Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Phonetic Scrabble meets Apples-to-Apples! Pijin is an exciting game of quick-witted phonetic spelling & word associations!
Phonetic Scrabble meets Apples-to-Apples! Pijin is an exciting game of quick-witted phonetic spelling & word associations!
205 backers pledged $17,233 to help bring this project to life.

About

Pijin: Flock, talk & unlock the sensory puzzles of speech project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$17,233

205

Pijin tiles and GrabBag
Pijin tiles and GrabBag

Kickstarter is over but you can still get info and BUY a game set from the Pijin website!

REVIEWS

GeekDad: "[Pijin]’s not strictly a word game, but also a social experience...seems perfect for exploring language and sounds while playing a game."

HowLouSeesIt: "I think this looks like a really fun game and one where my bad spelling wouldn't hinder me one bit!"

NoobSource: "I've never really fancied myself a word-nerd. Crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and even Word on the Street were always tough for me...[but Pijin] aims to change my point-of-view!"

WHAT IS PIJIN?

Pijin is a unique new word game of spelling with phonemes. Players spell what they hear and only what they hear in pronunciation. "Pigeon" is spelled /pijin/, "words" becomes /wurdz/, "spelling" is /speleng/, and so on. (There are more examples below, or check out the preview of the Player's Manual here). Words spelled phonetically look a little strange, but that's part of the fun as players explore and tinker with the sounds of language!  

When playing Pijin, the familiar restrictive world of proper spelling and pronunciation opens out into a vast playing field of linguistic possibilities.  That's not to say that Pijin encourages improper spelling (there's more on this in the FAQs below) -- rather, it focuses attention on sounds and players therefore develop a better understanding of speech and spelling conventions while creating words with phonemes, and no dictionary, no vocabulary list, nor any special expertise is required. Being a native speaker in any language is all you need. Bring to the table what you've heard and what you say, and then get ready to talk about it as you play!   

Pijin is for two or more players, 8 years and up, and it takes between 20-60 minutes, depending on which module of Pijin is being played. The basic rules are a cinch to learn, but playing remains challenging and fun as you master the game. As in Bananagrams, Scrabble and Words with Friends, you spell words competitively to gather as many points as possible.  As in Apples to Apples, Scattergories and Anomia, the evaluation of gameplay is up to the players in the game. 

HOW DO YOU PLAY?

Pijin was designed to be modular and expandable.  We've got one expansion that ships with the game and plans for more are underway!  

The basic game is Pijin Grid.  No board is needed, and it works like this:

(1) Each player takes 10 tiles from the GrabBag without looking.

(2) What remains of the 144 double-sided tiles are spread nearby where all players can see and reach.  This is the Pijin Pool.  

(3) Players take turns placing tiles to "spell" phonetically in an interconnected or intersecting crossword-style grid of words. Careful: words are spelled in Pijin as they sound, not as they appear in the dictionary! A point is scored for each tile in each word spelled, and score is kept as the game goes along. 

(4) Any played word may be contested by other players, and the word's playability must be assessed by all players. Get ready: this is where lively discussion about regional or idiomatic pronunciations may arise! If there's consensus that the word fails to accurately "spell" the sound of the spoken word, then it is removed and the player who played it cannot replace it or play again that round.

(5) Each tile played is replaced by a tile from the Pijin Pool so that players always have 10 tiles to play.  Players may strategically select tiles from the Pijin Pool so long as they are not selecting or switching tiles during their turn.  (This rule can be modified to accommodate beginners or more advanced players). 

(6) Players continue to play in order until no more tiles can played. The player with the highest score wins!  

Action Cards - these images represent a draft version, project backers can help us determine the final look of these!
Action Cards - these images represent a draft version, project backers can help us determine the final look of these!

The Pijin Game Set includes 52 "Action Cards" for an altogether different tabletop game experience - the first of our expansion MODULE PACKS -called Pijin Sprint.   It's faster paced than Pijin Grid, and it makes a fantastic party game, adaptable and easy to start or stop after each Round.  Players race to phonetically spell words responding to a drawn card as follows:

(1) Each player draws 10 tiles without looking, and the rest of the tiles are placed into the Pijin Pool.

(2) The first Round begins when an Action Card is flipped over.  Action Cards can have descriptive words or images.  The drawn card sets the topic or thematic range for the Round.

(4) Players race to complete ten words of any length that relate in some manner to the drawn Action Card.  Once any player reaches ten words the other players must stop and the round is over.  Players may choose to go fast and choose to spell short words rapidly, or may go slow, spelling longer and higher scoring words -- it's up to you, but choose your strategy carefully, as soon as any player completes their tenth word all tile placement stops and that Round is over! 

(5) Players may spell their ten words in single rows, or create one or more grid patterns of intersecting words.  In a grid, each word played is a continuous row or column of tiles, but extra combinations of intersecting words may be formed alongside the word played.  Those extra intersecting words are not counted as part of the Round's 10 words, and therefore do not have to relate to the Action Card topic. The points of those extra combinations, however, do count so long as the spellings are agreed to be valid.  

(6) Scores are totaled at the end of the Round. The player with the most points wins!

WHAT EXACTLY IS INCLUDED IN THE PIJIN GAME SET?

  • 144 double-sided phoneme tiles
  • 52 Action Cards
  • 1 GrabBag
  • 6 Player's Mats (AKA, Cheat Sheets!)
  • Player's Manual (see here for a sample preview)

>>>NEW $10 ADD-ON!! 52 Card Deck of IPA Symbols<<<

REWARDS

WHO IS PIJIN FOR?

Pijin makes a lively, thought provoking game for parties of 6 or fewer, and with more tiles, more players can easily be included (we've play tested a set of 196 tiles for 8+ people). Pijin's consensus-based system of deciding which played words are valid means a fun, crucial part of gameplay is players' conversation about language and sounds.  It sparks all kinds of discussion and wide-ranging observations, and makes Pijin an excellent party game.  It's a learning experience in the best sense that assumes the experiences and insights of each player are important. Pijin over drinks? - apertivo, ah, perfecto! How about Pijin after dinner? - absolutely, dessert for thought!

Some word games can turn into a competitive didactic slog through official lists of exotic words (memorized all those unusual two-letter words? how many playable words start with q?... meh...), but that doesn't happen with Pijin.  Pijin players learn from each other, stretch each other's horizons as they play, and it encourages collaborative effort, even as players compete to make high-scoring words.  

Setting up a high-scoring move: "How would you spell 'pyramid'?"
Setting up a high-scoring move: "How would you spell 'pyramid'?"

In Pijin, no player and no outside reference source are held more authoritatively than the consensus opinion of the entire table. If an outside source is consulted, then players must reach an agreement about its legitimacy and pertinence to the game at hand. This makes Pijin an excellent game for every native speaker of any language who likes to think and talk about their experience with the spoken word.

Andy racking up some points and strategically choosing replacement tiles from the Pijin Pool.
Andy racking up some points and strategically choosing replacement tiles from the Pijin Pool.

Pijin is brilliant in the classroom -- kids love playing Pijin!  We've been playing with friends and family ages 9 to 90, and its amazing how quickly kids catch on to playing with phonemes.  Pijin's focus on words and it's "roundtable" equalization of all players make it an excellent teaching tool in many language classrooms. Speech therapists, ESL instructors, and English teachers will appreciate the self-directed fun that this game generates, as students learn constructively by playing collaboratively and talking about each play as they go. Other specialists and educators will find it a fun, unique and useful "gamification intervention" for deep learning and educational objectives that go beyond simple skill building or test results.  Game on!

/SKRACHEZ/, is that Scratches or Scratchies? Could be lottery tickets? Scratch-and-Sniff stickers? Or, scrapes and itches? Once the vowel is set, long or short, it stays that way for the rest of the game.
/SKRACHEZ/, is that Scratches or Scratchies? Could be lottery tickets? Scratch-and-Sniff stickers? Or, scrapes and itches? Once the vowel is set, long or short, it stays that way for the rest of the game.
 

WHEN WILL IT SHIP?

We will send the PDF of the game to backers upon the completion of the Kickstarter campaign.  We are already working with manufacturers to get the best quality wooden tiles available so that we will be ready to place the production order as soon as the Kickstarter has concluded. We have been told to expect a six-week timeframe for production order fulfillment, so that means within ten weeks of the completed Kickstarter campaign we should have the tiles completed and ready to ship. The grab bags are on a similar schedule. The printed materials will be easier to fulfill (player's mats and action cards) and they will take less than four weeks. We plan to be shipping game sets in June.

WHY DO THIS ON KICKSTARTER?

I’ve had two other projects on Kickstarter, and both introduced me to large communities of like-minded, supportive, amazing people from all over the world, and I honestly wouldn’t want to do this in any other way.  I want to put this project out there, I want people to play the game with their friends, at game nights, in classrooms and wherever else, and I am eager for more feedback. Also, to do this right and to get the best materials for producing the game set, we need to order at least 1,000 units for the production run, so I’ve created the PDF Game reward as a way of distributing the game without needing extra money for production or shipping.  I've set the goal at $15,000 to make the minimum first orders — that will cover the costs of materials (80%), shipping and handling (10%) and transaction fees (10%) — but we’d like to raise enough to do more than the minimum, and we've got expansion sets in mind that will improve the range of playing modes of the game if we find enough support.  

WHY DID YOU MAKE THIS?

The child has a hundred languages/ a hundred hands a hundred thoughts/ a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking./ A hundred always a hundred ways of listening/ of marveling, of loving/ a hundred joys/ for singing and understanding/ a hundred worlds/ to discover/ a hundred worlds/ to invent/ a hundred worlds/ to dream. -L. Malaguzzi (trans., Lella Gandini)

We learn language by hearing it, sharing it, by passing it back and forth, modifying as we go, and adding things along the way.  Pijin was made to be a word game that embodied that.  While the ever-changing, ever-moving spirit of language has vexed grammarians and baffled philosophers since the arrival of the Greek alphabet in 775 BCE, practically every native speaker who learns to read and write readily experiences first-hand the great gulf between the written word and spoken word.  This profound philosophical problem is recapitulated in nearly every child's development.  

"Compost is inportint becose it maks fresh soiel," and the spoken word is important because it makes fresh language - YUM!
"Compost is inportint becose it maks fresh soiel," and the spoken word is important because it makes fresh language - YUM!

As children acquire language, learn, and gather up their vivid sensations of life into pliant, overflowing expressions, they demonstrate incredible powers of language invention and imagination.   And yet, this too soon gets tangled up and children find their creativity drying up -- so although it really ought to be expanding along with their language skills, vocabulary and overall cultural mastery, it contracts, shrinks, and withers away and all but disappears for many by the time they reach adulthood.  I'm thinking of Reggio schools' founder, Loris Malaguzzi's famous poem, "The Hundred Languages" which puts the matter starkly, if honestly, in terms of our faulty institutions of learning:  "The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child: to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak...and of the [child's] hundred [languages] they steal ninety-nine." 

"Crismas is in icsiting Holoday hip hip haray YAY" -- these lyrics were composed and written unprompted by my 7-year old niece (Dec 2013). The words came to her as a complete performance with melody & dramatic actions - language is physical!
"Crismas is in icsiting Holoday hip hip haray YAY" -- these lyrics were composed and written unprompted by my 7-year old niece (Dec 2013). The words came to her as a complete performance with melody & dramatic actions - language is physical!

My point is that the distance between the written word and the spoken word grows as we get older. But there are schools of thought that have developed in the last thirty years which underscore the importance of language's physicality, tying together the pronunciation of words and the action of speaking or making gestures in our experience of symbols and meaning making.  I made Pijin to be a leisurely pursuit of getting back into that more physical experience of language.

Word on the street!
Word on the street!

Also, it's utterly gratifying - at times even hilarious - to have a game in which you set out let go of “proper spelling” and invoke everyday idioms and pronunciations that aren't necessarily your own. That we all take pleasure in that is obvious in everyday tweeting, chatting, texting, messaging, and emails where abbreviations, acronyms, emojis, and a quick mix of languages and inflections are picked up, absorbed or made up on the fly. At their best, these quick alterations and additions to language expand and enliven communication - they give to written language the sort of rapid mutability that is common in the spoken word. I wanted Pijin to be flexible enough to handle some of those internet-influenced realities seen in contemporary written language practices.  

As for the word games that exist already, what does it mean that our most popular word games rely upon reference to "official" written lists of words? Can a game designed with an authoritative list at its core ever hope to catch up with or engage our actual lived experience of speech?  

I feel like it can't, and so I felt there was something missing in several of the word games I love playing.  I wanted to solve two problems:  (1) players who memorize "trick" words in spelling games, for instance, two-letter words, words that start with "q," and others that never occur in daily speech.  (2) The ban on idiomatic expressions, improvised sayings, slang, dialects, pidgins, patois and creole, regional accents, sci-fi and fantasy made-up languages.  Also, I wanted to have a word game that moved faster and that could be played in shorter periods of time. So I started working on Pijin! 

HAVE YOU PROTOTYPED THIS? 

OH YES we have! -- we've gone through lots of iterations, different game mechanics and designs, and played a TON of trial games this past year.  Here are some photos:

Early prototype, March 2013
Early prototype, March 2013
Prototype, August 2013 - this version had a more complex phoneme system that included more blends, digraphs, and differentiated long and short vowels.
Prototype, August 2013 - this version had a more complex phoneme system that included more blends, digraphs, and differentiated long and short vowels.
Prototype, September 2013 - we've got the phoneme system we need, and here begin trying out different materials and sizes for the tiles
Prototype, September 2013 - we've got the phoneme system we need, and here begin trying out different materials and sizes for the tiles
Experimenting with plastic "travel size" - looks nice, but tiles were way too small!  We'll come back to the idea of the "travel set" later (STRETCH GOAL!), the design we've sketched uses magnets inside the letters...
Experimenting with plastic "travel size" - looks nice, but tiles were way too small! We'll come back to the idea of the "travel set" later (STRETCH GOAL!), the design we've sketched uses magnets inside the letters...
Seeking the perfect form factor!  Prototyping different sizes and colors of shrink plastic (Oct 2013)
Seeking the perfect form factor! Prototyping different sizes and colors of shrink plastic (Oct 2013)

THANK YOU! 

I couldn't have gotten Pijin this far without a spectacular group of friends, fellow gamers, teachers, autodidacts, savvy world travelers, speech therapists, and years of playing games with students and inspired kids.   Here are a few that deserve special mention:  Androooooo Meyers, Simon "Krimptork" Yuen, Mia Butzbaugh, Frank & Lucretia, Dawn Salgado, Andy White, Alissa Ball, Steve, Lara, Cat Poole, Sahrene Feldman-Buckwalter, Abigail Buckwalter, Alan Buckwalter, Dan Feldman, Jill Grotzinger.  Also, special thanks to all my students who've shown me what we could do with games in the classroom, inventing their own games and playing the games of classmates.  Thank you to you, too, for reading this and taking the time to check out Pijin!  

MORE DETAILS, BACKGROUND AND GEEKERY

International Phonetic Alphabet - we tried making cards and tiles with these, but they are so removed from the spoken word that they added a layer of table-consulting to game play that was too much work.  PIJIN strives to be simple, easy and familiar.
International Phonetic Alphabet - we tried making cards and tiles with these, but they are so removed from the spoken word that they added a layer of table-consulting to game play that was too much work. PIJIN strives to be simple, easy and familiar.
Tile Distribution can be tricky for a word game: although there are many more phonetic vowel combinations than the five vowels (A, E, I, O, U), Pijin and Scrabble have nearly the same percentage of Vowel- and Consonant-form tiles.
Tile Distribution can be tricky for a word game: although there are many more phonetic vowel combinations than the five vowels (A, E, I, O, U), Pijin and Scrabble have nearly the same percentage of Vowel- and Consonant-form tiles.
Pijin phoneme tile distribution
Pijin phoneme tile distribution
Scrabble letter tile distribution
Scrabble letter tile distribution

Risks and challenges

The game design has gone through nearly a full year of play testing and prototype iterations. At this point, the risks and challenges before our project are those inherent to production and manufacturing itself. The Pijin game set is made of pieces and materials that are readily available and close to designs already in production. That means explaining our needs to suppliers, factories and manufacturers is uncomplicated by problems that arise with unfamiliar designs and technologies. Also, as an experienced maker and designer I am experienced with the risks and challenges that arise in moving from an idea to a manufactured product. I lived in Shenzhen in early 2013, participating in HAXLR8R Hardware Accelerator, and while there I made contacts with many factories, contract manufacturers, suppliers, entrepreneurs and makers from around the world, all of whom shared insights and solutions to problems that can arise when bringing a new product to market. That experience and my success with two other Kickstarter projects makes me confident that we'll be able to ship Pijin game sets as specified and on time. I know how important it is to communicate with backers and share what's going on during the project's evolution, so if any unanticipated setbacks should happen along the way, I will let everyone know immediately.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    [PIJIN PEEPS] Thank you for your support of our project! We'll immortalize your name in winged words, marking an A-list of friends and backers on our website and in our Player's Manual to let everyone know how much we appreciate you who helped us get going. Plus, when we release Pijin out into the wide world we'll keep you updated as our project develops, sending you awesome photos and an occasional word puzzle or bird/word brain teaser. Thank you, Peeps and /pepulz/!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    24 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    [PRINT YOUR OWN PIJIN] Hit ⌘-P or CTRL-P and lookout! --it's a PYOP party! This is the way to go to get a PDF file of the game pieces and rules as soon as our Kickstarter project is completed. You'll be able to print these on whatever material you prefer and start playing right away. (BTW -Paper and card stock are perhaps the easiest & obvious options for printing, but we've got instructions and a "how-to" video for making your own pieces with shrink plastic... yup, you heard right, shrink plastic is the awesome!!, and if you have doubts or haven't seen it before, then be sure to check out the red and opaque examples of this material in the photos of our prototypes below.) Also, we'll keep you up to speed about the expansion sets and new ideas for playing Pijin. This reward is our effort to offer a seriously affordable and fun way to be part of the Pijin community. Worrrrd.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    [EARLY BIRDS] This is totally a game worth chirping about, and with this reward, you join the flock early to help us to make it to our production order of at least 1000 games, and in return you receive the best price we can offer. You get the 144 double-sided tiles, GrabBag, 52 Action Cards, Player mats and the Player's Manual, including free shipping. You'll also get some bomber updates along the way, have access to a Pijin online forum we've got planned for sharing new ideas, game mods, and expansions. Cheep Cheep Cheap, yay!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 124 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    [GOLDPIJIN: INTERNATIONAL EARLY BIRD OF MYSTERY] - Pidgins, pijins, creoles, and patois come into being at the meeting places of multiple languages, and we want Pijin to be a game that embodies that openness & cultural diversity, so here is the Early Bird price for the first 100 international orders. Oh, you smashing, groovy burdz! - THANK YOU!!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 18 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    [SUPER FLY] We've got ideas for beautifully detailed line drawn posters of the Table of the Elements of Speech and some fashion-forward t-shirt plumage to accompany the release of Pijin out into the wild, and with this reward you decide whether you'd like a t-shirt or poster. Plus, you get the PDF PYOP game! You can also add-on the full game set to this reward for an extra $35 (that means you receive the tshirt or poster, the PDF, and get the Early Bird price for the game set, at a total pledge of $80). Help us carry the message: The Bird is the Word, and the Word is Pijin!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    [BIRD IN THE HAND - FULL GAME SET] We're making this game to be unique and beautiful, and to play smoothly while lasting for years, so help us out with this reward you receive the game in its very first production run. You'll get a great value on a quality, provocative game that's unlike anything else you've ever played. Also, we'll keep you in the loop with our project updates and Pijin's online forum for new game mods and expansion sets as we develop them. Birds of a feather play Pijin together!!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    10 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    [GOOD EGGS] Here's the perfect way to get started for a gaming club, retail store, school group or classroom: with this reward we pull all the stops and deliver four complete sets of Pijin, and a PDF of the game set and rules available after the completion of the project. You want to combine two sets and have a 12-person game? You want to change the tile proportions and try games with multiple action cards? Thinking of diacritical marks and differentiating long and short vowels? Us too, and this reward is for you! You'll receive specialized project updates that we will send to this tier of backers, focusing on issues that arise in group gaming sessions, classrooms and learning environments. We are looking to this reward as a means to foster community interested in pedagogical issues and strategies for using Pijin in different therapeutic or learning contexts. We really want to make Pijin a flexible classroom or group gaming environment, and this reward is intended to help us bring new energy to workshops, group meetings, classrooms, as we draw attention to the profound learning that goes on often unnoticed in tabletop gaming. With your help at this reward level, we know we can do it together - THANK YOU!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    7 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    [BIRDS ON A WIRE WORKSHOP] - Get ready, with this reward we're going to break the birdcages and soar way into inspiration's upper stratosphere as we invent something new together! This is a reward especially suited to a robot club, school, learning group, makerspace, or other creative get together. If you enjoy tabletop games and have a penchant for Arduinos, if you dream of wires and Processing algorithms, if you lapse freely into sesquipedalianism and enjoy the occasional machine language, then this one's for you! This reward gets you four sets of the physical game, Pijin plus an unprecedented full day of collaborating with us on designing an Arduino- or Processing-based, interactive version of the game. What exactly will we do together? What Processing or Arduino libraries will be most useful? Will we need a Raspberry-Pi to help out? Shall we integrate Internet of Things, Kinect, Open Frameworks, PureData? We don't know the details, but we'll set out on a mission with you to create an electronically enhanced form of Pijin, reborn into a programmable, physical electronics game of our own making. We will provide the hardware (electronic components, physical sensors, capacitors, resistors, diodes, wires, etc), lots of cool and easy-to-manipulate building materials (such as laser-cut cardboard, shrink plastic, different types and thicknesses of acrylic, Sugru, aluminum and copper tape, etc), and we'll be ready to bring the noise for some on-the-spot mad-science inventions of gamified physical computing. Participants don't need previous experience with computers, only have an open mind, enthusiasm for building, and a readiness to start Making Things See, Speak and Listen. Let's add to "the hundred words" with a 21st Century Maker-culture twist, and set out to bring to life some unseen, unheard of awesomeness!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (34 days)