Hey Isaac, how’s life been since Origins?
After Origins, I came home to crunch-time for the ChronoSphere Kickstarter. Even though the game itself is done, and most of the art is too, there was a lot to do to get the project off the ground. All the little things that go into making the Kickstarter page look right, doing the art, gut-checking your pledge levels and stretch goals, all of that had to get done right after I got back from Origins. It meant that other games that I’m developing really needed to take a back seat, while I focused on making this campaign as good as it could be. ChronoSphere appeals to the history buff in all of us. What does the study of world history mean to you?
I was raised within an ancient faith community – I’m Jewish – so for me, history always had a context. I grew up knowing that Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Jesus, and that David and Solomon were about 1,000 years after that. The encounters of the ancient Israelites with the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans gave me a framework for history that I took for granted. When I started making friends with people from other ancient cultures, like India and China, I realized how much I didn’t know! It was so interesting to map events and personalities across the timelines of ancient cultures. It confirmed for me that William Gibson’s observation that “the future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed” has always been true. ChronoSphere is, in part, just a way of expressing that idea in a game.
What is your favorite period in world history to learn about?
Probably whichever part I know least about! I recently read a book about the post-Roman Dark Age in Europe, which was eye-opening. I’m also fascinated by the civilizations of the Early Bronze Age, when the very idea of organized societies emerged. There’s something primal and mysterious about those times.
How would you describe the difficulty level of Chronosphere?
ChronoSphere is a very easy game to learn and play, but even the history professors who have played it have been stumped at times. That’s because the cards come from so many different cultures, spanning inventions, people, and events, that it’s hard for any one person to know all of those dates. What I love about the game is that it’s as much about bluffing as about knowing the actual dates, and having a great poker face helps as much as being a history buff – maybe more!
I made ChronoSphere because I felt like a lot of historical trivia games weren’t games, they were quizzes. LIke most people, my memories of being quizzed aren’t fond. I wanted to make something that was more of a game. Actually, I wouldn’t even recommend using the ChronoSphere rules to learn history – repeated playtesting has shown that you really don’t learn the dates on the cards very quickly. However, as teachers have played the game, and looked at the cards, they’ve all come up with different ways to use the cards that draw on aspects of the game, but adjusted for teaching in a classroom. In fact, one teacher is helping put together curriculum for using ChronoSphere with students! I’m so excited to get copies into the hands of students and teachers – so much so that I’m announcing a new pledge level, right here and now: Buy two copies of ChronoSphere, one for yourself, and one that will be donated to a school, for $25!
Why is getting Chronosphere into the classroom important to you?
My mom is a teacher, and every year, after school ended, she’d start an exhaustive search for new classroom material, fresh pictures and posters, new and compelling ways to help kids learn. Teachers all over the country do that every summer, because they’re committed to our kids, and sometimes we forget that. If ChronoSphere can help teachers teach, and help kids learn, then I want to do everything I can to make is accessible and available.
What kind of gaming experience do you feel Chronosphere offers?
ChronoSphere is a pub-style game. What does that mean? Well, it means that there’s hooting and hollering, lots of laughter, and also some direct conflict, some challenging and bluffing. I love games with direct confrontation, but I know that for many people that can be a little scary. But I didn’t want to design another Eurogame, much as I love them. I really wanted people to be able to enjoy the mechanism of direct confrontation in a way that felt fun and safe. ChronoSphere is a quick-playing trivia game where the winner isn’t always the know-it-all, and everyone has a great moment, a great play that made them feel smart.
If people want to learn more about you and your Kickstarter, where should they go?
The best way is to go straight to the project. You can also visit KindFortress’ website to sign up for our newsletter and be notified about upcoming projects. Dont’ forget to follow me on Twitter, Follow @kindfortress and on Facebook!
Thanks again and good luck.
Thanks Kyle! And thank you to the whole Happy Mitten crew! Can’t wait for Aether Magic!