We’ve had many variants of this conversation over the years. I’m hoping that sharing this will reduce the frequency of this dialog:
Hopeful Creator: “Hey Room Escape Artist! I have this super awesome game concept and I’d love to get your thoughts on it!”
Us: “Sure, we love talking about nifty things.”
Over-protective Creator: “Huzzah! So… before I tell you about my super awesome thing, I need you to sign an non-disclosure agreement.”
Us: “Yeah… that’s not going to happen.”
Confounded Creator: “Wait… what?”
Us: “It’s nothing personal… we just don’t sign them. NDA’s are almost always painfully broad and we don’t have any idea what idea you’re going to tell us, so we don’t know how it would affect us. We’re not gaining anything besides interesting conversation and you’re asking us for our thoughts. Take a look at our site. We don’t publish gossip… and whatever you’re going to tell us, I can guarantee we’ve kept far more sensitive secrets that other creators have shared with us.”
Hopeful Creator: “I see… so you won’t write about it or tell anyone?”
Us: “Yup. We don’t trade in gossip. We sat on this story even though it was to our own financial detriment to do so. We’d love to hear what you’re working on, but if you can’t tell us, we totally understand.”
Creator: “Ok. So here’s what I’m working on…”
We’re down to talk. We aren’t introducing legal entanglements to our conversations.
This will be the one and only article the “creator” didn’t read. Funny how that happens.
Hehe sometimes we write a post so that we can copy and paste a link into an email :p
Couldn’t agree more. I get contacted by entrepreneurs all the time, and a significant number of them ask me to sign an NDA in order to do them the favor of giving the feedback they’ve asked for. I always say no, and I’m surprised by how many of them are borderline-shocked that I won’t do it.
I think that a lot of folks don’t think through the fact that NDAs create complicated and unforseeable problems.
As a society, I think that we rely entirely too much on contracts for random interactions and we don’t think about it until something goes wrong.
The still-nascent ER industry is simply overflowing with excessive concern about secrecy. Has anyone truly created anything yet with trade secrets or IP so valuable that their businesses and lives would be destroyed without an NDA? There are other legitimate hurdles to tackle, such as people re-selling duplicate rooms (which not only ruins player experience but does suggest interesting questions around trademark and copyright), which NDAs would do little-to-nothing to prevent.
Let’ s just keep being creative, not only in the artistic/immersive space but in the operational/business space of the industry, and not spend so many cycles on trivial matters.