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Kickstarter Alert – Marc Specter explores conservation and biodiversity in new board game, ‘Endangered’

Working together to save Earth’s endangered species.

What do the following films all have in common?

Contagion. The Day After Tomorrow. Wall-E. Geostorm. The World’s End. Snowpiercer. Dr. Strangelove.

While they all may fall in the realm of sci-fi, mainly they involve humans making stupid choices that, in some way or another, end up bringing on the apocalypse. As in most films, the social commentary is based on real, human-caused devastation that has occurred and is occurring on our planet.

Here’s some current statistics that sound like something straight out of the beginning of an “end-times” film. According to The Center for Biological Diversity, our planet is currently in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. While extinction does occur naturally at a rate of about one to five species a year, current estimates show more than a dozen species disappearing per day.

Biodiversity is important for our own species to proliferate. Conservation can seem like a huge challenge when you don’t know how or where to start. Grand Gamers Guild is here to help point you in the right direction.

Their current Kickstarter campaign is funding a unique game created by Joe Hopkins, called Endangered:  A Game of Survivial. It’s a cooperative strategy game where you roleplay as a conservationist trying to save vulnerable species and protect their habitat.

The campaign has met its goal and is set to close on April 26th. With Earth Day right around the corner, AiPT! caught up with Grand Gamers Guild’s Marc Specter via e-mail for more information on Endangered and their promise to work with The Center for Biological Diversity.

AiPT!:  First and foremost, can you give us a little background on Grand Gamers Guild? Who is involved and how did you get started in game publishing?

Specter:  Grand Gamers Guild is a small publisher, established in 2016 after I’d been participating in the gaming community for about a decade. I’ve attended big cons and organized one myself; I’ve GM’d events and organized an event team. One day I decided I wanted to take the next leap and become a publisher.

AiPT!:  What games have you published previously? Is there a set of specific criteria you look for in your games, or just about fun?

Specter:  Our previous titles are Unreal Estate, Stroop, Pocket Ops, Endeavor: Age of Sail, and The Artemis Project. Our hashtag is #GameNightGoTo. We want you to spend all night with our titles and provide such a breadth of experience that you don’t realize they are all from the same publisher.

AiPT!:  Let’s talk about your current Kickstarter campaign for Endangered, created by Joe Hopkins, illustrated by Beth Sobel and Ben Flores. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I gather, it’s a cooperative tabletop game where you try and save and secure a future for endangered species. Can you expand on that and walk us through it?

Specter:  You nailed it. Endangered is our first cooperative game. In the game you will choose a role — Zoologist, Environmental Lawyer, Wildlife TV Host — and each of those has a special power and unique deck of cards. Over the course of the game you will take card-based actions, remove environmental destruction, and move the animals and help them procreate. All the while the overarching goal is to influence the United Nations to pass protective legislation before the game ends in a vote.

AiPT!:  Saving endangered animals is a theme that doesn’t pop up in many games. Is it possible to provide some background on how the idea of this came about? What was your initial reaction to it?

Specter:  All credit for Endangered‘s story must go to designer Joe Hopkins. He’d been working on it for years when I sat down to play at Protospiel 2016. I’ve always loved animals, and the story that Endangered told is both urgent and timely. Once I knew the game play was solid, signing it was a no-brainer.

AiPT!:  Tell us about the partnership with the Center for Biological Diversity. 1). How are they involved? Will gameplay reflect their involvement? and 2). Is there a way that campaign supporters can get involved with the Center for Biological Diversity?

Specter:  Our team up with the Center for Biological Diversity came about because, as a very real and current issue, it only makes sense to support a nonprofit like the Center in the work they do, given the story we are telling. They have played the game and provided feedback on some of the art. Gameplay-wise, they were very impressed with how the game reflects their day-to-day work.

To support the Center, we’re doing a game match at the “Center Supporter” level of the Kickstarter. For every pledge a that level, the backer will not only get their game, but we’ll send one to the Center for use in educational initiatives. We’ll also be donating all of the proceeds from the “Tip Jar” in our pledge manager to the Center.

AiPT!:  What kind of stretch goals do you have in mind? Any secret stretches you can reveal us?

Specter:  Without getting too specific, we have all kinds of stretch goals yet to be revealed: more game content and component upgrades. You’ll just have to keep your eye on the campaign and see!

AiPT!:  What’s next for Grand Gamers Guild? Any fun things in the pipeline you can share?

Specter:  Absolutely! Later this year you’ll see us Kickstart the expansion to Endeavor: Age of Sail, and then in early 2020 we’ll be Kickstarting Gorinto — a tile placement, engine-building, abstract game that blew me away. There’s lots yet to come.

The Kickstarter campaign for Endangered:  A Game of Survival ends April 26th! During the campaign you can snag a print and play version for only $9, but you can get a hard copy starting at $50.

 AiPT! Science is co-presented by AiPT! Comics and the New York City Skeptics.

 

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