Here’s a bit of comedy (or so I thought) for you: I’ve been sorting out Professional Indemnity insurance for the contract work I’ve been doing, and boy is it awkward to sort out. Anyway, the one firm I found who do it online (Hiscox) are the only ones who got back to me in any reasonable length of time with a quote.

So, I’m going through their online purchase procedure, and filling in more details; there’s a lot of yes/no questions where the yes answer boils down to ‘are you a risk’. E.g. ‘are you a crook’, ‘have you made any previous claims’, ‘do you make medical/aviation equipment’, etc. Then there’s a question:

    Are you responsible for any of the following?

  • Internet Service Provision, Application Service Provision, or games development
  • full implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning systems
  • full implementation of Customer Relationship Management systems.
  • specialist work in relation to the security of networks and systems such as design of security systems, and vulnerability and penetration testing? (This does not include standard virus, firewall or router protection)

So somehow, games development is considered as bad as all these other (obviously) risky professions. How come?

I’ve worked in games development for a good while now, and I’ve seen some dodgy business stuff going on, but it rarely if ever came down to a litigious claim against the other party. Even when there was good reason to make a claim! If anything, negligence in the games industry is less likely to result in a serious breach of contract. If you screw up a business client’s database, chances are they’ll notice it, and complain and bluster and claim damages. If you screw up a game’s save and restore system, the players will moan and rate the game less, but it won’t come to a damages claim.

Maybe it’s down to the ge
nerally poor specification treatment that games contracts get. It is easier to see the specification of a business software contract and follow it to the letter; a games development contract requires a flexible approach to what work needs done. Then, of course, more flexibility leads to vagueness of responsibility, and the possibility of a claim being made as both sides disagree on what needs done.

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Last modified: April 12 2020.