To keep the discussions about software patents fresh and lively, I think a game element should be introduced. Or rather, a game.
Here are some ideas for The Patent Game:
- Players should assume either the role of Concerned Citizen or of Lone Inventor.
- A Lone Inventor can move twice as far as the Concerned Citizen per round, but gets shafted thrice as much; there are obstacles on the board that only the Lone Inventors have to take, like fighting off litigation, paying fines, going to prison, and having large companies run off with their inventions.
- The board lets the players run around in circles.
- Every once and awhile, a player gets to Bribe Barroso. There will be a pot where money only goes in, not out. Everytime somebody wishes to Bribe Barroso, they have to put money in the pot to the amount of what is already there. If a Lone Inventor manages to Bribe Barroso, the game will run slightly to the advantage of Lone Inventors. If a Concerned Citizen Bribes Barosso, the Concerned Citizens will have the upper hand.
- Despite what the game manual says, despite what the packaging implies, despite rumours to the opposite running rampant on the net, The Patent Game cannot be won by either Lone Inventors or Concerned Citizens. The only roles that could win the game are Plundering Politicians or Marauding Multinationals, but they are not in the game, or at least not as a player character.
- The game will be over when one of the players wins (which will be never), or when the European Union will become a truly democratic institution (there is a slightly larger change that the game will end through a player winning).
- … ?