Last weekend, three of my good friends (Jordan, Rob, and Ali) and I took part in the “Global Game Jam.” A Game Jam is an event where the participants have a goal of creating a game in a limited amount of time. Most Game Jams come with a “prompt” – something that is supposed to be the core idea or inspiration for the game. You aren’t given the prompt until the clock starts, so you can’t cheat and design your game before you get there.
The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is one of the biggest with more than 20,000 jammers in 600+ locations all over the world. We went to the Harrisburg University site (I do some teaching there). While the vast majority of participants are there to make digital games, we wanted to make an analog game AND get it on Kickstarter before the end of the 48 hour event.
Why do this? Well, I think that digital designers need to see the value of analog design first hand. In the time it took the rest of the jammers to make partial rough mock-ups of ideas, we were going to take our product all the way to the consumer market through Kickstarter. I felt like leading by example for these kids – many of whom I’ve taught in class – would be good for them.
But mostly, we did it because it was going to be really hard and no one had ever done it before. It was our chance, to make Game Jam and Kickstarter history.
So we prepared as best we could – put together our game design kits, art kits, supplies, and Jordan created some blank graphic design templates for various types of products we might make (cards, books, etc…). I talked with the folks at Kickstarter to clear the way for a super fast campaign, which they were very kind to allow.
At the beginning of the GGJ, we got our prompt:
We each then had 10 minutes to come up with a game concept. We agreed that we would limit ourselves to a game that could be done with high quality print on demand. Our group went with Robs idea – a game where monsters were trying to pass as human. Then we were off to the races. With very little sleep, some BBQ, and a few moments of real creative brilliance, We beat even our own internal goal.
We went from a blank sheet to a LIVE Kickstarter campaign – complete with a funny animated video, art, etc… in less than 24 hours with a game we really like. This tweet from the GGJ organizers had us cheering out loud.
Our goal was just $500. We could keep the goal low as we were going to use Print on Demand. While the goal is low, so was the price to get the game – just $4. That meant we’d still need to get quite a few backers to fund, but we had also just committed probably the biggest error you can make in a KS campaign – we didn’t do any pre-marketing. Most Kickstarter campaigns don’t launch until the creators have worked hard to create a lot of excitement – ensuring that the launch of the campaign will be good. We had none of that due to the fact we didn’t know what we were even going to make 24 hours earlier.
So in addition to continuing to work on the game – we had to START marketing our newly launched campaign. We did what we could with social media to share our excitement for what we were doing and surprisingly, backers started to find us. 4 hours before the GGJ ended Rob got to tweet this (retweeted by the GGJ staff).
Hard to fully express how awesome this felt. Literally a blank page to a funded Kickstarter in less than 48 hours. Are we going to make lots of money on this? Nope – If How to Human ever shows up at retail, it’ll probably have to cost at least DOUBLE what we’re charging. But we didn’t do this to make money, we did this because it was hard and we wanted a challenge. This might not make sense to everyone, but the 4 of us are gamers – people who expose themselves to challenges for fun – and we now get to file How to Human under the category “epic win.”
Quick check on campaigns.
How to Human – Going well. 300% funded. Looking into seeing if we can do the first printing by a larger printer instead of a POD printer. If we reach those minimums, we can start adding physical stretch goals – but even if we can’t we have some unique stretch goal options available to us.
Meeple Deck – It’s in the stagnant period before the final push. I’m a little worried about this one. I hope we can get some momentum soon or it might end up just short. On the good side I just received an email from a wholesaler who is in interested in helping out.
Next Post: Final Push