Founders: Albert Kong and Christina Tran
Year launched: 2018
Game types: Zine-formatted games, role-playing games, party games
Flagship game: Mt Caz's artist residency allows creators to take on the role of "artist in residence" and design a game or event during their two-week stay.
When Albert Kong and Christina Tran moved to Corvallis from the Bay Area in 2017, they were struck by one thing Oregonians tend to take for granted: ample room to roam.
"We rented a house here and noticed we had four times as much space for less than the price of a living room in San Francisco," says Kong. "Having all this abundance of space felt like there was a responsibility to share it."
Kong, a game designer, and Tran, an artist, wanted to see how they could turn their home into anything but a home—"a performance space, venue, classroom and restaurant," says Kong.
Versatility is the founding principle of Mt Caz Ranger Clubhouse, a collective of artists that includes a lot of work from a lot of different people. But at its core is the essence of immersive gameplay.
Over the past three years, the two have built up a community of players by going to graphic novel book clubs at local libraries, hosting weekly potlucks, and "haunted house meets treasure hunt" events at places like Enchanted Forest, where players act out prompts and follow clues in zine playbooks.
Its artist residency allows creators to work on their own craft in a rented room in the house, but also to play the role of "artist in residence" and explore how it feels to be in an unfamiliar, shared space.
For Kong, board games can often be "bureaucratic," with rules, winners and losers. What Mt Caz hopes to accomplish, he says, is for people to stop seeing themselves as players but creators.
"I think about games as art, as a participatory medium, where everyone has agency to move around in," Kong says. "You're not the audience, you're making this experience."
What game are you really into right now? "Alex Roberts made a game called For the Queen. It's a card-based storytelling game: You answer a prompt, and it builds up a picture of a world with very little scaffolding—a journey and a conflict and a traveling crew."