted video games new legal standingas bona fide artistic expressions, with similar legal privileges to movies, TV,and books, which, generally speaking, do not need to license products in orderto depict them. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion, finding that“California’s claim that ‘interactive’ video games present special problems, inthat the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines itsoutcome, is unpersuasive.”

第一起是2011年最高法院裁决的布朗诉娱乐商人协会案,具有里程碑意义。法院驳回了加州一项禁止商店在没有成年人在场情况下向未成年人出售暴力电子游戏的法律。有效地赋予了电子游戏新的法律地位使其成为正式的艺术表现形式之一,与电影、电视和书籍享有类似的法律特权,而一般来说电影、电视和书籍不需要授权就可以销售。大法官安东宁·斯卡利亚在意见书中写道,“加州称‘互动’电子游戏存在问题,即玩家参与屏幕上的暴力行为并决定其结果。这种说法缺乏说服力。”



Legal experts repeated similar comparisonsin conversations with me: Imagine if a book had to license references toPorsche, or the Beatles, or the Statue of Liberty. Imagine if TV shows had tolicense every onscreen iPhone or can of Coke. Companies have the right toprotect their trademarks, but when courts granted games First Amendmentprotections, they gained new legal standing. As long as they didn’t misleadconsumers into thinking that the manufacturers sponsored the game, they werefree to fully represent their fictional worlds and stories as they imaginedthem.

法律专家在与我的交谈中也提到了类似的观点:试想一下,如果一本书必须获得保时捷、披头士或自由女神像的授权才能出版世界会怎样。想象一下,如果电视节目必须获得所台iPhone屏幕或可乐罐的授权电视节目还怎么制作。公司有权利保护自己商标,但是当法院宣布游戏得到第一修正案保护时他们就获得了新的法律地位。只要他们不误导消费者让他们认为游戏是由武器制造商赞助的,他们就可以自由创造自己的世界和故事。

Since 2013, most producers of first-personshooter games have followed EA’s lead in eschewing licensing deals. Last week,I reached out to the companies behind the biggest shooting games in theindustry: Activision, EA, Take-Two Interactive, Rebellion, Bethesda GameStudios, PUBG, Epic Games, and Avalanche Studios. EA, Rebellion (the maker ofthe Battlezone series), and Take-Two Interactive (which owns Rockstar Games,the maker of the Grand Theft Auto series) confirmed that none of the weapons intheir games was under a licensing deal. The others didn’t respond to requestsfor comment.

自2013年以来大多数第一人称射击游戏开发商都效仿EA的做法,回避与武器厂商的授权交易。上周我接触了业内最大射击游戏开发商:Activision、EA、Take-Two Interactive、Rebellion、Bethesda Game Studios、PUBG、Epic games和暴雪工作室。EA、Rebellion(《Battlezone》系列制造商)和Take-Two Interactive(《侠盗猎车手》系列制造商Rockstar Games母公司)证实,他们游戏中没有一款武器得到了协议。其他厂商则没有回复置评请求。

Since the 2011 ruling, trademark casesagainst video-game companies have mostly been about vehicles, such ashelicopters and brand-name Humvees. Two legal experts told me that they wereunaware of any case in which a gun manufacturer filed suit against a gamingcompany since EA’s 2013 position, even if trademarked weapons were used.

自2011年的裁决案以来,针对电子游戏公司的商标侵权案件大多与直升机和悍马等汽车厂商有关。两名法律专家告诉我他们不知道自2013年EA新任首席执行官上任以来有任何枪支制造商对游戏公司提起诉讼,即使游戏厂商使用了被注册商标的武器图案。

“When it comes to balancing trademark andFirst Amendment, your use is probably okay unless [it] had no artistic relevanceor [it] was deliberately misleading,” says Steve Chang, a trademark expert andadjunct professor at Georgetown Law.

乔治敦大学商标专家兼兼职教授史蒂夫•张表示:“在权衡商标与第一修正案之间的关系时,你使用特定商标或许可行,只要(其)与艺术无关,或者(其)故意误导。”



Another lawyer familiar with thedevelopment and consultation process, who requested anonymity because he wasn’tauthorized to speak on the record, explained that gaming companies still workdirectly with trademarked material. The legal-review process is eerily similarto the one portrayed in guns-in-real-life YouTube videos. Game companies submitvirtual guns to intellectual-property lawyers, either internally or at outsidefirms. Lawyers view images of real guns and how altered versions will appear inthe game, recommending changes so that guns are recognizable but don’t meet thestandard for infringement.

另一位熟悉游戏开发咨询的律师要求匿名,因为他不被允许公开发言。他解释道游戏公司依旧在使用受到商标专利保护的图案。提交专利授权的游戏枪支与YouTube视频中对枪的描述惊人地一致。游戏公司向知识产权律师提交虚拟枪支审查,无论在公司内部还是外部。律师们查看真实枪支图片并对比修改后枪支出现在游戏中的方式,并建议进行修改。使枪支能够被玩家识别而又达不到侵权的标准。

There’s almost no way for shooting gamesnot to endorse guns through flattering portrayals, especially if gamersthemselves are the ones mining that connection. While 2011 marked a major legalshift, game companies have distanced themselves in name but not effect.

在游戏制作过程中,游戏厂商几乎无法避免为枪支性能背书,尤其当他们自身就得挖掘两者关系。2011年标志着一个重大法律转折——游戏公司已经在表面上拉开了游戏枪支与真实枪支的距离,但效果并不明显。