Saturday, February 16, 2013

Games Workshop, "Spots The Space Marine", and Gary Gygax

The reviews are good.
Saturday morning here at The Workbench, and it's time for the weekly news bulletin about the hottest news story in the game industry...

As reported here, the e-book version of "Spots The Space Marine" is back up on Amazon.com after the Electronic Freedom Foundation got involved; we got our hard copy from Barnes and Noble, and it'll be going off to the author shortly to be autographed. Reviews of the book have been good, and we suggest that you have a look at the author's web site for more of her work:


In what's a startling development by any standard, Games Workshop has removed their Facebook page. They didn't just pull off the goofy statement that they made about this issue, but the whole thing. Leading PR pundits think it was because of the huge number of very negative comments being posted by people on their Facebook page by outraged people; me, I think it was because of the decline in value of GW's stock over the past couple of weeks over this issue. Down four points as of a week ago, and that's real money...

And, I'd like to state once again, I am a strong supporter of reasonable use of trademarks, copyrights, and IP rights. I am not a supporter of bullying.

Let me tell you all a little story; yes, it's "Storytime with Uncle Chirine"!

A long time ago, and far, far away, there was a game company. It had started out as a very little game company, but with a lot of hard work and luck it got to be a very big game company. Along the way, as it got bigger and bigger, it hired people who weren't gamers. One of these people woke up one day and discovered that other people were writing about the big game company, and mentioning the company's IP by name. "Aha!" thought this worthy, "I'll use our trademarks to stop these people in their tracks!!!" So, he made sure that the big game company had indeed filed some trademarks, and sent out lots and lots of fiercely worded Cease and Desist letters to the people he had found using the big game company's IP.

One of the people who got this C & D letter happened to live in the same city that the big game company was located in, so he took his letter in to talk to the big game company about the issue. The sender of the letter told the guy that if he continued to use the big game company's IP, the big game company would sue him into the dirt.

"So," the guy says, "I take it you want me to reprint all my business cards?"

"Yes," he was told, "we own the trademark!"

So the guy pulls out his business card and his picture ID and hands them to the big game company guy. The business card says:

Gary Gygax - President - TSR, Inc.

"Now," said Gary, "did you really trademark my name without telling me, sent me a Cease and Desist letter forbidding me to use my own name, and expect me to pay you a royalty? Really?"

(Story told to me by Gary Gygax over lunch before a TSR stockholders' meeting.)