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Ethical, Sustainable Publishing/Fabrication

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let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

This is a "temperature check" for those based in the United States.

Does anyone have experience working with, or even consider working with, sustainable domestic (USA) publishers/fabricators? To be specific, I'm talking about US companies that use sustainable materials: very little, if any, plastic components, lots of cardstock, soy-based, non-synthetic inks. How would you describe your experience?

A second factor to consider is a worker-owned company. Does whether or not a company is a corporate-structured one, or a more horizontally-structured, collective/cooperative business make a difference to you?

Another specific question for those based in the US: if you knew of a domestic manufacturer - that might cost more in fabrication, but have quicker turnaround time and less in shipping to US customers - would you seriously consider them? Or would you default to overseas publishers, like the rest of the industry at large does?

For those interested: I recently rediscovered a brief article and resource list of domestic US manufacturers (other than The Game Crafter) that focus on sustainable practices and materials. Maybe this will be useful to you:

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
I would consider it, but I

I would consider it, but I can't do 2000+ units at this time for any of my games.. It would save on freight to have something manufactured here, and I'd be fine if all that money (and maybe a little more) went into the COGS. However, the companies listed there at the least seem to have high minimums and medium turnaround times (sorry, but I don't have a 4-7 month delay from my Chinese manufacturer despite that author's assumptions.. maybe 4 months to get it to my door), and they do very little.

For example, that first company sounds great, but they only sell cardstock components. No chipboard, no dice, no meeples. I like being able to say, well, I need some small plastic disks, and custom dice that look like this, and some acrylic gems, and a vacuum-formed insert for the box, and..

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Sounds to me like...

These companies need to work with a Broker. Like Yvan Deng in China: he'll figure out what Chinese companies he needs to source different aspects of the production of a "Game" and then he does the final assembly to get a fully customized product in the end.

Where he gets dice and minis made is NOT the same place he gets cardstock printed and cut (as an example). But he manages the process from start to end...

One thing that I LIKE about this practice is it would be HARD to launch phony games because not one single manufacturer does it all. It's Yvan's team that puts it all together. So it's hard to make "knock-offs"!

Sounds to me like you need something like that in the USA.

Mosker's picture
Joined: 03/30/2014
Two points to consider (and a third personal note).

(I actually thought about posting that link awhile back and it slipped my mind. Any Tesa collective people here? Been meaning to reach out to them...)

1. Following Jay103's comment, the limitations of the manufacturers are a sticking point--and especially with my case, dice. Are you up to multiple sources and doing your own assembly? (Got a shrink wrap machine in a spare room?)

2. As for the ethics issue, a lot matters on how much extra cost you and your consumers are willing to absorb. A great deal probably also depends on how you approach your customers. If you're dealing with what we'll call general gamer audience (i.e. which I'll define as everything a less known than Catan and CAH) it would depend on the theme. I've seen Christian gamemakers field questions about religious oppression in China, and a game about forest management (o.k., on Mars) would benefit from a token (unintentional) effort.

3. As it relates to my primary projects (about animal rescue), if go with a domestic, environmentally conscious source, I would be quite vague because those primarily attracted to theme of animal rescue tend to congregate at all ends of the political spectrum. Te middle --even by European/pre-millennium American standards)--not so much. [Insert 1000 words about Michael Vick, dogs, race, history...]

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