It Came From The Trashcan!

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If You're Going To Rip Off Somebody Else's Game Design, Go Big!

Captain Ameritrash
United States
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I am a maker of things. I enjoy transmuting raw materials into finished products. I like the design phase, the "figuring out how to make it" phase, the "get my hands dirty and craft some stuff" phase, the "using it for its intended purpose" phase, the "showing it off to my friends phase", and even the "have a better idea and make a whole new one" phase. I love collaborating with others as well as working alone, and I love sharing, debating, discussing and tweaking my ideas with others. I have several projects posted on, and I love the community of geeks on that site just as much as the community of geeks here (although for different reasons).

One topic I've always been a little leery about discussing on this site is the idea of crafting personal copies of commercial games. I know it's a hot button for many people, and I've seen members get totally dogpiled for bringing it up, followed by retaliatory dogpiling of the first dogpilers. So for that reason, I've shied away from bringing it up myself.

I was recently reading a session report posted by the always entertaining
Pete Belli
United States
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
about a game called Little Angels and the Fruit of the Spirit that he picked up in a thrift store. For those who are not familiar wth the game, it is a Christian-themed game for young children, which involves moving from start to finish along a colorful path which somehow involves "Fruits of the Spirit", which I gather are a Bible reference of some kind.

It is also Candy Land. Now, let's be clear about this. It is not "similar to" Candy Land, or "using a mechanic from" Candy Land. Is is the same game, with only cosmetic differences and one omitted mechanic which has a minimal impact on gameplay.

Players move their pawns along a winding track composed of six different colors by drawing cards with a colored square on them and moving their piece to the next space of that color. The cards may also have two colored squares, indicating that the player moves forward two spaces, or an icon representing a Fruit of the Spirit, which requires the player to move their pawn to that icon's space on the board, whether it is forward or backwards along the track. There are also two shortcuts which allow players to skip sections of the track if they land on the correct spaces.

Other than theme, the only differences between Little Angels and Candy Land are that Candy Land's track is twelve spaces longer, and Little Angels omits the three spaces that "stick" a pawn in place until a certain color card is drawn. These sticky spaces are replaced with Fruit of the Spirit icons. That's it.

So... what does this have to do with me and my urge to make things? Well, I figured that if a Christian publisher can legally rip off Candy Land, slap on a retheme and sell multiple copies of it for profit, then my little one-of-a-kind, for-personal-use-only handmade copy of Thunder Road must be perfectly fine, right?

Based on the previously mentioned threads, there are many people who would argue that my personal Thunder Road is most definitely not OK, and they are, of course, welcome to hold that opinion. I have long since come to the conclusion that arguing about it is pointless, because the two sides are arguing two different things. To vastly oversimplify, those in favor of homebrewing games are primarily concerned with the legality of the issue, and those opposed are primarily concerned with the ethics/morality of the issue.

It's like arguing about cake vs. pie. Some people like cake better and some people like pie better, because they just do. Telling a pie lover that "cake is better because I believe it is" will not change a single thing, and will just irritate the pie lover. Responding that "pie is perfectly fine, because pie is not illegal" will not inspire the cake lover to go out and eat a big slice of apple pie.

So, now that we've preemptively gotten all of the invective and dogpiling out of the way, we finally come to my question on the topic: Why is there such vocal opposition when a BGG user posts about making a homebrewed game for personal use, but there is no visible opposition at all to Little Angels ripping off Candyland for profit? Or for that matter, where's the letter-writing campaign to prevent Fundex from distributing On The Bubble, which is a transparent copy of Trouble? Or any of the countless other discount-store knockoffs of mass-market games which differ from the original games only in name and component quality? What about all of the other religious rethemes of games?

I would think that a single gamer making a single copy for personal use would be less offensive than a corporation making multple copies for sale, but the single gamer gets browbeat, while the corporation gets their game posted to the DB as an alternate version, with links and pictures, and no invective more vehement that "Meh. This is a knockoff of (original game) and the components suck", if even that.

Does that seem backwards to anyone else besides me?
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