Created by Unruly Designs

A War Birds Story of Love & Survival. Berlin: 1933 - 1943.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Progress Update: Early June
over 2 years ago – Sat, Jun 08, 2019 at 12:10:20 AM

Hello wonderful backers!

We wanted to update you with what we’ve been working on for the last few weeks.

First, we’ve been smoothing and finalizing the game text. We got great feedback from our last series of playtests, including places where facilitators need extra support. For example, new facilitators sometimes need help cutting scenes. We’ve chosen three easy-to-use techniques to add to the facilitator instructions section, tested them, and now we’re writing them up. We’re also chasing down typos, timeline inconsistencies, and all the other details that will make the game truly polished!

Second, we’ve been working with our fabulous designer Robin Scott to update the layout of the book. While our Festival Edition was beautiful, we’ve decided to bring our layout into line with the previous War Birds book. We’ve also rethought how we divide text between the book and the card deck to maximize usability. Based on these changes, Robin has created some sample pages for us, and they’re amazing! After our next round of revisions with Robin, we’ll be able to share those with you as a teaser for what the book will look like.

Finally, we’ve been continuing to write and speak about the game. We have an essay coming out in the “Bodies” issue of the American Jewish Society Perspectives magazine, which talks about analog role-playing as a type of embodied learning for Jewish studies. We’ve also submitted a journal paper on our design techniques for dealing with sensitive historical material. Wish us luck!

Thanks again for your support, and we can’t wait to show you what’s next!

All our best,

Jess and Mo

What we are working on and next steps
over 2 years ago – Sat, Apr 13, 2019 at 01:23:33 AM

 Hi All!

It's been a few weeks, and we are working on our final round of design before we head into edits. We've received the Kickstarter funds and despite a few dropped/declined backers, we are still happily funded and proceeding with the game.

We'll be working on setting up pre-orders in Backerkit next, and then surveys- you'll be able to add copies of War Birds (both softcover and hardcover, as well as the patch!) as add-ons to your shipment. Backerkit will be where we collect your shipping address and fee for shipping physical rewards, as well as how we'll distribute digital rewards- we'll have an update later explaining everything you need to know!

Thank you for your support of our project- we are so thrilled to be able to produce Rosenstrasse for a wider audience and we couldn't do that without you!

 Love from Jess, Mo & the whole team. 

We have crossed the finish line!
over 2 years ago – Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 11:31:08 PM

We have come to the end of the campaign and are so excited to have funded the print run and to have met two stretch goals - including the two-player, two-hour version of the game which funded with only an hour to spare.

Tonight I just want to make a quick post to say thank you to all of you for your support!

Jess and I will be posting in the next few days to share the next steps of the project and share our gratitude and reflections about the campaign. 

Thank you for making resistance possible!

Love from Jess, Mo & the whole team.

Companion Funded + New Stretch Goals Announced!
over 2 years ago – Fri, Mar 15, 2019 at 12:54:06 PM

Hello folks....

And we're in the FINAL STRETCH of the campaign!

We're incredibly thrilled to have the Rosenstrasse Companion stretch goal yesterday, and today we are revealing two new stretch goals we hope to make in the final push. 

At $27,500 we will be including a collector enamel pin with our key takeaway from the campaign: Resistance Is Possible. This pin is currently planned to look like the following mock-up, with the text and the Rosenstrasse female silhouette on a black metal background with raised lettering and border. This text honors the idea that active resistance against antisemitism, bigotry, and xenophobia in all its forms is possible - and that we must never again let that kind of hate and injustice take hold of our world.

Rough Resistance Is Possible graphic looking like it might as a pin.
Rough Resistance Is Possible graphic looking like it might as a pin.

At 500 Backers, we will be also be including a second enamel pin as a companion to the first! On this one, the male silhouette is featured on a black metal background with raised lettering that reads "Continuity Is Resistance". This text honors the idea that the descendants of survivors of the Holocaust continue to live, and celebrates Jewish lives everywhere. Waking up every day as a Jew, and continuing to survive and thrive, is a type of resistance all its own.

Rough mock up of Continuity Is Resistance graphic to be used for the pin.
Rough mock up of Continuity Is Resistance graphic to be used for the pin.

 We hope to make it through both of these stretch goals before we hit the end of the campaign - if existing backers would like to see that happen, please help us out by resharing the campaign and letting people know why you chose to back us!

To anyone in the Toronto area going to Breakout Con, I will be a guest of the con and running two War Birds games - Rosenstrasse and the not-yet-released game Lumberjills about women of the Timber Corps finding confidence, autonomy and romance in the forestry camps of Scotland during WWII. 

Stop by to say hi if you'll be in attendance!

Resistance is Possible,


Rosenstrasse, research, and the iterative design process
over 2 years ago – Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 02:05:32 PM

Hello friends,

Today I wanted to tell you a little bit about our process for designing and iterating Rosenstrasse. Since the game deals with sensitive and difficult subject matter, we wanted to make sure we were doing it justice. We also needed to design an experience that was meaningful for our players, and that supported the larger goals of our game. As I tell my game design students, designing a transformational game is more than twice as hard as designing a good transformational experience plus a good game - and that's without the Holocaust in the mix.

To address these issues, Mo and I used a range of different research and design processes. The very first thing we did was make sure we were on the same page about our vision and goals. While the superb Transformational Framework was not yet released, we used many of the same techniques to develop a vision that we could iteratively work towards. We didn't get everything right the first time - most memorably, we hadn't considered that descendants of Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators might play our game - but we were able to continue iterating our vision together as we went along.

To make sure we were honoring our subject matter, we worked with experts and other stakeholders. We started by hitting the books (in particular Nathan Stoltzfus's Resistance of the Heart) and making some early prototypes. Because people have strong preconceptions about what games can do, we wanted to give our experts something concrete to react to instead of a theoretical idea. Once we had a playable prototype, we set up interviews with historians, Holocaust educators, and other experts. We also made sure to include stakeholders, in particular the descendants of Holocaust survivors, in our playtesting.

To understand player experience, we playtested, playtested, and playtested some more. For our early playtests, Mo would run the game while I sat there frantically scribbling notes, and then we'd talk to our players for hours afterward. As we iterated toward a more final prototype, we split up playtesting (doubly necessary because we live in different cities!) and relied on our players' patience to take quick notes during the game. Eventually we got to the point where we were training facilitators to run the game without us; our amazing facilitators would send us pages and pages of notes about places where they had trouble or situations that we hadn't expected to encounter. 

(If you're interested in some of the methods I use for playtesting and peer feedback, you can watch the talk I gave at GDC 2018 here. My talk is the second half of the video and picks up from Martin's focus on instructor-led feedback.)

We made some pretty major changes based on playtesting, including almost completely rewriting one character's storyline! Our playtests also helped us see where facilitators would need extra support both with helping players engage, and with correcting particular historical misconceptions.

Finally, we could see from playtesting that we were affecting players in profound ways, but we didn't fully understand how. Asking a "how" or a "why" question typically brings things into the realm of human subjects research, which means getting ethics approval to run the study. Working with Nathan Leblanc, a masters student with expertise in anthropology, we developed a study that (we hoped!) would let us understand how players were connecting their play experiences to history and activism. Our research protocol combined observing players during play, recording play decisions, and an extensive post-game interview and debrief process. After getting approved to run the study, we collected data from 18 players and analyzed it using a grounded theory process. You can read all about what we learned here.

We know that doing this kind of iterative design and research doesn't magically prevent people from misunderstanding or misusing our game. That's one of the risks you take when you ask anyone to play your game when you aren't in the room! But we hope that by inclusively, rigorously, and persistently iterating Rosenstrasse, using a range of playtest techniques to address different design goals, we have done our absolute best to honor our material and our players. The rest is up to you.

Resistance is possible,