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Games Industry Law Summit – Making plans in the middle of the pandemics

Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – Making plans in the middle of the pandemics
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #65 • View online
Hello, my dearest old friends – and hello, dear new subscribers!
Never before has the truth about everyone fighting their own battles rang truer than in the days of the pandemics when each of us is doing our best to remain ‘normal’ in front of our teams while trying to solve a bunch of challenges in our personal lives.
I’m sure that each of you has a chestful of war stories to tell when we all meet next, and I wish you courage and persistence in seeing these stories to their happy ends.
Today we have an announcement to make. Please read the below, and let me and my colleagues know about your decision!

Summit 2021 moves to September 15-17
Since the time when we re-scheduled Summit 2021 to May, we’ve been following the most important metrics for the event: vaccinations.
Some countries struggle more than others, but it seems like a good bet to assume that (1) only a minority in our community will get both of their shots prior to May 2021; while (2) a majority can expect to get the shots during the summer, and thus be able to travel without much hassle by September of this year.
Based on this, we decided on a few things:
(i) To move Summit 2021 to mid-September
(ii) To carry it out in a smaller format (if need be), but nevertheless, to work hard on making it happen, rather than re-schedule to 2022
(iii) To add one extra day for informal discussions ahead of the main program
Below is the rationale for each of these decisions.
September 16-17, 2021
While some industries struggle during the current times (every time we talk to our hospitality partners and suppliers, we discover new depths of the crisis), games industry has been doing great.
From platform audience hitting new heights, to continued M&A activity, and new records set by new properties that launched in the middle of the pandemics, our industry has been more than spared: it was given an extra chance to prosper.
At the same time, a topic that is talked about in a number of groups that I belong to, is: are we able to just keep going, or are we able to actually create new things, under the changed format?
Everything that launched in 2020, has been in work for years and years before; and the successful relationships in professional teams, including legal teams, have been formed in the times when we could, well, get a drink and share a story – face to face.
The biggest benefit of the Summit, to me, has always been in the validation of one’s state of mind, where I could exchange opinions on the topic with a number of people I trust and respect, and adjust my own understanding based on the new feedback. And for this, we need to see each other.
Depending on which company you work for, you may have already seen some travel picking up in the last few months. I, for one, have met numerous people who seem to have mastered the art of taking PCR tests weekly, which enables them to move around the EU and open new business. And that’s the preview of where we’ll be once the vaccination program reaches our corner of the industry.
As of today, I have a number of friends in Russia who have already taken the famous Sputnik V (my parents included), and a growing number of friends in the EU and US who are on the list for getting their shots in February and in March. As to Lithuania, we expect to be among the last – in July. Still, this is enough time to run the Summit in September.
The show must go on
At the moment, I suspect that about 20-30% of the community has already gone through COVID (and some of our contractors in Russia and Belarus have managed to be sick twice, once in Q1 and one more time in Q4 of the last year), and feels safe enough to lead a more adventurous life than those who haven’t got any antibodies yet.
Still, without a vaccine, attending any real-life meeting is an unavoidable hassle. “Who is this guy without a mask?”, “When did you get tested last?” and “Are you from the UK?” are some of the uncomfortable questions that surface in any group meeting, no matter how well-prepared.
But once we get our Pfizer/Moderna/AZ shots, it feels like not only we can attend a face to face meeting risk-free, but that actually we should, using the opportunity to catch up on everything that happened while we Zoom'ed in and out – and to meet the new people that joined the industry since 2019.
Because of that imperative, we feel like even if the September Summit will have just 60-90 attendees, it still be very much worth the effort.
Traveling by horse carriage
The other consequence of how we all spent 2020 (very few people excluded) is that we’re back to taking travel more seriously.
If you’re going to the trouble of packing the suitcase and going through the security screening twice, or thrice – it better be worth it, and there’s no prize for spending one day less in the new location, since most of us have totally mastered the art of working from homes; and, by extension, the art of working from hotels.
We think that flight schedules and travel procedures might still be not fully automated in September (I was recently in a room with a person who wasn’t allowed to be on the street, and a person who was; both arrived on the same flight, both had negative tests – but the rules are somewhat patchy these days).
Therefore we decided to set Tuesday (September 14) as the recommended arrival day, and designate Wednesday (September 15) for the “informal discussions” that normally happen within the in-house counsel groups.
Legal Challenge 2021
While moving the Summit one year forward (and now, actually, a year and a half) is sustainable for all of you, dear established professionals, we don’t think it works so well for the student teams that compete in the Challenge.
This week, we’re going to reach out to all the semifinalist teams to confirm March or April as their month of choice for the semifinals and finals, and then try to find a time schedule that would work for all the different time zones of the Judge Panel.
On the upside, having the online-only trial is a must-have experience for any decent lawyer these days, and there’s no reason why Legal Challenge should be an exception.
On the downside, it will probably take us two days, not one, to go through the semifinals and finals, because of the time zone differences due to having judges from, well, pretty much all over the world!
We plan to make the broadcast of the semifinals and finals accessible to this community, and we will be happy to have all of the four competing teams attend the Summit here in Vilnius in September regardless of the position they will score in the trial.
What now?
To think about the yonder days when our operational ambitions have been with making sure that the coffee served during the presentations is hot enough, and that we can install a waterproof layer under the hall’s carpet to protect the million-euro wooden floor of the Palace… ah, those were the fun days!
For the September 2021 event, we’re going to focus first and foremost on helping you arrange the travel – and help with any formalities as the need arises. In the last few months, we had the practical proof that we, indeed, are able to count on the help of Lithuania’s embassies the world over, in helping people get their visas and travel permissions, and we’re going to put this to full use for anyone who will need a bit of help there.
We think that a lot more people will travel to the Summit not as A to B to A, but as A to B to C to D, using the opportunity to meet with their clients or lawyers in the region, and we’re happy to help with arranging whatever you may need, whether it’s a pickup in Riga or a drop-off in Warsaw.
Additionally, the hotel landscape in Vilnius has changed – and we’ll work with everyone on finding the options that work the best.
For the moment, here’s the action points as I see them:
1) please let Alma know if you consider yourself “likely to attend” the Summit in September 2021.
This cannot be 100% certain, of course. What we need to know for the moment is, if you’re willing to attend the September 15-17 event provided that you get vaccinated in time and that travel is not restricted.
2) Alma will work on re-arranging your accommodation here in Vilnius to match the new dates.
All of the bookings that we make, are fully refundable. We think it’s extremely likely that once the vaccination program gets massive in Europe, the summer and early autumn here will experience a boom in travel, so having a room set aside, and at reasonable price, will be essential for September.
3) we will update the website of the Summit accordingly.
At the moment, the Summit lists all the people who signed up for 2020. Some of you have changed jobs, some are expectant parents, so what we’re after, here, is to have a more or less realistic list of “who can I hang out in Vilnius with” people.
Cut-off date
With the Summit set for September 15-17, we think of July 15, 2021 as the cut-off date for the event.
As an attendee, if you don’t have your first vaccination shot scheduled, it’s going to be highly unlikely that you can make it here safely in mid-September.
And as organisers, we’ll have a much clearer idea on how many attendees actually plan to come over, and amend the format as needed.
On the one hand, I see the future where the whole thing gets cancelled altogether, because we might have “the Moldavian strain” that overrides Pfizer and Moderna shots, and we’re all back to sitting at home in our pyjamas. Looking at the rise of B.1.1.7 virus in Denmark in the recent 6 weeks makes such a scenario not that unlikely, to be honest.
On the other hand, I see the future – which is already happening with my friends who are the frontline medics – where despite all the craziness, they resumed their travel from X to Y to meet colleagues and learn new things, as it’s safe enough for them, and the advantages outweigh the inconveniences.
Either way, I’m sure that by mid July we’ll have much more certainty (and hey, you can always visit Russia to get sputniked, just make sure not to get novichoked).
Here’s hoping that the Israel’s recently squashed curve in the 60+ age group is a solid proof that vaccination works as intended, and that we’re going to have a great party here in September. We may even book a boat to travel up the Neris river for a proper barbecue in the forest, hosted by the Summit’s chef!
Contacts
If you’re a new member of the community and haven’t attended the Summit before: please contact Alma (alma@charlieoscar|net).
If you have attended before: we send you our warmest hugs, and kindly ask to let us know about your plans for this year.
If you think that you can come – great! And if not, then maybe there will still be a way to set up a Clubhouse for some of the event’s panels. Either way, let’s reconnect and sync up!
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Sergei Klimov

A newsletter about games industry's legal side, written for the benefit and entertainment of the folks attending (or considering to attend) the annual Games Industry Law Summit in Vilnius.

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Games Industry Law Summit is organized by Charlie Oscar LIma Tango. Malunu 6B-8, Vilnius, LT-01200, Lithuania