As has been previously noted, I’m not entirely put off by the idea of a game of City of Heroes. And if anyone has been paying attention to the game, they’ll have noticed that developers NCSoft are currently being sued by Marvel, after the comic behemoth decided that the in-game character designer allows players to infringe their copyright.
It’s quite an extraordinary accusation. NCSoft have built a simple but enormously versatile application that allows you to tailor your avatar to have just the sort of superhero look you’re after. For some (read: most), this offers the ability to generate a scantily clad buxom superheroine. For others it allows originality and creativity and a unique and/or remarkable look. And for others still, it lets them build something vaguely approximating to a favourite comic book hero. Marvel contest that this freedom encourages players to rip off their IP, and have called in their superlawyers.
But for all the sense this makes, Marvel might as well be suing Crayola for their wax crayons’ ability to render Spiderman on the lower part of the kitchen wall. It can only be a matter of time before they drag into court all manufacturers of paint, ink and plasticine.
Of course NCSoft have always been on the ball with regards to IP infringement, and hopefully this will be enough to see Marvel laughed at by the judge. An excellent article on Game Girl Advance explores quite how possible it is to create copyrighted characters, and more significantly discovers quite how quickly NCSoft removed them from the servers. And this set me thinking.
How versatile is the character generator? And quite how protective are Marvel? I decided to put their board of directors into the game.
Inhibited by a lack of photographs of most on the board, despite enormous amounts of research (clicking through the entire first page of results on Google), I was eventually left with two key players.
Superhero Name: Sid Ganis
Day Job: Marvel Director, President of Out of the Blue… Entertainment
Power: Chairs Academy Award dinners.
Superhero Name: Avi Arad
Day Job: Chairman and CEO of Marvel, Producer/Executive Producer on every Marvel film
Power: Invents toys.
Brilliantly neither name was taken nor blocked by the game. So now they are there, living in Paragon City, and fighting crime along with the heroes they are attempting to sue. I will let you know how they fare.