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Ethical Publishing

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Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009

Hey all, first post so i just though I'd add a quick hello and cool to see many enthusiatic (who u spell?) game makers.

I had a general question on the printing of games and the environmental impacts that this has. Does anyone else have the same concerns? Also does anyone else know where to get games published or even just a way to make games yourself with minimal environmental impact. Basically im concerned with all the waist and chemicals involved in printing and making plastics.

Sorry if im a downer.

Cheers and all the best,

Asdoama

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Well, we're not ghosts.

Well, we're not ghosts. We can try to keep our "footprint" on the environment small (and we should!) but we can't ever make it non-existent. Compared to the flood of paper books, magazines, and newspapers that get printed every year, I suspect the amount of paper and cardboard used by boardgames is trivial. I wouldn't worry much about that.

I can't speak about the impact of the amount and kind of plastics used in some games. But I know I have well over a hundred games on my shelves that contain no plastic at all, and are none the worse for it.

You must also consider what other damage to the environment a boardgame might displace. Because my family plays boardgames, we watch less television (saving energy) and go to fewer movies (saving gas and reducing CO2 emissions).

If you're worried about environmental impact, my advice is to design games that don't need plastic figurines (assuming those are bad, which actually I know nothing about) and otherwise set your mind at ease. There are a lot of things you and your customers and players could be doing that are much worse for the environment.

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
Thanks for the reply, its a

Thanks for the reply, its a nice take on things.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
Also . . .

. . Maybe design a game that raises awareness for issues you're worried about. (A Kyoto Protocol board game might actually be fun!)

Or donate some proceeds from sales of it (assuming you ever make a sweet game that people want to buy) to helping out a cause you believe in!

Those are things I'd do if I was ever in a position to.

:)

Alexender (not verified)
I think why we are focusing

I think why we are focusing on board games for the wastage of the papers and plastic, if we have such a great concerns for the environment , there are hundreds of more things we can concern like use of plastic and for toys, and polythene's etc,games are supposed to be meant for a good porpouse for joy and entertainment.Regards from :action games

Admin note: link to online games website removed.

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
You gotta do what you gotta do.

Hmm. Well im really enthusiastic about trying to create a better world in whatever ever way I can. So i suppose im just trying to create things in the best possible way and figured if there is green publishers i should use them, if not, ill try and self publish and make it as green as possible. Basically if you are concerned for things you need to do what you can do, and in this instance it appears to be trying to push for greener creation of things. If your gonna consume, consume ethically. If you cant consume ethically, dont consume such a thing. Well thats if you even give a damn, you might not, and thats your choice.

Also a Kyoto Protocol game could be fun, but i really just wanna make RPG's and card games :P

Cheers for feedback guys :D

Mondainai
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I'll give you my thoughts on

I'll give you my thoughts on this for whatever it's worth. I'm pretty concerned with the environment. Recycle everything but organic waste (yes, it looks stupid now that I write it here ... but I live in the city, don't know where to put it ... will ask my gf if she's fine with a compost in the closet). Haven't flown since I learned how bad it is - took the train to Japan instead of flying this year (yes, Russian trains aren't that C02-effective, but I found a German study that claimed that traveling Köln-Kyoto caused 1/8 the amount of CO2-equivalents if done by train and ferry instead of airplane). My workers in Essen have to pay their own tickets to there unless they join me on the 24-hour train ride. I haven't turned on the heat in my flat yet, as my landlord hasn't got around to kick out the very dirty power supplier we use now (this is Sweden in October). We put on more clothes instead, China style. Vegetarian. Buy ecological food only, even if it means that I have to stick with pasta and salt during periods with little money. Ride my bicycle 30 km a day (which is more for health reasons though, since the public transport here is C02-free). Working for the Swedish Green party. Writing emails to cooking magazines when I find them advocating excessively destructive foodstuffs (beef, that is). When drunk, I scold friends who don't give a shit.

Yeah, I'd say that I'm annoyingly green.

But when it comes to my board games, I presently don't bother. I make 100 copies at a time, which means that I have a hard time finding suppliers. If I'd choose between 5 suppliers with reasonable prices, I'd check how green they were (and how close to me). But now I choose between 0 suppliers, and I'm trying to squeeze a "1" out of that 0. And when I have that 1, I'm not gonna kill it with my environmentalism. Once I reach editions of at least 1000 copies, I'm gonna start asking those questions, check the certificates, and I'll for sure look up this thread for advice.

But what I think is the worst environmental consequence of my little hobby is not so much the cardboard, the paint and the glue, but the transportation. I sent 30 kilos of boardgames to Japan by airmail. Using the rough figure quoted above, this shipment caused 50% more CO2-equivalents than me going myself to Japan and back to Sweden by Russian coal-heated trains. Today I'm so happy if someone wants to place an order, that I'd sell them playing pieces made of uranium. But once I'm confident enough, I'll tell shopowners that they'll have to wait 3 months for the games.

The idea above of boardgamising green issues is a brilliant one. In fact, environment is about systems with agents, and every system with agents lends itself to board game abstraction. In any economic game with different production methods, you can label some of them as C02-emitting, and add a CO2 tax that increases as players use such production methods. The instigation of the tax, or its progressiveness, can be altered by player actions (illustrating political influence). In fact, you can achieve a very elegant two-layered balance trade-off: If everyone goes for coal power (or air transport/beef/pesticides/building in natural reserves - you name it), the green tax will increase more rapidly, making investing in the greener way an obvious strategic decision, just like you go for Oil in Power Grid if everyone else goes for Coal. However, with a political mechanism, a majority of players of one kind of strategy can bully the smart-ass environmentalist/promethean by tilting the political outcome in their favor.

Here's one game where the environment is a built-in mechanism: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/36472

Another take on ethical publishing is the human rights issue. The publishers of this game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/41757 state that they produce in India (instead of China) to support free speech. Normally, countries tend to be more democratic the richer they are (unless the richness come from natural resources firmly under elite control) and trading means contacts means exchange of ideas, so it's debatable whether or not trading with dictatorships make them less oppressive (cf North and South Korea). But I was still impressed enough to immediately buy their game. 30 € for a deck of cards; ouch, freedom is expensive ;)

Well, sorry for this long rant. Now I have to get on with printing playing cards in the US. Apparently, Europe don't have affordable print-on-demand companies (at least none that communicate in English and answer e-mails). And Essen Spiel 09 is more important than the future of mankind, so I'll have those cards flown over in a Concorde!

InvisibleJon
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Transport...

I've thought about this very same issue. I have two short thoughts:

1) Games that promote environmentalism. I made two with subtle environmentalist messages in them: Monster in the Cabbages ( http://www.invisible-city.com/play/402/monster-in-the-cabbages ) and Season Harvest ( http://www.invisible-city.com/play/292/season-harvest ). A "Kyoto protocol" game is a good idea, but can you teach environmentalism and be sneaky about it? Telling a kid that a game is educational is a great way to suck the fun out of the play experience, and it's true for adults too. Games are more powerful as metaphors than as overt statements.

2) Mondainai comments on the ecological cost of transport. This is the same conclusion I came to. When I considered self-publishing, I only looked at printers in the United States. Why? The ecological cost of shipping a game from overseas is very significant. I may save money in printing, but I'm offloading that cost onto the planet, and that's not ethical.

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
Thanks

Well these are very eye opening comments and I really appreciate the input. I hadnt though about transportation costs at all.

Mondainai
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Hi Jon, 1) Yes, I'd never

Hi Jon,

1) Yes, I'd never tell a kid or anyone else that a game is educational. A game is fun, period. And it's not a game about "learning environment". The environment is just there, just like you'd paint the sky blue (unless the game would be set in Eastern China, in which case you'd paint it grey). I think the effect is stronger that way. I mean, no one makes a game or movie with the tag-line "a gender-stereotyping production". The gender stereotypes are just there ;)

2) I disagree. A halt on international trade would indeed be beneficial for the environment (at least in the short run), just like an economic depression would. But international trade is paramount to living standards everywhere, especially in the production country.
And environmental concern depend on living standards. It's people like you and me who can afford to think about it; for a struggling family in a developing country (or for a government that ultimately rests on the support of struggling families, be it through democracy or absence of revolution), environmental concerns are just an abstract concept. First you need food on the table, and after that you can think of who had to die in order to get you this food. China is today a highly environmentally ineffective economy, producing 450 USD worth per m2 CO2 (compared to 1936 for USA and 6591 for Sweden). Without further trade, they're gonna stay there.
Having this said, you can ask for certification (which would give an advantage to clean companies, which probably would tilt your purchases a bit to the US anyway), and make sure you don't have stuff flown to you, but transported by land and sea.

I'm personally currently debating inside my head whether to continue sending small batches of games by air to purchasers worldwide ... I need to stop it at that some point, but maybe it's a bit early to do it right now ... I mean, first I need a game on your table, and after that, I can think of who had to die in order to get you that game ;)

JuggernautJ
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Joined: 02/14/2009
Print Locally

I don't want to get into an overlong, holier-than-thou discourse about the morality of third world economics.
As long as there are children starving to death through no fault of their own while the ridiculously wealthy live lives of extreme excess it is all a matter of degree.

But when it comes to producing games and printing I feel obligated to say, as a Journeyman Printer with experience on both sides of the fence, it is best for you, you customers and the world in general if you use certified, responsible and local vendors for your print and print related needs.

I've seen irresponsible printers pour fixer and solvents down the public waste pipes. I've seen owners with no regard for their employees physical or mental health (because the boss knew the employees were illegal and had no recourse but to follow orders) browbeat, denegrate, humiliate, overwork, underpay and maintained in unsafe conditions... all in the name of squeezing an extra dime out of every dollar you paid to them for your printing.
And that dime went for payment on the owner's third Porshce... rather than cleaning up the workplace or providing a decent living for the worker who produced your product.

It's late and I'm starting to sound like a zealot. I apologize. But please, print locally with trusted businesses (the BBB might be a good place to start). You'll be doing yourself, your customers and the planet a favor.

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."
— Dom Hélder Câmara

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
Comsumers and producers both

Comsumers and producers both pushing things in the right direction is important. By the way, what is BBB? Cheers for responses, good to get some feedback on this topic.

Kirioni
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BBB

Better Business Bureau

http://www.bbb.org/us/

Mondainai
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Alternative?

So when you choose to not print in that horrible 3rd world factory, will the workers there go to a better-paid job where they are treated better, or a worse-paid job where they are treated worse?

InvisibleJon
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When one side of the scale goes up, the other goes down.

Mondainai wrote:
So when you choose to not print in that horrible 3rd world factory, will the workers there go to a better-paid job where they are treated better, or a worse-paid job where they are treated worse?
That's the dilemma, isn't it? And it gets more complex than that. Inevitably, another nation will offer cheaper labor, or the labor in that nation will become too expensive. The businesses leave, and then there's no work, and no money.

When I think about it, it feels like there's no good answer. Every choice has its advantages and disadvantages.

tavisto (not verified)
Green Game Publishing

Hey Asdoama,

I'm glad you brought this topic up. I'm from The Game Crafter and we allow people to design and publish their own games. The reason I wanted to respond to your post was because when the business was started, we adopted a green policy that we felt was reasonable and a good starting point.

I'll include the nuts and bolts of our "Going Green" policy and how we are minimizing our footprint while publishing games below. It's also available directly on our site at http://www.thegamecrafter.com/publish/going-green

===============

What we do:

Unfortunately, one-off production is far less efficient than mass production. That actually adds to our footprint, but one-off production also has some advantages:

- We produce only what people are going to use, so there is less waste if a particular game doesn't sell very well.
- We produce everything in the United States, where we are selling the games, so there's less production.
-We buy game parts from U.S. manufacturers that actually make those parts locally wherever possible.

Our Boxes:

Our Indestructo game boxes are pure cardboard and do not require glue or tape for assembly. Even without glue and tape they can withstand pressures of up to 200lbs. These boxes are more expensive, but by using them we're not using as many harsh chemicals that are found in glues, adhesives, and plastics.

Wood Filled Parts:

We have many parts that are made with wood-filled plastic, which makes them very green.

- These parts are made of 40% wood fibers, which means they use less hydrocarbons.
- The wood fibers come from waste wood, which is taking waste out of the waste stream.
- This method of production expends less energy because there is less plastic to be melted down to form a mold.

===============

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how a publisher can choose to incorporate green materials and processes to minimize their footprint. We'll hopefully have additional things we can do but it's a good starting point for now. Cheers!

-Tavis

Katherine
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Joined: 07/24/2008
Asdoama - this article might

Asdoama - this article might give you some ideas

http://www.startribune.com/business/11224556.html

Mondainai
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[/quote]That's the dilemma,

[/quote]That's the dilemma, isn't it? [/quote]

Hehe, it's not. A rhetorical question it was. They'll go to worse-paid job where they are treated worse. If there were better jobs for them, then they wouldn't have been in this factory to begin with.

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
HEY!

Firstly thanks for the replies, great comments.
Ok Mondainai, the idea is to the push the market into positive directions. Thinking of the people who live in those jobs is a great thing but thinking about the world is also a good thing. Also the world has people and things on it to so by thinking about the world your thinking about people too. The problem with supporting companies that don't give a damn is the chemical run off can end up in the waters of the ocean which is becoming increasingly toxic to the sea life which is in turn resulting in people in poor countries who rely on this food for life getting sick (tumors, cancers etc) and dieing (this is also a problem prevalent in western society), and this is just part of the problem. Basically, if we do nothing to support or push the emergence of green productions then nothing green will emerge as a result of lack of support and the world will be @#$&ed.

Tavisto, thanks for the comment. It is good to hear that a publisher is on the ball. Shall look into the links, thanks again.

Cheers all,
Adam

Mondainai
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Certified and Thirld world

You're right. The best is always to go for a certified green producer. And should you find one in a developing country, then they sure needs some encouragement, and you'd do good, not bad, by using them rather than a rich-world producer.

Asdoama
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Mondainai, you're so right.

Mondainai, you're so right.

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