Thursday, April 19, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

I've been playing Ratchet and Clank Size Matters on the PSP. It's great to finally have another game to play on that system.

So, I was reading through the manual looking over the credits - which is something I like to do for movies and comics as well as games - and for the life of me I couldn't find out who actually created the concept of Ratchet and Clank.

Now, I know it's Insomniac Games, and I know that they'd probably not credit one person or groups of people with originating the idea (with games like this it's generally one person that seeds the idea then a group grows it so everyone has some ownership) but I did expect to at least see a "Ratchet and Clank created by Insomniac Games" credit somewhere in the manual. Well, I searched high and low and all I found was their name under the SPECIAL THANKS heading.

Apparently the original concept grew from a void of inky blackness and landed fully formed on Sony's doorstep.

On the other hand I was heartened to see a "Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia The Two Thrones are trademarks of Jordan Mechner" credit on all material to do with the latest Prince of Persia game. And not just hidden away in the manual somewhere, but displayed prominently on the front page of the official web site. I guess that's what happens when you own the trademark and copyright. Good on you Jordan!

Now, I’m all for creator rights, and I do understand that people sometimes have to assign their copyright and trademark rights away to other companies (usually for money, or just for the sake of getting their work published) – but surely that doesn’t mean they should be erased from history as the creators of the concept?

At a company I used to own one of the executives wanted to remove the name of an artist from the credits because he left the project before completion. I was appalled. As a fan of the medium I want to know who created my favorite levels in a game or which concept artist designed the characters I’ve grown to love. Art, coding and writing doesn’t happen by itself. Needless to say I vetoed the idea and the artist got their credit.

We see more creator recognition in films, TV and comics. People in these mediums tend to fight harder to get proper credit. I’m guessing it has something to do with unions and the fact they rely on their reputations to get their next gig. Either way, it’s something the games industry could take note of, because as a fan, I want to know who makes the things that I really enjoy.

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