Wednesday, July 12, 2006
In Defense of the Homemade Game
“…if you play the game, you should own it, unless the rights have been released.” This is a quote from a recent thread on BGG regarding homemade versions of games, which turned into a fairly lengthy debate, and sums up the general consensus for games that are still in print.
I often make mock-ups of simple games, some are out of print and some are yet-to-be-released, to decide if I should try to hunt down a copy in the case of the former or buy the game when it finally becomes available.
My latest experiment was Um Krone Und Kragen (To Crown A King) which is soon to be released in English. My impatience got the best of me so I quickly printed up 2 sets of the card translations and dug out my tube of Stack (14 dice in 4 colors and some rules. It was awarded “Best New Family Game” by Games Magazine at some point—says so right on the tube!)
Sunday evening my husband, Richard, and I sat down to try it out and we both had fun with it so I’ll be placing my next order as soon as my Friendly Not-Quite-Local Online Game Store gets it in.
But what if I hadn’t liked it or I liked it a little bit but could be satisfied with occasionally playing the mock-up version? That would be bad, right? I would have deprived the designer, the publisher and the store their profit. Me and my ilk could be responsible for the early demise of a board game, casting a blemish on the reputation of a designer and throwing the whole board game economy into disarray. To top it off, I would not be allowed dessert for a month. We’re all in agreement then, I’m sure.
Except…how is that different from the people who have commented that they played a friend’s copy of something and really liked it but they don’t feel the need to own the game since they can play Fred’s copy? Or the people who have a game store locally where they can play games so they don’t buy their own copy which no one at home will play? Or the people who go to Cons and try dozens of games, many of which they don’t care for enough to buy?
Maybe my moral fiber is frayed at the edges, but I don’t feel one bit guilty about my homemade games. Taking the last piece of pizza rather than saving it for my husband’s lunch, on the other hand, did give me a bit of a twinge.
A meeple by any other name would score points just the same.