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A funny, irreverent & social mobile game that develops money management skills. Expect the unexpected! Read more

Oakland, CA Video Games
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on November 2, 2012.

A funny, irreverent & social mobile game that develops money management skills. Expect the unexpected!

Oakland, CA Video Games
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About this project

We all love Mindblown Life. Some people also write about it publicly. These people are called the press, and you can read what they're writing by clicking the links below. We'll update this section with new things as they are published.

Avatar Generation: MBL Reaches GoalMashable: MBL Review | Gamezebo: Kickstarter PickAvatar Generation: Educational Innovators | SFWeekly: Founder Profile | The Oakland Post: Mindblown Labs Profile 

While we're on the subject of people who say nice things about us, we thought it fitting to recognize some of our key early supporters, those who occupy what we call the Founding Circle:

  • Jill Ford
  • Karl & Maggie Gieseke
  • Dhruva Kothari
  • Gerald & Marilyn Norman
  • Leone Price
  • Barbara & Reynaldo Wilson
  • Rebecca Wilson

Update 10/29: Through your incredible support we’ve hit our funding goal of $60K! We will be bringing Mindblown Life to you as soon as we can build it. We’re funded, but if you look below, you'll see that we do have stretch goals, which are additional features we want to add to significantly enhance gameplay. We hit our first stretch goal, Career Power-ups at $75,000, earlier today. Our next goal is an iPad optimized version, which will require us to revise and redevelop our art. If we reach $100,000, we'll be able to do this revision and make Mindblown Life accessible to even more people. 

Update 10/17: We have a new video that shows how Mindblown Life currently looks and how it plays. Check it out! 


(Bear in mind that this footage is from a game under active development, and  the art is not final.)

Mindblown Life is a social, life-simulation game for mobile platforms with a distinct, irreverent personality.  In the game, players create an avatar, choose a career, and live their own virtual, mindblowing lives where everything, from clothing and housing to career progression and social life, is customizable.

Players play reflex-based mini-games to earn “Money,” “Skill,” and “Reputation,” which help them move through their fantasy lives and careers. There is no set path through Mindblown Life--it's all based on the player's decisions! 

It’s all about you. 

Mindblown Life has a simple mission: to engage players emotionally, while raising their financial IQ and thereby solving a crisis that has reached epidemic proportions in this country. When’s the last time that you played a game that made you laugh? Cry? Crap yourself? (if the latter occurs, consult a doctor….that won’t be due to our game).  We want players to lose themselves playing the game; then stop, look up, and realize: they can fund their retirement for the modest price of two Soy Lattes per day; they should perhaps dump their soon-to-be ex because s/he is costing them way too much money; or they can pull off the best party trick of all time--calculating compound interest while inebriated. The financial literacy and money management skills will be the happy by-products of an incredible gaming experience.

All jokes aside, our game builds and reinforces real-life skills that many people lack—financial literacy and money management. Hundreds of millions of Americans are financially illiterate and have bleak futures as a result.  The average college graduate has $30K in debt and is unemployed or underemployed. Nearly 60% of young adults have a credit score below 700, and two-thirds of young adults have $0 invested for retirement.

(Disclaimer: all game images are from a game still under active development. They're great now, but they may look even better in the final release.)

Many mobile games out today try to get players to empty their pockets to advance. Mindblown Life, however, teaches players how to keep money in their pockets. In addition to this fact, the game utilizes several fantastic features that make it a joy to play, such as:

  • Choice & Customizability: You, the player, choose your avatar’s look, career, housing, transportation, etc. Current career options include: banker, teacher, rapper, and firefighter. These career paths have different "work" progressions, advantages, and disadvantages.
  • Deep Social Interactions: Friends are at the heart of an ideal Mindblown Life. You can interact with your real-life friends in the game in many ways, including: taking them out to dinner, chatting with them, or letting them crash on your couch, if times are particularly hard. 
  • Random Events: Do you remember the time when someone saved you from a rabid aardvark? Or how about the time you won the lotto and were mugged by a RuPaul look-alike while counting your winnings? Outrageous things like these happen all the time when you’re living a Mindblown Life. Expect the unexpected.
  • Avatar Well-Being: Money is not the only factor in determining your success. Actions you do and do not take (such as eating or spending time with friends) will affect your avatar's overall well-being. But whatever you do, don’t forget to bathe!
  • Multiple Neighborhoods: Individual environments have different layouts, allowing for a unique experience in each. You can even move to other neighborhoods.
  • Mobile: The game is mobile for iOS (and eventually Android devices), so you can play for a few moments, whenever you’re inclined.
  • Music: All games have music, but they don’t all have rockin’ awesome music. Ours does, but you don’t have to take our word for it. All background music in the video was sampled from our game soundtrack, and we’re including another clip here for your enjoyment. If this doesn’t make you bounce inside, at least a little bit, you might be dead…..inside.

The gameplay is divided between living the day-to-day life and earning resources by playing short, reflex-based mini-games called “Tasks.” These tasks allow the player to earn “Money,” “Skill,” and “Reputation.” Money is necessary for managing expenses; skill leads to promotions at work; and reputation affects your in-game interactions with friends and the environment.   

Mindblown Labs is a team of talented individuals with diverse expertise in technology, gaming, personal finance, informal education, and leadership development. We are united by a common passion for creating outrageous, innovative games that revolutionize education.

While this is our first product as a team, all members of our team breathe games and have played a lot of games, studied games in school, helped organize at GDC, or worked with studios like LucasArts.

In 2012, we won second place (out of more than 200 start-ups) in a global business plan competition, held at the University of Pennsylvania, to find cutting-edge education technology start-ups (Milken-PennGSE Education Business Plan Competition). In 2011, we were selected to participate in the Education Ventures Program of the Kauffman Foundation. 

Kickstarter is the place where cutting-edge ideas can get the financial support they need to get to the next level. The Kickstarter community appreciates “out of the box” thinking and has funded some of the most innovative products and games of the 21st Century.

There’s nothing out there like Mindblown Life. When is the last time a game you really enjoyed playing helped you develop an important skill? (Remember that being a champion thumb warrior doesn't count!) Through our game, players develop skills such as budgeting, credit score management, credit card management, and negotiating loans/interest rates.

You and the Kickstarter Community will allow us to raise funds to launch Mindblown Life, while maintaining creative control of our game. This game can do amazing things, and we want to make sure we do it absolutely right. Together, we can help solve financial illiteracy, one of the biggest problems facing America. 

Games of the level of complexity and depth of experience that we're working to achieve typically cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to produce.  Because we're tackling the huge issue of financial illiteracy, we need to make sure we have one of the best games out there.  We’ve already invested thousands of hours in this game, but we need your help to get to the finish line.

Now that we've reached our initial goal, any additional funds pledged are going towards our stretch goals. You can find more information on stretch goals in the updates section at the top of the page. 

We’ve recruited an awesome team of individuals committed to producing a game of the highest quality. Many of these people are working part-time and/or are not paid at all. We would like to hire a few of them full-time (at least one other developer and artist) so that we can speed up our production and ensure that the version of the game that we roll out at launch (in early 2013) has a robust set of features.  The initial goal amount represents the bare minimum that will make a significant difference in the project. This amount will fund:

  • 3 more months of full-team production costs, enough for a completed mobile game that players will enjoy and learn from, but not possess all of the fireworks that we would like to have in it.
  • costs of rewards and associated fees from Kickstarter and Amazon.

To produce a truly mind-blowing game, however, we need to raise substantially more than this. Think expanded and improved art, expanded multi-player tasks, more avatar roles, or, instead of imagining, you can just keep reading….


Right after we reach our initial goal amount, we will aggressively pursue stretch goals that will enable us to speed up the production of our game, ramp up the features included in our game, and hire additional full-time team members.  Just as importantly, the better the game is, the more people it will reach. Some of the stretch goal features may include:

  • doubling or tripling the number of avatar careers in the game
  • off-the-wall prank system  that lets you pull pranks on your friends in the game
  • additional mini-games
  • many more neighborhoods and even cities
  • personalized avatars
  • cross-platform play
  • customized music
  • pets development of non-playable character(s) Fortune Jones/the Fortune Jones's (a family)

You get fun and learning. That’s not enough for you? Fine. We can add in a few rewards. In all seriousness, we really appreciate your support and want to reward contributors at all levels.  Below are our reward tiers:

  • Private, backers-only Kickstarter updates, which rank just below slumber parties as the best way to learn our secrets.
  • Official game-play trailer, months before we release it to the general public.
  • Our thanks for joining the movement! (If self-satisfaction is your thing, wrap our gratitude in golden tissue paper).
  • All rewards are cumulative, so, as you work your way down, know we’re hooking you up with all the amazing, envy-inducing things you’ve seen above.
  • Beta access to the iOS version of the game, allowing you to get in early, build an amazing life, and laugh at (or help out) all of your friends who come aboard struggling when we have our official release.
  • Hi-res wallpaper for your tech devices (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) so you can immerse yourself in the Mindblown World, even when you’re not playing.
  • Everything above.
  • Access to the official Mindblown podcasts.
  • Special access to our first in-game competition, through which you can win special avatar gear, stat boosts, and bragging rights for your Mindblown prowess.
  • Everything above.
  • An account in our Development Forum, where you can discuss the game and influence development decisions and the ultimate trajectory of the game.
  • Digital soundtrack of game-inspired music—we get VIP access to any parties where you play it, and we’re exempted from any BYO rules.
  • Everything above.
  • Your name listed in the game credits on our website,www.mindblownlabs.com.
  • Exclusive in-game Kickstarter shirt for your avatar. The pixel top is so in this year.
  • Everything above. (That’s right, all of it. Still.)
  • Special in-game avatar career available only to backers at this level and above: you can scoff at your friends with the normal—but still awesome—game careers.
  • Digital art book that lets you admire our sketches, concept art, and final game images whenever you feel so inclined—which will clearly be all the time.
  • Everything above.
  • VIP Access and Voting Rights in our Development Forum, allowing you to make your voice heard through the sacred democratic process. Help us decide on game additions, like new avatar careers and new neighborhoods/cities. Voting blocs and lobbying forbidden.
  • Digital journal with behind-the-scenes content, where you will learn exactly what happens when Keegan doesn't get that soy latte. 
  • Everything above.
  • Your name in the game credits.
  • An Exclusive Mindblown Life Kickstarter T-shirt, which goes on your physical body. This brings you one step closer to symbiosis with your avatar.
  • Signed postcard from members of the Mindblown Labs team.

(Add $10 for international shipping)

  • Physical copy of the soundtrack, complete with a lovely art sleeve. You can keep bumping our catchy game tunes after you learn the value of data backup the hard way.
  • Beta access to all future Mindblown Labs games. We’re trying really hard not to be a one-hit wonder (anyone else remember the Baha Men?), and we want you to be one of the first people to have access to what we do next.
  • Oh, yeah! EVERYTHING ABOVE. (Just wanted to make sure you were on your toes for this one!)

(Add $10 for international shipping)

  • Everything above.
  • Access to our in-game Kickstarter store, where you can get special gear to trade with friends, or you can keep it to yourself and make your avatar the guy or gal with all of the fancy and expensive toys that no one else gets to have.
  • A signed Mindblown Life poster—learning to forge our signatures in the depicted scene will not increase your in-game cash or out of game penmanship.
  • Alpha access to all future Mindblown Labs games, making you among the first to know what we’re cooking up and giving you a chance to provide invaluable feedback.

(Add $15 for international shipping)

  • Everything above.
  • Signed, softcover art book, filled with our sketches, concept art, and final game art. Physical books are still awesome!
  • Name of your choosing on an in-game building. Because angry calls from the parents of our younger players would take us away from actually making the game, name suggestions will be subject to team approval. We have to maintain a measure of taste (or at least plausible deniability).
  • Listing as Supporting Producer in game credits.

(Add $25 for international shipping)

  • Every single thing above. We know it’s getting tough to track it all, but just remember that it’s all pretty awesome and relates to the game you’re supporting.
  • Upgrade to a signed, hardcover version of the art book, absolutely perfect for coffee tables, bathroom bookshelves, or wherever else you keep your durable art books.
  • In-game portrait in your likeness, real or imagined. If you want your imaginary likeness portrayed, it holds to the same taste guidelines as building-naming above.
  • Asigned, high-quality print of a limited run, signed game artwork. Looks great in a frame.
  • Handwritten thank you note because we like to be old-fashioned sometimes.

(Add $50 for international shipping)

  • Everything above. 
  • In-game statue designed in your name and image, though you can also choose another name and/or image that pass our taste evaluation.
  • Ability to name and help create an in-game achievement. Players can earn a badge of (dis)honor named after your (least) favorite family member, Roman emperor, or anything else we can use without being sued out of existence.
  • Join the Mindblown Labs team on a conference call, and get to know a bit of our personalities, our creative M.O., and how we work.
  • Producer listing in game creditsso you can show all your friends and all our fans how much you love and support us.

(Add $50 for international shipping)

  • Everything above.
  • Membership on our game design advisory board, which meets digitally with our design team to brainstorm and provide design feedback. Because you’ll be discussing game ideas before they become features, we’ll want your legally-binding word that you won’t tell anyone what we’re up to.
  • In-game avatar modeled in your image or your desired image, or really any clearly humanoid image that’s in good taste.
  • Name of your choice on a franchise of game buildings, provided that the name is in good taste and that our we won’t spend the next 3 years in court because of it—any case we can’t use our dashing good-looks to charm our way out of in 20 minutes is too much of a headache.
  • Collaboration on a new track with our sound designer and acknowledgment in Sound Design credits.
  • Dinner with the Mindblown Labs Team in the San Francisco Bay Area. You’ll have to provide transportation and accommodation, but we’ll take care of the rest!

(Add $50 for international shipping)

  • Everything above.
  • Collaboration with our design team to develop a new role. You get a hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience with our design process and get to impact a custom avatar role. We’ll even acknowledge your efforts in the design section of the credits.
  • Executive Producer listing in game credits.
  • Neighborhood named after you in the game and designed with your input and influence.  Our standard taste guidelines apply, but you will be able to help plan the layout of the neighborhood and make several decisions about how it will work.
  • Video thank you from the whole Mindblown Labs Team. 

(Add $50 for international shipping)

Hopefully that's enough for those of you who can't subsist on fun and knowledge. For what it's worth, we can't either, and here we are raising other subsistence essentials. 

Mindblown Labs is ecstatic to work with the Kickstarter community to bring Mindblown Life into the big wide world. We appreciate you for taking the time to read up on our project, and we appreciate the Kickstarter platform and community as a whole for making this possible. 

Mindblown Labs is also overwhelmingly grateful to our supporters of all levels. We are really hoping to help millions of people become financially literate with this game, and we couldn't accomplish it without you! 

Final thanks goes out to everyone who has helped Mindblown Life reach the place it is now by supporting our project and our people! There are a few special people that helped us make this happen. 


We have our Gamechangers:

Afaf Ibraheem, Amelia Hill, Ashley Joseph Williams, Christophe Huguenin, Desi Duncker, Jon Barfield, Tom & Julie Gentile, Marques Redd, Mike Periu, Nnamdi Okike, Rob Boutwell, and Sharon Moore. 

And, we have our Trailblazers: 

Adwoa Banful, Aki Garrett, Alexandra C. Wood, Brad Greiwe, Brian Niemczak, Brooks Washington, Caleb Franklin, Chip Crowther, Charles Washington, Chris Lyle, David Reynolds, Donielle Buie, Eric Ragland, Gideon Lowin, Gustavo Cardenas, I Love Being Black, Manny Foster, Jade Craig, John Morris, Jordan Brewer, Jose Coleman Tio, Kara Lee, Kate Nelson, Keith Howell Jr., Lance Blanks, Leslie Theophile, Lowell Caulder, Luther Gatewood, Marya Bloodsaw, Michelle Robinson, Nick Ragland Jr., Dr. Robert Neel, Sangu Delle, Sean Nolan, Tye Dumas, William Chichester III, Yves Joseph, and Zuriel Chavez.

You can read more about us at our website, Mindblownlabs.com, hear our updates on Facebook, or keep up with our work and industry on twitter, @MindblownLabs and #fundMBL.

Risks and challenges

One of the biggest risks in building a game is that it won't be fun. This risk increases dramatically for educational games. We've tested with hundreds of players, and so far they love it. We'll continue testing as we proceed with development.

We're building for the iOS platform. Apple is always changing stuff which can lead to major headaches for developers. Any significant "tweaks" by Apple could delay our launch. Luckily, we've dealt with this before. We're also very good at responding to crises.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • We expect to send out invitations for our beta in the beginning of the new year (2013). When the beta launches, you will receive an email telling you how to download it to your device and get your game on.

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  • Yes! If you pledge enough to the earn beta access, you will be upgraded to the final version when it releases.

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  • We hope to release our launch version in early 2013.

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  • The initial release of Mindblown Life will work with iOS devices. Right now, we are have an iPhone and iPod Touch, and we hope to optimize for iPad as well. If funding permits, we hope to develop a port to Android a few months after our initial launch.

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  • Please look at the expected delivery dates listed along the right sidebar of the page for the timing of your rewards. All rewards are expected to be available by March 2013.

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  • As of right now, Kickstarter is the only way to support us. Kickstarter does use Amazon to process payments though, so it’s just as secure as your online shopping there. If you are having trouble backing us, please let us know, and we’ll look into setting up an alternative funding system.

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  • We want those of you who support us at a level that gives naming rights to enjoy the naming process! That said, we maintain the authority to approve names because we want our game to be accessible and appealing to players of different ages. A good rule of thumb for name suggestions is that anything lewd, inflammatory, derogatory, or overtly sexual is not acceptable. Anything that is another company’s IP (trademarks, copyright, etc.) is also not acceptable. If you submit something that doesn’t work, we’ll let you know and give you an opportunity to suggest a new name.

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  • Mindblown Labs is a for-profit social enterprise. This means that we deeply care about improving society, but we rely on revenue and profits instead of grants and donations to grow from year-to-year. We firmly believe that it is possible to make money by doing good, and that is precisely what we strive to do, in the utmost responsible manner possible.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    20 backers

    ~Private, backers-only Kickstarter updates, which rank just below slumber parties as the best way to learn our secrets ~Official game-play trailer, months before we release it to the general public ~Our thanks for joining the movement! (If self-satisfaction is your thing, our gratitude is easily re-purposed.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    109 backers

    ~Beta access to iOS game: be among the first to know about and play our game, prior to public launch! ~Wallpaper for your tech devices (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) ~Previous reward tier

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    30 backers

    ~Access to official Mindblown podcasts
    ~Participate in first in-game competition
    ~All previous reward tiers

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    80 backers

    ~Access to development forum (play role in big game development decisions and ultimate outcome of game) ~Digital soundtrack of game music (make sure you invite us to any parties where you’ll be jamming to it....seriously!) ~All previous reward tiers

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    32 backers

    ~Listing in game credits on website
    ~Exclusive in-game Kickstarter backer shirt for your avatar
    ~All previous reward tiers

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    93 backers

    ~Special avatar career in game

    ~Digital art book (including sketches, prototypes, and final game art)

    ~All previous reward tiers

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    16 backers

    ~VIP access to Team Leaders Area in Development Forum (one key feature of this area is that you will get voting rights on such things as new avatar professions and new neighborhoods/cities)
    ~Digital journal with behind-the-scenes videos, notes, and messages regarding the team's journey to create this outstanding game
    ~All previous reward tiers

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    116 backers

    ~Name in official game credits
    ~Mindblown Life Kickstarter T-shirt (real-life t-shirt that you can wear)
    ~Signed postcard
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$10 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    20 backers

    ~CD soundtrack
    ~Access to beta version of all future Mindblown Labs games
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$10 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    34 backers

    ~Access to in-game Kickstarter Store with special items that you can trade with or sell to friends
    ~Signed poster
    ~Access to alpha version of all future Mindblown Labs games
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$15 for international shipping )

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    16 backers

    ~Softcover, signed art book

    ~Opportunity to name a building in the game
    ~Supporting Producer Listing in game credits
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$25 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    3 backers

    ~Hardcover, signed art book
    ~In-game portrait in your likeness
    ~Limited, signed artwork
    ~Handwritten thank you note
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$50 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $3,000 or more

    2 backers

    ~Name on statue in the game, created in your likeness
    ~Ability to name and create an in-game achievement
    ~1 conference call with the team
    ~Producer listing in game credits
    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$50 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $6,500 or more

    0 backers

    ~Participation in game design advisory board
    ~Special avatar in the game, created in your likeness
    ~Ability to name a franchise of buildings in the game

    ~Collaborate on new track with sound designer and get special thanks listing in Sound Design Credits

    ~Dinner and hanging out with the team (have to provide your own lodging and travel)

    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$50 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    1 backer

    ~Collaborate on new role with game designer and get special thanks listing in Game Design Credits
    ~Executive Producer listing in game credits
    ~Neighborhood named after you in the game; you get to help design the neighborhood
    ~Video thank you from the whole team

    ~All previous reward tiers
    (+$50 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)