Vimeo inspires creativity by banning gaming videos

Vimeo, the darling of the current video upload crop, announced a few days ago that they will no longer host gaming videos.

The post on their blog which makes the annoucement cites several reasons for the decision, chief amongst them the stated aim of Vimeo to “inspire creativity”. The Vimeo staff have drawn a hard line in the sand here:

> > The Vimeo staff does not feel that videos which are direct captures of video game play truly constitute "creative expression". > >

It’s a subjective decision (and one which Vimeo, or any other hosting site, is entirely at liberty to make), but is this really the core motivation here? Perhaps the main concern is actually, as the blog post admits, that

> > such videos may expose Vimeo to liability from the game creator(s), as we have already seen action from popular video game companies against videos such as these. > >

Either way, the sad facts appear to be that anything uploaded to Vimeo from now on that is deemed to be a “gaming video” will be summarily deleted. Currently-hosted videos that fall into this category will continue to be hosted by Vimeo until September 1st, at which point they too will be removed.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this decision from our point of view is that the blog post makes specific mention of machinima videos, and excludes them from the ruling.

> > We currently do not feel that Machinima films fall under the category of gaming videos described above and, therefore, assuming compliance with our site’s general terms & conditions, we will continue to accept such videos on Vimeo. We are not, at this time, banning films that fall into the Machinima genre. > >

The problem here (for us as machinima creators, not for Vimeo) is that the definition of machinima is a wide-ranging one. In fact, as we’ve discussed before, it seems that everyone’s definition of machinima is different (and, crucially, everyone is right). The list of videos that will no longer be accepted by Vimeo is given as

> > game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs player battles, raids, fraps, or any other video gaming videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game. > >

I have to admit, this worries me. “PvP battles”? That would probably exclude Thresh vs. Billox made by Phil “Overman” Rice, arguably the greatest machinima director currently working. “Fraps”? Does that mean any footage captured using the FRAPS screen-capture software? Fraps is just a tool, and it’s a tool that’s been used to create many of the most firmly story-centric machinima pieces of the last few years.

Let me reiterate - Vimeo have the right to refuse to host any video they wish, without explanation. We must be careful, though, not to assume that their definition of “machinima” is a canonical one. I also strongly contest the implication that capturing, editing and uploading footage of online gameplay does not “inpire creativity”. It is, self-evidently, a form of creative expression. Just because the resultant video is probably not something that I, or Vimeo, or perhaps even you, would particularly be interested in watching does not invalidate that.

bllius describes the decision as reactionary and contradictory over at Shattered Keyboard