3D printing renaissance is coming to board games
Both Wilson and Ziff highlight some of the fierce debates about 3D printing in the subculture. “3D printing can be a dirty word sometimes,” says Ziff. “There is some disagreement about the quality of casting that may sound alien to those outside of our niche. You don’t walk into a board game store and ask to know if a set is minted or minted, so why should scrutiny fall on junior players like us?”
While MyMiniFactory and its parent company OnlyGames based in the UK, most of their revenue comes from customers and customers in the US. They are very interested in building soon from an office in North America. Ziff emphasized: “We believe in local production.
Remote operations, automation, and virtualization are the mainstays of future industries, although Ziff doesn’t want to see them destroy the authentic physical experience.
We need a “Meta-Reverse”
Is a new era of countertops, modeled and drawn with 3D software, and play in augmented reality come to life, we must not leave behind the physical experiences that informed them. “We must never overlook the possibility of reversing digitization,” said Ziff, “so that we can share the digital renaissance with the real world. We call this ‘super inversion’. We want to see a combination of these art forms, intuitively see labor-enhancing technologyrather than a shiny, fragile new model that eclipses a tried-and-true model.”
“We’ve seen a lot of consumers using home 3D printers in this space,” agrees Wilson, “But we’re not yet at the stage where printing from your home is cost-effective. That might happen soon, but for now, we’re behind its peak—though I have to admit the ability to match the quality of something sold in stores by print. 3D arrived earlier than I anticipated.”
In light of these important changes, Ziff and Wilson agree that increasingly virtualized tools have brought together creative communities with much more design power, but a more impersonal, monstrous world. More than that, there are all kinds of unintended disadvantages.
“Contract agreements can cause artists, illustrators and writers to lose control over their creations,” warns Ziff. “We hate to see that. We want creators to continue to be known for as long as their work is shown and for them to continue to be paid on that basis through revenue sharing. It takes talented groups of people to bring these games to life and we don’t want to minimize anyone’s work. These games are whole worlds that we don’t want to see the limits of.”
Another problem that desktop collectors have been aware of for a while, although decentralized production has made it more relevant than ever. “3D printing has made counterfeiting much easier,” says Wilson, “and the tendency to favor the same things for the sake of being just different enough to avoid legal attention has spread. This is how lowering barriers in the market can cut it both ways.”
With Intellectual property rights one hot topic in this space, Ziff offers a more nuanced perspective. “We recognize that there is a line that should not be crossed with IP, but OnlyGames wants to give power to the community and be able to trust them. Let the community judge what is fair in a democratic way. I don’t want this firm to become a group of lawyers, like the larger firms in this industry. What we want is a better dialogue, not more punitive legal structures.”
Small figures, big business?
Conversations about cost and counterfeiting, pricing and ownership, reveal greater dissatisfaction in tablet gaming with large, anonymous corporation in a community-based marketplace.
“When good creators come along and create an exciting new board game on their own, we continue to see the same things happen,” Ziff explains. “Large institutions like Hasbro or Ravensburger spot these exciting new IPs with any degree of success, buy them and get them up and running immediately in pursuit of a return on investment at any cost. This kills innovation and creates a more hostile space to create something new on the countertop. It’s by design.”