OUR GIFT-BASED SYSTEM
Our games are a gift to you
As we release a game and you’re ready to try it out we will ask for all the standard information that would go with a “transaction” with one important difference. The amount in the “price” box is entirely up to you. Will you start a choose-your-own-adventure quest at the download page?
This is what we call our gift-based system, where our invitation is one of caring reciprocity between you and us. The key difference this has from ‘trade’ is uncoupling what is given from what is received; what we give to you does not require you to give something equal or fair to us.
We’re about to explore gifting systems in depth – the adventure begins! We’ll start with our philosophy on gifting.
A HISTORIC BASIS
Giving and receiving
The core concept is to uncouple the act of giving from that of receiving culturally and economically, as opposed to trade where you must give something to get something.
A motivation for this kind of experimentation is rooted in beliefs about human history, and our nature. At times throughout history, we believe gifting has been a more fundamental part of some human societies and communities.
In our nature
Humans are born in complete surrender to those who give us what we need, and an inherent trust that it will happen, think babies.
Young people growing up in the dominant western culture are taught the ways in which this kind of trust does not apply, such as paying rent, and getting food from the grocery store.
Gifting in society never goes away, it is reduced to specific cultural ceremonies: Christmas, birthdays, etc..
A DIFFERENT CREATIVE POWER
Learn to uncouple giving from receiving
Together with people around the world we have been learning how to shift to gift-based systems.
We learned that people everywhere are feeling growing pressure to address issues such as climate change, resource disparity, misuse of power structures, and individual empowerment. We learned that people (who we believe are smarter than us) see struggles in society and culture rooted in our human history as common themes of these global challenges.
We learned that when people develop a shared sense of these global challenges they become motivated to change their lives and find ways to address them together.
When people uncouple giving from receiving they change their relationship with themselves, reinforcing self worth, because you must relearn to ask for what you need. Experiencing this paradigm shift changes how we care for ourselves, speak to one another, and navigate life.
Unleash trust and creative power
Collaboration is possible when there are trusting relationships. When there is trust, people are willing to take risks. The more people there are in a group who are willing to take risks, the larger the basis of creativity is at the group’s disposal.
Think more “international space programs” and less, “Mount Everest”.
To get beyond individual and survival-based decision making, trusting groups may leverage each person’s strengths for the benefit of everyone. When we overcome the idea that “I need to get what I want before you can get what you want”, we can instead ask “how can we all get what we need?”.
The creativity and imagination that grow from collective risk-taking distributes agency to those involved, and encourages those who encounter it.
IN OUR COMPANY
“What the heck? How does this work for a company?”
A question we had to ask ourselves that you might be wondering too! We’ve set out to figure out how to make this work logistically and operationally.
Building this kind of collaboration requires transparency, vulnerability, and feedback (so you know how things are going). Here’s how we do it.
The way we’re structured
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
By using the means of our times, we believe it’s entirely possible to create systems that allow us to have giving and receiving happen separately.
Means, privilege and access
A major reason we are driven to make our games available in this way is that there is great economic disparity across the planet.
As first world creators, we recognize that there are people living in many places with drastically different means who would not be able to play our games if we stuck to a mainstream business strategy. It’s our beef with capitalism.
It is motivating to imagine a group of friends printing our games and playing them in neighborhoods across the world. Friends like you. With an inventive use of technology it is now possible, and we wholeheartedly encourage it.
Our concerns and what’s at stake
The entertainment industry is the only industry unaffected by market fluctuations in the last three years. It keeps growing, and a large part of that is games.
Seeing our small town struggle with economic hardship, we’ve become invested in creating a game company as a way of bringing wealth into our community. Since we’re just starting out, why not try something crazy?!
On a more personal and selfish note, there is the obvious concern which is that we won’t be able to pay the bills, and because of it, we won’t be able to invest the kind of time we want to into making all the games we are dreaming of.
SOME WHO HAVE COME BEFORE US
Inspiration for our experiment
Throughout history and even in today’s world we see many examples of gift-based systems. Fascinating perspectives on gift-based systems that we’ve found helpful include works by Genevieve Vaughn, Dominic Barter, Miki Kashtan, and many more, including the Wikipedia article which summarizes a wide perspective and history of the concepts.
Every part of the genome sequenced by the Human Genome Project was made public immediately, and new information about the genome is posted almost every day in freely accessible databases or published in scientific journals (which may or may not be freely available to the public).
You’ve gotten this far, thank you!
We’ve said a lot and though your head may be spinning, thank you for considering everything we’ve said. If we could, we would give you a token for a discount on one of our games, yet since you can already offer the price you like there wouldn’t be much point to that!
There’s plenty to think about. It may take some time for any of this to make sense. It’s important to make new mistakes; we’re willing to be wrong, what if we’re not?
In the meantime play our games while you find out.