Ice Cream Trucks and Crowdfunding: An Interview with Jason Kotarski of Green Couch Games | Casual Game Revolution

Ice Cream Trucks and Crowdfunding: An Interview with Jason Kotarski of Green Couch Games

Rocky Road a la Mode

When used properly to follow through on promises to supporters, Kickstarter can prove an absolutely wonderful resource for companies who may have otherwise not existed. Few companies know that as well as Green Couch Games. Dating back to August 1, 2015, when the publisher came onto the scene through Kickstarter, they have launched and successfully funded 5 different casual game projects. With almost $20,000 in backer funding for their current project they will soon add another title to that list, Rocky Road a la Mode.

Rocky Road a la Mode is designed for 2 to 4 players and takes about 20-30 minutes to play. Players compete as rival ice-cream truck owners as they try to satisfy as many customers as possible. A series of treat cards are available for all players to see, which display certain customer groups who enjoy a variety of different sweets. Using special cards that are drawn throughout the game players try to meet the demands of these groups, to earn themselves points and loyal customers who come back for more. Territories are also up for grabs which offer an assortment of permanent benefits and even more points.

Rocky Road a la Mode components

Similar to the rest of the company’s game catalog, Rocky Road a la Mode is a family friendly and simple game that still encourages depth of play and strategic thinking.We decided to sit down with Green Couch Games founder Jason Kotarski to talk a bit more about the formation of his company, their success on Kickstarter, and the development of Rocky Road a la Mode.

Jesse Tannous: Most, if not all of the Green Couch Games have been funded through Kickstarter. Does the success and perhaps reliance of crowdfunding dramatically change how you conduct your publishing business? What are some of the main obstacles crowd funding support helps you overcome? What added complications does it create?

Jason Kotarski: Crowdfunding has been essential for helping to launch and sustain Green Couch Games. Back in the day, if you wanted to become a game publisher you'd have to get a second mortgage on your house or be independently wealthy. The way that cash flow gets ties up in this business can be brutal for a small company. You pay a big sum of money upfront for manufacturing, art, and design and then you have to wait months before you can see a return on that product in the traditional distribution model. And with that model, there is no guarantee you are going to be able to sell it. Maybe that game just takes up space in your garage for a while! With crowdfunding you can measure demand and alleviate some of the risk in tying up all the expense for such a long time. There are certainly other challenges involved as well. For instance, building and maintaining a community surrounding your company is essential. You have to have an audience to rally around your crowdfunding campaign. That takes a lot of time and work. But luckily, that work involved connecting with people who are passionate about the same things you are, so it's fun, too.

JT: A few of the Green Couch Games seem to revolve around taking normal aspects of life, cooking, building a tree-house, and now chasing an ice-cream truck into a tabletop game. Is this a specific thematic decision or just a simple coincidence? If specific, why?

JK: I think that I lean towards themes that have a universal, wider appeal. Since the heart of Green Couch Games is to connect people and bridge the gap between casual gamers and more serious hobby gamers a big part of that is grabbing people's attention with a fun, unique theme and then delivering on meaningful game play as well. It probably started as a coincidence and based on my own preferences as a gamer but as our audience has grown and they have connected with it, it has really reinforced the direction we are heading.

JT: What is your perspective and thoughts on the resurgence in tabletop board gaming in recent years?

JK: I think it's really exciting! I see it as a cultural shift in terms of people having this deep desire for human connection that isn't satisfied in our virtual worlds. That, and the access that everyday folks have to bringing new innovation and ideas into the gaming space with the help of the internet and especially crowdfunding. Also, art and manufacturing is continually pushing forward and making tabletop games look better than ever. It's so cool to get to be a part of all that.

JT: How did Green Couch Games and Joshua J. Mills, the designer of Rocky Road a la Mode, team up for this project?

JK: I met Josh through some friends at a convention last year. He's a part of the Game Designers of North Carolina with Matt Wolfe who designed Avalanche at Yeti Mountain for us. We played a different game of his that I really liked but was too big for what Green Couch Games is currently doing. Then, later on that year he was at another con and showed me his design for Rocky Road a la Mode and I loved it! I knew it would fit in with our line of games.

JT: What about this game emphasizes the types of things that Green Couch Games looks for in its projects?

JK: Our company motto is "great little games that make great big connections." So we try to capture that idea by doing games that are easy to teach, in 5 minutes or less. They also need to have an approachable theme, something that will connect with a large audience. I've been using a very specific box size up to this point and to build our brand and make our products recognizable on the shelf, they have to fit in that box. I've dealt mostly with card based games so far because it's a medium I love and it's easy to work with in manufacturing. I really want our games to bring people together around a simple, yet meaningful shared experience. I keep all of that in mind when evaluating new games.

(End of interview.)

For additional reviews, video tutorials, or links to the print and play version of Rocky Road a la Mode make sure to stop by the official Kickstarter campaign page.