A bunch of folks keep submitting various versions of this story about how Microsoft has apparently received a patent on join-leave in split-screen multiplayer games
. We see so many of these sorts of stories these days, it's getting a bit tiresome to talk about them, but no less disappointing. As Matt Peckham says in the article linked here:
In any case, the idea that methodologies like these get tied up in patent law is unsettling. Games, like books, television shows, movies, works of visual art, etc. thrive off of (and to a considerable extent, are inexorably bound up in) a certain amount of healthy imitation. Dynamic split-screen "multi-play" in video games is a process independent of a patentable mechanism like the Wii-remote. Clapping a patent on it isn't so radically far off from claiming
...is a "process" or "procedure" or "methodology" someone ought to have "sole right to make, use, or sell."
Patent law is depressing. It's a somewhat perverse way to stockpile vaguely defined, often semantically specious technological speculation and, whatever its claims about competitively encouraging creativity, often has the contrary effect of throttling it.
If so many people in and around the industry realize how silly and stifling these sorts of patents are, why do they still exist? Why do millions get wasted every year stockpiling more of these patents? Why do we, as a society, allow it?