The story of how BONOBO, the new card game from American Game Author Dave Yearick, and the Kickstarter campaign that launched this week needs to be told. So much went into what is now an amazing game design, and crowdfunding campaign, it’s almost impossible to believe.
The real story started over 20 years ago when I first met Dave. My design firm had postered our services downtown and one of the flyers ended up in Dave’s hands. The timing was perfect as he needed a company to help him redesign Tribond, a game he and two friends invented while at Colgate University; a game that eventually went on to become the number five board game in the country.
Since that time, Dave and I have worked together on a number of board game projects and have remained good friends throughout the years. I have actually worked the floor with him a couple of times at ToyFair (which is happening THIS weekend and Dave is there with his outdoor game, djubi) and we have a mutual respect for each other unlike any relationship I have with anyone.
Flash forward to about a year ago. During one of our “how’ve you been?” phone calls, I mentioned to Dave how crowdfunding (Kickstarter) might be a good way to bring one of his new games to market. I told him if he ever had an idea he thought solid enough to experiment with, I’d love to collaborate with him to see what happens.
Shortly after that, Dave called me with a brilliant idea for a new card game based on the 1980’s Genesis hit song and record: ABACAB.
A unique word with three of one letter (A), two of another (B), and one of the final (C) that is catchy and carries over nicely into a proven game concept Dave had already created. Perhaps playing off the Genesis song and creating a game based on this interesting word would be the hit we needed to see some small percent of the success seen by Exploding Kittens (a runaway Kickstarter success, fetching an amazing $8,000,000).
Dave and I immediately went into design mode, hiring an illustrator to draw caricatures of the members (Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks) of the band while we worked on typography, an outer box design, and hired a videographer and actor to play a “Genesis roadie” in the Spinal Tap-inspired video.
All of these elements came together brilliantly as I was making the request for music rights for the song from my contact in New York City. It was at this point that I felt we should probably check in with Genesis’ agent, Tony Smith Personal Management, in the U.K.
That week, I got on the phone with Tony’s personal assistant who said that Tony was reviewing my request and would get back to me soon.
Soon was taking too long. Later that same week, I emailed Tony directly asking if he had reviewed the idea and what he thought about the overall game concept, to which he replied, “cease production of the game immediately,” copying his London attorneys.
Not wanting to roll over easily, I emailed back the following day with designs attached and asked again if we could use the song title and the likenesses of the band members in our game.
To which Tony replied, “no.” Is that your final answer?
Disappointment led to ONE final email attempt directly from Dave (something like, “I understand you’ve been contacted by my associate …”) which received a slightly more polite response “admiring our perseverance” but the answer was still no.
That same day I finally got a call back about the music rights for ABACAB from New York City. They provided me a very reasonable quote to use one minute of the music for our video but would have to still get final approval on usage from, you guessed it, Tony Smith.
ABACAB was dead.
Weeks passed as Dave and I tried to come up with other fun words with the same letter combination (PEPPER … BANANA … BANANA PEPPER). And then somewhere along the process, we discovered the word (and the amazing story behind) BONOBO.
Bonobo apes are the closest relatives to humans and are on the endangered species list. Living in the Congo, these highly intelligent and extremely social apes’ lives are at risk of extinction in our lifetime. These facts allowed for Dave’s passion for game design to align with my veganism and personal love for all animals.
BONOBO became the perfect word and perfect message for us to build a new game around … so Dave and I got back to work.
Weeks later, in addition to striking new, flat-colored graphics and an over-the-top video (produced by Hark Productions) for the campaign, we were fortunate to align ourselves with the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) in DC and the U.K. (hello again, Tony Smith). Working with BCI, we’re able to provide a portion of proceeds from our successful campaign to BCI to help save the bonobos.
And this is where you come in. Visit the campaign page, watch the video, back the campaign (ANY dollar amount helps) and SHARE the link:
We need to reach goal to bring this fun and challenging new game to market and exceeding the goal means more retail outlets and MORE money to help the bonobos!
Can you spell BONOBO with your cards while linking either identical color or identical abstaining ape? As you craft your own strategy to spell BONOBO, your opponent has their own plans (and they may also have a GRAB card and could swing in to take any of your cards). It’s a fun party game and the incentive rewards on the Kickstarter campaign are … well … just check them out for yourself!
Shuffle. Deal. Go Ape.
Feel free to cut and paste these snippets below for social media shares or simply share this blog post! We have high expectations and are very excited to bring BONOBO to market. Your pledge will help! Remember, Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” crowdfunding platform so we need to reach our goal in order to secure the funds.
#BONOBO is live on @Kickstarter! Watch, back, and share this wild campaign and you’ll also be supporting the Bonobo Conservation Initiative! www.GoBONOBO.com. Shuffle. Deal. Go Ape.
For vegan posts:
Just launched a Kickstarter for a wild new card game that: A) was designed by a #vegan design firm; B) is giving back a portion of proceeds to help the endangered bonobo ape!
Check it out at www.GoBONOBO.com!