The Snow Queen

Do you admire people who do the right thing, even at cost or risk to themselves?

Are you concerned about care for the earth, taking steps to reduce your carbon impact, resisting the throwaway culture that defines everything disposable because it’s convenient?

Do you admire people who are super creative, who take original ideas and turn them into something that other people can enjoy?

Are you tired of entertainment that’s clearly calculated to try to capitalize on the last big thing that made money, to increase its chances of making money, to the point where those considerations override the original artistic vision, if there ever was one in the first place?

Do you like storytelling? Fairytales? Improv?

Then let me tell you about a talented young independent creator, and her latest crowdfunding project, and why it’s not on Kickstarter, and — most importantly— how you can help by signing up for her crowdfunding campaign and spreading the word.

I first heard about Jeeyon Shim when I saw an article about a new kind of game she had co-created: a keepsake game, it was called. It was a kind of role-playing game – not a traditional tabletop RPG like D&D, but a storytelling game that involved not only creating a story in response to the prompts of the game, but also making something in the course of the game, that would be a keepsake, a souvenir, something that you had made with your own hands, using the materials that came with the game, and/or the directions and suggestions to collect those materials yourself.

I’d never heard of such a thing, and the idea behind it appealed to me: that creating a handcrafted keepsake could be incorporated into a game, so that after you spent those hours playing the game, you could actually have something to show for it at the end. So I read a couple of articles and interviews, and started keeping an eye out for her work.

Her newest project is called “The Snow Queen.” It’s a storytelling game for two people (excellent, I might actually be able to find one person to play a game with me) with a setting played with familiar fairytale elements (good, no steep learning curve), and with a game mechanic, instead of being the usual dice or occasionally cards used in a role-playing game, was based around… a chessboard?? Cool!!

I had to find out more. I watched a stream in which she played a quick version of the game with the show’s host, explaining the rules and giving us a chance to see how it worked and get a feel for what it was like to play. That convinced me I actually wanted a copy of this game, instead of just being intrigued by it from a distance.

But she also spoke about why she was crowdfunding this project herself, when she had previously been very successful on Kickstarter. If you follow this sort of thing at all, you can probably guess that the reason she left Kickstarter was over their announcement that their platform was going to become heavily dependent on NFTs.

If you don’t know what those are, I’m very happy for you; but the important thing to know is that the production of NFTs involves thousands of hours of computer calculations — thousands of hours using electricity generated by a power system that is still largely dependent on fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change –to produce something that has no intrinsic usefulness, does not contribute to the public good, and whose only value is what you can convince somebody else to pay you for it.

And if you’re concerned about climate change, if you care about how it’s already affecting people right now and it’s only going to get worse; if you’re someone, like Jeeyon, who is serious about living out those values when the rubber meets the road, then Kickstarter becomes something you can’t continue to participate in without compromising your values.

I’ll be honest: I don’t think this is a decision I would have been able to make. Because the cost for an indie creator who has an established reputation on Kickstarter to move off to do their own crowdfunding is like a local indie business moving out of the mall, or downtown, or wherever it is where you get a lot of foot traffic from people passing by on their way to other businesses, but your store window catches their eye so they come in and buy from you too – moving out of the mall, and doing business out of your own front room in your neighborhood. Where there is no foot traffic to other similar businesses, and the people who are used to seeing you at the mall maybe don’t know where you went, and there’s no reason for people to come to your house except to actually buy from you. And also, you probably have to remodel your house a bit in order to make room to do your business from your front room, not to mention the additional cost for publicity and marketing.

That’s where we come in, you and me.

By signing up for her crowdfunding campaign at this link, and sharing it with people you know, we can try to help make up for that lost foot traffic, and help reduce the risk that this talented young creator has taken in order to live out her values.

This is a theology blog, not a gaming blog. This is not usually the sort of thing I would write about here. But making hard choices in order to live out your values is where the rubber meets the road, for theology. And care for the earth, and turning away from a throwaway culture, are Catholic values that Pope Francis wrote about it in Laudato Si.

We aren’t all in a position where we can afford to take a risk like that. We aren’t all brave enough. But we can all spread the word to help support somebody who was.

Sign up for the pre-launch campaign for the Snow Queen. Spread the word about it.

And hey, if you’re interested in theology and gaming, drop me a comment & say hi! 😇

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