UA Little Rock game designers start Kickstarter campaign to manufacture new space-western game

A group of University of Arkansas at Little Rock employees, students, and alumni have joined forces to create a game to bring out the space scoundrels in all of us. 

The space-western storytelling card game – dubbed Galactic Scoundrels – is inspired by beloved fictional scoundrels like Han Solo from “Star Wars” and Malcolm Reynolds from “Firefly.” The game is designed for 3-5 players to play for 90-120 minutes.

“It started out with an idea of telling space scoundrel stories. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Han Solo,” said Joe Williams, associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing and lead designer of Galactic Scoundrels.

Williams started designing the game with Tanner Marshall and Olivia Dunlap, graduate students in the Department of Computer Science; Brad Sims, instructional designer and media specialist for the College of Education and Health Professions; and Robbie Hunt, UA Little Rock alumnus. Kevin Cates, associate professor of graphic design, joined the team and created all of the art for the game.

“I’m older now, but my friends and I still want to tell great stories when we get together for game night, but we don’t have time to generate those stories over weeks, or months, or years. Usually, all we have is an hour or two. It lets us tell the crazy, quirky, sideways tales we love.”

Players gamble and bluff each other to win a job and then tell the shared story of that job by playing cards. Each job is a mini-adventure lasting 15-20 minutes with spaceships, crew, cargo, strange and wonderful characters, and exciting twists.

The game has simple rules, which can be learned in about 10 minutes. This allows players to emphasize storytelling, negotiation, and social interaction. A full game lasts 90 minutes or so, but players often just play as many stories as they feel inspired to tell.

Galactic Scoundrels
Galactic Scoundrels


Williams and crew, who co-founded the Little Rock Game Designers group in 2014 and last year formed a company called Little Rock Games, have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to have the game manufactured. They have already raised nearly $11,500 from 271 backers by June 28, so odds seem favorable that they will reach their $17,000 goal by July 25.

Backers can pledge $5 to get a print and play PDF version of the game, $25 for one copy of Galactic Scoundrels, and $40 for the game plus an expanded universe card pack. Those who pledge $75 or more get the extra honor of designing a card for the expanded universe card pack.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Little Rock Games plans to produce an initial launch of 500 games that they will sell to online and brick and mortar retailers. Williams said two local game stores have already ordered advance copies of the game.

Williams will be interviewed on the radio show “Shane Plays Geek Talk,” which broadcasts on 101.1 FM at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 30. The show will be broadcast live, and listeners can call in during the show at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays.

“I think we are just really excited,” Williams said. “None of this would have been possible without us connecting at UA Little Rock. We love that the university provides a creative place to generate ideas like this and let them grow.”

In the upper right photo, the creators of Galactic Scoundrels (L to R) include Brad Sims, Robbie Hunt, Joe Williams, Tanner Marshall, and Olivia Dunlap.

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