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The Bird Oracle

The Bird Oracle

A keepsake journalling game about fortune telling, multi-level marketing schemes, and becoming a bird.
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$83,902 🎉
of $20,000 (USD) goal
913
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About the Game

Hand drawn art from the book


The Bird Oracle is a game about divination and multi-level marketing schemes


It is for people who love snooping through drawers and archives. 


It’s for people who read advice columns and think they can do better.

It is also a game about lineage and duty, the fraught relationship with your own wants and needs, and the complicated relationship with the Oracle before you. There is also definitely an oracle-based MLM recruiting pitch going on.

The Bird Oracle is a keepsake game, a game that guides you through the creation of a physical object as part of the process of playing the game. The game will narratively guide you through the process of creating your own personalized bird-themed divination system filled with symbols and meanings that are centered on your character’s experiences, using beautifully designed and unique divination devices, as you begin your journey as the new Bird Oracle.

A letter from the Association of Oracles



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How to Play

 
In the game, you will answer prompts and craft objects as your journal your transformation into the Bird Oracle, develop your personalized divination systems, and help querents who have their own sets of odd little problems. In the end, you will have built not just a new narrative of the Bird Oracle, but also a set of divination guides and tools that you can continue using in your own life and work.

Divinations you will learn include throwing cloth divinations with objects from your life, intuitive card reading with any card(tarot cards, playing cards, business cards, greeting cards), and more.

A feather and a note. An example of a collage.


The game includes many printable artifacts(physical paper copies are included with the special edition) to collage, modify and integrate into your personal narratives. This is a collaborative work between me and you - I have only started the story, and we will finish it together.

The special edition of the game comes with divination objects that I have designed, but players are encouraged to modify and add to these. Email or book-only players will be asked to build their own divination objects in a "Session Zero" before beginning the game narrative.
A copy of the special edition on a bookshelf, and art from the book.
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The Book, and the Special Edition Divination Tools

The book will be a hardcover book of approximately 120 pages, with an illustrated black and white interior. 

A book mockup! Cover and design not final.

Another book mockup! Cover and design not final.


The special edition version of the game comes with everything you need to play the game, packaged in a decadent gold foiled book box.

The special edition box(not a book, it just looks like one), which holds custom-designed divination objects. This is not the game book!


In addition to the book, the game contains a hand-assembled and bird-themed plated brass divination spinner, a screen printed throwing cloth, some curated objects for your throwing divinations, a vaguely guided divination journal(from the oracle before you), and a collection of paper and other physical ephemera to help you make your journal and divination tools. This limited edition will be hand-assembled in my woodshop in El Sereno, CA. 

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History

I've been working on The Bird Oracle since 2016, and it has taken many forms. I have distributed Oraclebird fortune cards to over 2000+ people, as part of my guerilla art performance as the Oraclebird themselves, which I have performed at Indiecade Night Games, in public parks, in airports, and even online. One of its incarnations, The Gentle Oraclebird, a large scale divination board inspired by the Chinese kau cim system(lottery sticks), tarot, and carnival games, is currently installed at the Fisher Museum of Art, as a large scale interactive installation.

A preview of the Oraclebird installation at the Fisher Gallery


Seven years later, many things in the project and my life have changed, and I feel that it is time to pass the mantle of the Oraclebird on. I've fallen in love with experiential game making as an art form, and I have been working in the medium of keepsake games, a term I coined when Jeeyon Shim and I were working on Field Guide to Memory. It made perfect sense to me that of course, the next incarnation of The Bird Oracle would be a game. 

The game has changed too. It was a game about lineage and destiny and grief. Then I got a divorce, and I didn't want to write about that anymore, so now it is about multilevel marketing schemes and Dear Abby.
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Timeline and Production



I have project managed and fulfilled nine successful crowdfunded projects, including Remember August, A Mending, The Strange Beast Tarot, and more! A draft of this game is 90% complete, and we are on track to finish it by June 2024(I'm currently ahead of schedule).

  • Jan-Feb 2024 - This crowdfunding campaign!
  • March-May 2024 - Playtesting and revisions.
  • June 2024 - Complete book!
  • July 2024 - Send book and other custom design elements off to print. 
  • September 2024 - All games should arrive at my studio and my fulfillment partners. Backer surveys sent out(and returned) and shipping funds collected.
  • October 2024 - Begin shipping the limited edition from my studio in El Sereno, CA.
  • November 2024 - My fulfillment partners ship book-only orders from Everett, Washington
  • Jan 2025 - Community Play Month(Play the game together!)

There are 600 copies of the limited edition. The only overseas produced elements(the boxes and divination spinners) are already made and are sitting in my woodshop in Los Angeles, which limits problems with shipping and overseas production which can cause unnecessary delays. The other elements of the game are produced in the United States, to be as eco-friendly as possible. Most elements of the game are compostable and recyclable, and use recycled papers and natural materials.
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About the Designer

I am a Malaysian-American game designer and cartoonist, obsessed with physical storytelling artifacts, and the evolution of tradition and ritual. I build large scale immersive installation work, like space apothecaries in the desert, and space salvage stations in the woods. I’ve been looking for ways to bring the intent and atmosphere of these narrative experiences into smaller home spaces, and to intertwine them with the rituals of everyday life.

My game design work is rooted in my work as a builder and artist - keepsake games centered on the bridge between physical making and traditional tabletop RPGs,  kind and strange emotional connections, and ritual. I am the designer and creator of the live mail letter-writing game Remember August(the winner of the Best Tabletop Award at Indiecade 2022), the keepsake embroidery game A Mending(which raised $190k on Kickstarter and was fulfilled on time), The Gentle Oraclebird (presented at Indiecade 2019 and 2020) and co-designer(with Jeeyon Shim) of the solo journaling keepsake game Field Guide to Memory(winner of Best Live Game at Indiecade 2021).
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