2021 went by super fast for us! We’re happy and healthy and here’s what our year looked like:
Some of this year’s highlights were when we got to hang out with family and friends once we were all vaccinated. It was amazing to return to in-person gatherings after a long time of virtual and distant hangouts.
My brother Greg and his wife Emily got married in August and it was phenomenal having the immediate family together, in person for the first time in years. Greg and Emily are living in the Bay Area now and we’re looking forward to a lot more time with them!
Another highlight was flying east to spend a week with my grandparents – I got to be with them every day for uninterrupted, quality time and it was super meaningful. Not seeing them has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic.
2021 definitely cemented our love of Point Reyes, just north of the city. We stayed up there twice, in a little cottage on Tomales Bay and had a great time hiking and taking in the elephant seals, pelicans, and elk.
We’ve dabbled in a few other hobbies this year. Avital got into pottery and took a few classes over video chat. With some friends, we did a few virtual table reads of plays. I experimented with digital music synthesis and had a lot of fun learning the fundamentals.
My work life has been busy with a mix of consulting and foresight game design (more on that in a minute). I can’t talk about much of my consulting because it’s under NDA but I did get to work with DARPA on SemaFor, trying to detect and deter algorithmic propaganda.
I also got paid to help Amble Studio with their Story Synth powered games which was very exciting for me! Separately I advised a consulting firm on some educational games they were making, in a way that bridged my strategy and game design backgrounds.
Leveraged Play and foresight games
This was a busy year on the foresight games front, though I can’t share all of the details yet.
In the spring we ran our game “Money City” for Mozfest - Mozilla’s annual festival. Participants explored the future of web monetization and payments.
I won an award this summer: Next Generation Foresight Partners: Innovative Methods and I’ve appreciated getting to know foresight folks around the world and talk to them about foresight and games.
I also ran a couple foresight games + creative writing workshops, where participants played a worldbuilding game and then wrote flash fiction. They were a delight to facilitate and I hope to run more next year.
I have several games that are in development – one with the United Nations and one with a non-profit advocacy group. I can’t share more about either yet but keep an eye out for more news next year.
I’ve also continued working on an upcoming Kickstarter game about whistleblowers in a shady government agency but work has been intermittent due to the pandemic and other work taking priority. Hopefully we’ll launch the Kickstarter in 2022.
Avital had a very busy year with her company, with plenty of ups and downs as we tried to adapt to the shifting pandemic. Ultimately it ended up being a good year but it was a rollercoaster of a year. By the end of year she had launched a bunch of new product lines and brought back in-person in SF and NY.
One of the product lines was a water tasing experience and it was inspired by Avital’s obsession with water this year. She even became a certified water sommelier!
One idea for a product line that didn’t happen was a charcuterie chalet (like a ginger bread house). She didn’t launch it for customers but we did it for her company holiday party.
Story Synth and fun games
I kept working on Story Synth throughout the year, making new games and new formats. I ran a one-hour game jam to show how easy it is to make games and it was a success.
My brother and I used the generator format to make Æethelred’s Acadmey for Aspiring Heroes – a very silly game about would-be adventurers going on quests to get certified in heroic skills.
I also released Clash at Ikara a quick Story Synth game inspired by the film Seven Samurai. Go check it out if that sounds like your jam!
This week, I’m refreshing some of the Story Synth visuals and the new look should ship pretty soon. I also have some thrilling news about a Story Synth grant that I can’t share just yet – that announcement should drop in just a few weeks.
Unrelated to Story Synth, I wrote about making plot guides for rules-light storytelling games and created Save the Galaxy to show how it could work. The Jewish games anthology Doikayt also shipped this year and I’ve shared my chapter for free online: Jewish Inspirations for Worldbuilding and Adventuring.
On to 2022
We just finished our first round of planning for 2022 and it’s going to be an excited and jam packed year.
Also - we haven’t been great about proactively scheduling calls but we always get excited when old friends reach out to chat. Shoot us an email and we’ll get something on the calendar!