Thursday, February 22, 2007

The News in Thongs / Old Puzzler Answer / New Fortnightly Puzzler

You might recall me mentioning something about possibly freelancing to Games Quarterly magazine in my first Gone Gaming blog post. Well, that has come to fruition, though not in a way I'm happy about.

Before going on, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not asking for pity, sympathy, or a group hug. I am a lazy freelancer in the sense that I write first and ask questions later, and I therefore take full responsibility for the following freelancing tale of woe. I'd simply like to share it as a cautionary tale to others.

This story begins at Origins 2006 in Columbus, OH. I met a first time game inventor and publisher Doug Cook of FunMaker Games. I played his game Mimic, bought it, and liked it enough to write a newspaper review about it when Annie and I got back home to Missoula. I forwarded the review onto Doug, and he was pleased. (Mimic, by the way, is a neat card game in which you make sets of four animal cards scrunched in to a 7x7 grid).

Some time passed, and I got an email from Doug asking if he could put me in contact with someone from Games Quarterly magazine, a fellow named Jonathan Albin. Jonathan and I wrote back and forth a few times, and he asked for three reviews of Mimic. I wrote the reviews and sent them off. After the last review was sent, I never heard from Jonathan again (still haven't, incidentally).

It wasn't for lack of trying. I sent Jonathan several emails asking about the fees, contracts, the normal stuff. Nothing. I finally made it clear in one email that I owned the work and that we needed to work something out before moving forward. Nothing. I gave up after a month or so, figuring my work had been trashed.

Imagine my surprise when Doug wrote me with a digital copy of a review from Games Quarterly Magazine. My name was on the review. I immediately resumed my emails to the company.

Having already established a history with Jonathan, I started emailing others. After a week or so (Toy Fair was going on), I received an email from the publisher Mark Simmons explaining that what I did is not usually a paying freelancing job. I appreciated the email and Mark's frankness, but I'm not quite sure he understood what I was saying. I reiterated my stance in another email, this time a bit more firm. The heart of it went like this:

I am the author and copyright holder of the text being printed in your magazine. Your publication of it, regardless of what you normally do, is a violation of those rights.

I haven't heard from him since.

Experienced freelancers, especially those who make a living from it, won't fall into this sort of trap. I just happen to be extremely trusting. I have encountered countless wonderful people in the gaming industry and gaming hobby, so it's no wonder it's taken so long for anything like the above to happen.

The moral? One could be "Don't be a fool," but the main one - for all you aspiring freelancers - is "Get it in writing."

And that's the News in Thongs!


The News in Thongs is real. I have carefully inspected the above work and found it to be devoid of explicit judgment on anyone but myself. Should concerned parties find the above facts to be offensive, I suggest they contact me at


Old Puzzler

Multiple Choice Question:

In his autobiography, Mohandas K. Gandhi professes to have played several games of _____ on his voyage between India and South Africa.

a) chess
b) draughts
c) shut-the-box
d) all of the above


From "Autobiography: The Story of My experiences with Truth" by Mohandas K. Gandhi," page 90:

"The Captain and I had become great friends by this time. He was fond of playing chess, but as he was quite a novice, he wanted one still more of a beginner for his partner, and so he invited me. I had heard a lot about the game but had never tried my hand at it. Players used to say that this was a game in which there was plenty of scope for exercise of one's intelligence. The Captain offered to give me lessons, and he found me a good pupil as I had unlimited patience. Every time I was the loser, and that made him all the more eager to teach me. I liked the game, but never carried my liking beyond the boat or my knowledge beyond the moves of the pieces."

Definitely not a gamer…


New Fortnightly Puzzler

What festive drink can be spelled from the letters of GONE GAMING? Not all the letters will be used, and none may be used more than they are listed in the title.

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