Hi, it's Mike and Gaby of the political troublemaking group Basket of Adorables. We're making a book about politics and game theory. And now we want your help to send it to every Democratic member of Congress. Here's how you can make that happen.
Every day since Donald Trump got elected, we've fought the urge to scream at the internet. Instead, we've channeled that howling into a series of essays showing how game theory explains and justifies the behavior of all the actors in the system: Trump, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Supreme Court, and most of all, people like us. By remaining level-headed and letting our grasp of game science do its work, we've connected with our readers on the Medium site Politics Means Politics.
As the essays got more traction, we assembled it all into a book called Game Theory in the Age of Chaos. We asked an actual mathematician, Richard Malena-Webber of the site Atomic Game Theory, to write us some scholarly sidebars on the science behind it all. And our friend Max Temkin of the Nuisance Committee and Cards Against Humanity wrote a stellar foreword. It became a strategy guide on how to fight fascism.
Now, as the book is in our printer's hands, we've hatched a new idea. We watched with glee as the Democrats routed the Republicans and took back the House. We want to send all those Democratic representatives and all their colleagues in the Senate a copy of the book. We think some might actually read it and use its tactics to help beat back the autocrats and restore democracy in America. It can't hurt, anyway. But we need your help.
We want you to be a part of us sending the book to Congress. You can spend $25 plus postage to gain yourself a copy of the book, plus its PDF. Or, if you're in the US, you can spend that same $25 instead for something even better: a copy for you and a copy for your Democratic representative or senator. The price of the two books is the same as just one for you, but the postage is a bit higher. If your legislator already has one pledged for, or you're not represented by a Democrat, we'll match you to a new one until we run out of Democrats in Congress to send it to.
Game Theory in the Age of Chaos contains 24 essays on game theory and politics by Mike, plus a foreword by Secret Hitler co-creator Max Temkin and 21 deep dives into the science by mathematician Richard Malena-Webber. It was edited by Gaby and game editor F. Wesley Schneider. It's 156 pages of strange yet approachable game techniques bent to political theories. Sometimes it's funny and sometimes it's tragic. It's always meant to inspire.
Here's the table of contents. You can read the earlier versions of these on Medium by clicking the links below.
- Introduction: What Happened?
- Game Theory and the Two Magic Words that will Impeach Trump
- The Gambler: Why Trump Keeps Doubling Down on an Idiotic Russia Strategy
- Co-op Mode: Why Trump Sees “Many Sides” to Nazi Murder
- Abortion Rights and the Game Theory of Armor
- Good Guys, Bad Guys, and the End of an Armed Society
- Two Madmen Play Poker: The North Korea Bluff-Off
- Sweet Relief: How We Can Pay Our National Debt Upstream
- The Kap Trap: Why No Team will Call in Kaepernick
- Beating the Veto Player: How to End Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Playing Chicken with Robert Mueller Is a Bad Idea
- The GOP Is Living in a Fantasy World on Taxes—Specifically, Star Wars
- Trump Is Tanking the Presidency
- Targeting the Clinton Foundation Is Trump’s Dumbest Move Yet
- For Trump, Everything Ends When the Wall Comes Down
- How to Make a Weak Man Feel Strong: Throw Him a Military Parade
- The Democrats Pick the Right Strategy (Even Though It Hurts)
- The Grim Trigger: Trump Declares a Trade War on Himself
- #MPRraccoon and the Puzzle of Hope
- Seizing Children Is Good Policy (If You’re a Complete Monster)
- Trump Gambles for Resurrection
- Mike Pence is the Werewolf
- Conclusion: What happens now?
- From the archives: An open letter to Speaker Boehner from a game designer
Note that the book is done. We sent it to the printer last month. They're putting the finishing touches on it. In fact, you can read all of it right now, because it's right here. Go ahead, flip through it. If you like it, help us send it to D.C.
Thanks for helping us fund our campaign. Here's a couple of stretch goals we've added!
$5,000: Added levels for The White House—ACHIEVED. See below for details.
$9,000: A politically-themed crossword puzzle—ACHIEVED.
$10,000: In addition to the PDF, every backer gets an ebook of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos in ePub and .mobi form—ACHIEVED.
That's right: ALL STRETCH GOALS ACHIEVED. Thanks, folks!
You, of course. We like you. But also these people:
On the left is the makeup of the 2019 House of Representatives, following the blue wave in November. There are going to be 235 Democrats in the House, with that one white dot representing the 9th District of North Carolina which—hoo boy. On the right is the Senate, where Democrats now have 47 seats, including those held by independents who caucus with the Democrats. (Bernie Sanders and Angus King count for our purposes.)
We want to send a copy to each of those 282 Democrats, in addition to you. We think that some will be opened by helpful staffers. They'll read the letters showing their constituents care enough to send them a tactical manual. Maybe some of them will use the strategies inside to win important victories against the White House and the GOP. (If the GOP wants copies, they can buy their own. We're not subtle about our biases.)
If you're the first person from your district or state that is served by a Democratic Congressperson, we'll match you to them. If you're from a region that's not represented by a Democrat, we'll do our best to match you with one who's as close as possible. If multiple people from the same district pledge, we'll try to match you to a Congressperson who doesn't yet have a copy allocated for them.
For example, say ten people from Seattle pledge. The first one will be matched to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the congressperson from Washington's 7th District. The second and third ones will be matched to Washington's two Democratic Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (if they're not matched already). The fourth through tenth ones will be matched to local congresspersons such as the 8th District's newly elected Rep. Kim Schrier, and so on until we get each Democratic congressperson around Seattle matched. And we'll continue outward as needed, until every one of the 282 is matched, and then we'll start in on governors and state legislators. So even if you think someone from your district has pledged already, don't worry. We'll get your book to an official who needs it.
The $2,820 goal covers the shipping and handling needed to send these copies to these 282 elected Democrats. If we get all 282 pledges at the "A Copy for You and A Copy for Congress" reward level, that will pay for the actual cost of the books, shipping, and fulfillment for everyone who pledges.
Game Theory in the Age of Chaos isn't Basket of Adorables' first political project. We've rallied people around causes before, such as when we helped organize almost 400 game designers to sign a letter endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. Our best known bit of outreach is The Ghastlytrump Tinies, a parody of Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies that we did with approval of the Edward Gorey House. The initial run of the book raised about $10,000 for the Clinton campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center. You may have seen it featured on Kickstarter's Elections Issues site.
We've added two pledge levels where you can get both Game Theory in the Age of Chaos and The Ghastlytrump Tinies with one pledge. If you choose "A Copy for You + A Ghastlytrump Tinies," you'll get both books for $50, plus we'll send you a PDF of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos and PDF of The Annotated Ghastlytrump Tinies, which contains 26 more longform poems by Mike. If you choose "The Works" and you're in the US, you'll get all of that PLUS we'll send a copy of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos to a Democratic legislator or other official as noted above.
The Ghastlytrump Tinies is an alphabet primer of all the things we would lose in a Trump administration. From "A is for Arctic, drilled by wells so tall" to "Z is for Zeitgeist, cuz it's the apocalypse," we got our favorite artists and cartoonists—John Kovalic, David Malki!, Satine Phoenix, Heather Hudson, Kris Straub, Lar deSousa, and so many others—to each illustrate one of the impending disasters as seen through the perspective of a child.
It's a poignant, funny, troubling work, and you can read it right here. Or just watch the Doubleclicks' audiobook below.
If you'd like a copy, just select "A Copy for You + A Ghastlytrump Tinies" or "The Works" and we'll get it out with your copy of Game Theory in the Age of Chaos.
Basket of Adorables is an advocacy group created by game designers Mike Selinker and Gaby Weidling of Lone Shark Games. We created it after Hillary Clinton referred to a portion of her foes as a "basket of deplorables." We thought "Basket of Adorables" was funny and all, and then a couple weeks later, she said it. Our phones kinda blew up after that.
Mike Selinker is Basket of Adorables' executive director. He is also the president of Lone Shark Games, and the designer, co-designer, and/or lead developer of games like Thornwatch, Betrayal at House on the Hill, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Lords of Vegas, The Ninth World, and Unspeakable Words. He is the author or co-author of the books The Maze of Games, Puzzlecraft, and The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design. He's at @mikeselinker on Twitter.
Gaby Weidling is Basket of Adorables' directive executor. In addition to working as a developer on all those games and books with Mike, she is a veteran escape room designer, having made rooms for companies like Wizards of the Coast and Epic Team Adventures. She's at @ermahgerdgerby on Twitter.
Many of Lone Shark's friends and contributors have joined in the "fun" we've created out of necessity since the ascension of Donnie Darkest-Timeline. Here are three of our Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk collaborators that contributed to this book.
Richard Malena-Webber an academic, puzzle and game designer, and presenter. He's designed puzzles for everything from the launch of the Tomb Raider movie to live interactive crime-solving mysteries. Rich created and hosts Atomic Game Theory , a video series devoted to game analysis, and he created the Puzzle Keyring, an educational decryption tool for codes and ciphers. He wrote the sidebars that gave our essays the support of high level game theory, and can be found at @rmalena on Twitter.
Max Temkin is a co-creator of the card games Cards Against Humanity, Slap .45, and Secret Hitler. He is also the founder of the super-PAC the Nuisance Committee. He wrote the foreword that gives the book a place in the political universe, and can be found at @maxtemkin on Twitter.
F. Wesley Schneider is co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, co-writer of the video game State of Decay 2, former editor of Dungeons & Dragons’s Dragon magazine, and architect of hundreds of roleplaying game products. He regularly writes creepy works, edits games and fiction, and speaks about horror, world-building, and LGBTQ topics in gaming. You can find Wes at wesschneider.com and at @FWesSchneider on Twitter.
We're all game and puzzle creators, but trust us, you don't have to tell us to "stick to game design." Honestly, we'd much rather be sticking to game design. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and so we're devoting our free time to helping restore the rule of democracy in America. Most of us contribute our time, writing, and illustration out of the hope that we'll have a positive effect on the national dialogue.
If you'd like to join us Adorables, just pull down this logo and make it your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, or Kickstarter. Thanks for joining us!
Risks and challenges
Well, there's a lunatic in the White House. So that's always a risk. But really what you want to know about here is what could go wrong with the project and how we're going to handle it.
The good news is that the books are almost done in production and should get to our warehouse in early 2019, right about the time our backers give us their backer information. We figured it shouldn't take too long to get it all together and out the door to our US backers, and not much more to reach our international backers. But we've been burned by over-optimistic printing and fulfillment deadlines before, so we're estimating April. If we beat that, great.
No portion of the Kickstarter campaign's funds will go to candidates or charities, because that's against Kickstarter's rules. We'll use the funds to support this book and to rally people around our activities to make America smart again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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