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(bill'-dungs-roam'-an, bill'-dungks-roam'-an) n. a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character. [from German bildung "education" + roman "novel".]

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"Throughout the weekend I managed to play every single game in the Little Experiment (Fluxx, Aquarius, Cosmic Coasters, Chrononauts, NanoFictionary, Are You a Werewolf?, IceTowers, Zendo, and Volcano), most games numerous times. I love demoing these games. I love watching people as they catch on to key concepts, and I love it when they win. It's awesome all around. I've not met a Looney Lab game that I didn't like, and that love of the games definitely helps me demo them. Players see how much I love the games, how enthusiastic I am about them, and it catches on like wildfire. One of they key factors of propagating Rabbits!" -- report on PenguiCon 3.0 by Lisa Padala

Thursday, April 28th, 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?


June 5, 2005

What's Going On? Why Not China?

Last week, I wrote at length about the difficulties of getting small plastic pyramids manufactured, and our refusal to cut costs by getting pieces made in China. As you might expect, we got emails questioning and challenging this policy, and since I know that every message we receive represents many others that weren't actually written, we decided to devote this week's article to a list of the reasons why we refuse to go to China.

1.) We Believe in Spending Locally. Money that stays in your community comes back to you, even if it's just in the form of taxes from neighbors who are still solvent rather than bankrupt and/or on the dole. It also comes back in the form of money your neighbors can spend in and on the community in other ways. It makes sense to me to buy from the little guy, rather than making the rich richer. It makes sense to me to support my local community, in whatever way I can keep things local. When practical, I'd rather buy from a small local company rather than a large corporation (no matter what country that corporation is in) because giving my money to big corporations is like dumping a portion of my money into a tube that flows far away from me, and I prefer to give money to my neighbors as opposed to people far away. Helping my community by spending my money in my community supplies jobs, money, and opportunities to my neighbors. Spending locally is better, however we define local... be it choosing to eat at a mom & pop owned restaurant up the street (rather than a big corporate chain) or trying to keep our manufacturing in the US or Canada (rather than across the globe in China.)

2.) We Believe in Labor Laws. One of the reasons manufacturing is cheaper in other countries is because they don't have as many regulations forcing them to do pesky, annoying things like reducing pollution and treating their workers fairly. Working conditions in China are abysmal. Giving them our manufacturing work is giving financial encouragement to a system that exploits its workers. We'd rather keep our business in the States (or Canada?) because at least we know there are labor laws in place that require a fair living wage and don't keep the workers in virtual slavery to the corporations by a system of debt and superfluity (labor surplus). Some may say that outsourcing is good because the jobs and money go out to a global community that needs it, but what I see is money flowing out to a country and corporations that treat their workers like crap. I don't see the money going to those who need it, instead I see the money going to those who exploit them. And I refuse to support that.

3.) We Believe In Our Products. We are self-confident enough to believe that the products we create are worth the extra price we have to charge because of our dedication to our ideals. We are often told that our prices are too high, and I'm sure we lose some sales as a result, yet we choose to set our retail prices at a level that is cost-effective for us, given our American manufacturing costs. Creating a market for our products won't do us any good if we aren't making enough money to stay in business selling them. We've seen a lot of other small game companies come and go during the past 15 years, and we know we're succeeding, in part, because our products really are better than a lot of what we've been competing against. When we see how enthusiastic our fans are about our games, it convinces us to stick to our guns, and just accept the fact that our products cost more than the cheap stuff being made overseas.

4.) We Are Control Freaks. This reason may not sound as important as some of the others, but it does bear mentioning. Kristin & I are the micro-managing type. We aren't comfortable with a process if we can't walk right up to it and check it out for ourselves, to keep a close tab on things and make sure everything's being done the way we want it. We really like doing plant tours... we don't have that option if we outsource overseas.

5.) We Are Patriotic. We love America. Even as we make plans to move a few miles north of the national border, we love our country and we wish for it to prosper. And we see the outsourcing of American jobs as extremely detrimental to the health and well being of this great nation. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and more and more of the folks in the middle, who used to have good jobs in manufacturing or computer programming or IT support, can now only find near minimum wage work at places like McDonald's or Wal-Mart - and must take on 2 or 3 such jobs just to support their family. We see this trend as being very wrong, and we don't want to be a part of it. We want to continue proudly declaring that our games are made in the USA. (Note to staff: we should start putting a US flag/Made in America logo on our boxes...)

To sum up, we'd love to make our games more affordable, and we're working on it, but we don't want to be left with the feeling that we succeeded only by exploiting people in distant lands and contributing to the collapse of other small local companies like ourselves in the process.

AndyHave a Great Week, and Thanks for Buying Our Games - even though they are a bit more expensive!
PS: Special thanks to Alison and Russell for helping me write this article (large chunks of the above text are quotes from emails they wrote).

Thought Residue
"Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has become a terrible liability. Before long, the suburbs will fail us in practical terms. We made the ongoing development of housing subdivisions, highway strips, fried-food shacks and shopping malls the basis of our economy, and when we have to stop making more of those things, the bottom will fall out. The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are." -- James Howard Kunstler, "The Long Emergency"

"Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such 'evidence' -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion." -- Carl Sagan, "The Dragon In My Garage"
"My problem is this - although I love *being* out, I hate *going* out. Being at home means pajamas and no shoes and doing exactly what I want when I want and not having to consider the group dynamic. It means a chance to curl up on the sofa and read, or taking a two-hour bubble bath or playing video games until my eyes are so blurred I can't make out simple shapes or colors any longer. It is my world retreat, my comfort zone. I happily make plans to go out - but when the time comes to actually *keep* them, I become terribly cranky. I find excuses to delay getting dressed ("Can't get out of pajamas yet; I haven't had coffee." "It's impossible for me to shower until I've checked and answered all my email.") and then, as the time to leave the cocoon encroaches ever nearer, I get childishly grumpy about it. "Why did I agree to go to this thing?...grumble mumble...should stop talking to other humans...always wanting to *do* stuff...why do I like having friends, again?"...etc. And mind you this is before something I'm looking *forward* to doing, something I know I will *enjoy* once I get there. If you want to see some Grade A dillydallying, catch me getting ready to go somewhere I absolutely don't want to be." -- Sarcasmo's Corner, "In or Out?"


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