Don't Wait For Samuel Beckett's Lawyers, They're Already Here

Mike Rosenthal made an absurdist game based on the absurdist play Waiting for Godot. It's a parody, a send-up of Samuel Beckett's famous work. But you know what's really absurd? How Beckett's estate reacted to the game.

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Rosenthal says he was inspired by Beckett's work, because Waiting for Godot asks the audience to interpret the play. Likewise, early video games asked players to interpret the graphics.

"Ultimately, I wanted to make something selfish, something I thought would be funny without ever considering the audience's opinion," he tells The Rumpus.net. "Taking all the fun out of a game is funny. Basing a game on a play where nothing happens is funny. And people played it!" One guy apparently made it to the 99th level.

Beckett's estate, however, didn't think it was so funny and asked Rosenthal to change the name, which they own.

"Under American law, my game is considered parody and is protected under fair use, but I complied since I'm just a college kid who can't really afford a lawyer," says Rosenthal. "So I changed the name to Samuel Becketttt's Lawyers Present: Waiting for Grodoudou." Rosenthal even explicitly stated on his site that the game was referring to the Australian Samuel Becketttt, not to be confused with the Irish Samuel Beckett.

The lawyers of Beckett's estate weren't amused. Thus, the game is now simply titled "Game".

According to Rosenthal, "Personally, I find it ironic that a publishing house established to surreptitiously print works censored by occupying Germans wants so strongly to censor my game."

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The Rumpus Interview With Mike Rosenthal [The Rumpus via Quarter to Three]

DISCUSSION

If someone makes apologies for the ridiculous of copyright law that allows the estate of a dead writer to pester people over an obvious parody of a play written in 1953, I will punch you in the face.

Rosenthal should have let them take him to court. I personally know many lawyers who would do such a case pro bono, and with good reason — this would be open and shut in his favor.