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Jeff's Gameblog
Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Speaking of Horus...
There's some minor drama going on over at ChessVariants.com due to one of the entries in the 44 squares contest, a little variant by the name of Horus. Seems the inventor of a game called Falcon Chess or somesuch has taken umbrage at the use of the name Horus and the fact that the game Horus uses his Falcon piece. The perturbed fellow has been bandying about terms like "expropriation", mentioning the details of his patent on Falcon chess, and citing his ownership of the term Horus (with regards to chess variants at least) because Horus figures in his chess poetry.

You got that right. Chess poetry.

Of course it is totally hypocritical of me to take the "geekier than thou" stick to this guy, but come on. Chess poetry. I'm being totally unfair in condemning his work just because it buries the needle on my geekometer. But chess poetry? And this is coming from a guy who maintains a blog about his Dungeons & Dragons hobby. Ah heck, but what do I know? Maybe his chess poetry is good. I can't bring myself to find out, having long ago written off game fiction as wasteland I am too timid to explore.

My main objection to this guy though is his attitude towards ownership of the Falcon piece. He may be dead to rights in that his little patent precludes others from using the Falcon in another variant. Set aside for a moment the fact that the US Patent office will award a patent for damn near anything. (In fact I once read online an IP lawyer's speculation that the US Patent office is trying to demonstrate to Congress how broken the current system is by approving everything that meets the outdated standards.) Even if he's right, he's still being a dick. This other fellow's new variant only brings attention to the Falcon piece and the game Falcon Chess. For God's sake Horus is basically a fan homage to Falcon Chess. Discouraging this sort of activity is exactly the same sort of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot idiocy one expects from Metallica. Or, to take an even closer example, I am reminded of all the fansites TSR shut down in the years leading up to the company being bought out. Way to alienate your hardcore fans, morons. Even I'd stop playing D&D if TSR had put the kibosh on my site.

This guy should be flattered, not pissed off. No one is making any money off of either variant. No one stands to lose money if one of them succeeds and the other one fails. Horus is just a variant in a little chess contest. Nothing more, nothing less. Heck, if someone used the Crook (my homegrown chesspiece) in a new variant I would be happy as a clam. This Falcon Chess guy has taken a complement as an insult, all because his concern over ownership of his chess variant seems more real to him than his membership in the chess variantist family. It's kinda sad, really. When someone picks up their toys and goes home in a pique it hurts the entire community.

Posted by jrients at 9:16 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 April 2004 9:38 AM CDT

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