Our game workshop is nestled in a jungle valley on an island off the coast of Uganda. Here, we commune with the native chimpanzees and implement their wisdom into our design process. The whole arrangement is respectful and, at times, spiritual. The apes have accepted us into their tribe, and one of our founders is even considering taking a chimp bride.
That's true if by "remote jungle valley," we really mean a basement in St. Louis, by "chimpanzees," we mean our drunk friends, and by "respectful," we mean there's a bunch of yelling and threat-slinging. So practically the same thing... with less poop and just a little bit more organization. Here's a look into what makes our company work.
The most important thing about board games is that they're fun. Without fun games, there's really no point. We vet all of our games rigorously to make sure we really have something special before offering it to you. We will never lose sight of the big picture here: great games.
We strive to inject passion and humanity into our games. You should feel like they are going directly from our hands into yours... because they actually are. Every purchase is personal, whether it's notes or trinkets left inside, unique emails sent to buyers, or handing it to you in person.
We buy our parts locally (at least domestically) whenever possible. Avoiding Chinese manufacturing means high-quality components and the most green games around. Also, a portion of every sale goes to the Center for Great Apes, a sanctuary for chimps and orangutans.
We want our games to be affordable while maintaining great quality. How are we going to buy domestically and sell at resonable prices without losing money? Simple: effort and sweat are free. We buy parts directly from manufacturers and assemble/ship our games by hand.
Austin really likes board games, so we put him in charge of, well, the board games. If you want to talk to someone about any game, ours included, talk to him. Occasional canoer, apparently.
Jacob is (by far) the most artistic ape in the troop, and he handles all the graphics, illustrations, and layouts for our games. He also lives in an apartment full of toys. Cowabunga!
Sam takes care of the server, website, number-crunching, business interactions, treasury, legal nonsense, and crushing uneconomical component fantasies. Exhilarating stuff, really.
The games themselves are pitched and critiqued between the three of us, then prototyped and internally tested. Once we have a playable game, we begin heavily testing with the aforementioned chimpanz- uh, friends. When we're satisfied with the flow of the game and fairly certain the major kinks are ironed out, we begin outside playtesting at local board game days and conventions, such as Geekway to the West and Gen Con.
When we're comfortable with the polish of the game, we will crunch the numbers and layout a plan for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first print run. Once we complete the campaign and receive the funds, we order parts and deal with a plethora of manufacturers. This process takes months, and it's by far the biggest headache of the entire development cycle. When we receive the components, we begin assembling and shipping the games to you. By hand. With love.
We donate 2% of all post-Kickstarter profits to the The Center for Great Apes. We don't have any weird catches, caveats, or limits. Due to Kickstarter's policy (and as to not deceive anyone), we cannot donate any funds received from a campaign, but all retail sales will follow this guideline. We can talk all we want about wanting to help the planet and how apes are great, but it takes real money and real effort to actually do something about it, and The Center for Great Apes is a fantastic, transparent, and well-scored charity. We support their efforts, and though we're not huge, we want to do our part to help out.
The world can be a rough place for all sorts of creatures, humans included, and we do our best to ensure the happiness and success of everyone. As a company, we want to do whatever we can to make the world a better place for everyone around us, and we have three policies to accomplish that.
Firstly, we want our games to be as diverse as possible when it comes to sex, gender, orientation, race, religion, and national origin. We try to fight the inherent sexism of the gaming industry by steering clear of sexualized art, unfair female sterotypes, and tired tropes. On that same note, we also try to include racially-diverisified artwork, avoid religious themes, and subsidize international shipping, even though it pretty much cancels our margins. Gaming should be for everyone, not just white guys from America like us.
Another thing Mystic Ape stands for is helping to protect our environment. We try to avoid buying anything from China for a few reasons, and one of them is environmental. Aside from the obvious problem of the Chinese government's apathy when it comes to pollution policies, just shipping boxes and components all the way around the world is bad enough. There are so. many. good manufacturers right here in North America, and we see no reason to hurt both our planet and our local economy to save a few dollars.
The final thing we strongly try to do is emphasize personality. We don't want to be a nameless, faceless board game company that just has a Chinese boat full of games delivered to an Amazon distribution center and drop ships everything to everyone. No, we want to be the board game company that everyone knows. We literally hand-pack every game, seal it with love (instead of plastic!), and ship it to your house. We also try to inject our personalities into our games; they share our passion and sense of humor, and we want to share that with everyone. Buying a game with Jastry the Ape's face on it should mean something to you as much as it does to us.