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Design Your Own Board Game With The Game Crafter

A new Web site from Plain Black Corp. helps individuals create and sell board and card games.

Internet-powered personalization has changed the way products are made and sold. Using various e-commerce sites, individuals can now create and sell products like books, CDs, DVDs, mugs, posters, stamps, T-shirts, and assorted accessories with only a few digital files and mouse clicks.

The do-it-yourself ethic has also spawned Web sites like Metaplace that allow users to create online virtual worlds, but until this week, aspiring board game makers had to handle game production and assembly on their own.

On Tuesday, Plain Black Corporation, a Madison, Wis.-based Web infrastructure and content management company, unveiled The Game Crafter, a Web site designed to help individuals create and sell board games and card games.

The Game Crafter allows users to upload artwork for game boards and cards, as well as documentation text, and to choose various tokens to include with the game. The service then handles the printing and assembly of the components and provides the infrastructure for selling the finished games.

JT Smith, CEO of The Game Crafter and Plain Black, said his company wanted to showcase the power of WebGUI, an open source content management system. After mulling various ideas, he settled on a creating a Web site that would allow anyone to create and sell his or her own game, in part because about half of Plain Black's employees are gamers.

At the moment, game creators who want to sell their games in brick-and-mortar game stores have to buy the games online from The Game Crafter site and distribute them to retailers themselves. Eventually, there will be retail portal to allow retailers to order games at wholesale prices.

But first, Smith said the company is working on making printable tokens and tiles available to game makers.

He also said that the printing company that handles printing and fulfillment for The Game Crafter is considering a new location in order to accommodate a digital printing press. If the expansion happens, game makers should have access to more diverse printing options.

Smith said he expects that the system will be used by pros for prototyping, by independent game makers, and people who just want to create a one-off game for friends and family.

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