Happy Birthday, Robot!

In appraisals, first thoughts, role-playing games on May 25th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Thanks to my girlfriend, I was lucky enough to get a look at the preview PDF of Daniel Solis’s new storytelling game Happy Birthday, Robot! He is still funding an initial run over on Kickstarter, and there is a week left to pitch in and order a copy. I heartily recommend that anyone with young children, that works with young children or just has a slightly oversized inner child do so. Happy Birthday, Robot! is a delight!

I use the term storytelling game advisedly here, since HBR is not an RPG, it is a game which produces a very short story, written out. All stories begin with the sentence “Happy Birthday, Robot” and the players generate the rest of the story one sentence at a time using a few dice and some coins, plus a pencil and notepad.

The procedures are dead simple; in fact, I knew how to play the game already because my girlfriend played it at Dreamation 2010 and explained it to in about five minutes afterward, without the use of any props or parts. The one-page summary at the back of the PDF (and soon the book) was plenty to refresh my memory. Nevertheless, the whole 40ish pages are valuable because they come with examples of stories created using HBR, extensive tips on how to play the game with young children, a complete, extended example of play and, perhaps best of all, it offers Daniel’s amazing print design work and charming illustrations by Rin Aiello. Check it out for yourself:

An image of a page from Happy Birthday Robot that features a sample story created using the game. The pages features in illustration of ninja pandas tossing Robot into the air, which comes from the story.

Ninja pandas and a happy robot!

A page from the rules text of Happy Birthday, Robot! including a Tip for Teachers

The rules contain extansive advice for teachers that want to use HBR in the classroom

As if the game itself and its presentation weren’t enough reasons to support this project, Daniel is also looking to put copies of Happy Birthday, Robot! into schools, and the more orders he gets, the more schools he can afford to send a copy to. In support of this goal, HBR features extensive tips on how to play the game in an educational setting, many developed by Cassie Krause, and elementary school teacher that playtested HBR in her own classroom.

So go pledge your support to Happy Birthday, Robot! You’ll be making the world a better place, and you’ll do your soul a bit of good, too.

  1. Thanks so much for playing! Do you care to post your story or is it inappropriate for general audiences? 😛

  2. I’ve only read it so far (Haven’t met up with my gaming peeps), but when I do, I’ll be sure to post something if it’s fit for public consumption 🙂

  3. Hi Daniel!

    Managed to record our story for posterity, but thought colour was required to do it real justice. It can be seen here:


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