Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Written permission from Xbox to let students play games at campus event

I'm writing this post to hopefully help future student affairs graduate assistants and professionals avoid the run-around while planning a campus event that includes allowing students to play Xbox games.

Allow me to summarize this week-long process...

Our department recently purchased an Xbox 360 with Kinect because we planned to have the game set up for our alcohol-alternative Late Night events in the Student Rec Center. The Xbox 360 with Kinect motion sensing camera is a great system that promotes physical activity. It's a lot of fun and a great way to attract students over to an information table!

Because the Kinect requires the players to get up and move in front of the screen, we couldn't use a typical projector because the students would be blocking the image. I heard a rumor that IMS rented rear-projection screens, so we submitted a request.

Denied! They told us we needed written permission from Microsoft in order to play Xbox in public at our event. I knew things like movies required a license to show in public, but I didn't know video games were subject to the same rules.

I called Xbox Support, and the customer service rep told me that there was no reason I couldn't set up an Xbox in our Rec Center for students to play at the event. I asked him if I could get that in writing, and he put me on hold to check with his manager.

20 minutes later, the answer was "No." In fact, the answer had changed from it being "no problem" to play the console in public, to being a violation of the terms of service - which specify that the console is for personal use only.

I checked with our Office of Campus Activities, because I knew they had set up video games for students to play at previous events. They told me that video game rights are essentially the same as movie screening rights. In the same way that you can't publicly screen a movie without purchasing the viewing rights, you couldn't publicly use a video game either. The problem is that unlike the film industry that issues temporary licenses for public showings, there is no temporary-license-equivalent in the video game world. In the past, student organizations had gotten away with it by playing out-of-print games, which removes the event from the legal challenge of infringing on market share.

Oh heck! So what can I do? I called Xbox Support a second time, and explained my predicament. They directed me to email promos@xbox.com and see what they could do. I blindly sent a "To whom it may concern" email and waited... Nothing.

Four days later, I sent another e-mail to promos@xbox.com. This time, I got an auto-reply that directed me to the website sponsormexbox.com. The site is a sponsorship request form were you can formally request that Xbox station a booth at your event or provide funding. Well that's not really what I needed. I just needed permission to play the console we already have - but I could tell I was getting warmer!

written permission from xbox event license process

I submitted a request, filled out all the info, and ended my event description with "We already have an Xbox, we just want permission to play it."

written permission from xbox event license process

Two days later, I received an email from Wunderman3, the agency responsible for Xbox sponsorships. I was told: "Since this is something informal, we don’t require you to receive any permissions to have Xbox at your event." Good enough for me! [PRINT]


Written permission from Xbox to let students play games at college campus event

What I learned: Campus-wide events for 2000+ students are considered "informal," which makes my life easier!

@EricTeske That was extremely helpful, Eric. Nice job! Thanks for putting it out there.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

nicely done. Too many ignore obtaining rights RT @ericteske: permission from Xbox to play games at campus event http://t.co/6SoZGkP #sachatless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

@mikesevery @ericteske Agreed - I've never heard another schools obtain rights to use xbox. They just use it.less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply