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Japanese: The Game gets non-Japanese speakers building sentences in seconds. It also builds vocabulary and grammar for students!
Japanese: The Game gets non-Japanese speakers building sentences in seconds. It also builds vocabulary and grammar for students!
Japanese: The Game gets non-Japanese speakers building sentences in seconds. It also builds vocabulary and grammar for students!
2,719 backers pledged $128,808 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Japanese: The Game, a language-learning card game. project video thumbnail
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Japanese: The Game, a language-learning card game.

$128,808

2,719

THIS PROJECT HAS ENDED. HOWEVER...

 www.JapaneseTheGame.com

I lived in Japan a decade ago and, through hard experience and hard work, I learned how the Japanese Language works.  I had taken college classes, tried to study on my own, and even moved there, but I was still struggling to say everyday things like "That soup was delicious," and "Actually, I'm too short to play football." Eventually I got a good grasp of the language and got rather fluent, but I felt terrible for the other English speakers who were new or never seemed to catch on.

When I got back to the States, I saw that a lot of good programs like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur were available for a whole lot of money and people were still buying them up, spending hundreds of dollars at a time. But what if you don't always have a computer or CD player with you, or what if you want to learn with friends? And learning certainly shouldn't be so expensive. So to make it easier for the rest of the world I cracked the code for you, breaking almost the whole language down into manageable concepts. It took a lot of time and failed attempts, but after six years of rethinking, simplifying, and revising, I've created this card game that makes learning Japanese fun, fast, and easy!

 The cards in this game have Japanese words on them, along with markings that help you put them together in complete, grammatically correct sentences every time. Here's an example sentence:

 These cards come together to make a sentence that means...

..."The cat sniffs."  Swap out nouns, verbs, etc., to make your own sentences.  Be smart or silly and have fun with it.

As you can see, the cards have English letters on them, so you don't have to know Japanese at all to play a fun, fast game and learn some Japanese vocabulary and grammar almost by accident. Here's a close-up sample of the card for Dog:

The First Edition will have fresh background images. A dog, for instance.

This game puts the language right in your hands, helping you learn at your own pace.  Even my 11-year-old cousin is pretty good at it. I want everyone who is interested in learning Japanese to be able to take a deck anywhere they go and share the Japanese language with their friends.

For students who happen to be learning the Japanese writing systems of Hiragana and Katakana or Kanji, this game is an excellent help. In fact, if you're studying Japanese, there's even a pledge level at which I will turn your vocabulary list into a deck! And you can get enough for your whole class, or have them join you in a pledge to pool your resources and benefit the whole class.  Each deck has 52 cards, which is enough for two players (because you need at least 25 cards per player).  The 36-cards expansions enable one more player to join the game while bringing you more vocabulary, grammar, and even strategic dimensions!

The game is played like a live-action version of Mad Libs.  The cards in your hand are words, and you use them to make sentences.  You can play with a shared deck or players can bring their own.

Solo Mode - Build sentences to get to 20 points in as few turns as you can, or go until you've used every card in the deck!

Collaborative Mode - Get together with a friend or two or three and take turns building, expanding, splitting, and re-building each other's sentences!

Competitive Mode - Every card you play can increase the number of points you have on your side of the table.  You can use the points you place on your side within a given turn to eliminate opponents' cards--end even complete sentences--to set them back while at the same time you make progress toward your own goal!  

I've made a rather silly, roughly 10 minute-long video of this mode, which you can watch below. (You can get the feel of the game in about three minutes, though.) It may be a little loud depending on your computer.

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I believe breaking down the language barrier will increase love and understanding between Japanese and English-speaking cultures.  There is so much to be gained by bringing our world-leading cultures together in friendship.  So if you love games, love Japan, or love languages, it's time to learn, grow, and increase peace!

I'm doing this Kickstarter to pay for printing the first complete edition of the game and six expansions: Japanese Food, Anime, Travel, Business, Monsters (Kaijū), and an intermediate-level Conjugations Expansion!

If you want, the limited Shōgun backer level allows you to pick what words you want to be in a deck or expansion!  Do you want words to form a certain phrase?  "You are my sunshine." "What does the fox say?" "I am the one who knocks." "Objection overruled."  You can have it!  The more funds we raise, the more cards we can put in the core deck and the more expansions we can afford to print.

I will also use some funds to make a truly excellent series of free Japanese Instruction videos.  These lessons and question-and-answer sessions will allow learners to get more familiar with the language, regardless of whether they've even heard of the game.  Naturally I'll make videos for the game as well, but I feel like I've been given this amazing gift and I really want to share it.  For this, I'll need better video and sound equipment.

This is the updated break-down for the backer levels available in this Kickstarter:

Note: The $1 Donation pledge level now gets a Print-and-Play First Edition Core Deck instead of the Beta because of a stretch goal we met.
Note: The $1 Donation pledge level now gets a Print-and-Play First Edition Core Deck instead of the Beta because of a stretch goal we met.

I hope this chart makes sense.  If it doesn't, please message me directly.

We've funded successfully, AND beaten our first through fourth stretch goals!

UNLOCKED!! $7,000: A 5-card "Politeness" mini-expansion right inside the box that will enable you to make any sentence in the game into a Formal one.  That will make the Japanese teachers happy, along with everyone you meet if you should venture to the Land of the Rising Sun.

UNLOCKED!! $20,000: Everyone who backs at $10 or more will get a Permanent Subscription to a Print-and-Play PDF of every Core Deck and expansions we ever make!  This will never happen outside of this Kickstarter campaign, so take advantage!

UNLOCKED!! $25,000: I will add a blank sheet of cards to the Print-and-Play so you can make cards to suit your own vocabulary goals!

UNLOCKED!! $42,000: I will make a Business Expansion with words like Office, Commute, Co-worker, etc.  More details here.

UNLOCKED!! Reaching 1,000 Facebook Likes has unlocked a Free Android and iPhone app that reads your cards and speaks the native Japanese pronunciation!

UNLOCKED!!: $64,000: We will get a MONSTERS (Kaijuu) EXPANSION with art by professional Japanese monster artist Micah Hornung. More details here.

UNLOCKED!!: $85,000: I will create a Conjugations Expansion Deck so you can learn how to put verbs and adjectives into other tenses and forms like past, command, negative, likely, apparent, and others. This will train your brain to use more sophisticated Japanese. You might consider this an intermediate pack.

UNLOCKED!!: $96,000: Unlocked the Daimyō backer level with one Core Deck, all six Expansions, and a free Japanese: The Game Two-piece Card Box. It's 9'' long (28cm) so it will hold all the cards in the backer level along with a few more expansions as you continue to build your vocabulary.  The card box is also  available as an add-on; you just increase your pledge amount by $12 to get one.

UNLOCKED!!: 2500 Backers: Everyone will get four more cards in the Core Deck AND all the $1 Backers get the First Edition Print-and-play instead of just the Beta. (They don't get a Print-and-Play of all the Expansions, but every level $10 and up does.)

FINAL ROLLING STRETCH GOAL!!: I increased the deck by one card at $110,000 and will continue to add one card for every $2,000 we raise thereafter.

I thank you all for your tremendous support! This has been a runaway success and I can't wait to deliver your cards and make more Japanese: The Game throughout 2014 and hopefully forever!

This game has a lot of expansion potential to help you learn the language and culture of Japan, so I'm going to keep going on this. Now that we've funded successfully, I'm going to fulfill this project and go on to make expansions for People, Numbers, Grade-level Kanji sets, The JPLT and BJT regulation langauage tests, and more!

I'd love to hear from you, even if you don't back my project, about why you did or didn't, and I'll be contacting every one of you who backs me to thank you personally because this is something we're doing together.  It's a big undertaking, but I've already done most of the work and with your backing, we'll be able to make this a great game for anyone to study Japanese in groups in a way that's fun and engaging... so we can share the excitement of learning a new language and culture with everyone!

Risks and challenges

Challenge: Creation logistics
It takes a lot of work hours to get new vocabulary turned into cards. With the Teacher and Professor contributor levels, fulfillment times are extended beyond the normal project for this reason. But even with the couple expansions we're making, a hundred or so new word cards will need to be created. Fortunately, I have written software that creates the cards after I populate a spreadsheet. I've already created about 60 cards this way, so the challenge is largely conquered.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    You are helping build understanding and peace in the world! You have my heartfelt thanks. Plus you'll receive a PDF of the full print-and-play Beta version so you can enjoy the game and learn Japanese!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Kōhai (Junior) - You get a permanent subscription to every future update of the Print-and-Play version of the game! This is great for people with less cash on hand who still want to learn, those who live abroad where shipping is expensive, and enthusiastic game hackers who want to change it up!

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    Gakusei (Student) - You get one Core Deck from the First Edition of Japanese: The Game shipped to you or a friend!

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    Pledge $26 or more About $26

    INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING backer level (For shipment outside the US only.) - - - Just select this backer level and pledge... $26 for 1 Core Deck. - or - $38 for 1 Core Deck plus 1 Expansion Deck of your choice. - or - $60 for 1 Core Deck plus all 3 Expansion Decks!

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    Senpai (Senior) - You get a Core Deck plus your choice of one of three 36-card expansion sets shipped to you or a friend.

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    Otaku (Enthusiast) - A Core Deck in a signed box, plus all three expansions!

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    Samurai - Two Core Decks (one for you, one for a friend) plus one copy of every Expansion Deck from this Kickstarter, no matter how many we get up to!

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    Daimyō - One Core Deck, All Six Expansions, and a Free Collector's Box to hold them all and more!

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    Shōgun - You get to name five cards to be included in the decks from now on*. You also get Four Core Decks in signed boxes and three expansions of your choice.
    (*Response due by March 1st. Keep it clean.)

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    INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING Shōgun backer level (For shipment outside the US only.) - - - You get to name five cards to be included in the decks from now on*. You also get Four Core Decks in signed boxes and three expansions of your choice. (*Same restrictions and Shōgun level above.)

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    Tennō (Emperor) - You get Four Core Decks in Signed Boxes plus one copy of Every Expansion in this Kickstarter and a Collector's Box with my seal (hanko), which I carved myself, in traditional silk-bound crimson ink.

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Funding period

- (35 days)