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Space-Themed Board Game Campaign Takes Off

Project Airlock is a space-themed social deduction board game created by three Olin students.

What started out in the first month of college as just an idea in a dorm room has turned into a fully funded Kickstarter project and, now, the students have tentative plans for wider distribution of the game.

Airlock is based on a pretty simple premise. Anywhere from 3 to 6 players make up the crew of a failing space craft. Hidden among the players is a saboteur who aims to sabotage their dwindling oxygen supply. The saboteur keeps trying to play cards that will damage the ship. To survive, the crew must work together to strategically play the right cards at the right time without knowing who they can trust. If the crew identifies the saboteur they get to expose him or her and throw that player out of the game.

“We made a first iteration of the game and started recording all the data,” said Daniel Alhadeff, who thought up the original idea. “After we played the game about 150 times, we turned to each other and said ‘Hey, this is actually pretty good’.” Together with Jeremy Ryan and Paul Nadan, Alhadeff kept refining the game. Ryan was responsible for the artwork and Nadan helped with just about everything else.

The team kept playing and started to keep statistics on which character would win the most often. They continued to change the rules of play slightly to make the game more interesting—and challenging. Airlock usually takes between 15-30 minutes to play. And, for some reason that they still can’t quite figure out, first time players are more likely to draw the saboteur card than at any other time.

Soon, other students in the dorm would ask to play Airlock – at all hours of the day. The trio slowly started to realize that they might be on to something.

In the beginning, the “cards” were nothing more than pieces of flimsy paper, decorated with some rudimentary designs by Ryan.  But things took shape when they decided to scale up and found a manufacturer who would produce one prototype. Project Airlock produced a video, and launched a Kickstarter campaign.

“We were funded in under four hours. That was a huge surprise,” said Alhadeff. Obviously some of the money came from family, friends and fellow Oliners, but a fair amount didn’t. Money has been flowing into the campaign from board game enthusiasts across the country and overseas. “Our funding goal was $1,500 and we are already well beyond that, the majority of our money is coming from people browsing Kickstarter and seeing our campaign,” said Ryan.