Thursday, February 7, 2013

Games Workshop: Trying to be Emperor of the Universe

This blog entry is being simulcast on both my writing and 40K hobby blogs as it pertains to both topics.

My friend Josh came across this article and sent it to me.  Please read it and be appalled. 

I am (generally) a Games Workshop fan.  They have 25+ years of some great SF/Fantasy hobby and fiction, but I don’t think too many folks would argue against the idea that in recent years the powers that be at GW have kind of become power-mad, profit-hording jerks.  Not to mention that this very notion of trying to copyright and monopolize the term “space marine” is amazingly hypocritical: Warhammer's origin is undeniably derived from Lord of the Rings!  Armies of dwarves, elves, men, and orcs...  C’mon!  The original WFB book even had a painting that was obviously Gandalf and the whip-wielding, fire-wreathed Balrog facing off.  And GW’s original space marines were suspiciously similar to Chapter One of Heinlein’s classic novel Starship Troopers: in the book the hero jumps around in powered armor (remember when all 40K marines jumped?) and wields a hand flamer and missile launcher.  Not to mention that genestealers were inspired by the movie Aliens (which  has something like “colonial space marines”), the Tau have an uncanny resemblance to Robotech, who knows if the modern generation of Mummy movies came before the Tomb Kings army or vice-versa, etc. 

But you know what?  We don’t mind!  Nobody cares!  That’s the allure of the games and hobby that Games Workshop puts out.  But now...  Now GW turns around and thinks they can retro-actively lay claim to a generic SF term that’s 80+ years old?  And the giant multi-national corporation has no qualms about pushing around a lone, perhaps self-published author who dared to pair the words marine and space for her own work?  Sorry folks, but that’s bullshit. 

It makes me wonder if GW didn’t buy the rights to produce a Lord of the Rings game just to lay the ground work for somehow usurping J. R. R. Tolkien’s claim that he wrote the books in the first place?!  (And having passed on, he can't fight back!)  

I leave you with this Wikipedia article on Space Marines.  Not that Wiki is a rock solid reference, but (1) I’m amazed that it is so up to date on this very issue, and (2) it refers to a story from 1932 entitled “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (perhaps a tale of my own exploits...)

Amendment:  Thanks to S. C. Baker (aka Donkey Face) for adding this find to the WotF forum:

GW is hitting international news now, and not in a good way.  That's what happens when you get greedy little claws, i guess...

Update: Amendment #2 : The indie-published novel that was shanghai'ed Spots the Space Marine is back on Amazon!  The people have spoken!  See author M. C. A. Hogarth's page here for the scoop:


  1. This is very interesting actually, as I can tell you now that there are a whole load of people who read bbc news but have never heard of games workshop, and they will think of GW as a greedy, power hungry company before they've even looked at the prices of their products!
    P.S: JRR Tolkien wrote lord of the rings, not JKK!

    1. WHOOPS!!! I know that, I swear.. But thanks for the proofreading!