alpha storygame

The purpose of this game is to help people to talk about how copyright and copyleft systems work. Cards may be played in either area, copyright or copyleft. Players may choose to play some cards in one area and other cards in the other area.

How to play (2-4 players)

Start by printing out a deck of cards each.

  • You need to be able to tell which deck is yours. You could print them on different paper, or you could make one colour and the other black and white.
  • If you decide you like the game you can make your own customised decks.
  • For a short game you can play with a half deck two suits each.
  • It is best to print from the PDF documents

Decide on your goal

  • For a short game you could try first person to 60 points.
  • For a longer one perhaps 100.

Set up the deck

  • Separate the [Publisher/Action] cards from the rest of the deck.
  • Place this small deck of publisher/action cards to your left.
  • Shuffle the rest of your deck and deal yourself 4 cards for a hand.
  • Put the main deck on your right.


Making a story

  • A story is made of 2 characters, 1 plot, 1 scene, 1 media. This means you have two people in the story, you know where it happens, what kind of story it is, and what kind of media you are going to publish it in.
  • NOTE: Each card is unique. This means, for example, that once you have used your film media card and you get an action card with a publisher that requires film media, that action card is useless unless within the copyright field.
  • A copyright story can only be made using your own cards.
  • A copyleft story may have cards from different players.
  • Wherever your card is played you get score from its use (and reuse if originally played in the copyleft field)

First moves

In the beginning no one has heard of us so we have to get a name for ourselves before we can get a publisher or action. So what are our choices?
  • We can self publish copyright for 1 point per story card plus 2 points for finishing the story.
  • We can publish to the commons 1 point per card, plus 2 points if you finished the story (here the cards might get reused and score more later).

What about publishers and actions

  • Once a story has been finished which you have contributed to, you can draw a card from the Publisher/Action stack.
  • You can use these cards as either a publisher or as an action.

Playing Publishers

  • A publisher will give you double points for your copyright story if it matches the kind of story they want to publish.
  • Each publisher will want a specific kind of story.
  • You play the publisher close to you, in the copyright field, and add your story cards next to it.
  • The publisher card stays with the story, you can not opt to change where this card is played later on.

Playing Actions

  • An action is used in the commons space and can give you extra score for a commons story, or may help you to move a card and finish a story.
  • Actions are used once and then should be placed face down joining onto the story it acted on. It becomes a kind of spacer on the commons. (see diagram below)
  • It is possible for the action to function in two directions at the time it is played but once it is face down it is finished. (maybe needs another graphic to show what this look like)
  • It is possible for 2 stories to be completed with one card that makes the intersection. (maybe needs another graphic to show what this look like)
  • For actions which are not story specific you can place them at the end of any complete story.

Lets go

  • Draw a card from the deck and choose where to publish.
  • At the beginning of the game you can self publish copyright, or publish in the commons copyleft.
  • Take turns to draw a card and play a card.


Once a story has been completed:
  • Copyright story no publisher is 1 point per story card.
  • Copyright with publisher is 2 points per story card.
  • Copyleft story is 1 point per story card for each contributor and 2 points for the person who finished the story.
  • Write the scores on the score sheet and also write the stories. (need another graphic to show what this look like)
  • It is possible for people who want a bit more spice to score 2 points per card if a story is all one suit or if it contains at least one of each suit. If you do that you might need to raise the points to win to 100.
  • Would also be interesting to try tournament mode where you play out the whole deck and the goal is for you to collectively have the highest scoring game. Record the winner and total score for that game.
  • Winners from different games compete with each other and finally the day's individual champion and the team with the highest overall game are both winners.

What else can I do with this game.

I have chosen to license the game like Free Software. Free to play, modify and customise.
If you distribute the game please make your versions liberty free.

What does this mean for you?

  • The game is free for you to download.
  • Everyone can use the game however they want.
  • Everyone can modify mashup and adapt the game.
  • You can swap decks with a friend.
  • You can copy decks for use in a school or organisation.

How do I distribute a game freely?

Make the information available that makes it possible for the next person to
participate in the same way you have done.

This must be included with the distributed game:

  • Your rules. (You can change the rules and other features of the game.)
  • This licence.(The licence stays the same, it can be translated.)
  • Include a link to the digital files for making the game and a written offer to send the CD of the digital files on request.
  • It is ok to charge for the cost of sending a CD.

What do they need on the CD or at the link?

  • licence, rules and scoring sheet
  • types and numbers of cards in your deck.
  • kinds of actions and publishers, kinds of story cards.
  • any aspects of the design of the cards which impacts game play.

How about the deck artwork?

  • my deck is free, the same as the game, so if you adapt mine you need to make yours available digitally too.
  • You can license your designs as you wish so long as it does not impact whether you are able to share the game freely.
  • It would be great if you could make free designs too.

How do I make free designs available?

  • You can do this by posting the cards as images, online, or if you want to you can bundle them into a zip or tar file so people can download them and see how to make some too. Including original layered files and vectors helps people understand how you made the design.

If you let me know that you have posted up a version of the game I can post a link to it.

I am happy to link to you if you're not distributing but just showing how you play as well.

More about Free Software and GPL

Source file for the two diagrams on this page -

Examples of use