This is a Transcript of episode 117 of Brainwaves.
Direct Quotes are in italics
Oliver Kinne: Hello and welcome everyone! My name is Oliver Kinne
Iain McAllister: and I’m Iain McAllister and this is Brainwaves episode 117 bringing you the best in tabletop gaming news.
These are the headlines for the week of 20th of March 2023
Games Workshop Goes Green
Green Games Guide launched
Inside the Box Liquidates
all this and more on this episode of Brainwaves.
Oliver: We are all aware that the amount of plastic in our hobby has become a concern for many. Being primarily a company that produces miniatures, Games Workshop has come in for questions about what they are doing about the amount that they produce. They’ve never really addressed the issue, until now.
In an announcement on the Warhammer Community page Games Workshop have announced their recycling trial starting in a small number of their stores. The Warhammer recycling program will see sprue bins popping up in various UK locations by the end of March. These bins can be used for old sprues, paint pots, and even unwanted plastic miniatures but not metal or resin miniatures.
Warhammer promises that everything will be recycled into new materials and products such as garden planters, playground equipment, or even table tennis tables.This statement does however state that the plastic will not make its way back into new models because of the high standards of plastic that Games Workshop require for their products there is a list of stores participating in the trial on the page we will link to in the show notes.
Edinburgh is not on that list but Glasgow is, and so is Brighton, so maybe we’ll see about sending an intrepid reporter to check it out.
It’s good to hear that a plastics company like Games Workshop are now trying to address the issue of plastics in our hobby, so maybe this is a step towards sustainability. I don’t know we’ll see, we’ll have to wait and see. Do you think you’re going to use it? I mean do you have, do you use Games Workshop models and how much are you into the hobby?
Iain: not anymore no I used to be a big Games Workshop player back in the day for sure but yeah I I don’t really play a lot of miniatures games anymore though I am getting a couple for a review in the not too distant future so that’s pretty good. But yeah it’s good to see a big company like this, especially a company like Games Workshop which by its own admission is a miniatures company that produces games. I mean a lot of Games Workshop money comes from producing miniatures obviously of various types the resin miniatures are there sort of more detailed sort of plastic Miniatures they’re done by a different process so yeah those can’t be recycled at the moment, but maybe they’ll get there eventually.
They don’t really have much in the way metal miniature as much anymore so those some of the Forge World stuff some of the smaller specialist stuff and some of the 30k Miniatures are all metal as well so I don’t know if they’ll ever get around to doing that or not. But yeah it’s it’s a big company making a good step in the right direction so hopefully some others will fall suit. And maybe they can pick up a few tips from our next story.
On Wednesday the 15th of March a group of industry professionals came together to launch the green games guide the core team behind the guide are
- Dr. Benjamin Abraham, a researcher and consultant on climate and sustainability issues in the digital games industry.
- T. Caires, Sales Director for Hachette Boardgames USA
- Carlos Flores, a senior climate change and sustainability expert
- JF Gange, Director of learning and development at Panda game manufacturing (a major manufacturer of board games based in China).
- Jessica Metheringham a political consultant based in the UK who advocates for environmental and social justice issues. We’ve interviewed Jessica previously in a Meeting of Minds
- Eric Price, President of Japanime Games and GAMA board member
- Eric Zimmerman, Tabletop and Video Game designer based in New York
The guide aims to provide folk at every level of the tabletop hobby from CEOs of companies down to players with the information they need to make informed choices about the environmental and social impact of their games.
It breaks down these into three core ideas of making games climate positive, that is reducing or eliminating carbon emissions, engaging in the circular economy, that’s recycling and minimising use of natural resources, and social sustainability recognition of workers rights and local cultures.
The guide has sections on wood, paper and cardstock, plastics, box and packaging, and how to choose the right materials giving guidance as to what it believes are the current standards industry-wide and what it would like to see companies achieve in a good, better, best set of guidelines.
The guide comes with plenty of useful links to other sources of information.
Now I’ve had a read through the guide. It seems like a very solid start for this particular piece of guide from these folks. I had a chat with Jessica Metheringham at the recent Airecon convention down in Harrogate. She was very passionate about bringing real change to the hobby and this seems to just be the first step in making that happen. The current guide is marked March this year so I believe they’re planning to update it as more options become available, as they get more information it’s going to become a sort of constantly updated living document.
I also saw more than one game that was ecologically themed and spoke to Laurie Blake from Stop, Drop and Roll about their game Earth Rising. They’ve tried making that game as sustainably as possible and it really feels to me like companies have started to take a real hard look at this in the last couple years Oliver. Do you think that’s the case?
Oliver: Absolutely. Well I’ve kept an eye on it and and like you I mean Earth Rising is one of the many games has now starting to come out I’m just looking at Forest of Pangea from a Berlin designer uh and again they’re all making a point of making the game as sustainably as possible and that’s not just the components. So like with uh Earth Rising you know that thought about how that’s working where they’re obviously manufacturing still tends to be in China but I think on the whole shipping from them may actually work out cheaper not cheaper as in more environmentally friendly than you know some of the others I don’t know about that.
But things like you know um card decks that now use belly bands rather than being wrapped in shrink wrap and stuff like that. The game Forest of Pangea actually was shipped rather than using the usual sort of bubble wrap or these sort of foam beans and things that you sometimes in packaging was actually wrapped in another box which has like you know cardboard around it so it’s like a box in a box to you know create it and keep it safe.
It was still shrink wrapped and as far as I know that’s all about you know when they are stored in containers they get damp so having shrink wrap around the actual item itself is still important but at least there’s nothing then inside that’s you know plastics and things. So it’s great to see and certainly a trend and I’m keeping close eye on it and I had a quick look through the guide as well so hopefully when we can you know Point people in that direction it is possible to make some changes but we’ll we’ll see what happens and hopefully yeah this becomes a big success.
Iain: yeah it’s not only kickstarters we’ve seen do this. I think, I believe Ravensburger have made a move towards making a lot more of their games sustainable in terms of wooden components and how cards are banded up like you say Oliver and also we’ve seen quite a few moves from Stoneamaier games over the last couple of years especially the uh the most recent editions of Wingspan, which is obviously a multi-million selling game now, like all the little plastic eggs have been taken out and replaced with wooden ones and the original sort of plastic sort of collection trays and that kind of thing have been replaced with some sort of sustainability the produced ones that can be recycled I can’t remember exactly what they’re made from but yeah.
Oliver: they make an effort Queen games with a you know with the green series as well so a lot of Publishers now coming out with green games, in quotes, um to a bigger level and that’s so great to see because yeah with modern manufacturing techniques and things there’s stuff that you know means you don’t need to use plastic for everything.
Even for miniatures potentially always like the preferred like a you know custom wooden meeple to a highly detailed plastic miniature so you know those may be the only places where you still see the use of plastic but generally you know a lot of times you can get something out of wood or other components and and even let’s say the packaging can have different you know using paper and things like that instead so we’ll see.
Iain: Looking at no particular kill Cool Mini Or Not in particular
Iain: In brainwaves episode 115 we reported on the controversy surrounding Inside the Box games, a UK publisher with many late kickstarters and an increasing sense of frustration amongst its backers. Employees had taken to the project on Kickstarter to inform people that they hadn’t been paid either for work or redundancy.
In an update posted on February 28th in the Subterra 2 Kickstarter Peter Blenkhern the CEO of ITB posted the following.
Oliver: To the backers,
I said in the last update at the end of January that I’d update you at the end of February with any news I had.
At this stage I can tell you that Inside the Box has been placed into liquidation with a licensed insolvency practitioner here in the UK, and is in the process of that liquidation. Due to the extreme sensitivity of this process, I was instructed by the practitioners not to make this information public up until now. I can tell you at this point that there is a prospective buyer for the assets and intellectual property of Inside the Box (which includes all stock, rights, trademarks, etc), and the process is in the final stages.
Once the process is completed (which is likely to come soon), the buyer will make a general update to all backers for each campaign affected, as well as contact any other customers and partners. As the process is still ongoing, I’m not in a position to say who the prospective buyer is just yet, so please bear with me until the legal process is completed, as this is out of my control.
What this means for this project, is that ownership of the existing stock that’s in the warehouse in China, as well as the relevant rights Inside the Box currently holds, will be transferred to the buyer. I can’t speak on their behalf as to how they manage the kickstarter pledges exactly, so until the process is completed all I can say with certainty is that the project will be taken over by them, and they will handle the project from that point.
I’ve spoken to Tim, the designer of Sub Terra, as well as the buyer, to coordinate so there’s a smooth transition from Inside the Box to the buyer, such that Tim can continue to benefit from Sub Terra with another firm at the helm.
For the sake of clarity, the liquidation process seeks to sell off the assets of the company to raise as much as possible, to then pay off as much of the debts and liabilities of the company as possible. Under UK law, this means that from this pot raised from the liquidation, staff are paid out any monies owed first, then the remainder to the government for any outstanding tax bills, then after that the remainder is apportioned to any other creditors on a pro-rata basis (i.e. split evenly).
This means that Inside the Box as a company will be wound up and cease to exist.
Once the legal process has completed and the buyer makes their update to everyone to explain the next steps, I will be providing them with all the relevant information to support them. Once they are satisfied that they have everything they need to proceed, I will cease to have any involvement with this project.
Again, I’ll provide an update at the end of the month if not sooner with more specific information
Iain: well this brings this rather sad saga to something of a close but many backers are still out the games they were promised. At this stage, as the quote there says, we don’t really know what’s going to happen . It’ll depend on who buys the assets and what money is owed to creditors and staff and then presumably the company that takes over will then address the backers once they are in control of everything.
Certainly in the past when this kind of thing has happened, and it has happened before, and kickstarters have been taken over there has usually been reasonably decent outcomes for backers because the companies want some goodwill from people that are like expecting games from the company they’ve now bought so hopefully people will see their games but it’s not going to be soon. Uh legal processes like liquidation take some time to happen so yeah hopefully staff get paid hopefully Peter is going to be in a better place now he’s sort of rid of all these complications and getting help and getting the legal processes sorted out now and we wish him all the best for future and all the staff at ITB I hope they do get paid as well and then hopefully backers will see their games
And now we’ll get on to the rest of the news.
Oliver: To start with we’ve got some sad news. In a tweet published 2nd of March 2023 one of newcastle’s long-standing board game cafes Meeple Perk announced that they will be closing. Their last day of trading will be first of April 2023.
We were unable to ascertain the reasons for the closure but we can only assume that the recent economic climate made it impossible for the business to continue. We hope all the staff and the owners of the cafe will be able to find work elsewhere during these tough times.
Iain: The financial times published its seventh annual ranking of Europe’s fastest growing companies the ft-1000 list on the 1st of March 2023. The chart lists companies in order of growth in three years to 2021. It is notable the Irish tabletop role-playing game publisher Cubicle 7 Entertainment has entered the list at 192 based on compound annual growth of 107.3 percent over that period.
Cubicle 7 announced 2.4 million euros in sales in 2021 which is up a total of 790% since 2018 when it recorded sales of 267,000 euros. Founder of cubicle 7 Dominic McDowell called the entry into the ft-1000 list
Oliver: “A prestigious recognition of our growth to date and the fantastic award-winning cubicle 7 team who put their heart and soul into bringing our exciting, social, creative, and fun products to life.”
Iain: As the hobby grows we’re likely to see more companies making their way onto such a list and a fantastic achievement by Cubicle 7 that’s a massive amount of growth over those couple years 790% is wow that’s a lot of growth.
Iain: I mean their the publishers of the Warhammer fantasy role-playing game amongst other things uh they’re they’ve got some 40K games on the way as well and they’ve got the age of Sigmar RPG so basically they’re sort of tied into Games Workshop’s IP quite hard but yeah they’re obviously doing incredibly well out of that so yeah well done to the team there.
I do wonder like as we see the hobby grow like that will we see more investment from outside sources that don’t really care about whether that company is like a role-playing game company or whatever they just want the assets what do you think Oliver.
Oliver: well I mean obviously it was such an astronomic growth I mean we’re talking nearly 10 times in three years so it’s a tripling every every year yeah almost it’s it’s just amazing yeah and obviously that sort of growth will attract investors I would have thought I don’t I don’t know how you know just I mean being listed in the financial times ft 1000 list obviously means people will have eye on it and we’ll see that there’s another company that may be of interest to someone.
As you say it may you know may not even be a board game or hobby game company you know or role play game company it might just be an investor who wants to see this company do even better so we’ll keep an eye on it and but yeah it’s definitely great news so congratulations Cubicle 7.
Iain: yeah and while we’re talking about RPG companies
Oliver: yes, in a tweet published on the 1st of March 2023 Paizo publisher of popular tabletop role-playing games Pathfinde, Starfinder, and others has announced its view on the use of AI art and text within the tabletop roleplaying games industry.
Paizo issued a full statement in a photo accompanying the tweet that says that the company
Iain: “will add new language to its creative contracts that stipulate that all work submitted to [the company] for publication be created by a human.”
Oliver: The company will also update the FAQs for the existing games to clarify that
Iain:“AI-generated content is not permitted […]”
Oliver: Paizo wants to ensure that their products are
Iain: “the work of human professionals who have spent years honing their craft [and] thank the human artists and writers who have been so integral to [the company’s] success […]”
Oliver: it’s good to see another company looking at AI and the ethical and legal implications that haven’t really been touched by anything if there haven’t been any cases so far I think there was potentially one going through I think we discussed that in the previous episode but at the moment no one really knows where we stand with AI. Not the tools themselves but obviously the output they create where the legal situation is and ethically speaking I mean to me, I know there’s a long discussion about it, but to me the biggest problem is that a lot of these tools have been just using copyrighted work from people to train the system without asking them.
Oliver: because I think that’s the biggest problem you know the output itself you know sure if you want to create art that’s you know in the public domain and and you know train a tool on that and that’s fine but if you’re using especially imagery from artists and a lot of them you know freelance artists who trying to trying their hardest to make a living and don’t ask them and don’t even offer them any recompense uh you know just creating this art for free it just seems wrong and yeah but it’s nice to see a company like Paizo tackle that.
Iain: yeah I do wonder how it’s going to be policed on Pathfinder Infinite which as I understand it is sort of similar to The Dungeons and Dragons portals for Pathfinder basically it’s like oh where you can find like sort of creator owned PDFs that kind of thing that the fans have created and sell through the Pathfinders portal. But how do you like police that? If people start making AI generated supplements can you spot that? Maybe? Tricky.
Oliver: I don’t think you can really I think that working on tools that can identify AI created work but that’s far from you know there yet so we’ll see but certainly a right step in the right direction.
Iain: for sure.
Now conventions have always had some sort of Charity Auction, Airecon had a raffle that I was at recently and we’ve seen the generosity and compassion of the community expressed many times over the course of Brainwaves reporting on the Hobby and we always want to draw attention to charity efforts when we hear about them.
This time is the turn of itch.io which is a online RPG portal with a bundle of tabletop RPGs to support trans rights in Florida. Ron Desantis and his Republican cronies have been on a rampage of passing alarming bills and executive orders all directly impacting trans people, especially young trans people, over the last few months. This bundle will donate money to Zebra Youth, a network of organizations that support LGBTQ+ people age 13 to 24 and the Trans-Inclusive group which advocates the protection of all LGBTQ+ plus individuals in South Florida and builds relationships amongst the communities there to do so.
Now there are just over 500 games in the bundle at time of recording on March the 17th and that would usually go for about $2159 and you can get it for the princely sum of five. Five whole dollars. They’re aiming for a quarter of a million dollars and they are about just over halfway there. So if you’ve got a wee bit of spare cash and fancy getting a whole bunch of games, including some pretty nice titles from what I had to look through, then do please go and check that out.
Oliver: and even if you don’t want any other games just yeah buy them anyway yeah it’s a good cause
Iain: yeah the Florida Republicans are just on a absolute Rampage at the moment of terrible legislation that they’re just harming people left right and center
Oliver: It’s scary what’s happening in America and in other places of the world as well so have a look on the uh the link in the show notes and donate some money it’s always worth doing.
Now we’re moving on to a lighter story. The Hallmark Channel, an American 24 hour cable television network, announces the release of the film “Game of Love” which aired this week at the time of recording on 16th of March that would have been yesterday. And yes you guessed it the film is about board games.
In the film it’s two main characters Audrey, a creative board game designer played by Kimberly Sustad, and Matthew, a research driven marketing consultant played by Brooks Darnell, have to create a new game that helps players find romance. Fog of Love anyone?
It is the usual storyline of tight deadlines, main characters with different expectations and personalities, and the realization that neither of them actually knows much about love. However I’m sure it will all be well in the end.
So here we go we’ve got another. Well we’ve got board games appearing prominently again on TV let’s put it that way we had, what was it wingspan on an episode of
Iain: Coronation Street
Oliver: yeah so you know he is now a whole film uh dedicated to board games and from what I’ve seen there’s quite a lot of games actually that are you know modern games are talking about here I think one of the designers of one of the games said oh there’s there’s a game that they designed featured that hasn’t actually been published yet or something
Oliver: So yeah it’s obviously ahead of its time by the sounds of it. If you check Twitter I’m sure you’ll find lots of comments on that film and but it’s great to see.
Iain:I saw a still from it with the the I think it was the main female lead carrying around a copy of Belfort for instance so yeah there are Hobby Games in this film uh not not sort of not just sort of like more family like more traditional family games like sort of Monopoly, Cluedo that kind of thing there’s sort of the hobby game stuff is definitely represented in there. And yeah it’s only small screen it is Hallmark so it’s not like the biggest thing in the world but it’s fascinating that Hallmark would even use that as a theme these days so yeah
Oliver: nice to see
Iain: yeah very interesting
Onto our little events section and just the one.
We’ve got Airecon out the way it was the UK con I’ve just visited and I really, really enjoyed myself you can read all about that on the site and the next UK con I’ll be attending is Tabletop Scotland in August.
Now last week there was some doubt as to whether this event would go ahead due to funding issues for the venue its hosted in the Dewars Center in Perth. Now earlier today it’s uh the 17th of March it was announced the Dewars Center had secured funding for the next year up until March 2024, so Tabletop Scotland will be going ahead!
It’d be lovely to see some of our listeners up there and we’ll probably be involved in the con in some way or form don’t know what yet because we haven’t really spoken to the committee uh but yeah we’ll uh we’ll be there and yeah we’ll need to get people up I will need to get Oliver up as well all the way to Scotland for some gaming.
Oliver: oh gosh, yeah I need to do that one might not be this year but maybe next year
Iain: yeah maybe and we’d also like to take a little moment to give a little shout out to all our patrons especially James Naylor and Shaun Newman our executive producers. Thank you so much everyone who gives us a little bit of money to help keep the cast running.
You can join all our patrons uh on our patreon for just one dollar a month and we also have a Kofi set up now as well you can give us um one-off donation or a recurring donation like patreon if you prefer to use that platform.
There are a couple of other ways to support us on the site including buying dice from metallic dice games with the promo code ROLLWITHBRAINS that’s all capital letters all one word and we also have a bunch of t-shirts on Sir Meeple as well and you can buy some merch to represent the cast around the world!
Iain: But Oliver, it’s coming home to Catan?
Oliver: It is coming home yes football is coming home apparently.
So while Jamie’s away we can cover board games in our outro that aren’t Monopoly
Oliver: no Monopoly news but still very weird interesting news I’d say.
So this week is the turn of the classic Klaus Teuber game Settlers of Catan or as it’s called now Catan. Cashing in on the World Cup fever of last year Catan has released a soccer fever scenario. Interesting from the page description on catanshop.com
Iain: “Soccer fever has gripped the island of Catan! You and your fellow Catanians are swept up in supporting your hometown teams. Will they win the most matches and finish the season with the championship cup? Every time you build a settlement or a city, soccer matches are held. Leading the league will gain you victory points!”
Oliver: Amazing! It describes itself as a light-hearted scenario for Catan fans everywhere and tells you that players will be flicking die-cut soccer balls into the pitch to score.
What other sports should turn up in games that they are wholly inappropriate for. I mean we’ve we’ve got sheep in Catan can we do something with that.
Iain: I was thinking like sedate garden bowling in like Gloomhaven or something
Oliver: yeah that’s that’s a good idea why not why not
Iain: a garden bowling scenario in Gloomhaven or uh I don’t know. But yes if you’ve got any ideas listeners do write in and let us know what your ideas are for games that should really need inappropriate sports tie-ups for some reason.
Oliver: I’ll definitely have to get this Catan uh soccer fever scenario there that looks amazing
Iain: yeah it’s not out yet but it will be soon you can pre-order on thecatanshop.com and presumably at your friendly local game store as well.
thanks very much for listening everyone if you like what you’ve listened to then the best way to help us out is to share the podcast and drop us a review and rating on iTunes.
You can also follow Oliver at https://tabletopgamesblog.com/ uh you can come on to our Discord we’ll put an invite in the show notes and you’re very welcome along there to discuss the news of the day, discuss games with us in general and join us for regular game nights.
I’m on Twitter https://twitter.com/thegiantbrain our Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/giantbrainuk/ on Facebook we’re just The Giant Brain and our website where you can find all these casts and all our articles is the giantbrain.co.uk and you can email us with all of your inappropriate sports in board games ideas at [email protected]
We’ll be back in two to three weeks time and we’ll see you then thank you very much
Oiver: see you then thank you bye