Nintendo proving how “insane” patents are

Nintendo Patents Insanity (SlashDot link)

Yes, apparently, Nintendo feels the need to patent an aspect of an RPG. Why in the world do they feel they need to do this? The patent states:

A video game and game system incorporating a game character’s sanity level that is affected by occurrences in the game such as encountering a game creature or gruesome situation. A character’s sanity level is modified by an amount determined based on a character reaction to the occurrence such as taking a rest or slowing game progress and/or an amount of character preparation. That is, if a character is prepared for the particular occurrence, the occurrence may have little or no affect on the character’s sanity level. As the character’s sanity level decreases, game play is effected such as by controlling game effects, audio effects, creating hallucinations and the like. In this context. the same game can be played differently each time it is played.

I wonder just how long it will be before other game developers start patenting their ideas? I suppose D&D has some lock on the rules that they created. Probably copyright based. Is there any that Blizzard can use. Instances perhaps?

What does this gain developers like Nintendo? Will they use them to trade with other deveopers for other ideas?

In the long run, all this does is stifel the game development community. If a small developer was working on a game that used this idea, I suspect they will have to either license it from Nintendo, or just dump all the code and start over again.

9 thoughts on “Nintendo proving how “insane” patents are

  1. Read this on BluesNews today… There are plenty of games that have used sanity in them before this patent. Isn’t there some sort of rule that something can’t be patented if it already existed and can be proven?

  2. First the music industry will fall because they can’t keep people from stealing music.  The patent industry will be next.  As information becomes more and more available even intellectual property rights can’t be granted.  It almost seems that there is something ingrained in people that property=theft.  There may be hope for communism yet. tongue wink

  3. I hate it when people patent ideas. It is so bad for the pread of any sort of knowledge. Humans will never progress in the huge leaps they did before if people are trying to copy right their ideas.

    Cheers BunBun

  4. This is an interesting question, which pushes the limits of my understanding of “prior art.”

    The idea of “sanity point loss” was used in RPG’s by Chaosium somewhere between 1981 and 1986—so the idea of losing sanity points as a game mechanism certainly doesn’t belong to Nintendo, and certainly not in 2005.

    I guess it comes down to whether the medium change from pen-and-paper to computer-based gaming mechanics is somehow a new direction of the “art”, or just a redux of something that is already well established.

    The question is further complicated if Chaosium could challenge the patent on the grounds that it violates their copyright because it’s considered a “derivate work”.

  5. I’ve frequently advocated the complete destruction of copyright, in a phased manner—the start of which would be a conclusion of any additional awards of pattents within a 1 year time upon legislative passage.

    A product, if of true quality, can survive competition, replication, and monopoly.  Consider an economic darwinist, survival-of-the-most-fit, approach to new products.  It’d be amazing what new, totally original ideas would surface, literally over night.  It would also promote true cottage-industry, very conducive to contemporary technology and markets.

  6. There are plenty of games that have used sanity in them before this patent.

    Wouldn’t “Call of Cthulu” be one of them?

  7. That may be, but as we all know, the patent office doesn’t take prior art into account when deciding on awarding patents.

  8. The obvious game in reference is Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, released in 2002 by then Nintendo second-party developer Silicon Knights. It’s one of my favorite games of all time, and the Insanity Effect is used with sheer brilliance.

    I’m an absolute Nintendo groupie, but this is just another in a long list of stupid things it’s done.

  9. That and almost everying in Eternal Darkness was ripped straight out of Lovecraft’s fiction (Cthulu). 

    I wonder what this’ll mean for that Call of Cthulu game in development (it should be near completion by now), it had a sanity mechanic as any Lovecraft based game should. 

    I hope it doesn’t get scrapped, it looked damn cool.

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