Proprietary Worlds and Open Alternatives

I've been an active Play-By-e-Mail role player for many years, pretty much exclusively in the Star Trek fan scene. We usually call our games "sims" or "simulations" and they take place on Star Trek ships or stations. Some games organise themselves in fleets, where several simulations help each other recruit and administrate resources like mailing lists and websites.

Most of the sims I've been on have had a disclaimer at the footer on their website saying something like "Star Trek is owned by Paramount. This is a fan site. No infringement intended."

They rely on the good faith of Paramount Pictures and a kind interpretation of the fair use clause of American copyright law. I consider the need for this faith in a corporation a sad state of affairs. As long as this is the case the entire Star Trek sim community is in danger of being entirely shut down by a whim from a faraway legal department.

This despite the fact that the alluring things about the setting are quite replicable, as demonstrated by for example The Orville. The great advantage of using the established universe is that everyone interested in the genre knows it, whereas a fan invented emulation is something potential players would have to read up on.

That said role players do that all the time. Many of us regularly plough through hundreds of pages of lore for new games and settings.

If the community was up for it I have no doubt that a unique setting for episodic scifi focused on exploration, first contacts, technobabble, and tackling modern dilemmas and philosophic issues in a different context. I am, however, not the person to lead such an effort.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal