Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Sports News - Gaming Style

Doubling up on the sports news today. A federal appeals court in San Fransisco on Tuesday announced that a lawsuit from several former NFL players against Electronic Arts is on enough legal grounds to be pursued. The claim is that EA did not properly compensate the individuals involved and/or did not gain permission to use their likeness in the Madden NFL game franchise. This is another in a string of lawsuits against EA. With gaming sales taking over movies and music, globally, for billions, people are now paying attention and want a piece of the pie. Is that a bit cynical of me to write? Maybe. Five years ago our concern was about selling violent video games to kids, visa-vie the supreme court, not about using one's likeness in said game.

The appeals rejected EA's claim that the use of the images was coincidental, and should be protected under the First Amendment. The main ruling outlines that part of the commercial appeal to the Madden title was using real-world players images to sell the product, therefore not incidental. And just like the NCAA case, the claim of First Amendment coverage does not apply. There was intent to use player likeness, according to the court.

The Video Game Lawyer has hit the nail on the head. 2015 is going to be the year of lawsuits for image likeness. I get the feeling EA is going to lose this case as well, based off the NCAA ruling. That doesn't mean that Madden will be taken off the shelves, mind you. The NFL has a strong deal with EA and that would be commercial suicide for both parties (EA and the NFL) to split up a product that guarantees sales. Handling image likeness today is outlined differently then what it was a decade ago, where a number of the complaints originate. So don't fret Madden fans. You'll still get your football action.

Moving on to eSports, the University of Pikeville, Kentucky, is now the second school in the nation to offer video game scholarships for League of Legends. Robert Morris University in Illinois was the first back in June of 2014. But Pikeville is expanding the scholarship into a full-blown eSports program. Students admitted will be placed on the same level of expectations as any Pikeville athlete. They are expected to maintain a certain GPA and attendance record. There will be team meetings and training sessions.

While their focus will be on LoL, they plan to expand with the Collegiate Star League program to include Star Craft II and DoTA. They will face against other college eSports programs such as Duke and University of Kentucky. Scholarships will begin in the fall of 2015.

My question is where were all these scholarships when I was growing up? Even if my pursuit wasn't gaming, to have funds going towards my education would have been incredibly helpful. Thanks world for being so slow to catch up on the craze.


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