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

為什么在電子游戲中控槍也很難?



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

電子游戲雖然不會引發槍擊事件,但也在暗地推銷武器。

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.

電子游戲中的槍支與現實中的槍支如此相似,以至于將兩者進行對比的介紹視頻在YouTube上都有了自己的頁面。如堡壘之夜、apex、使命召喚和絕地求生等很多廣受歡迎的第一人稱射擊游戲粉絲已經創立了數十個“現實中的游戲槍支”介紹視頻,試圖向觀眾解釋電子游戲中的槍支與現實中槍支的異同:重量、射速、攜帶消耗體力和彈藥需求以及各游戲中的性能差異。作為現實中槍支設計制造商的布朗威爾斯也在做相同的事。



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.

一家為電子游戲廠商提供法律服務的律師告訴我,一部游戲可能得獲得數百個許可證才能上市。(這名律師要求匿名,因為擔心公開發言會損害公司業務。) 作為使用槍支廠商知識產權的交換,制造商規定游戲中出現的武器必須被真實詳細地描繪出來。兩者很少產生金錢交易,但它們之間的關系互利共生:游戲公司通過使用帶有授權許可的槍支而獲得真實感;而槍支制造商則獲得了輕松免費的產品曝光度。

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

但兩件事情的發生改變了兩者間的默契,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年最高法院裁決的布朗訴娛樂商人協會案,具有里程碑意義。法院駁回了加州一項禁止商店在沒有成年人在場情況下向未成年人出售暴力電子游戲的法律。有效地賦予了電子游戲新的法律地位使其成為正式的藝術表現形式之一,與電影、電視和書籍享有類似的法律特權,而一般來說電影、電視和書籍不需要授權就可以銷售。大法官安東寧·斯卡利亞在意見書中寫道,“加州稱‘互動’電子游戲存在問題,即玩家參與屏幕上的暴力行為并決定其結果。這種說法缺乏說服力。”



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.

法律專家在與我的交談中也提到了類似的觀點:試想一下,如果一本書必須獲得保時捷、披頭士或自由女神像的授權才能出版世界會怎樣。想象一下,如果電視節目必須獲得所臺iPhone屏幕或可樂罐的授權電視節目還怎么制作。公司有權利保護自己商標,但是當法院宣布游戲得到第一修正案保護時他們就獲得了新的法律地位。只要他們不誤導消費者讓他們認為游戲是由武器制造商贊助的,他們就可以自由創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年以來大多數第一人稱射擊游戲開發商都效仿EA的做法,回避與武器廠商的授權交易。上周我接觸了業內最大射擊游戲開發商: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(《俠盜獵車手》系列制造商Rockstar Games母公司)證實,他們游戲中沒有一款武器得到了協議。其他廠商則沒有回復置評請求。

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年的裁決案以來,針對電子游戲公司的商標侵權案件大多與直升機和悍馬等汽車廠商有關。兩名法律專家告訴我他們不知道自2013年EA新任首席執行官上任以來有任何槍支制造商對游戲公司提起訴訟,即使游戲廠商使用了被注冊商標的武器圖案。

“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.

喬治敦大學商標專家兼兼職教授史蒂夫?張表示:“在權衡商標與第一修正案之間的關系時,你使用特定商標或許可行,只要(其)與藝術無關,或者(其)故意誤導。”



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.

另一位熟悉游戲開發咨詢的律師要求匿名,因為他不被允許公開發言。他解釋道游戲公司依舊在使用受到商標專利保護的圖案。提交專利授權的游戲槍支與YouTube視頻中對槍的描述驚人地一致。游戲公司向知識產權律師提交虛擬槍支審查,無論在公司內部還是外部。律師們查看真實槍支圖片并對比修改后槍支出現在游戲中的方式,并建議進行修改。使槍支能夠被玩家識別而又達不到侵權的標準。

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.

在游戲制作過程中,游戲廠商幾乎無法避免為槍支性能背書,尤其當他們自身就得挖掘兩者關系。2011年標志著一個重大法律轉折——游戲公司已經在表面上拉開了游戲槍支與真實槍支的距離,但效果并不明顯。