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Say hi at cactus@thornygames.com

Kathryn Hymes is 50% of the indie studio Thorny Games, where she makes games about language and cryptography. In her designs, Kathryn wants to tell stories in unorthodox, original settings. Full of math and computational linguistics, Kathryn is an active voice in the Indie RPG community where she aims to make games more approachable to new enthusiastic faces. She is a multiple time Indiecade FInalist and Award Winner, has spoken at GDC, and delivered keynote addresses at gaming conferences. She is also a co-host of the Game Design Round Table podcast and a 2016 GenCon Industry Insider. 

Kathryn owns a theremin and plays it badly. 

Hakan Seyalıoğlu is the other 50% of Thorny Games, an independent design studio of larps and RPGs that tells new and unconventional stories. In his design, he’s deeply explored what language means for us culturally and emotionally, and how it can be an engaging mechanic for play. A GenCon Industry Insider, a keynote speaker at multiple conferences, and co-designer of multiple Indiecade Finalists and Award Winners, Hakan hopes to spread the word of play. Hakan helps computers keep secrets and crack codes (a genuine cryptographer).

Hakan also really enjoys breakfast.

Play the steep and thorny way

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Sometimes We Podcast ...

Play With Us!

We're Thorny Games, an award-winning analog game studio out of Berkeley, CA.

We make immersive games that help people build worlds together. Play is an ancient and intimate way to share stories. In big and small ways, we believe games can help us taste possible futures, connect with others, and come to know ourselves better. Much of our work centers on the innate power and playfulness of language; we make games that help people see new things about identity and culture through how we communicate. Our background lives at the intersection of design, math and linguistics. We stuff this energy into making compelling games that are affecting, persuasive and fun.

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Gameplay

What's Included

Awards and Recognition

What's Included?

Xenolanguage: A Game about Human Memory and Alien Language

It's five minutes in the future and we've just made first contact. In Xenolanguage, you are a group of scientists tasked with deciphering an alien language. As you uncover meaning, you begin to see the world differently. You begin to see yourself differently. 

A tabletop story game for 2-4 players in 2-3 hours.

Xenolanguage is currently in active playtesting and gearing up for a fall 2020 release. 

Play With Us!

By signing up to our newsletter above, you'll be the first to know when we open Xenolanguage for public testing. Until then though, there are still plenty of opportunities to play!

We'll be at GenConMetatopiaDreamationGoPlayNW, and BigBadCon where we'll be listing open games for playtesting.

Hope to see you there!

Gameplay

In Dialect, players take turns changing the language as time goes on and using that language as members in the community. It's a collaborative effort and doesn't use a gamemaster.

The first step of any game is creating our community. At the start, we pick a backdrop which forms the world in which the Isolation exists (more on backdrops below). Next, we make the world our own by defining three aspects for our community. These will be the touchstones of our society, and will be the initial seeds from which our language grows.

What's Included?

Dialect comes as a book and language generating deck, both gorgeously printed with professional layout and beautiful art. All physical versions include a free PDF copy of the digital version delivered immediately.

Playsets contributed by eleven world-class game designers, linguists, language creators, and generally-formidable humans

Contributed chapter on language invention by David Peterson. David is one of the most prolific and prominent creaters of language today and is the author of The Art of Language Invention and language creator for HBO's Game of Thrones.

A chapter on sustaining the world's language by Steven Bird, linguist, community organizer and champion for language vitality across the world. Steven is Professor at Charles Darwin University and co-founder of the Aikuma Project.

Beautifully illustrator artwork by Erica Williams and Jill De Haan.


Free printable online resources to aid in play.

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