THIS WEEK’S EPISODE OF THE Mentioned in Dispatches podcast from the Armchair Dragoons features Brandt and Jim (@TheGascon) along with your humble blogger here. I wish to give a big shout out to those two gentlemen who invited me to join them to talk about a topic that I am no expert on! Seriously, it was a wonderful experience and really crazy if you realize they reached out to me in the afternoon for an evening recording. I admit that Brandt and Jim carry the show. Once the recording started I sorta lost track of my thoughts. Even my notes I scribbled in advance didn’t serve me well. I’m not sure what point I was trying to make.
For the main part we talk about the patent application for the Unconventional Warfare Wargame that suspiciously looks alot like Settlers of Catan. First, it superficially it looks like Catan thanks to their use of Catan components. Second, and more important to me, is whether it is an original game or a thinly veiled ripoff. Amongst all the discussion I respectfully draw your attention to the analysis of the IP issues from Tabletop Lawyer (@MyuenL).
I think this patent is a real threat to the boardgame/wargame industry. I think the IP law is clear when it comes to theme. You can’t make a Star Wars game without licensing the IP from Di$ney. The real danger I see is that this patent, no matter how narrow it might (or might not) be, moves the industry further down the pathway towards patenting mechanisms in games. Sure, Wizards of the Coast has trademarked certain gaming terms but what happens when somebody patents that mechanic? I cannot see any result other than a chilling effect on the industry, from designers to publishers to players.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Want more discussion and other viewpoints? I strongly encourage you to follow @RexBrynen and his blog PAXSims. Especially see his posting on the issue here. Also, you cannot go wrong for ever reading the work of Tom & Mary Russell from Hollandspiele. Tom posts his blog thoughts online too.
Feature image courtesy Armchair Dragoons. I didn’t ask in advance so…please?