HuGo Lelapin
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I'll cut it short.

The last time I've play tested my cards game with a friend and 2 strangers at a kind of Board gaming café. One of those two strangers had created many games and had made some play testing on some for quite some time. This guy explained me that one of his game has been stolen by someone that play tested is games with him at the place we were presently. The guy had money and had contact in the industry.

It makes me wonder... what can I do against that? How can I protect myself?

The game work very well, I like it. Would like to kickstart it! But still play to make sure everything flow every time. And the worst thing could happens would be I got my game stolen!
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Nathan Jensen
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I dont think it is usually ever a problem. That must have been a rare case. Anyways though, if you are worried about it, I would just suggest to keep your playtesting amongst people you trust until the game is far enough along that you have some art and rules and things are just more flushed out. Then publicly test it.
Being closer to a final product may help deter someone wanting to take your idea since you are already much further along the process than they would be?
Versus playtesting fresh ideas that are just starting out with strangers or shadowy folk.
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J Holmes
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If you are really worried NDAs will help you a little, but unless the person telling you the story had concrete proof/information he may have been pulling your leg.
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Russ Williams
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j_holmes wrote:
but unless the person telling you the story had concrete proof/information he may have been pulling your leg.
Or deluded/paranoid, which happens sometimes with people obsessed about people stealing their valuable ideas.
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Filip W.
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Short answer #1: You can't.

Short answer #2: Ideas are worthless, it's the effort and development you put into them that make them valuable, and that's not something that can be replaced. Yes, someone could take your current version and try to publish it but they wouldn't know how to develop it further.

Short answer #3: Your art and text is copyrighted, so you're protected there. And art and text is what differentiates your game from others, not mechanics. Mechanics are often very similar between games.

Short answer #4: There's no incentive to steal a game. The amount of money to be made from publishing board games is minuscule (a huge hobby game release is 10 000 copies). In comparison, World of Warcraft has 10 000 000 subscribers who pay the amount of a board game each month. Hasbro publishes for the mass market in print runs of 1 000 000+, but they don't take unknown designs or unproven designers (or even proven, mostly they do inhouse).

Long, complete and erudite answer: IP law for dummies and game designers
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Nat Levan
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Posting information about the game here (or on your own website), so there is a public record is also a good step.
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John "Omega" Williams
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russ wrote:
j_holmes wrote:
but unless the person telling you the story had concrete proof/information he may have been pulling your leg.
Or deluded/paranoid, which happens sometimes with people obsessed about people stealing their valuable ideas.

Hate to burst you two's safe little bubbles... But YES, it does happen, and it happened to me once.

One of my playtesters for an expansion apparently decided he liked the design of one of the races ALOT and so started doing and selling art of them and claiming it was HIS design. Which locked me out of using them in my game since he'd gotten his stuff out first. He gets all the credit and money for my work.

So dont go around calling people liars.
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Russ Williams
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Omega2064 wrote:
russ wrote:
j_holmes wrote:
but unless the person telling you the story had concrete proof/information he may have been pulling your leg.
Or deluded/paranoid, which happens sometimes with people obsessed about people stealing their valuable ideas.

Hate to burst you two's safe little bubbles... But YES, it does happen, and it happened to me once.

One of my playtesters for an expansion apparently decided he liked the design of one of the races ALOT and so started doing and selling art of them and claiming it was HIS design. Which locked me out of using them in my game since he'd gotten his stuff out first. He gets all the credit and money for my work.

So dont go around calling people liars.
I said the person might have been deluded/paranoid.

Certainly theft of ideas happens, but far less often than many paranoid newbie designers believe, and then they waste time and money doing various bureaucratic things to try to "officially" copyright their ideas or even patent them.
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John "Omega" Williams
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In general though a playtester isnt going to swipe a game. No.

For the same reason WIPs dont get stolen usually.

The game is unfinished and thus it is not proven viable yet. That makes it worthless to steal.

But. There are people who think that dame design is just handing an IDEA to a publisher and getting a paycheck. Those sorts are more likely to try and swipe a unfinished game. Good news is they likely wont ever be able to sell it.

 
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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russ wrote:
j_holmes wrote:
but unless the person telling you the story had concrete proof/information he may have been pulling your leg.
Or deluded/paranoid, which happens sometimes with people obsessed about people stealing their valuable ideas.

Yeah, what does he mean by "stolen" here? He had a nearly-complete game that he'd playtested extensively, and the tester took the game verbatim with all the details intact and handed it off to a publisher? That's pretty scummy and likely legally actionable. Or, more likely, the playtester went off and made another game that vaguely had some mechanical or thematic connection to the game being tested? That's fine, and may not have even been copying at all—people independently come up with the same ideas all the time.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Omega2064 wrote:
But. There are people who think that dame design is just handing an IDEA to a publisher and getting a paycheck. Those sorts are more likely to try and swipe a unfinished game.
They're also more likely to claim that their game was stolen, since they think anything resembling some vague concept they have in their head is "their game".
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John "Omega" Williams
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And then get a reality check instead of a paycheck.
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Zachary Strebeck
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In the U.S., you can pay something like $30 to register a copyright on your game at www.copyright.gov. This does a few things. #1, it gives constructive notice that you have a copyright (even though you technically have a copyright the moment you fix your idea in a tangible medium of expression, which is when you made and printed the cards/game). #2, it opens up statutory damages and attorneys' fees, which is a big deal if you have to sue someone.

Posting in a forum isn't really any better than doing a "poor man's copyright," as it doesn't actually prove anything but that you were talking about a game that you were creating. The best proof would be a registration with the copyright office.

You could also get your playtesters to sign an NDA, as someone else mentioned. It could allow you to sue on a breach of contract claim.

I have to say, though, this is just information, not legal advice. My only real advice is to talk to an attorney
 
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