Italian developer Molleindustria launched a new web game today in conjunction with independent designer Mikhail Popov, and it's already provoking some controversy and gotten at least one Twitter account suspended.
The name of the game is TradeMarkVille
, a multiplayer word-guessing game seemingly designed to provoke some thought about how trademarking common terms can cause contemporary language to change in unexpected and unnatural ways.
The premise is simple: a fantasy kingdom is plagued by wizard-lawyers who trademark every word uttered, barring them from being used ever again. Players must either try to describe an object using 50 or fewer characters and no banned words, or attempt to guess the true identity of an object another player has attempted to describe.
Every time a player successfully guesses the identity of an object based on its description, he or she and the player who wrote the description earn a point while the words used to describe the object are banned forever.
The game has only been operating for a few hours and already players are having to resort to desperate, nearly nonsensical descriptors to describe common terms like "apple", "monopoly" and "candy."
Though it doesn't seem to be spelled out anywhere on the TradeMarkVille
website, Molleindustria's latest game appears to be directly inspired by recent rows in the game industry over trademarks on common terms, most recently King's aborted attempt
to file a trademark for the term "candy."