Rob Gosselin: I can’t say for sure exactly when I first came up with Monkey, it must have been in 1999 or so. I originally designed it as a 2-player game (using a regular deck of cards) where each player was a monkey (the joker) and competed to be the first one to climb a series or “lane” of trees. As you climbed up you could also participate in fights along the way, set “bluffs”, and carry weapons. If you didn’t carry a weapon you were vying to be “The Ultimate Monkey” (or was it called “shooting for the moon”?) and had to climb 4 more trees to your lane in order to win. It was hilariously fun. My playing partner and regular encourager through all Monkey’s time of early development was my dear friend David Hepting. As years past, I forgot about the game, and I remember David reminding me about it probably a decade later and we had wild fun playing it again. Then in 2015, when I knew David would be getting married in December, I hoped to surprise him with a totally revamped version of the game (David is now married to Jetaime, who has become another esteemed member of Birdlight Games, and has actually translated Monkey into Chinese!!). I definitely had not given myself enough time to design Monkey professionally in time for David’s wedding as I had recently published my first game Friend or Foe that November :). My Monkey development lasted until the Spring of 2016 before everything was all ready. In any case, that is why in the CREDITS I listed David as the game’s “Raison D’être,” a French phrase which simply means its “reason for being.” Without David’s enthusiastic support throughout all these years, this game would never have come to be. I’ve included his blurb about how David remembers it.
David Hepting: I remember back in grade 8 Rob pulled out a regular deck of cards and tells me ‘I had this crazy idea for a new game we can play.’ He shows me the basic concept of monkeys racing to climb trees and we have lots of fun with that. Then we keep playing around with it and adding rules: you can climb with a weapon and fight the other monkey, or you can climb faster a much taller tree. It started as a 2 player game and eventually we realized it can be played with lots of people. There can be team battles, all sorts of different stuff. I always loved that moment in our childhood because it was like anything was possible. A simple deck of cards could be turned into so many different creative ways to have fun. I always admired that about Rob as well that he wasn’t content to just play the same games everybody always plays, he saw a whole new world of different possibilities as well.
Rob Gosselin: Now the revamped version of Monkey would not exist without my dear wife, Jenny, who is my “Partner Extraordinaire” in all things (see CREDITS) . I remember when we were playtesting monkey in the fall of 2015 and she said, “Rob, what about having the monkeys all be climbing up a single tree?” (instead of the separate trees I had ported over from my original concept of the game). That. Changed. Everything. It helped draw everything into focus as monkeys could then compete to race up a single big tree. Brilliant. That was just one of countless things Jenny helped with. Any time I was working with my esteemed artist, Oscar Linder (check out his work HERE), Jenny would always help me see what we could try out next or talk me through things as I worked on my official design files on Photoshop. Finally, dedicating the game to our son, Nathan, was a no-brainer (see CREDITS). Even now he’s just about one year old and is trying to climb up everything. Our main name for him has been “Goose” but I think “Monkey” is becoming more and more appropriate.