Nicholas Plassaras, ’14: A Career in Video Game Law Leads to Play at Google

Nicholas Plassaras

Nicholas Plassaras, ’14, joined Google this summer, where he is continuing the exhilarating work that he enjoyed during his five previous years as an associate at the Mountain View office of Fenwick & West.

His specialty is video game law. “I am incredibly fortunate that Fenwick supported me in developing a practice that I’m passionate about,” he said. “In many ways, I feel like the video game industry and I grew up at the same time. My issue-spotting and problem-solving skills when it comes to legal issues facing the video game industry are in large part due to my perspective as a lifelong gamer.” That perspective has served him well, he said, when it comes to facing complex legal questions in an industry that generated more than $130 billion in worldwide revenues in 2018.

During his first week at Fenwick, he reached out to a partner with a robust video game practice to express interest in working with her. They went on to establish a multidisciplinary practice group dedicated to the video game industry that made Fenwick a go-to firm for the industry for corporate, transactional, litigation, and strategic counseling matters. “Our clients recognized that because we were longtime gamers ourselves, we understood their products at an intuitive level and could provide the sort of 360-degree view and advice that they are looking for,” he said. “Most video game companies are deeply committed to the games they sell and the people who play them, so they were often pleasantly surprised to find outside counsel that care just as deeply.”

At Google, he’s part of the product counsel team for Google Play, which offers more than 750,000 game apps. “I’ll be dealing with the same kinds of practical and strategic issues as I did at Fenwick, but on a larger scale and with more direct influence,” he said. “In addition to the intellectual property matters that might be expected, there are a lot more things to address, including age-appropriateness, privacy, and various consumer protection issues.”

Plassaras has written extensively on the intricacies of video game law, including several articles on the intersection of intellectual property and video games, guidance on video game development, and reports detailing compliance requirements for age rating classifications in different countries. He expects to bring that experience to bear in his new role at Google tackling the variety of cutting-edge and complex issues facing today’s video game industry.

When he was exploring his law school options, Plassaras participated in the “Day in the Life” program at the Law School, during which he sat in on a Torts class taught by Saul Levmore. He recalled: “I remember being struck by how charismatic Professor Levmore was and how engaged his students were. I knew right then and there that UChicago was where I wanted to be. I’m happy to say my law school experience certainly lived up to my high expectations.”

He said he’s now motivated by the same spark he admired in his Law School professors: “I had so many professors who clearly loved what they were doing—passionate about their subject matter and pleased to be exploring and advancing it every day. I hoped I would find that for myself, but I never thought it would come together this quickly.” “Plus,” he added, “I think it’s safe to say that my entire family feels much better about all of the money we’ve invested in video games over the last 20 years.”