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Moral Dilemma!!

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Elementally Fun...
Elementally Fun Games LLC's picture
Joined: 01/22/2012

Hi All,

I just published my first educational game, Chemistry: An Atom Building Game. I recently attended a National Science Teachers Convention and the game was a huge hit. I now have catalog companies asking me about including my game in their catalog. I also have a major distributor, who is interested in distributing my game. Everything is great! Well not everything...I am having a moral dilemma about how to publish my game and future games. It comes down to printing outside of the US. I have a real concern about printing in China or India. This has been in the back of my mind for so long...and now I have to make a decision.

My first run of 500 games was printed in Florida and now for my second run I need about 2000-3000 games. The game is a card game of 180 cards with instructions. All the publishers I have contacted will only do large volume runs out of the country. I can't find a company in the US who will do this.

On top of that, I can't make a decent profit staying within the US. I don't want to give up but I feel that I am at in impasse. I have a game that helps students study for tests in a fun way. A lot teachers, students and companies are interested but I can't get past the my little "China Syndrome". It is so frustrating!!!

Not to mention, my second game is a board game with pawns, cards and plastic winks. How likely is it that I can even get this published in the US?

If China and India are my only choices, please help me find reasons to make this work. In short, help me find a way to comprise my principles :) I really want to keep this going. I never thought I would get this far. I have a product that is promising but I can't continue unless I compromise by principles.

I know these are random thoughts but I would welcome everyones opinions, ideas, thoughts, etc.


Daniel Dulek
Elementally Fun Games, LLC

Joined: 08/20/2008
I guess we need to know what

I guess we need to know what it is about printing in China that bothers your sense of ethics.

Do you feel that Chinese workers are exploited? Or do you feel a moral obligation to keep investment Stateside? Or something else?

avalaunch's picture
Joined: 04/13/2012
I would also be curious what

I would also be curious what your moral dilemma is.

Your choice very well may come down to: outsource and see your product come to fruition, or give up on it entirely. I think that's a no brainer. In the one scenario, you get to see your product made, and in doing so help educate students, while also providing some work for people in China (yeah, you'd prefer it be work in the US, but that's not an option). In the other scenario, your product doesn't get made. I could see more of a moral dilemma if the choice were to either outsource and make more money or not outsource and make considerably less. But with the low margins in the board game industry, your choice is likely to be either outsource or don't move forward at all.

In any case, have you looked into 360 Manufacturing ( It's Hasbro's US board game manufacturing company. I don't know what their minimum order size would be, or what their prices are like, but it's worth looking into.

Good luck,

Kris Fields

Joined: 03/15/2012
Sorry but...

I hate to sound like arrogant **** but seriously, don't let this moral dilemma hold you back. There are only two things that I could see plaguing your mind, and they are as follows:

1. Chinese/Korean/Indian/Random 3rd World Country Workers, are exploited
By whose standards? Here in the West, we have things like minimum wage (more on that later) and all sorts of amenities that we don't need. As soon as WE (yes, I'm American too) stop thinking that every other country out there needs CocaCola, Levis, Equality and Democracy, we'll stop being so HATED world wide. The people working in these places may not be making much money, but they're grateful for the job. It lets them put food on the table, maybe not 3 square meals with 20% waste and a massive upcharge for "certified grade-a bull****" but they can at least make a living. The Chinese workers in those factories might be dealing with awful conditions, etc etc etc, but they do it because it's a JOB, and if they weren't printing your game, they'd be working in some coal/steel plant under the same or worse conditions, or they'd be starving. Next time you hear some bleeding heart complaining that some worker only makes 25cents a day, go check out the exchange rate between our currency and theirs, and compare the costs of living in the two countries.

2. Keep the work in the good ol' US of A
Remember how I said that most other countries don't have a minimum wage? You make as much as you're worth? Yeah, Americans don't believe in that. Nope, we think that highschool drop-outs, junkies, and pretty much anyone who can take one day in their entire failure of an existence and stumble their way through an interview should be entitled to certain basic necessities. Umm.... why? Not everyone who's making minimum wage is actually like that, I know, but those that are like that aren't worth the air that they're breathing, much less minimum wage. There are 6 billion people on this planet, nobody is entitled to jack s***t - eventually, the planet won't be able to support us, and someone is going to starve. We've been dodging the "natural selection" bullet for a long time, but it's steadily catching up.
Companies don't have factories in the US because we have unions and workers rights, and MINIMUM WAGE, which everyone is always trying to increase. Think about it, who DOESN'T want to make more money for the same amount of unskilled labor? So companies retaliate, and send their jobs overseas to people who understand that unskilled labor isn't worth much at all. The only people who then complain about this are the out-of-work Americans, the government who now isn't getting Income Tax off those workers and has to deal with skyrocketing unemployment, and bleeding hearts who have enough money to afford buying things that are built in America by Americans.

Build your game wherever it needs to be built, and don't feel bad. This whole "1 vs 99%" thing is crap. ALL Americans are the 1%, and we need to stop imposing our notions of "a good life" on other societies. I would respect you more if you had the game produced for as little as possible, and then set it up so that you only made a profit equal to what your work is realistically worth than if you built it here in an "ethical" workplace and then cranked the price so that you could make a living off of your profits from game design.

Joined: 03/13/2012
Some Info/ Advice on China

Just to provide some insight on Chinese manufacturing and advice if you go this route.

If you're interested in manufacturing in China you might feel better or worse by doing the research on the specific company and location/ area where the manufacturing will happen. Many US companies will pay above normal wages to Chinese workers and have above average working conditions, but this can vary from company to company and area to area. I don't think a manufacturer you would like to work with would have a problem if you just ask them the questions you're interested in.

As a piece of advice, depending on how in depth you are going to be with the manufacturing and how specific the manufacturing will be, it can be important to discuss your expectations on the product with the Chienese plant managers as well as their US counterparts. For example, if you think you're ordering wooden pawns just be sure to work with the company and plant supervisors to ensure they can make wooden pawns and won't ship you plastic ones. This sort of thing isn't done by malice, but if the plant manager thinks cost is more important than material they may change materials without notice- so just make sure you communicate clearly what your priorities are.

Joined: 10/13/2011
A few thoughts...

Hi Daniel,

What's more American than shopping for the lowest price and making a profit?

I honestly see this as Win-Win-Win; The US/China bond will strengthen a tiny tiny bit, students will have a new way to make learning fun and you might start making a buck or two.

2000-3000 copy runs are still relatively small. I would suggest doing what you can to make it happen now and when that run size is 20,000-30,000, you may have the leverage to manufacture in the US and still make a profit.

...and when people say "I can't believe you printed in China!" you can say "No one in the US has stepped up to fill the void of low cost / low run game manufacturing and a happy, stable Chinese economy is a happy, stable US enconomy"

parvez's picture
Joined: 05/21/2012
We can provide complete Print Production Support from India

Dear Daniel

I have come across your post on the Forum reg outsourcing production of your game from India/China.

I would love to offer you our services - as a one-stop design, print & production company. We have been established in advertising/publishing segment for almost 20 years in India and have excellent creative and infrastructure set up to give shape to your concepts.

Also, we have been doing a lot of short-run print works also (for clients who commission coffee-table books, memoirs and innovative print media) so publishing short-run prints of 2000-3000 sets (as indicated in one of the replies to your post) is really no problem for us. In fact, we can print a minimum of 1000 sets to start with.

Would you like to try us out ? I have no issues providing you a sample lot of say 2-3 sets; for you to check our quality-finish etc at nominal cost (to cover shipping, etc) and then, ONLY if you are satisfied - we decide on the bulk order of 2000-3000 pieces. Anything that is card/paper/print related can be done as a sampler. Any molding or fabricated plastic/wooden element will of course need a sizable quantity say, 2000 pieces minimum.

Do let me know if this sounds viable for you.
For queries or information, please send me a message or mail me on



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