In Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game, you are a mapmaker, which means you make maps... and determine who wins elections. Can you crack and pack voters? Can you scheme and strategize? Can you create unfair, lopsided, strangely shaped districts that will guarantee your party's victory? Gerrymandering with friends and family (when it doesn't affect real voters) is a whole lot of fun.
We’re three siblings from a gerrymandered district in Austin, TX. We wanted to spread the word about gerrymandering, so we invented a board game.
1-4 players take turns drawing districts in 30-45 minutes.
Mapmaker is fast to learn and fast to play. It’s full of surprises, maneuvers, and outmaneuvers. It’s a simple way to try your hand at gerrymandering.
Each player belongs to a political party: Red Elephants, Blue Donkeys, Yellow Porcupines, or Green Leaves. (Fun fact: the yellow porcupine is the symbol of the Libertarian Party.)
You all start with the same number of voters, randomly spread across the board.
You take turns placing 4 district borders, splitting voters into districts. Whoever has the most voters within the district claims that district.
Whoever has the most districts at the end wins. Swing counties break ties. Here's a full explanation of the multiplayer and solo rules in under 5 minutes:
Here's a sample playthrough:
Here is a PDF with the rules. Who among your friends and family will be best at gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is when politicians draw their districts. They choose their voters instead of the other way around. This video explains how it works in 90 seconds:
Help us send copies of Mapmaker to your state legislators, governors, and Supreme Court justices. In most states, legislators draw the districts and governors can veto them. The Supreme Court has failed to strike down gerrymandering in several cases this year. Remind them that gerrymandering is not a game. We’re including a “Gerrymandering Is Not a Game” proclamation inside every box.
Gerrymandering is a major cause of our current political climate: it protects incumbents, limits competition, and increases polarization. In districts across the country, it robs voters of their voice. Nevertheless, gerrymandering doesn’t receive enough targeted attention. Most news coverage and money pours into federal elections—even though local state elections are what influence gerrymandering. In 37 states, the state legislature is in charge of redistricting. Before inventing this game (and doing more research) we didn’t realize that most governors in these states have veto power over gerrymandered maps. It’s our responsibility to bring gerrymandering into the spotlight, to put pressure on legislators and governors who gerrymander. Redistricting happens every ten years. Before 2021 redistricting, which will affect elections for the next decade, we hope to add momentum to the anti-gerrymandering movement.
We designed Mapmaker over the past year. We wanted to create a game that was elegant and tense. We wanted people coming back again and again. We wanted “gotcha” moments. We wanted Mapmaker to feel like you were really gerrymandering.
We got feedback from 100+ playtesters: young and old, regular gamers and people who rarely play board games. They all helped us improve Mapmaker. We’re excited to share the results with you :)
Personal and Family Packs
Order a game. Order multiple games. Get gifts for friends and families. The Family Pack comes with 3 copies of Mapmaker, +1 for every $35. See who’s best at gerrymandering (and make gerrymandering a household conversation).
In addition to getting your own copy, help us send copies to your state legislature. In most states, the state legislature is in charge of redistricting. For every $35, we’ll send another copy to an additional legislator. We want all members of your state legislature to get multiple copies of Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game. To remind them, before 2021 redistricting, that gerrymandering is not a game.
Also help us send copies to your governor. In all of the above states (except Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina), the governor can veto gerrymandered maps. We want all governors with veto power to get multiple copies of Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game. To remind them, before 2021 redistricting, that gerrymandering is not a game.
We'll send you one copy. After the campaign, you can choose whether we send your extra games to your state legislature, governor, or both (if you help fund 2+ extra games). You can even choose specific legislators, or let us decide.
In addition to getting your own copy, help us send copies to all nine members of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has failed to rule against partisan gerrymandering in all of its recent cases (Gill v. Whitford, Benisek v. Lamone, and Common Cause v. Rucho). In our own state of Texas, in Abbot v. Perez, the Supreme Court just upheld 10 out of 11 district maps that appeared to be racially gerrymandered.
If you order the Supreme Pack, we'll send one copy to you and one to each Supreme Court justice. We want all Supreme Court justices to get multiple copies of Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering game. To remind them, in any future cases, that gerrymandering is not a game.
Get five games for you, friends, and family. Help us send games to all nine Supreme Court justices, all 32 governors with veto power over gerrymandered maps, and all 37 state legislatures who draw maps. Help us remind them, before 2021 redistricting, that gerrymandering is not a game.
Thank you so much for your Super support in making this game a reality and combating gerrymandering.
We laser cut prototypes of Mapmaker at Stanford's Product Realization Lab. All voter tokens, district borders, and district markers are wooden. The board is vinyl. We'll send your signed, limited edition copy right after the campaign ends in a tube. (We will also send a standard copy of the game with the normal production run, so you'll have both.)
Email your relatives. Text your friends. Share the Kickstarter link: http://bit.ly/GerrymanderingGame
@message your state legislators and governors. Help us make #GerrymanderingIsNotAGame trend.
We created a theme song for Mapmaker. Because why not? And because more board game should have theme songs. We based it on “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” a song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.
Our previous experiences in game design, product management, event planning, and finance have prepared us for creating Mapmaker.
Louis invented the board game Pathwayz at age 11, which got published by Go! Games. It has sold in Barnes & Noble and hundreds of stores across North America. Pathwayz won Dr. Toy Best Pick of 2014 and was recommended by Mensa in 2015. Earlier this year, Louis developed an AI that could beat him at his own game. He has also served as a National Student Poet and worked as a Product Manager in Silicon Valley.
Rebecca co-founded TEDxNortheasternU and TEDxYouth@Austin. She is studying finance and economics at Northeastern University. She has done internships in consulting and finance. On weekends, she enjoys hiking, traveling, yoga, and eating chocolate.
Joshua is still in high school and not yet eligible to vote. Nevertheless, he spends a lot of time discussing politics. He loves playing board games and tennis. He (almost) always beats his siblings at ping pong.
We all grew up playing board games together. We’re excited to bring you our first joint game as Lafair Family Games.
For Mapmaker, we've partnered with Go! Games, the local publisher that also published Pathwayz. We’ve worked with them before so trust them. We know that they create and deliver high quality products on time.
The game is thoroughly playtested. The rules are proofread. The artwork is essentially final (we'll be asking for your feedback for any last changes).
All we need is the number of copies to order.
Some Kickstarters charge backers for shipping after the campaign. We don’t want to do that to you. We’re charging everything upfront. And we’re including free shipping to anywhere in the United States. We’ve built it into the cost of the game, which we’ve lowered as much as possible for you. We’re also shipping to Canada for an added $15.
At the beginning of this campaign, in the typical egocentric fashion of the United States, we were not planning on shipping elsewhere. However, we’ve had so much international interest that we just added shipping to the UK and Australia! After seeing all your interest (thanks to those who filled out the form), we were able to work out logistics with our publisher. We’ll be shipping directly from our warehouse in the US.
Here are the additional shipping costs to get Mapmaker in the UK and Australia. If you want to lower costs, we recommend banding together with friends/family for the Family Pack (3 copies + 1 more for every $35). That way, we can ship you multiple copies together and reduce import fees.
For example, the total UK/Australia price (including shipping) for 4 copies with the Family Pack is $230. The total price for 5 copies is $280, and 6 copies is $330, etc.
The shipping costs include shipping, duties and taxes, and a tracking fee. We want to send the game properly to make sure no copies get lost in transit. We hope you enjoy playing Mapmaker overseas!
We are not shipping outside the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. This is our first Kickstarter campaign, so we don’t want to take on more than we can handle. We want to ensure all of our backers receive the game on time. Backers from the rest of the world will still be able to get a Print and Play copy (though we know this isn’t as nice as having a fully produced copy).
Hi friendly local game stores! We'd love to have Mapmaker in your stores. Fill out this (non-binding) order form, and we'll be in touch after the Kickstarter campaign ends :)
A ton of people (playtesters, advisors, etc.) have helped us get here. We want to try thanking all of you!
Thank you Mom for the fundraising advice. Thank you Dad for the legal advice. Thank you both for all the support along the way.
Board Game and Kickstarter Advisors
Thank you Steve Jackson for taking the time to meet with us, helping us think about game design, playtesting Mapmaker, and inspiring us with your own games.
Thank you Mike Fitzgerald for taking the time to call us, for your board game and Kickstarter suggestions, and for all the games you’ve designed over the years.
Thank you Erik Dahlman for your invaluable Kickstarter advice throughout this process and being there whenever we had dumb questions.
Thank you Julia Semionova for your incredible graphic design and countless iterations.
Thank you Geoffrey Moskovitz for your incredible videos and super fast turnaround.
Thank you Rachel Gianforte for laser cutting the wooden prototypes, Michael Tucker for doing a video voiceover, and Chris Swenson for taking photos.
Thank you Brooke Silverstein and Matthew Riley for recording the theme song.
Thank you Ruth Greenwood for having a gerrymandering wedding cake. For your help spreading the word about Mapmaker. And for all you’ve done to fight gerrymandering in courts through the Campaign Legal Center.
Thank you Ellen Freidin for taking the time to call us, review our Gerrymandering Is Not a Game proclamation, and fighting gerrymandering in Florida.
Thank you Sue Mosher for being first to test Mapmaker with an on-the-grounds anti-gerrymandering group, Virginia 2021.
Thank you Jonathan Mattingly and Gregory Herschlag for helping us learn more about gerrymandering.
Thank you Morris Gottesman and Kathy Roth-Douquet for the introductions.
Thank you David Daley for writing Ratf**cked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, Justin Levitt for creating All About Redistricting, and the folks at FiveThirtyEight for producing The Gerrymandering Project podcast. We highly recommend all three for people interested in learning more.
Thank you to everyone else who’s out there—all the local and national groups—who are trying to prevent gerrymandering. Special shoutouts to the Campaign Legal Center, Indivisible Austin, Walk the Lines, Fair Districts PA, Draw the Lines PA, Fair Districts GA, Better Utah, Better Boundaries, Voters Not Politicians, Represent.Us, and FairVote.
Thank you Ross Garber for making everything we do better.
Thank you Linda Salomon, Erik Josowitz, Dave Shaw, and Martha Pincoffs for all the PR help.
Thank you Pete Kennedy for your legal advice and the Steve Jackson introduction.
Thank you Emma Dauterman for reviewing all the things so many times and believing in us throughout.
Thank you Jennifer Schubert for letting us pitch the game and agreeing to partner with us.
Thank you Caroline Stokes for being there every step of the way and helping us figure out taxes.
Thank you Marc Winkelman for spearheading Go! Games and for all of your extraordinary help and generosity.
Playtesters and Beta Group
Thank you to all people who’ve tried Mapmaker, read the instructions, reviewed graphic designs, previewed our Kickstarter page, and provided feedback over the past year! You’ve helped make the game so much better. We’re definitely missing some of you on this list, so just ping us at GerrymanderingGame@gmail.com, and we’ll add you :)
Thank you Andy Aceves, Deborah Applefeld, Noah Arthurs, Adam Austin, Abby Baldwin, Jacob Baldwin, Houston Barnett-Gearhart, Diane Moore Bertotti, Sawyer Birnbaum, Aaron Bracket, Scott Breece, Zoe Bohn, Veer Chauhan, Andrew Chauvin, Abby Chen, Eric Chi, Shannon Crowe, Erik Dahlman, David Daley, Zach Dammann, Emma Dauterman, Bekah Davis, Jacob Davis, Holly Dayton, Missa Mayberry Dewlen, Hannah DeYoung, Matt Dunims, Matthew Dunham, Selina Eshraghi, Veronique Falkovich, Matthew Feinberg, Jacqueline Firsty, Mike Fitzgerald, Dana Freed, Ellen Freidin, Alex Fritz, Roland Gabois, Harrison Garber, Hattie Gawande, Rachel Gianforte, Morris Gottesman, Ruth Greenwood, Max Grody, David Hailey, Katie Harker, Jessica Lynn Harmon, Bob Haugen, Gregory Herschlag, Michaela Hinks, Judi Hollander, Josiah Hoskins, Dylan Hunn, Ian Hutchinson, David Iken, Alexis Ivec, Steve Jackson, Saachi Jain, Jeremiah Jasong, Sonja Johnson-Yu, Audra Kaplan, Ummon Karpe, Lauren Killingsworth, Rachel Kosoy, William Kuszmaul, Jack Li, Jonathan Leistiko, Tyler Leite, Nick Lenard, Sheldon Levin, Matt Lewis, Pablo Lozano, Dan Manfredini, Max Marion, Hayden Mast, Gavin Matthews, Jonathan Mattingly, Jamal Middlebrooks, Matt Mikman, James Mohn, Shira Moses, Geoffrey Moskovitz, Edward Ngai, John David O’Hara, Jonah O’Hara, Rebecca O’Hara, Patrick O’Hara, Michael Oberle, Sam Oberle, Kurt Oehler, Allison Padilla-Goodman, Sarah Parlato, Matt Perkins, Carol Reese, Kaydee Reese, Matthew Riley, Michela Rodriguez, Jenna Rogue, Kathy Rosenmann, Kathy Roth-Douquet, Jacob Salomon, Gracie Salomon, Linda Salomon, Philip Sams, Steven Sanchez, Aaron Schimmoller, Susan Schaffer, Suzanne Schlesinger, Michele Schwartz, Julia Semionova, John Sholar, Diehl Sillers, Brooke Silverstein, Leah Siff, Bill Steigelmann, Hailey Stilp, Elizabeth Sturely, Chris Swenson, John Taggart, Michael Tucker, Fiona Victor, Skye Victor, Jeffrey Wang, Matt Weinwald, Kristin Lavis Wills, Scott Willson, Rebecca Wong, and Vincent Yang.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for backing Mapmaker, spreading the word, and helping us make this game a reality. Mapmaker isn't just being created by us. It's being created by all of you :)
Risks and challenges
This is our first Kickstarter campaign. We’ve done considerable research and gotten advice from various Kickstarter experts. Partnering with Go! Games, a seasoned publisher who we’ve worked with before, should ensure high quality production and smooth fulfillment. We’re sticking to four stretch goals that we know we can deliver, without lots of complicated add-ons. Similarly, we’ve limited shipping to the United States and Canada, so we aren’t biting off more than we can chew. Of course, there are always unexpected challenges: small (e.g. lots of edits on the manufacturing proofs) and big (e.g. trade war with China). However, we've made our timeline conservative to account for potential obstacles. We’re excited to keep you posted of our progress along the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)