Meeting of the Minds

Emerging Challenges in Tabletop Gaming: Player Modifications, Third-Party Parts, and Disruptive Technology

Benjamin J. Siders and Kirk A. Damman

©2015. Published in Landslide, Vol. 7, No. 4, March/April 2015, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

Modifying board games is a time-honored practice and has resulted in countless variations of popular titles. For example, everybody knows that you get $500 if you land on Free Parking, even though the official Monopoly rules don’t say so. House rules are not the only way players modify games. The popular Milton Bradley game HeroScape, a turned-based strategy game in which players pit armies of units against each other on a three-dimensional (3D) hex grid, spawned a cottage industry of custom user-designed units, ranging from entirely original pieces to figures based on third-party properties, such as Star Wars. Still other tabletop gaming products are specifically intended for user customization. Combat-centric tabletop games, like role-playing games and war games, prominently feature unpainted miniatures that are custom-painted by the player. Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K system in particular is famous for the extent to which players modify stock products—even the paint colors chosen by the player can in some instances impact gameplay.

Premium Content For:
  • Intellectual Property Law Section
Join - Now