Soft

We’ve resolved into softness

Knock me into the heat

Some kind of tropical volcano-pineapple

upside down situation

to get lost in

we soften

We’re sun ghosts exposed

I can only relate to daydreamers

We’re deep in the stars

It’s the end of summer

so I’m no longer protecting my skin

I need every ray to make its mark,

I need every sun kissed freckle

When we’re dust

When we’re sugar

We send a message to the fire,

You can rest

Rough draft notes for my first talk on game design, development, pitching, and promoting for Nonepub: Life of the Party Game Designer. August 23, 2020.

Hi! My name is Ami Baio, I own Pink Tiger Games, where I aim to create sweet and  super kind games that make people feel seen and heard. Communication, connection, and empathy focused experiences that you can play with family, friends, partners, coworkers, and strangers.

My first game, You Think You Know Me, a conversational card game popped into my head like magic- like the whole concept. I started writing immediately and within a few weeks I had about 150 handwritten cards I carried around with me to play with family and friends. I’d playtest any time, anywhere, with anyone.  I quickly noticed the special moments players were sharing while playing- and my heart jumped – I knew I was on the right track. The following month I had a professional prototype made through Print n Play in Vancouver, Washington. And two months after that I launched my first Kickstarter. I ran a three week campaign and ended up making almost double my goal which was so thrilling-  this was the moment in September 2017 I knew for sure I was making a game and I already had ideas and visions for the future.

YTYKM was officially released in March 2018. It has been credited for two marriage proposals- one couple is happily married now and the other was supposed to be married this summer but postponed due to Covid. Both of these couples reached out to share with me how playing YTYKM in the very beginning of dating helped them open up and talk about things maybe they wouldn’t have even thought of without it! I’ve received messages from parents connecting with their teenage children, and people so excited to learn new things about people they’ve known for decades. This feedback is incredibly touching and inspiring, I can’t even tell you how much. So from first dates to middle schoolers to college professors to families on road trips to players who share they carry a stack of favorites with them all the time and more – YTYKM has been well received, selling 9,500 copies around the world so far. It’s been sold out since May of this year and more games are on their way this fall.

My second game, Flatter Me literally arrived a few days ago. It’s a two player compliment battle card game with similar mechanics to the classic card game of War. But in Flatter Me your strategy consists of giving and receiving heartfelt compliments. With 250 unique compliment cards there’s something special for everyone. I also wrote the cards to be given as gifts- to place inside a card or gift bag or given to anyone anytime for a kind note of encouragement. You can also carry some yourself to use as affirmations or a needed boost of self-care.

Being a woman in games comes with some memorable moments. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve shown my game at an event and I’ve been asked, what is this and I reply a game I make and the next question is always- but who created it and I respond, me. And the final question, but who helped you- and I answer, umm no one. I make my games. It’s awkward.

And I’m independent. I choose to be indie because I haven’t wanted anyone else to tell me what to do or what I should make or how my games should look. So, I’m definitely always learning, flailing, failing, flying – often all at the same time. There are ways to do all of this on your own it and it depends on what kind of time you have and want to put into it. I did have an interested publisher at the beginning of 2018 with a contract ready to go but after months of negotiations it just didn’t feel right for me at the time. But, I’m superstitious and I never say never! For now though, I feel very lucky and very happy to be building Pink Tiger Games.

My personal design rules are: Make what you love.

Simple and easy to learn rules with variants.

I want my games to deepen the relationships around us.

I want my games to be timeless.

I want to make good gifts.

I believe people are endlessly fascinating and always changing. We all have stories to tell. I also like to see games as interactive art.

I think my biggest obstacle is patience- I want to make everything I want to make right now. But things need their own space and pace to grow and I remind myself of that a lot and in my experience, everything usually takes a bit more money and time than you think.

Right now, I’m working on my next project for 2021 and while I’m mostly keeping it a secret I can tell you it’s the most demanding research and development game that I’ve done so far, it’s a social party game, it will have 500 cards (just like YTYKM), and I love it. Working on this during quarantine has made me excited and hopeful and I’m so grateful for this idea. I can’t wait to share it with you.

I also have a 250 card expansion pack for You Think You Know Me that I’d like to produce, so that’s also high on my to do list but no date yet.

Playtesting. Okay. Don’t hate me but I think I know if a game works after like two or three playtests. After a couple of tweaks if I don’t find it’s enjoyable and easy- I’m out and on to the next. For me, it’s like falling in love. And with all the time you need to spend with a game to make it you really need to be in love, committed, and give your all. In my experience, people will feel it with you.

Retail. This is who I pitch to. I send an email with links, photos, wholesale and retail prices, minimum order, shipping information, personal connections I have with the store and what it would mean to me to see it sold there. I mean every word. Remember, I’m in love, and I want to share it with the world.

So let’s talk Kickstarter. I have some guidelines I follow that I hope will be useful.

1. Before launch have a game that is 99% ready to go, if it came out tomorrow you’d be happy with it.

2. Keep it simple with rewards. Options for one game, two games with a price cut, three games with a further price cut and so on. I’ve had a larger tier available on my two projects to write a card with me and that’s been really fun and a great way to connect.

3. Never launch after October in a calendar year- spending the money in that same year for tax reasons gets tricky, ordering, and general busyness of life so this is a no for me.

4. Budget. Kickstarter fees, production costs, your video, shipping, taxes, credit card fees, and more. Get lots of quotes. Ask a lot of questions. Get more quotes. Keep it honest and be transparent with backers.

5. Keep it short, like 3- 4 weeks. Maybe closer to 4 in this time we’re currently in though.

6. Post updates when you have news to share. Not every day.

7. Pick your favorite form (or forms) of social media and post and share and create community. Instagram is my favorite so you’ll find I post the most there.

8. Say yes a lot. Figure it out later. Also, say yes to helping people along the way because we all need each other.

9. End your Kickstarter project on a date and time that you can celebrate, have a local party (someday we’ll be able to do this again!), stream, go live- whatever works. Just don’t end it at 4am your local time- I love watching the clock tick down and the last backers come through- it’s super fun.

10. Lastly I’m here and you can email me, send me a dm- I’m happy to help in any way I can. So many people have helped me along the way and I’m so happy to always be learning and always be passing it on.

 

Most importantly- listen to your gut. Stay true to yourself. Follow your heart. I really love making games and I’m so grateful to every person who is with me in every role every step of the way.

Thank you so much for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A car hit my car while I was driving one year and two weeks ago.

I haven’t been the same since in so many ways. From brain troubles to body pains. So many appointments with doctors. The eye doctor appointments were especially unnerving.

The experience has been very painful, changed my everyday life, and has changed my body- I know this because my clothes fit differently.

I haven’t done any Olympic lifts in over a year. I don’t run. I’m really careful with push-ups. I don’t push anything over my head. I tried that while I was trying to get back to the gym last fall and it only continued to aggravate my left shoulder pain. For some reason I could still do pull-ups and I love pull-ups so I was grateful for that pre-Covid 19. I haven’t done pull-ups now in all of these months because I’m not going back to the gym.

The moment that car slammed into my car I felt my body jolt in this awful way. I was in shock and by the time I got home, maybe 25 minutes after impact the pain started in my feet. And my head, the headaches started. All last summer. Every day headaches. Every day hard to sleep. Every day I felt like I didn’t know myself. I was finally diagnosed with a concussion officially on July 5th.

When I think of last summer I feel like a sad ghost.

The man who hit me had a moment in his car and he handled it aggressively and it changed my life.

I haven’t been out too much since March 14th, but when I am out I see and have experienced people driving too fast, with aggression, with spaciness. And I get it, we’re all really really going through a lot.

So please breathe, pay attention, maybe slow down, maybe look a few extra times. And take care of yourself and all of us. And wear masks.

 

xo

 

When I was 7 years old I started jumping into mirrors
To find it’s a secret but not a secret
It’s a feeling without a thought
It’s a separation
but also a connection to everything
to see yourself as floating nothing
but everything and ageless
What a silly thing- age
What a silly thing- a body
What a silly thing- these eyes I stare deeply into through a mirror
to then evaporate
into the wordless energy
I was free
I flew
I did nothing
I was unattached
I was love
I mattered
and didn’t matter all at once
It also scared that little child in the mirror so I didn’t do this too often
Oh but when I did

There will be no confession
Nobody likes that
Carded table
Is Confusion material
Under wraps and knotted in your hair
Rain makes me angry
I don’t want to feel this way
about you
Or at all
Butterflies crowd the train
Grateful for this colorful distraction
When the bird is called to lift the elephant somehow she shows up
I caught my own heartbeat and ran through sepia woods
ragged trees to leap and touch-
the kind of running where you can’t feel your legs-
the kind of legs that are so free
you can’t even feel them
or
recall the words
that made you start running.

Who will forgive you
When they get sick
Will you take your share
Who will you blame
If you find yourself alone
In the hospital
Kind professional strangers will whisper
their goodbyes to your life

You won’t be able to speak

Will you forgive yourself
Without your own last words
Without knowing how your ripples went
Where they fell
Who they killed
What will the last sounds you remember be
Will you overhear someone else’s end
Will you overhear hope
Will the never ending and frustrating sound of the ventilator fill your dreams
(You won’t know if you’re awake or asleep by then)
It’ll all be gone
The last things you’ll touch will be choking and un-soft bedsheets
The last thing you’ll feel is stubborn

and then empty because you couldn’t wrap your head around playing it safe
In your own home
Feeding yourself
Bathing yourself
Seeing a sunset again from your own window
For some reason you couldn’t do it
And people died
And maybe you will die from this
And no one will get to say farewell
or thank you
or I love you
You’re either stealing that chance for yourself
or someone else
And I can not bear it

Building freckles on my skin

I’m very busy

So take your time

It’s sweet here and the death hasn’t come too close

Chipped paint on my nails,

two month old birthday balloons still somehow hanging on.

I hope you have kindness, sweet smells,

and summer fruits are so near-

those are the things we can wish for

the taste of food we love

and our feet walking under flowers like pink clouds,

we can still talk to the birds and connect with mirrors

to feel all of this-

this way- in a way we never dreamed

I hope you have all you need

thank you for staying

thank you for staying inside

your brain is busy your brain is still your brain just can’t

to be a frivolous panda

to dream of a wedding

to survive the non-movement of time that moves

I dreamt of alligators, bigger than boats, crowding a river so their rough bodies and sharp teeth swayed the murkiest water.

And the only way through was deeper and darker down, I tried not to choke. I could only see green black and frothy bubbles unsure if it was my breath or the beasts.

I surfaced and woke up.

How about a list of 10 maybe weird or strange things that you love that you think are maybe strange and weird but other people probably maybe like them too.
(And if you make your list, please tag me so I can see them.)
 
1. I love large wrist watches. I don’t have one right now, and that’s okay, but I’d like one.
2. I could eat frosting every day with a little bit of cake.
3. I love lavender in food.
4. I love rose in food.
5. I adore balloons and party decor in the house all the time.
6. I love being quiet and staring at water- lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans- whatever. For hours on end.
7. I love wearing bathing suits and one day I dream of living in a place I can wear bathing suits in the sunshine most every day.
8. I adore murals and public art of mostly all kinds.
9. I love buying and wearing ridiculous dresses for no reason at all.
10. I love heart shaped everything and anything.

Do you have a re-wild

a do wild

a place to scream

Is the quiet inside rippling so thick that there is no sound

Did you drink or look outside

envying a bird

Paging through news scrambled words that equal fear and death

So with paper over your face and rubber hands

we can’t order the cake now

we’ve got to stay inside

Drifting days are unknown

in this time of rose incense

and empty museums

I hope when we hug again our souls will leap

with the stolen joy we’ve been holding safe

deep inside

along with the prayers

to the whole universe

that we would return to each other

just

like

this

a re-wild

so grateful to breathe in this world

with you

to see you

to feel you

we all understand this

and we owe it to all of the friends

who’ve died alone