Los Angeles Business Journal

The Game of Philosophie

By Natalie Jarvey Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Behind many tech startups is a digital design and development company that helps make sure the website looks good and works well.

But these companies, called dev shops, often work behind the scenes and receive little recognition when a site such as Facebook becomes wildly popular.

So Venice digital agency Philosophie is trying to raise awareness with a card game based on what it does.

Philosophie launched a 30-day Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the game, called DevShop, last week. It has already raised more than 40 percent of its $5,000 goal.

Philosophie, which has 16 employees, works with tech startups, ad agencies and enterprise companies to design and develop websites and mobile apps.

The high-tech company decided to go low tech, however, with its game.

When complete, the company’s 140-card game will allow players to walk through the challenges of starting a dev shop, gaining clients and keeping them happy. The player who has the highest customer satisfaction rating at the end of the game will win. The characters in the game will be based on real-life Philosophie employees.

Co-Founder Skot Carruth said the inspiration for the game play came from fantasy card game Magic.

“A lot of people in our industry are sort of nerds,” he said. “We thought it would be really fun for people to see a game that’s about what they do. And since not a lot of people outside the tech community are aware that people like us exist, we thought we could build a game for them to learn from.”

Kickstarter contributors who give $25 or more to the campaign will receive the game, including cards and rules.

Carruth said Philosophie chose to raise money through Kickstarter to gauge the community’s interest in the game. And since the game is more of a side-project than moneymaker, they didn’t want to fund the project through the company’s standard revenue streams.

If Philosophie reaches its $5,000 goal, that money will pay for production of the game. But those funds won’t cover overhead for the time the company’s employees have spent working on the project, which Carruth estimated is about $10,000 to $16,000.

Carruth said it was a worthwhile.

“It a lot of ways the game represents our culture here,” he said. “That’s a very important part of what we do. I hope that the types of clients we want to work with and the types of designer we’d want to hire will see the game and want to work with us.”