How do I sell a shogi set I designed?
May 24, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I have designed a new type of playing pieces for Shogi, and I would like to either sell my design, or find an inexpensive way to produce them and sell sets myself. I am also worried about how much I should show my designs around, in case someone steals them.

First, a little background. Shogi is basically Japanese chess, with the main difference that when a piece is captured, it can be turned around and used by the other player. To make this work, instead of little figurines, the pieces are basically stubby tombstones/arrows, with the name of the piece written on it in kanji.

This presents a problem to me, because the necessity to read the letters to understand what the piece is, imho, adds a detrimental step in the decision process of playing the game. Therefor, I created a more figurative set, where each piece looks significantly different, and is quite easy to understand without having to think "This piece is the gold general, which means it can move..... here".

Now my questions:

First, I am worried that I should not post any pictures of my pieces on line in case someone steals them. Is this something I should worry about?

Secondly, I hear that is is almost impossible to sell things to game companies if you are not already in the industry. Is this the case, or are there handy addresses I could send a letter to that would actually get a reasonable response?

Finally, in lieu of selling the idea, is there an easy way I can produce these myself and sell them like the guy who makes this shogi set does? (note my pieces do not look anything like his.) I do not think I could do it by carving crappy-quality pieces out of basswood using an X-acto, and I don't have any budget or room for any type of machinery, but I would not mind paying someone else to do it for me.
posted by rebent to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (2 answers total)
Some of your questions can best be answered by an IP attorney (and many of us offer free initial consultations, which would be adequate to answer at least "what are my options?" and "how much will it cost?") If you're inclined to do some research beforehand so that you get the most out of the visit, you might look into copyrights and design patents.

I don't know anybody in the game industry, but I've heard more-or-less the same things, which is that it's almost impossible to get somebody to pick up a new game (and you're trying to sell an old game!)

There's plenty of small manufacturing capability in most cities I've lived. You could, for example, probably find a nearby shop to cut pieces out of wood, metal or plastic and engrave or stamp them to your specs. It might not even be that expensive to produce a few demonstrator sets (I bet you could do a nice set in laser-etched aluminum, for example, for $300 or $400). (Of course, "not that expensive" is relative: you're unlikely to be able to sell sets like that for the $500-800 you'd have to get to be profitable, but $300 is not much for what would be a really nice demonstrator set to show proof of concept, and to provide a model for getting quotes for wood or plastic sets in bulk.)

posted by spacewrench at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2010

is there an easy way I can produce these myself and sell them

This sounds tailor-made for Shapeways.
posted by ook at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

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