Today’s subject is a very human story, but the details of it might be a little dry.
As part of our sharing ethos, the Global Game Jam require all jammers to upload all the assets they’ve created, including the source code. This package is hosted by the Global Game Jam and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Basically this license assigns the commercial rights of the original uploaded package to the created team, while also allowing other people to download, share and modify and play around with the code, though only under non-commercial terms. The Global Game Jam still safeguards the code and art for many games, that later went on to become commercial successes. This page describes a few of these success stories.
However, we often get emails from people asking us to take down their uploaded package, because they, rightfully or not, believe it will hinder them in getting a deal from a publisher or selling the game the later on. As a general policy, we refuse this. The license cannot be retracted, and we strongly believe in the sharing ethos. Many games, such as Mushroom 11, Surgeon Simulator, A Normal Lost Phone, Fru, Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, and more have had their start as Global Game Jam prototypes, and they have gone on to become commercial successes anyway. The thing is that, game jam games are normally so unpolished and raw anyway, that they are only useful for getting ideas from. Generally, the games (prototypes!) are nowhere near a commercial state, where they can be packaged up and sold by a third-party. This would also be against the license, and we or the original creators, would be able to issue a takedown demand.
The Creative Commons license we use have often been critised as not being fit for purpose; it is not really meant for source code, it doesn’t deal with patents, and more. On the other hand, many other open sources licenses doesn’t work for us either, as they either don’t discriminate betweeen who has the commercial rights (original creator versus others), or the licenses don’t take the hybrid nature of video games into account; video game ip consists of a multitude of parts such as the overall idea, the art, sound, source code, etc. So we came up with a dedicated game jam license, that we hope will be adopted by the Global Game Jam and other game jams. Kai Erenli, Foaad Khosmood, William Latham and myself submitted this license as part of a paper to the Game Jam Workshop at the Foundation of Digital Games 2019 Conference, and got it accepted! You can find the complete presentation below as well as the details of the paper.
Gorm Lai, Kai Erenli, Foaad Khosmood and William Latham. Game Jam License. In the Proceedings on the Foundation of Digital Games 2019. (pdf)