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hpdvs2

Project Team are all Minors > Ideas on handling income/finances?

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I teach classes on game design/development, and we recently had some discussions on finances.  I gave some initial impressions, but I'd like to get other people's input on this. 

 

Many of my students are minors (Under 18 years, in the US) and many of them have their own project groups already, made up entirely of other minors.

[hr]

My request is for any suggestions about how to approach the finances, divvying up pay, treasurer, etc...  particularly around involving the parents, and presenting a plan for them.

[hr]

I suggested some basic models, the easiest being split evenly, but my suggestions on talking with parents were vague and could use examples/ideas to clarify.  I had worked with friends on smaller projects when I was younger, didn't setup finance plans, and fortunately it worked out.  but that was mostly luck, and lack of skill at the time to produce a game that sold well.

 

Any Should do's, Must do's or considerations?

 

Thanks.

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller
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You are legally allowed to be employed at 16 years of age in the United States, though most think it's 18. Also, if you're working for your parent, you're allowed to work at almost any age (as long as it's not considered child abuse), likewise if you're working for yourself, you won't be stopped for putting up a lemonade stand or cutting someone's grass (or running websites with ad revenue or whatever) even if you're under 16.

 

This government website even says you can be employed at 14 years old, though with stricter requirements.

 

Department of LaborThe Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs); and perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home. Also, at any age, youth may be employed as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

Different age requirements apply to the employment of youth in agriculture.

Many states have enacted child labor laws, some of which may have a minimum age for employment which is higher than the FLSA. Where both the FLSA and state child labor laws apply, the higher minimum standard must be obeyed.

 

A friend of a friend was employed by her mother in a jewelry store. My brother was employed at a deli at 16, but wasn't allowed to butcher the meat. I cut the neighbor's lawn monthly at 14 or 15, and did some other landscaping work for her (laying sod, building a retaining wall).

 

If you're making games for your own profit, I don't think your age will be too great of an issue.

 

I suppose you could elect a trustworthy parent to be 'treasurer' and the money enters that parent's account, taxes get paid, it gets withdrawn as cash and divided up according to a non-legally-binding but an agreed upon contract that that parent helps type up in plain English so all the kids can read and understand, and that parent also acts as the arbitrator if any arguments about the money come up but otherwise stays out of the development of the games.

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My advice: Talk with a lawyer.

Have the lawyer help you create a Collaboration Agreement that every child and their parents must sign to participate. Terms of payment should be specified as part of that agreement.
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If you're making games for your own profit, I don't think your age will be too great of an issue.

 

My concern is based towards any agreements on distribution of funds.  Under the age of 18 (and not emancipated), can't enter into a legally binding contract on most states.  Instead, the legal guardians are required to sign/full fill it, and the child's name is just a formality.

 

Given that as the case, any agreement on distributing funds isn't actually binding, unless the parents are involved and making legally binding agreements.  (Oral is ok in many states, but you would need to check.  WI is a yes, with an Offer, Acceptance and Consideration of value to both parties.)

 

What if the game starts pulling in a lot of money, and two kids disagreed on who gets what.  It seems that legal guardians coming to an agreement, preferably recorded some how is probably the second best, and first would be to consult a lawyer.

 

My advice: Talk with a lawyer.

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What if the game starts pulling in a lot of money, and two kids disagreed on who gets what.  It seems that legal guardians coming to an agreement, preferably recorded some how is probably the second best, and first would be to consult a lawyer.

 

Right. Have a collaboration agreement beforehand, signed by the parents.

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What if the game starts pulling in a lot of money, and two kids disagreed on who gets what.  It seems that legal guardians coming to an agreement, preferably recorded some how is probably the second best, and first would be to consult a lawyer.

 

Right. Have a collaboration agreement beforehand, signed by the parents.

 

I would suggest you also have the minors sign the agreement adding additional signature blocks is not a big deal.  Depending on the state, their signatures very well could bind them when they turn 18 if they don't disaffirm the agreement. 

 

"The minor may disaffirm his contract during minority or after he attains the age of majority, but in the latter situation he must disaffirm by words or conduct within a reasonable time after majority, or else he may be held to have ratified the contract and to be fully responsible thereunder." 14 Mass. Prac., Summary Of Basic Law § 5.38 (4th ed.)

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So you want to introduce a bunch of young kids into the seedy underbelly of game development?

 

 

Honestly just let them get on with it and have a couple of playground punch ups over who gets what.  If they loose a few dollers it may piss them off but they'll get over it.   On the otherhand if you start drawing up contracts or getting legal guardians to take responsibility it could take one greedy parent to screw the whole thing up and end up in a legal wrangling that could put them off game development for life.  At this age its supposed to be fun, let them think of making games as actually being a game and not some entreprenurial endevour.

 

 

If you are are teaching games development then teach games development.  If you are asked about legal or entreprenurial stuff then just say "sorry I'm not a legal expert ask a law proffesor / lecturer or a Buisness studdies lecturer".

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Buster interesting point people having gotten "screwed in the past" is one hell of a motivation to do otherwise.
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So you want to introduce a bunch of young kids into the seedy underbelly of game development?

 

 

Honestly just let them get on with it and have a couple of playground punch ups over who gets what.  If they loose a few dollers it may piss them off but they'll get over it.   On the otherhand if you start drawing up contracts or getting legal guardians to take responsibility it could take one greedy parent to screw the whole thing up and end up in a legal wrangling that could put them off game development for life.  At this age its supposed to be fun, let them think of making games as actually being a game and not some entreprenurial endevour.

 

 

If you are are teaching games development then teach games development.  If you are asked about legal or entreprenurial stuff then just say "sorry I'm not a legal expert ask a law proffesor / lecturer or a Buisness studdies lecturer".

This is a good counter point on covering this material.  However, my class goes into far more than just Design/GDDs.  It also covers marketing plans, (as part of what I have them design to, is to figure out their market, and what would be sellable/of interest to their market.)  it also talks about keeping a freelance team motivated/organized, etc...  Its kind of an all encompassing attempt to give an introduction to all the different areas of developing a game that don't require specific programming or artistry skills.  Of course it also focuses greatly on creativity and design.  

 

Given that as the nature, I still plan on bringing this information up, though more as a 'think about this' type approach, rather than cover your a## requirements.  I can agree about 1 greedy parent, or even a parent who sees their child as the brilliant leader and the rest of the kids as blundering idiots, and a feud starting between households.  And then the Capulet family starts making accusations, and Mercutio steps in, but then he dies and all goes up in flames.  Or is that some other story?...  smile.png

 

Anyway, this gives me counter information to bring up, so its not so one sided as this is a good idea, blah blah blah.  I'm not opposed to telling the students that one of their parents or them selves might become greedy, or severely misunderstand the work each person put into it, particularly if I approach it as a 'team-member's' parent, not as their own..  But perhaps even this is starting to establish distrust, between team members, and making them think too corporately to have fun.

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller
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