A downloadable project

A meta game in which I tried to enlist all kiwijam members into a thriving community.

A huge thank you to ShungFei who made this possible and put up with me running off to work on this instead of the other game we were making together.


Friday Night

Once the theme was announced I started brainstorming ideas with a few people that were interested in making a physical game.

The theme by the way... was "growth".

One of the ideas I had was to start a pyramid scheme to recruit all the people jamming in Auckland to become a single team. Then we could all vote for that team and collectively win kiwijam (the Auckland hosts usually put together voting for some categories and some little prizes).

I figured this could be a side project and ended up joining another team to work on a game at the same time (see that here).

Later Friday Night

As I lay in bed that night began crafting ideas on how I could recruit people. I figured an interesting way to do it might be to create something physical (we had the makerspace available to us). Then I could use the physical item to help sell the idea.

And thus, Thrive Tokens were born. And I had a bunch of ideas of how they could be used...

  • Proof of membership
  • Maybe play a game with them?
  • Maybe different tiers of tokens to go along with the mlm scheme
  • A metaphor?


In the end I went with a popular shape... the einstein tile.

Einstein tiles are a relatively recent discovery of a single tile that can tile together aperiodically (meaning that the pattern never repeats). This could mean that I could use them as puzzle or a metaphor for how we can only grow as a community together.

Yeah. I should mention that at this point I had received negative feedback about the pyramid scheme idea and decided to try to move the idea to be more "community oriented".

I created my initial designs and did some testing with the laser cutter to ensure the pieces would fit together nicely.

Which they did!

I had tiles (about 60 of them) and a new pitch. It was time to start recruiting.

My pitch was something along the lines of...

  • Would you like to be part of a thriving community?
  • Join and help the community grow, together we can be the biggest and best team at kiwijam
  • You can be part of your existing team and ours too, just vote for us in one of the categories and we can all win together.
  • And look, you get a cool token to prove your membership!

I may have also mentioned that they could recruit others to join.

By the end of the day I had only manged to get rid of ~8 tokens. It wasn't going great. Tomorrow I was going to have to up my game.


On Saturday I had been trying to pick people off one at a time while they were alone. The idea was to try to let it grow organically. I also thought it would be awesome to at the end recruited a lot of people, but not have people know that I had already recruited everyone else.

Well this needed to change, I still had 50+ tokens to get rid of (and another game to make).

So I set up a station at the venue with a sign (I made sure to add a disclaimer that we were not a cult) and made an announcement on discord...

I figured that FOMO sells things all the time. Maybe it could work for me here too.

But sadly after only a few had been taken hours later I had to resort to pitching the idea to entire teams in the last few hours of the jam. Of course they weren't busy with anything and had time to listen to my pitch.

I did manage to get rid of all but 8 tokens though. With this kind of success I figured we would hopefully win one prize.

Prize Giving

The time had come. We were about to be announced the winners of kiwijam 2023.

But for some reason another team took the trophy. It turns out my followers weren't as loyal as I thought they were.

It probably doesn't help that I forgot to vote.

Other fun things..

  • One of my earliest recruits went to the effort of crafting a ring out of their thrive token and tried insanely hard to recruit people. Unfortunately his pitch came off a bit like he was part of the mafia, pressuring people to join for protection.
  • I tried to make the einstein tiles look like leaves by adding veins to further match the growth theme.
  • There was also an idea to create an online ledger where members would be able to pledge and add their name. This got cut because of privacy concerns though.


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I was totally going to vote for another game, for the sole reason that I could make the reveal that you were betrayed by your closest collaborator. But then... I forgot to vote too 😶