If you haven’t played the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of PC video games, you really should – it’s a glorious first person survival game based in and around a fictional Ukraine where the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded a second time and changed the world around it (it’s based loosely on the excellent Stugatsky brothers’ short science fiction novel, Roadside Picnic). Some of my best memories about emergent storytelling in games come from that series.
Anyway, enough of the games nostalgia. I’m writing about STALKER (as I shall call it, to save my poor ‘.’ key) for cold legal purposes, because it is generating our latest games trademark controversy. More in a moment, but first I want to credit two articles on the legal issues with STALKER which were influential on me: this Polygon feature on the story more generally and this PC Gamer article on the trademark troubles just now.
One more thing – if you’re not sure what a trademark actually is, read my quick guide to demystifying trademarks and games.
So, here we go: (more…)