charne.jpg Video game lawyer Jim Charne writes the 'Famous Last Words' Q&A column for the IGDA website, and this month's update discusses the concept of 'best efforts' in meeting game milestones, to some entertaining effect.

Basically, Charne argues: "'Best efforts' is another example of a term of art [described earlier as 'like legal icebergs. Only a small part of their meaning is on the surface']. It does NOT mean that the developer will try really really hard to do the job. A law school professor described “best efforts” to me in this manner: If you agree to use your best efforts to drive a colleague to the train station in time to catch his train, and your mother were to be crossing the road and in your path, best efforts would require you to run over your mother."

Giving a hint as to why independent game development is fraught with danger nowadays, since the possibility of projects being canceled with subsequent layoffs can be great, Charne concludes: "In the typical development agreement, that gives the publisher the unfettered unilateral right to accept or reject milestones for purely subjective reasons, it is dangerous for any developer to agree to this “best efforts” standard." Thus ends your GSW legalese 101 class for the week.