How to Make It About Them: The Viticulture Charity Auction

1 December 2013 | 6 Comments

Sometimes you don’t realize you have a personal philosophy until it shows up at your front door wearing nothing but a trench coat.

For me, the front door was my Kickstarter campaign for Viticulture. For the year leading up to the campaign, designing Viticulture was all about me. It was about me making a game that I wanted to play. It was about the act of creation. It was about my designer to use Kickstarter to launch something for me.

But the minute I pressed that launch button, something changed. It had probably been changing for a while, but it didn’t fully hit me until I launched.

It was then that I realized that I was far more interested in making something for other people than for myself. I didn’t want Viticulture to be about me anymore–I wanted it to be about the people who discovered it through Kickstarter and became a part of the foundation of the game. It was about the bloggers and reviewers who took a chance on a complete unknown to offer their feedback, advice, and reviews. It was about being good and fair and responsive to people. It was about creating something that would bring people together for memorable, joyful, creative moments.

My personal philosophy, I realized, was to make it about them.

I’ve had complete clarity since I had that realization. It has been the source and the guiding compass of every decision I’ve made for Stonemaier Games–not just for our Kickstarter campaigns and our games, but this very blog that you’re reading. This isn’t blog isn’t about me. It’s about helping other Kickstarter creators and hopefully making Kickstarter a better place for backers.

photoSo it was with this philosophy in mind that I launched a charity auction for a limited edition wooden-box version of Viticulture this past weekend. You probably got a notification about it–if not, you should sign up for our monthly e-newsletter so you get notified in the future.

The basic gist of the auction (which you can find here) is that there are 13 wooden-box copies of Viticulture up for auction on Board Game Geek. They all contain the original game, the updated rules, and grande workers. Also, the winner of each game will receive their choice of a special perk, including items like Euphoria supreme, the Arboriculture expansion to Viticulture, and an early prototype of one of the expansion elements of Tuscany.

Each of the games is attributed to one of our favorite bloggers (it’s not a comprehensive list of bloggers, but we only had 13 games to work with), and each of the bloggers chose a charity. Half of the proceeds from each game will go to that charity, and the blogger whose game garners the highest winning bid will have the entire amount go to the charity. Currently bids are between $130 and $300 depending on the blogger.

There are three groups of people that we made the auction about:

  1. People who want Viticulture but can’t get it because we didn’t print enough.
  2. Bloggers we want to share with the world.
  3. Charities that do good work for thousands of people worldwide.

It’s a rare win-win-win scenario, and I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of support in the first two days of the auction. We didn’t ask anything of the bloggers, but many of them have decided on their own to add to the charity pool or sweeten the pot with items of their own. It’s also a fun little competition between the bloggers.

Even if you’re not interested in Viticulture, I would recommend that you take a look at the auction to see how it works. Feel free to press the green thumb button next to your favorite blogger (if you have one), as the blogger with the most thumbs will get an advance copy of our next game for an early review. And maybe you’ll discover a new blogger or charity along the way.

My overall point is: I never would have thought of this if I didn’t have a guiding philosophy. Do you have a philosophy that guides you, that focuses you? I’d love to hear it if you don’t mind sharing in the comments.

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6 Comments on “How to Make It About Them: The Viticulture Charity Auction

  1. I am happy that I could read that. It is an commendable philosophy, and translates into industry-leading business practises.

    I will be happy to back your future projects, not only because they offer great quality of the product, but also because what you represent.

  2. Hey Jamey, perhaps you should put a list of blogs like these that you follow somewhere on this site? I’d like to find other good board gaming blogs, and it goes best via referrals…

    1. Ken–That’s a good question, and fortunately I have an easy answer, because it would be tough for me to compile that list from Feedly (I read over 200 blogs on gaming and Kickstarter). There are two blogs that consolidate new entries on gaming blogs really well–I’d recommend you start here: (subscribe to the daily e-mail) (subscribe to the feed or twitter @CardboardEdison

      1. Thanks for the mention Jamey! Just to give some additional info:

        Cardboard Edison is focused on game design and they do a superb job of gathering everything you would ever want to know about designing games. In addition to blog articles on game design they also curate podcasts for design related episodes, link to great design discussions on Board Game Geek, info on design tools, and they even include inspiring and motivational tweets from veteran game designers.

        The Today in Board Games newsletter covers the broader category of board gaming in general but to a lesser depth. Each issue includes news stories, announcements of new releases / upcoming games plus links to reviews, articles, new Kickstarter projects, and deals from across the net.

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