The Pen island Project - Introduction

There is a legend. A legend of a long-lost island hidden somewhere in the midst of the the Pacific Ocean. Like a majestic beacon, the rock face erects from the water high into the air, as if attempting to put just it's tip into the moist clouds above. On this island an ancient, mystical game was once played - known by locals as "Keāa Wạng" (or "Isle of the Wang"). It was said to turn water into wine, boredom into rager, peasant into savage... Alas, historians have long debated the existence of this debaucherous pastime. Was it all mere folklore or ???

Alright, so a few years ago a group of friends living in New York (s/o to Will Langenberg, Tim Graves, and a few others) were introduced to a completely ridiculous homemade drinking game by a rad vagabonding Australian. Imagine the card games "King's Cup" and "Presidents and Assholes", then throw in some general social embarrassment, the premise was a board game played with dice and a bit of booze. In light of the giant (yet artfully tasteful) dick that was drawn in the center of the board, the game was called Penis Island, and it became a total game-changer in the NYC pre-party/after-party scene.

While visiting them one weekend back in 2012 I was introduced to the game. It's hard to say exactly what it was, but there was definitely something that took it up a notch over the typical party game. It was hilarious, it was provocative, and it was actually very competitive. It was such a crazy yet awesome experience that when I got back to Texas, I made a variation of the board with the help of my roommates Rich Young & Eric Hale. We made a few alterations, and it wasn't long before the Lone Star Edition of Penis Island became a notorious part of our pregames and late nights as well.

Because it was repeatedly well received among everyone who played and something we all agreed would've been especially great in college, we have been trying to figure out a way to bring the idea to a larger audience for a few years now. The problem was that the game was a little hard to explain and slightly repulsive to newcomers. The basic idea was good but it was missing something to make it feel a bit more legit.

A few months ago I began thinking about an idea that could potentially take it up a notch: the integration of a phone app. The app would be part rule book, part idea generator (similar to the effect of drawing a card) and would basically facilitate/enhance the play on the board. To me, the blend between old school board game and new school technology was a pretty unique and cool concept.

Around this same time, I was becoming increasingly bored with my day job and was craving something more engaging. I decided to make it my side project. In my downtime, I began refining the good squares from our original board and brainstorming new, more elaborate ideas. I started thinking about interesting ways to use the app and social media to create a multi-layered experience that could be continuously refreshed with new and funny variations. 

Slowly it was developing into the ultimate party game - the "kitchen sink" of card games, social media interaction, and absurd nostalgia.

The Pen Island Game Proof of Concept by Brett Roggenkamp

The Pen Island Game Proof of Concept by Brett Roggenkamp

Sometime in November after I had finished my application to grad school, Rich and I had a long talk about launching this thing for real. We began bouncing around ideas and making a plan. Kickstarter emerged as a natural fit to make a product like this potentially come to fruition. On the brink of a major career change and with the desire to do something more outside the box, I decided it was the perfect time to officially retire from the corporate consulting world and attempt to fulfill my childhood dream of creating a board game. Rich on the other hand, decided that while he was not out crushing blockbuster commercial real estate deals he would help in whatever manner he could. 

Shit was about to get real. 

So that brings us to today. As I write this I am serving out the remainder of my two week notice. Do we have the makings of the next Cards Against Humanity? Will all this end with me completely broke, sharing a cardboard box under an Oak Cliff bridge with a mentally unstable woman that calls herself Medusa? These are both good questions, and either way you'll have a front row seat!

Success or failure, the value of this is in the experience of creating something cool and hopefully sharing a good story in the process.

So here's the deal: there's a lot of good stuff in the works and this thing is still far from finished. We've been fortunate to have a number of close friends offer to take their talents to Pen island, and if you're interested, there will be a lot you can do to help as well. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to release a series of interactive blog/social media posts where we will be sharing more details about the game. We would love to get your feedback, ideas, and anything else you'd like to contribute ahead of the Kickstarter launch (targeting early spring). Currently one of the big priorities is finding a good app developer, so if you know anyone who does that kind of work please hit us up. 

If you're intrigued with all this, submit your email below and follow us on our Facebook page (coming soon) so we can keep you updated. And if you know of others who would be interested in following this story or helping in any way, spread the word by sharing this page!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

And if you haven't already, go check out the story of my ridiculous experience taking the SAT a couple months ago.