Friday, November 12, 2004

City Of Lawyers

What the heck?

Here's the short form: Marvel Comics Group is suing NCSoft and Cryptic Studios over their massively multiplayer online RPG, City of Heroes. The reason for the suit is that their hero-building part of the game, where you make your characters, allow you to make Hulks. And by Hulks they mean Hulk-like avatars - big muscular green guys in purple shorts. You can even name your hero Hulk, and while they discourage that (as in - would violate the terms of service and justify your removal from the game), they can't keep you from naming your character Hunk, Bulk, Sulk, or Holk.

But because you can make a big green bruiser with purple shorts named Holk, Marvel is unleashing the lawyers, because NCSoft/Cryptic is enabling the players to engage in a trademarkably risky venture. They may go after Crayola next, because it sells both green and purple crayons in the same box. I don't think they're afraid of The Inedible Bulk bouncing through Paragon City as they are about what, if this is allowed to pass, could happen next. You know the idea of the Matrix, where we're all really plugged into a massive machine with a virtual reality? Lawyers sold that idea in, since it would reduce liability for their robotic masters.

Now the interesting things is that while you can build Holks, or Magnuttos or Wolvereens, in-game, those who do so are looked-down-up as being unimaginative (or to use the lingo of these kids today, being a Lam3er). Pretty much the same way that a comic character from one universe is viewed as being a weak ripoff of another (say, Marvel's Moon Knight as a cut-rate Batman). So there is a social balancing in the world that keeps the play environment from being overrun by Hulk clones.

Me, I think they're just irritated that the Paragon City Sulks are better-animated than the Hulk movie was.

More later,