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Ulus Board Game Up On Kickstarter

There's hundreds of different languages and scripts out there in the world. Each one has been tuned to its culture's needs. The Mongolians have their own. Unfortunately, it's currently under threat. But there's a way to save this language and keep it from dying: games. That's what Ulus looks to do. The game is up on Kickstarter now.

From the campaign:

This Kickstarter is the most urgent and far-reaching campaign we’ve ever undertaken, and one that lies right at the heart of the Endangered Alphabets Project.

We plan to create a game—a game with great artwork, original characters, and a thoroughly cool story, but above all a game intended to help save a language, a beautiful ancient script, and a living culture under threat.

Here’s the backstory. The Mongolian people are one of the world’s great cultures, with 800 years of epic history and their own fascinating and remarkable mythology, sports, traditions, language, and an utterly iconic, thousand-year-old vertical script.

That script is so deep a part of the Mongol identity that in Soviet times it was banned, and in Russia and in the independent country of Mongolia, the Russian Cyrillic alphabet was imposed. The last oasis of the ancestral Mongol language, script and identity was in Inner or Southern Mongolia, a province of China.

All that is now about to change. The Chinese have dictated that from now on the Mongols living in Inner Mongolia will have to learn, speak, and write Chinese, and there’s evidence the entire history of the Mongol people will be erased or rewritten.

Imagine what that’s like. Imagine being told that your own language and script, in which everything important to yourself, your family, and your culture has been written, are going to be suppressed and you’re going to have to speak and write Chinese, or Russian, or in fact any other language. That’s the situation with every culture with an endangered alphabet. It’s a cultural and personal catastrophe.

The Mongols are responding in the most extraordinary way: with calligraphy. The traditional vertical Mongolian writing system is an art form in itself; its calligraphy has been identified by UNESCO as a world intangible heritage in urgent need of safeguarding.

The campaign's a little more than halfway to its goal with 25 days left to go.