Announcing: Xłp̓χʷłtłpłłskʷc̓: The Game!

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

April 1st is a holy day on which forces of springtime bring auspicious inspiration spirits to creative people. So today is as good as any to announce a new game!

Back in 2014 when I was in grad school, I had the reputation for being a polyglot. Whenever I played Bananagrams it was always “English words only, no Icelandic or Finnish, please”.

Frustrated by this narrow design 2023 me would like to announce a NEW word game that evens the playing field for hyperpolyglots, linguists and nerds, oh my!

Proudly presenting “Xłp̓χʷłtłpłłskʷc̓”, a word tile game where players can use ANY word in ANY language! The English 26-letter alphabet can only go so far, so a c tile can represent a c, a ć, a č and many more! ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES!

And if the Latin alphabet is too limiting, the game will also be released with Arabic alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet expansion packs to add to the fun!But even if expansion packs aren’t your thing…transliterations of words in languages like Mandarin or Hebrew are ALSO valid! The game begins with 500 tiles in the pot. Whoever makes a crossword with at least 100 tiles first wins! Opponents are free to challenge the validity of any words but all dictionaries in all languages are valid! So better get on that new year’s resolution of finally inventing that constructed language!

Available wherever there is mischief.

Happy April 1st everyone!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jared Gimbel’s 12 Rules for Life (June 2022)

This was a series of Facebook Posts from June 2022 that detail my rules for life and tell a good chunk of my life story between it. Full list at the end. Nothing to do with Kaverini games in particular, but have fun anyhow!

Rule One:

What caused the biggest turning points in my life? Let’s have a look:

  1. I used to be significantly hot-headed earlier in my life, and then when I moved to Stockholm ten years ago, in the extremely “chill” neighborhood of Östermalm, I learned to be virtually immune to any variety of provocation when I got back. Thankfully it has since remained that way.
  2. In my middle school, reading the encyclopedia and drawing pictures every day were heavily encouraged by the teachers. That still remains a part of me as I literally drew a whole video game. (Well, there are some parts of the game that feature photographs, but they’re hardly a central feature of the game).
  3. Various political movements that I became a part of were almost entirely peer-influenced. Zionism in college? Leftism in my early New York years? Oh, one hundred percent. Now I’ve reached a new phase where I’m a bit of a center-left “lone wolf”, perhaps being a bit of an overprotective father for my company.
  4. In the five countries I lived in I, for better or for worse, soaked up their propoganda. Every country on planet Earth has its narratives. The antidote is other countries.
  5. The multilingual / polyglot groups feed off of each others’ rivalries and mutual aid. Activities, tips, books, PDF files…all shared among each other with great enthusiasm.

And this all brings me to my first rule:

  1. Ten people can steal a wooden beam and feel no shame in each other’s presence. (Talmud Bavli, Kiddushin 80b).

Groups are hugely powerful. The peer group effect in particular literally gives people capital-letter lives or lives of quiet desperation all by itself, depending on what groups they are. And in particular, these groups can lead people to do wonderful or otherwise dastardly things.

I first came across this quote from the Talmud when I was in high school. But perhaps what is more important is the fact that peer groups can saddle you with limiting beliefs and bad habits like nothing else in your life ever could. And they’ll actively reward you for it. Wings or weights? Depends on which ones you pick.

Rule Two:

The second decade of my life (10-20) was very much defined by fear. For one, I spent grades 5 to 8 in a Jewish day school in which day in and day out there were stories about a punishing God and a general fear of the “goyish” world in general. I should mention that far from every Orthodox Jewish Day school, yet along community, is like this, perhaps this was due fact that one family that started the school were ba’alei teshuvah (born-again Jews, literally, “masters of repentance” [although Hebrew uses “ba’al” to refer to more like “someone who does / is noted for something” rather than “master”]).

I lived in constant fear of not getting good enough grades, to say nothing of the regimen of standardized tests that Americans know all too well. On top of that, I thought that if I committed “aveyres” (sins, lit. transgressions, oddly enough from the same root word as the word “Hebrew” itself, as in, those who crossed the river), then God might punish me by weakening my mental abilities or not get acccepted into colleges.

My time in Sweden/Germany in particular made me really think about how I should start living for myself rather than out of deference to a code of law out of fear of punishment. One of my friends in Germany (himself a Jew) also told me that “Hashem is not someone who lays booby traps for people and then laughs at them shouting ‘gotcha!’ right before punishing them”.

It was a painful journey away from a lot of religious restrictions and fear, but now it is completely gone and I am glad that I have just the right amount of religion in my life the way it is.

As for the “rabbi” who ran that school and told me that I would mentally collapse due to being “unable to fit in” to the gentile world if I left? Well, he’s in jail now and the school is no more.

Thankfully due to a number of factors I have learned to love my Judaism despite everything that I went through.

Thanks to this one rule I vanquished my own anxiety and depression (although I understand that a good deal of the time “magic pills” like these don’t work for many).

Speaking of Magic, rule no. 2 comes from…a flavor text from a Magic card!

  1. When you rule by fear, your greatest weakness is one who’s no longer afraid. – Finale of Eternity (from the April 2019 Expansion “War of the Spark”).

God may not be one who lays out booby traps for people, but people definitely do. And fear sells greatly. It hypotizes people into paralysis and lives of inaction. It destroys creativity and turns would-be revolutionaries into conformists. The pressure to “sell-sell-sell” uses fear as its gasoline, be it with media machines, political narratives from anywhere on the spectrum or some corrupted versions of religions.

In Portnoy’s Complaint, one quote that always stuck out at me in my journey to relative-secularism was Alexander saying that in order to “break the [religious] law”, all you had to do was…go ahead and break it. And for those who choose to have these systems in their lives of their own choice, I very much respect that.

Once I decided to live for myself, and realize that the constant bombardment of fear was to prevent people on a mission from ever, well, being on that mission, I just learned to tune it all out.

I just got back to making games, learning languages, good times with friends, physical training, and the things I really wanted to do. As it should be.

Rule Three:

At some point before Fall 2020, I just stopped arguing about things online. With very few exceptions, I even stopped arguing with other people altogether. About anything. Before that, I was very attached to outcomes and trying to “convince people” of my truth. But as a result of being very excited about my game coming out, I became less attached to almost anything else.

I wasted a lot of energy on things that ended up having no end result in anything. Except for experience giving you the test first and then the class.

I detached myself from any discussion of current events or politics and the one thing I just tried to do is listen or glean information to learn more about human psychology (the greatest gold for someone who makes games or teaches people). There’s just simply no point to a lot of these discussions. It is like tryin to get someone to convert away from a religion they’re attached to.

At that time in my life I realized a fundamental truth about humanity.

Cue Rule #3, which is two rules that are, pardon the cliché, two sides of the same coin:

  1. The truth comes out like oil in water. – Yiddish Proverb

3b. A liar is caught faster than a limping dog. – Hungarian proverb

For those language learners out there, these are:

3a. “Der emes kumt aroys vi boyml afn vaser”.

3b. “A hazug embert hamarabb utólérik mint a sánta kutyát”

St. Augustine said that truth is like a lion. Let it loose and it defends itself from any attackers. I don’t need to get involved in street-fighting about hot-button issues because I do know that whatever the truth is will rise to the surface and become self-evident to everyone. Even the holdouts.

Untruths in relationships, business and life in general are caught like limping dogs every second of the day. My younger, cynical self once thought that the presence of internet and blaring propoganda rendered these rules no longer true. How wrong I was. And thank God for that.

Rule Four:

Fall 2014. After multiple years abroad, I finally get to do what I always wanted to: live back in the US as an adult. Scene: JTS / Columbia (where I was in the MA program until 2016).

I underwent painful stress that shouldn’t happen to a dog. As a result of me hopping countries for more than three years, and me choosing to shed a lot of my religious identity, a tragic realization came to me that there wasn’t anywhere I could call home anymore. Seeing a lot of my peers getting married while I was tryin to pick up pieces to (what I expected to be) an academic career made me think something was genuinely wrong with me.

Faced with the prospect of being a bad chameleon with no group identity for the rest of my life, my mental health reached a genuine nadir. I did enjoy my friendships at JTS, including people who playtested my games, but in a sense I always felt that something was lacking, that I was more of a sojourner than a member.

In September 2014, likely the most stressful month of my life to date, I remember my parents asking me what I could do to make me happy again. And then I mentioned in passing that in June 2013, I wrote sketches to a video game in a notebook.

In August 2013, while staying at my grandmother’s house in Milwaukee after my first year in Germany, it was while learning Finnish in preperation for a trip to Helsinki in November 2013 that the perfect name for the “super secret game” dawned on me. The Finnish word “kaverini” means “my friend” and “my friends”, and is a name that anyone from anyhwere in the world can pronounce without issues, having a foreign allure while not being intimidating, inspired in part by the bevy of ways I heard “Pokémon” pronounced throughout the years.

I never expected anything to become of those sketches, but my situation was so stressful that, while keeping up the good gradework, I decided to pivot. I started making a board game prototype that served as the framework for the video game I wanted to build. In January 2016 I started putting it altogether. Years of trying to get funding were exceedingly stressful.

But in April/May 2022, that all paid off.

The bored notebook sketches turned into my first game, that game I won’t shut up about, the one I programmed, drew and planned all by myself.

Enter Rule #4

  1. Do not sail under someone else’s star. – Swahili Proverb

For the learners out there that is: Usisa firie Nyota ya Mwenzio.

The Babylonian Talmud / Talmud Bavli tells a story about Rav Pappa (one of the many rabbis of Late Antiquity) and he says that when he goes before God after death, God will not ask him “why were you not Moses?” He will ask him “why were you not Rav Pappa?”

I could have gone on the academic route. But I remember telling both my family members and my friends that if I didn’t make the Kaverini games a reality before I died, I would never forgive myself.

And reality they became. I finally learned to sail under my own star.

Rule Five:

I used to have a heavy dosage of victim mentality. From before preschool I was fed the idea that I was “different” and would “never fit in” and often saw everything as a fight between me vs. the world, not unlike another great artist of my people, Frank Kafka.

I saw people who had misconceptions about knowledge, religion, psychology, language learning, etc. as people who needed to be corrected. Almost like I was a sort of missionary almost. I was right. I was perfect. No one else understood me.

And then I grew up.

Nowadays when I hear people say things I find egregiously offensive, I’ll try to find out a bit more about their reasoning and what made them feel that way.

If I hear someone say something I disagree with, I’ll try to just listen.

In the worst-case scenarios, I will say something that might “plant the seed of doubt” (e.g. if someone says something explicitly racist or hateful against another group of people) or bring up my own experiences with said group.

Leading up to my game coming out I made a rule that, no matter what happens, I will only blame myself for any failures I have, not everyone else, and not anyone else. Ever. Thankfully I have kept that promise. (The game has gotten good reviews and feedback so far but sales have been very poor).

When I was abroad, especially in the developing world, I realized I was one birthplace away from having been a religious extremist rather than an educator and artist with multiple degrees.

And Rule #5 comes from another Jewish educator, someone who had a significantly harder time at age 33 than I have, and it may surprise you to learn who it is:

  1. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. – Jesus

And yes, while I am Jewish I am willing to see wisdom in other religions and traditions but I’m getting ahead of myself.

People are obsessed with themselves and their worlds. A good deal of mishaps and miscommunications all happen out of sheer cluelessness rather than stupidity or malice. And sometimes, desperation.

“Taking things personally” became a thing of the past and I became detached from outcomes and offenses.

But even the most horrible things that humans have done have largely occurred because “they know not what they do”. And it can be very hard to see humanity in this way, even with the person who said this literally having the most translated Wikipedia article and a humongous impact on pop culture and human history.

If I feel angry at someone, I’ll try to remember this rule and it serves to squash any negative feelings almost instantly.

Rule Six:

Scene: May 2020. The sprites for the first Kaverini game were all finished. Maps done, dialogue written. Now all that was left to do was…actually assemble the game.

Here’s the thing, though: while I did have some rudimentary coding experience, I knew about Unity 3D like a woodchuck knows about spaceships.

A few months prior I had invested in James Doyle’s Udemy course on making RPG’s, and so what I did was just typed in everything he wrote on the screen without understanding it.

What did I get done in all of May?

The opening menu and the first cutscene (the one that has the animated text of “Nuna Asiilasooq” with the map of Greenland flashing in red, pink, white and black).

I promised the people of Greenland this game. I was not going to give up, no matter what. Usually quite composed, I got so angry that I literally almost threw my computer. At several points.

And then there was Fall 2021. I was insistent that “Kaverini” games should enable to player to edit the game files to make their own characters if they want. Guess how many other games feature something like this? They’re as rare as the white raven (to borrow a Hungarian idiom). I even dreaded waking up each morning because I knew I was going to have to spend more blessed time on this puzzle knot that was ready to leave me to surrender.

I absolutely refused to give in. Unity did have the “StreamingAssets” folder which enabled players to edit a (portion of) the game’s files, and I did find a way to import them into GameObjects, but the final piece was putting the sprites on the pre-made character sprites.

After weeks of messaging more experienced coders and desperately messaging the forums, all it took was a single word: LateUpdate. With that, the Kaverini custom character dream was born.

Presenting Rule #6:

  1. Failure only happens when you give up. – Khatzumoto

Khatzumoto, the genius behind the “All Japanese All the Time” method (which is applicable to any language with a pronounced online presence as it is for Japanese) is literally unlike any hugely successful person I’ve ever read / met / heard about. Based on his blog posts, he describes himself as extremely lazy, makes no secret of it and very proud of it to boot. His method of learning Japanese involved doing fun stuff in the language, bit by bit, even if you didn’t understand it, and not doing anything that your brain didn’t want to do.

He himself ended up getting native-level Japanese as a native English speaker via this “drip-method” and, if I recall correctly, employed by one of the country’s most prestigious firms. One of my home pages is the AJATT twitter page, despite not even having a twitter account, because his tiny bites of inspiration have literally changed my life and the life of all of my students to whom I have recommended his material. Khatzumoto was one of the pivotal figures of the language learning revolution that happened after the turn of the millennium, alongside other well-known figures such as Richard Simcott and Benny Lewis.

Skill acquisition is like besieging a city, except for your soldiers or siege equipment never get exhausted. All you just have to do is keep doing it.

You think I’m “naturally good at languages”? You should have heard me last week when my attempt to speak Swahili to a fluent speaker from Kenya was limited to “habari gani?” (how are you?) despite a month of study.

I wasn’t naturally good at coding either. In my freshman year of college, I even failed out of the midterm in a computer science class. Now look where I am. And you have thinkers like Khatzumoto to thank for it.

Rule Seven:

In the years spanning 2013 to 2021, the Jewish guilt, the constant fear that God was going to punish me for going my own “derekh” (Hebrew word for “way”), had a half-life. It was getting weaker with each passingmonth. When I was in Germany one of my housemates, herself a secular Italian from Genoa, told me to “leave religion in the middle ages”. In Stockholm and in JTS, many people, Jews, converts and gentiles alike, made it abundantly clear that doing the mitzvot (commandments) should be for you, and that the reward for doing them is…themselves.

The reward for resting on Shabes/Shabbat (I never know which Hebrew pronunciation scheme to use with y’all) is…the divine feeling of rest. The reward for the Jewish holidays is…the vastness of memories, experiences and good times you have associated with them. (I describe myself as “not very religious but I still take the Jewish holidays very seriously. And as a Yiddish teacher, among many other odd-jobs, the Jewish religious texts and mindsets are ever a part of me and I like it that way).

The flipside: My first relationship with a gentile woman (2012) was beset with a lot of angst precisely for that reason. The constant “I shouldn’t be doing this” feeling seemed to overshadow everything to the point of it completely shattering.

For years I couldn’t even attend some synagogue services because they reminded me of parts of me life that I wanted to forget completely.

Even when my logical brain rendered facts such as: “using the smartphone on Shabbat doesn’t instantly translate to God punishing you with bad grades, illnesses, relationship failures, etc.”, the emotional brain was still clinging to the religious guilt out of habit.

That was, until I finally learned to register a principle that literally changed my life.

Namely, Rule #7:

  1. Sin is nothing but its consequences. – Finnish Proverb
  1. If you life without consequences, you die without confessing. – Yiddish Proverb

Again, two sides of the same proverbial coin, pun intended.

For learners these are:

7a. Ei se synti mitään mutta ne seuraukset.

7b. Az men lebt on rekhenung, shtarbt men on vide.

The same way that the Shabbat rest is its own reward, bad deeds are their own punishment. How do I know something is bad? Not because a book says it. Not because my family or friends say it. But because I feel the harm later on down the line.

There is some influence of Halacha (Jewish law) on my own moral code, but my moral code is generated by knowing what harm and regrets I had in the past and how to avoid them.

If it brings blessing to my life, I don’t care what it is (well, it has to be legal but anything illegal is likely to bring consquences), I’ll have more of it.

The good deed is the reward. The bad deed is the punishment.

Rule Eight:

High school and college for me was a lot more stressful than it should have been. Perhaps due to some Protestant work ethic that is prominent in many parts of the United States, “working and studying hard” was seen as the key to everything.

My college grades were not the best despite the fact that my BA Thesis was good enough for me to graduate with high honors (I wrote it on mythical creatures in European mythologies, the overall conclusion was that, as time went on, mythical creatures became less godlike and more humanlike. [Compare Hesiod’s Cyclopes to Tolkien’s dwarves, for example]).

And then in 2012 in my Stockholm apartment I had friends messaging me about this new Desktop app called Memrise. It was then that I learned about spaced repetition, which was based on science developed in the 19th century about how to review information in spaced intervals so that your brain fastens it into its long-term memory.

The brain is a tremendous forgetting machine, and for good reason. A brain doesn’t need a lot of information to survive. But a brain is exposed to information enough times, that brain is programmed to think “you keep on seeing this, that means it is important!”.

Then I discovered an entire vast network of language learning and memory websites. Benny Lewis. Bartosz Czekala. Khatzumoto (from two days ago). The Memrise founders who were themselves grand masters of memory…the type of people who could look at a 52-card deck, look at the order, shuffle it, and then put it in the first order in a matter of a few minutes.

In 2015 and 2017 I went on to meet many of these people in person, including having Memrise (the whole company) show up to a conference I myself was presenting at in Reykjavik.

My upbringing taught me a lot about book smarts, but not a lot about social skills. For that, I had to delve into the deep world of the internet, where there was a lot of bad advice, no lie, but I genuinely learned to understand human psychology in all of the blind spots that I previously had. This was to say nothing of the fact that my time in religious schools had programmed me of a fear of gentiles and women, something that I have long since consigned to my past.

I could have gotten MUCH better grades in college than I did had I discovered these blogs in time. Instead, my method involved hours staring at a book and writing things over by hand, problems that I wouldn’t have had if only I had known the memory science that I now know.

Thankfully now I’m in a different place. May 13th, 2022. My game came out. May 14th, 2022. I started learning French and Swahili for Game #2. And at Langroops, people were asking me increduously “this is your French after ONE MONTH?” (now, granted, I sometimes did use to set my Nintendo 3DS that I got in February 2016, after recovering from Lyme Disease, to French, so even if I didn’t understand a good deal I did get a lot of vocabulary yesterday. [Knowing how to say Jigglypuff and King DeDeDe in French comes up more often for me than it does for most other people, because of me working in video games, etc.])

Sometimes I have regrets that I was late to discovering hidden keys to learning, socializing, relationships, etc. but then in comes an aphorism and those toxic instincts are squashed.

What aphorism is it?

None other than Rule #8:

  1. After something is over, everyone becomes a genius about it. – Yiddish proverb

For the learnerz: Akher-hamayse iz yederer a khokhem

This also ties into what Niels Bohr said in that an expert is someone who has made every single possible mistake in a given field.

The wisdom always comes afterwards. If there is such a thing as a life without regrets, I have not heard of it.

No use beating yourself up for information you didn’t have at the time. God or the deity of your choice or fate or whatever forces in the world you believe in gave you that lesson precisely so you can fall down seven times and stand up eight.

Rule Nine:

My father collected a lot of Silver Age comic books and I read them during the two periods of “funemployment” I had in my life (the few months right after college and when I got Lyme Disease, although admittedly that was not fun in the least, especially the incorrect diagonoses which caused me a lot of pain for nothing). In many of these series, there come times where the heroes consider giving up their superhero identity altogether (Spider-Man No More!)

Nadirs happen in life. Since I was 15 years old I’ve had on-and-off insomnia that have taken literally dozens of what-would-have-been productive days from me. The key is to do something productive, even if it isn’t world-saving rocket science.

There is pain. There is despair. There are curveballs. And behind every successful “dream come true” are the “Spider-Man No More!” moments where people seek to just give up, pack it all in and end it. The journey to me being Wesleyan University Magazine’s “Really Good Conversationalist” (as in, hyperpolyglot) was literred in unseen tearful conversations in which I was doubting it all and painful moments in which, in one way or another, I lost it.

Khatzumoto (that guy again!) had a brilliant “idea” for the Olympic Games. Instead of watching the games themselves, make people watch the training that each of the athletes had to undergo to even qualify. That way, people will realize that talent is born in fire.

But even if you’re in the fire, the Magic isn’t always happening.

And you know my pun routine by now means that Wizards of the Coast will bring us, in the form of yet another flavor text on a Magic Card…

…Rule #9!

  1. You always have a choice. That doesn’t mean you always have a good choice. – Brink of Disaster (from the “Worldwake” expansion in 2010, incidentally my first prerelease when I was a junior in college)

So that quote is apparently from (who I assume is) a (supposedly fictional) vampire named “Alubri, Guul Draz gatekeeper”, so, if the plane of Zendikar is somewhere out there, thank you (I’m being facetious, sometimes I need to clarify that).

Too many times in my life has a friend asked me for relationship or business advice and I’ve brought up the words of our vampiric friend. Oddly enough, it always gets people in the right headspace.

If I have a sleepless day, or if I’m stranded at the airport with no food, sometimes there isn’t always a good choice. Life will sometimes make unreasonable and unfair demands. And recognizing that there isn’t always a good choice is the key to getting to the good days and having the bad days count for something.

Rule Ten:

My mother described her social life in high school as one in which she wasn’t a true member of any one group but found herself among all of them just the same. My entire life has been this way. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I wasn’t religious enough, I was too religious, I didn’t know about American pop culture enough, I knew too much about it, I was too foreign, I was too American, I was too left-wing/right-wing/libertarian/skeptic/you name it. Multiple decades of it.

I didn’t have any grounding of group identity. And especially as a teenager, that can be excessively painful.

As a teenager, however, you follow predictable paths. Same as a college student. However, the real world is full of plot twists and confusion and bad feelings and scary things that cause people to snap.

2016. My schooling comes to an end. In with the new phase, setting up a company and a language-tutoring business to sustain me in the meantime.

When I play “Bananagrams”, I win quite often and the reason for that is that often I will clear my board entirely and start anew. I do this in real life as well. I make a bi-weekly list of my flaws and try to put in plans to change them.

To what do I all owe this? The fact that I was raised in such identity tumult that I never really fastened myself to any one mode of being. Sure, once upon a time I was a lot more religious, but right now I’m the almighty king of “Yes, but…”

One of the most powerful things I have ever heard in my life was…

…Rule #10:

  1. The sum of all wisdom is not taught in a single school. – Hawaiian Proverb

And in Hawaiian that would be: ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.

So many people I know have defined their identity around their religion and their political beliefs or their national/ethnic identity or something else entirely. I tried that. I get bored easily. Very, very easily.

(This is also part of the reason why I get very good teacher reviews, because I get bored easily I know how to make something not-boring).

Living in multiple countries drove it all home further. Learning multiple skills did as well. No one teacher or ideology dominates above all, because I want that “’ike” (which means “to see” as well as “to know” in Hawaiian) and it isn’t like there is any comfort zone for me to return to, so might as well keep exploring.

Rule Eleven:

Scene: 2016 to the present. New York City.

The perogative of any Big Apple resident is to get involved in as many things as possible. Especially in 2021 when could finally do those things again. I do get involved in a lot of things, but seldom if ever do I want to “max-out” my skills in any of them, unless it relates to something that gets me money or love.

Many in a boxing or jiu jitsu match have I been asked by my opponent “Jared, what is it that you are actually TRYING TO DO?” Instead of trying to win, I want to try out strategies. If I’m boxing, does an ultra-defensive strategy work? What sort of mind-distraction technique should I use?

Playing Smash Bros in Chinatown in 2018. I literally never won a single game. Ever. And many a time after I got thrown off the screen did an opponent say to me something like “spacing is important” or provide me with a certain small detail about the character I was playing that would have helped me win.

Dungeons and Dragons. Certain classes I know how to play well, others not so much. Rogue and Cleric weren’t really among them but luckily because there is not “winning” in TRPG’s it proved to be less of an issue.

Magic: the Gathering. I don’t care too much about winning, I just like playing with nostalgic relatively low-power strategies like with my Mercenary- or Kithkin-tribal commander decks. And suprisingly that helps (in 4-player games, if you’re too much of a threat you get “ganged up on” very, very quickly and eliminated). Often I get constructive criticism from other players afterwards (“you need more boardwipes / targeted removal / card draw / etc, because so many times you almost had it and won and then you fumbled for reasons XYZ”).

Now, with my teaching business, yes, there is room for improvement, but unlike with my half-hearted attempts to “win” with other fun hobbies like archery (which I didn’t mention) or the games / sports I mentioned above, I realize that experimentation isn’t the ideal way.

I experiment with other areas of my life that don’t matter as much precisely so that I could apply the lessons where they do matter.

And among those lessons is…

…Rule #11!

  1. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, whereas defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. – Sun Tzu

This also ties into language learning and meetups as well. Often you need to do a lot of work on your own before you can enter the fray and speak with native/fluent speakers. But often I do see a lot of people showing up somewhere with around 50 words in their vocabulary and expecting a native speaker to suddenly be the magic incredient. That helps, no doubt, but it isn’t ideal.

With (almost) every activity on earth, there are winning strategies. If you want to win, you have to copy them. If you’re losing, you need to find out why you’re not winning and patch those holes.

I am very strong physically. But someone who watches a lot of fighting videos has the upper hand against me because they are winning first and then going to war. Not everyone has the time for that, however, and that’s OK. (I do have video games to make, after all).

But when it counts, you have to follow that principle. Because sometimes there is the possibility for defeat. And that defeat can count for very, very much.

Rule Twelve:

December 21, 2012. A date that many had feared. And here I was in the Holy City of Jerusalem with a trip during my year at the Paideia Institute. Jokes were made about the “End of the World parties” at Megido (the “Valley of Armageddon”) which we didn’t fit into our (exceedingly crammed) schedule.

That day we went to Hebrew University to be granted and audience with Dr. Robert Aumann, the master of Game Theory who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005. A matter of weeks ago (at that time) I had a terrifically awful breakup and felt my academic skills fumbling. Being in sunny Israel rather than in Sweden in December certainly helped although the sun did take some time to get used to.

I asked one question to Dr. Aumann which was along the lines of “what is the most commonly made mistake?”

I fulfilled every Jewish mother’s Nakhes dream and made a Nobel Laureate fall silent for about a minute before he gave me the most powerful rule of all.

The God Principle.

Rule No. 12:

  1. The only mistake anyone ever made was seeing things only from their point of view. – Dr. Robert Aumann

Everything. Comes down to this. Literally EVERYTHING. Any wisdom gained is just another form of seeing another point of view.

Did get a good enough grade? You didn’t imagine well enough about what it would be like to be a teacher rather than a student.

Fights with a friend of family member? You didn’t truly understand their perspective well enough.

With every fumble in my life I think about this rule. I didn’t see all points of view. Even God Himself in the Bible gets talked out of destroying the Children of Israel by Moses when introduced to new perspectives.

Conversely: every victory in human history came about because they understood multiple perspectives. If you know the enemy and you know thyself, as Sun Tzu (him again) said, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

The battles will continue to wage on. Will you just use your eyes? Or the millions of other eyes out there?

* * *

And there we have it. The last rule. Now go and play.

As for the list:

  1. Ten people can steal a wooden beam and feel no shame in each other’s presence. (Talmud Bavli, Kiddushin 80b)
  2. When you rule by fear, your greatest weakness is one who’s no longer afraid. – Finale of Eternity (a Magic card Flavor Text)
  3. The truth comes out like oil in water. – Yiddish Proverb / A liar is caught faster than a limping dog. – Hungarian proverb
  4. Do not sail under someone else’s star. – Swahili Proverb
  5. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. – Jesus
  6. Failure only happens when you give up. – Khatzumoto
  7. Sin is nothing but its consequences. – Finnish Proverb / If you life without consequences, you die without confessing. – Yiddish Proverb
  8. After something is over, everyone becomes a genius about it. – Yiddish proverb
  9. You always have a choice. That doesn’t mean you always have a good choice. – Brink of Disaster (a Magic Card Flavor Text)
  10. The sum of all wisdom is not taught in a single school. – Hawaiian Proverb
  11. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, whereas defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. – Sun Tzu
  12. The only mistake anyone ever made was seeing things only from their point of view. – Dr. Robert Aumann
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kaverini Day 2022 Roundup! Announcing: Kaverini Java Edition!

Nine years ago today I started sketching an idea for a Role-Playing Game that would eventually turn into the Kaverini series. To celebrate, here’s a rundown of new features touched upon in the direct.

Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures

New patch coming out around June 21st 2022 in honor of Greenland’s National day. Will include typo fixes and some minor adjustments. The patch will be applied to the and Steam versions.

Kaverini: Uvira

Will be an IOS/Android exclusive. Expected cost is $5, we are hoping to make it free to users from anywhere in Africa. Various new features include:

  • A health meter (goes from bright green to bright red to note the health of the enemy you are “fighting”).
  • Happy Club International, your host organization during your time in the DRC. You are an initiate for the organization and have to complete four missions before getting a surprise reward in addition to being made a full member.
  • Each of the four missions is a different story set in Congo Kinshasa / the DRC. Each of the four missions has a companion character that is unique to it and will be your companion for the whole of the mission. This is a departure from the Nuuk Adventures framework in which you get multiple companions and can cycle through them.
  • The first mission focuses on the story of Nicodem, a student who cares for orphans. As he is deeply religious (despite Kaverini being a secular game), he may take out his holy book and read you various inspiring verses, all having various effects. The other three will remain a secret for now.
  • Various confrontations will have Locations that will impact strategic elements of the game. Among these include a forest, a volcano and a beach.
  • There are twenty pre-made characters that are unique to Kaverini: Uvira. The character sprites from Uvira and Nuuk are the same size (64×64) and thus all forty characters are compatible with both games.
  • The fourteen techniques from Nuuk Adventures will return, as well custom characters, pets and custom techniques.
  • Expected Launch: Late Fall 2022

Kaverini: Nauru Adventures

  • GameBoy-styled DeMake for
  • Open-world game.
  • Expected Launch: Some time in 2023.

Kaverini 4 will be set in…

  • Action-RPG (not turn-based)
  • Open world
  • There may or may not be plans for a Bali DLC.
  • Expected Launch: 2022 + n.
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Announcing: AfTzuLakhes: the Takeover!

Hello again wonderful people!

Presenting this new collectible card game that is very budget friendly, very user friendly and very balanced!

“AfTzuLakhes: the Takeover”!

One complaint many people have about CCG’s is that they are big money investments and tend to have complicated rules as well. Never fear, AfTzuLakhes is here! AfTzuLakhes is an ancient Yiddish adverb that refers to doing something precisely because people don’t want you to do it.

No Yiddish or Hebrew knowledge required to play this game, however…because all of the cards are generated by YOU! The players!

All you need to do is use the blank template provided (see image no. 2) and make a deck of however many cards you like.

What are the rules? Well, the rules are exactly whatever you want them to be! That said, the general spirit behind AfTzuLakhes was to create a “Last Player Standing” gaming environment, in which everyone else leaves the game as a result of time constraints, sheer frustration or anything else you can think of (plus a lot more!)

– No turns!

– No phases!

– Your deck is EXACTLY what you want it to be! You want to be a lord of dragons? Great! You want to make a deck based on getting other players to give you the nuclear codes or credit card information? Wonderful!

– Make your own win condition! That’s not my department!

– Make cards with the official card back (see Image no. 1) or otherwise have fun making as many card backs as you’d like!

There is a community-generated banned list that is honored in some circles, however. Cards that don’t receive enough downvotes in the first year of their being posted may be eligible for the banned list. Yes. You need sufficient downvotes to be considered ineligible for being banned. You read that correctly.

Find more about AfTzuLakhes: the Takeover from your local game store* on April 29th! Get ready to CAUSE CHAOS!

* The store actually has to be in a game. Hence, game store. I know of one. Several, in fact. Talk to me some other time.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Announcing: Happy Seals!

Happy April 1st everyone!

The widely anticipated game HAPPY SEALS, absolutely not a parody of any well-known 2010’s browser games as far as I can tell.

In it, you can play as a number of cute roly-poly animals or machines in user-generated courses. Because NOTHING brings out the best in people better than having them make their own stuff and post it online under anonymous identities for the whole world to see! (Consider this my gift to the world to help fight against all that negativity out there, yeech!)

The game will be free but for a small fee of 5 USD, you can get the premium version: Happy Seals Diamond Platinum Definitive Edition 3.5 Remastered Remake!

So how does the game work? Simple. Your goal in any level is to reach the end, but the physics work differently in comparison to, let’s say, your ordinary Mario Game. When your character gets injured or hurt in any way, be it with obstacles or falls or whatever, well…we decided to take a more realistic approach to physics and injuries than most games. In order to ensure that the game is friendly for the younger folks, however, the usage of the censorship screen will be liberally applied in such cases, as in, blotting out the whole screen. Don’t worry, you can always restart the level.

Happy Seals launches April 29th*!

* Offer available only in certain in-game universes.

* Offer may not be available in your universe / dimension / plane of existence.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Kaverini Day 2021!

Happy Kaverini Day!

On June 10th, 2013, I put pen to paper in a small village near Heidelberg and started sketching an “unnamed secret project” that I would name “Kaverini” in August 2013, inspired by my Finnish studies (November 2013 I travelled there for the first time).

So every year on this day I celebrate the seed of creation.

Eight years later, I now have a completely playable version of my first video game in the series. “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures”, set in Greenland, isn’t ready for the public quite yet, but to celebrate how far I’ve come, I’ll devote today to playing as much as I can of it to celebrate the fact that the seed has bloomed into a flower at last. (I’m also going to be recording it and sending the playthrough to my Greenlandic friends).

Always remember to err on the side of doing things rather than not doing them.

May today and every day be one of creative redemption for us all!

🇬🇱 🇫🇮 🇬🇱

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kaverini: Uvira April 2021 Announcement!

So with work on Nuuk Adventures wrapping up and being readied for a Summer 2021 release, it is time to reveal work on my second game “Kaverini: Uvira”.

I can’t say too much quite yet, but my Congolese friends/consultants and I are all thrilled to be collaborating on this exciting project that will bring everyday life in Central-East Africa to your phones and computers at some point this year or the next.

– The game will be 2D and will enable pre-made characters as well as the ability to make your own.

– As per the request of many in the DRC, I will prioritize the mobile release of this game before computers.

– You will NOT play as a tourist in this game. As to what role you do play…I can’t say yet.

– Like Nuuk Adventures, this game will be level-based rather than open world (the Nauru game will be open-world, however).

– There will be different endings.

– Companion characters return. Some of these will be original characters imagined by the team, there are also some historical domain characters as well. These will provide you bonuses in your non-violent confrontations.

– The thirteen emotional techniques from the Kaverini tabletop game as well as the Custom Technique will all return with the same functions.

– Locations return from the tabletop game. If you are in a particular locale, the RPG elements of the game may change. (E.g. If you are near a certain volcano, as the DRC is famous for them, you may get bonuses, extra turns, etc.)

– Abilities also get introduced from the tabletop game. Your character will start with one of several advantages of your choosing, you can collect them all in the game via sidequests.

– Uvira, the titular city in the DRC, will not be the only locale, although it will be the focus. Among some other places to be featured (according to the current plan) are Bukavu and Kinshasa.

– The DRC has a heavy history on multiple levels. This game will make mention of many of those issues, but the focus will be normal life of ordinary people.

– I plan for the game to be fully localized in, at least, English, French, Swahili and likely Lingala as well. Maybe also Esperanto may be in the cards or other languages of the DRC according to demand.

– Once Nuuk Adventures is a completed product (all versions to market, all IndieGoGo rewards shipped, all translations done and implemented), I will devote myself to a month or two of intense learning of French and Swahili (likely one month each) which will be the “research” period before I begin drawing the tilesets of this game and writing the script. This is almost certain to happen later this year.

I am really excited for this game to happen!


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1 April 2021 Announcement!

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with utmost pleasure and a mischievous spirit that I announce a secret game project I have been working on for some time…

Scheduled for a release on September 31st, 2021…

Behold, “Kaverini: The Battle for Czechoslovenia” and “Kaverini: The Battle for Yugoslovakia”!

It is the mid 2020’s. The most popular sport in the world of any type of Trollery, in which experienced online provocateurs try to get their opponent to block them or do something outrageous in record time!

In 202Y, a situation arose in which the two best-known global competitions for the sport converged. The yearly Edgelord Olympics was to be held in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, whereas the yearly Edgelord Championship was to be held in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

From this difficult chaos arose two troll champions…and that is where you come in!

Play as the pet companions of the Slovak Edgelordery National Champion and the Slovene Edgelordery National Champion in two SEPARATE twin games!

In “Kaverini: The Battle for Czechoslovenia”, you can create a custom character or choose one of the pre-set characters to be pet of the globally renowned Slovak Edgelordery National Champion!
Help them try to discover the softness in their heart, with the help of historical domain characters throughout Slovak history, only to have your advice spurned at every corner in the name of acquiring ENDLESS GLORY and INFAMY!

In “Kaverini: The Battle for Yugoslovakia”, you do the same with the Slovene character’s pet.

After what promises to be equal parts edutainment and insane troll logic, after you complete both games, both Edgelord champions discover that they have said such terrible things that aliens from light years away have deemed the entire human race worth annihilating just because of them!

So you have to team up with them and go onto high-tech alien spaceships and bring your powers of provocation throughout the whole galaxy! And, yada yada, save humanity somehow, maybe.

It is a game that promises to get everyone angry for all of the right (wrong?) reasons with every single letter of dialogue and every single pixel!

Join me this fall in buying and promoting two games unlike any other in the known multiverse!

“Kaverini: The Battle for Czechoslovenia” and “Kaverini: The Battle for Yugoslovakia”!

Online Interactions not rated by the ESRB. The games’ offline versions, unfortunately, likely will be rated by the ESRB, and I’m probably not going to like their ratings.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuuk Adventures Steam Page Now LIVE!

Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures, a JRPG-styled adventure set in late 2010’s Greenland, coming in the next few months to Steam!

Design your own character and hop into the modern and wild sides of the Arctic alike! When trouble arises, from mythical monsters to a computer that won’t work, use your emotional techniques to get your way, no violence required! Real life places included!

Velkommen til Nuuk, Grønlands hovedstad! Kreér din egen karakter og fordyb dig i Grønlands tundra såvel som øens urbane områder.Fra mytiske uhyrer til en computer der driller; når farer opstår, skal du klare dig ud af de svære situationer ved hjælp af emotionelle teknikker!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kaverini is now on Tumblr!

Going to add an ask me questions thing when I’m not lazy! Oh, and choose a better cover photo. 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog at