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Poking fun at trademark disputes with Trademarkville

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Molleindustria — the developer best known for Phone Story — recently teamed up with Mikhail Popov to launch Trademarkville, a game that parodies trademark disputes in the games industry.

Inspired by Candy Jam, a recent game jam that was held in response to developer King applying for the trademark registration for the word "candy" (which it has since dropped), Molleindustria's Paolo Pedercini told Polygon that Trademarkville is about more than King's trademark attempts.

"This is not just about King — trademark abuse is an issue that keeps coming up," Pedercini said. "Think about Monopoly, originally designed and self-published by a woman for activist/educational purposes, then cloned and commercialized by Parker Brothers. When a professor of economics created Anti-Monopoly in an attempt to restore the original gameplay and meaning, he got sued for trademark infringement."

Trademarkville aims to shine a light on the issue through its often-frustrating game systems. Set in the "magical town of Trademarkville," where every word ever spoken is instantly trademarked and banished from use, players have to devise increasingly-bizarre ways to express themselves.

The game has two main components: Guess A Thing and Rename A Thing. In the former, players are given the descriptions that others have written for objects, and have to guess what they could be referring to. In one example, players are given the word "TeethDestroyer." This is a word used to replace "candy." In the latter, players are given a noun for which they have to rename. The renamed words then go back into the game's database to power the Guess A Thing section.

According to Pedercini, more than 10,000 words have been correctly guessed within the game's first seven hours of launch.

"At the end of the day, Trademarkville is a twist on the parlor game Taboo that leverages massively asynchronous play and large databases," he said. "It's likely to get more obnoxious and break due to the growing data, and if it breaks, we don't care.

"I like broken and unsustainable systems — systems designed to fail," he said. "I feel they have more to say about the world we live in."