Language Play- Game Conference


When: Friday January 11th – Sunday January 13th

Attendance: Limited to 20

Where: Heart of the Deernicorn Workshop 207 4th ave E, Olympia WA 98506

Cost: $50 (Diversity scholarships available. See below.)

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SKU: LP001-1 Category:


Join us for a weekend of language-based freeform and story-telling games curated by the designers of Xenolanguage, Dialect, and Sign: Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyalioglu of Thorny Games.

Language Play is the culmination of a week long artist in residency for Thorny Games at the Heart of the Deernicorn workshop in downtown Olympia. Come join us to celebrate and experience this remarkable body of work!


About the Games

Nicaragua in the 1970s had no form of sign language. In 1977, something happened. Fifty deaf children from across the country were brought together to an experimental school in Managua. Without a shared language to express themselves, the children did the only thing they could — they created one. In Sign, we follow a small piece of their journey.
Dialect is a game about an isolated community, their language, and what it means for that language to be lost. In this game, you’ll tell the story of the Isolation by building their language. New words will come from the fundamental aspects of the community: who they are, what they believe in, and how they respond to a changing world.
Players take away both the story they’ve told and the dialect they’ve built together.



It’s five minutes in the future and we’ve just made first contact. In Xenolanguage, you are a linguist tasked with deciphering an alien language. As you gain fluency, you begin to see the world differently. A tabletop roleplaying game inspired by Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”.

Xenolanguage is currently in active playtesting and gearing up for a 2019 release.


About the Designers


Kathryn Hymes is 50% of the indie studio Thorny Games, where she makes games about language and cryptography. In her designs, Kathryn wants to tell stories in unorthodox, original settings from voices that may have otherwise been unheard. Full of math and computational linguistics, Kathryn is an active voice in the Indie RPG community where she aims to make games more approachable to new enthusiastic faces. She is also a co-host of the Game Design Round Table podcast and a 2016 GenCon Industry Insider. Kathryn has been to Transnistria and hopes to go back some day.


Hakan Seyalioglu is the other 50% of Thorny Games, an independent design studio of larps and RPGs that tells new and unconventional stories. In his design, he’s deeply explored what language means for us culturally and emotionally, and how it can be an engaging mechanic for play. A GenCon Industry Insider and active member of the Bay Area design community, Hakan hopes to spread the word of play as a tool for empathy and understanding. Apart from games, Hakan helps computers keep secrets and crack codes (a genuine cryptographer). He really enjoys breakfast.




There will be  pre-assigned slots each day with plenty of space to socialize and have casual discussions with fellow attendees. We will schedule it so everyone has an opportunity to play a variety of games with different people. (Schedule subject to change.)

Friday January 11th

5-6pm Welcome and Meet and Greet

6-9pm Slot 01: Dialect


10am-1pm Slot 02: Sign

1-3pm Lunch

3-6pm Slot03: TBA Design Workshop

6-8pm Dinner

8-11pm Slot 04: Xenolanguage



10am-1pm Slot 05: TBA Language Game Sampler

1-2pm lunch

2-5pm Slot 06: TBA

5pm Closing and Goodbyes!


Heart of the Deernicorn strives to foster a safe space for all of its attendees. By attending our events you agree to treat other attendees and staff with respect and compassion. If you are experiencing harassment of any kind, speak to our on-duty staff and they will make sure you are taken care of. Harassment of any kind is not welcome and may result in the offending party being removed from the event without a refund.


Diversity Scholarships and Accommodations

Heart of the Deernicorn recognizes that in order to make game spaces feel welcoming to everyone, work must be done to lower the barriers to attending. One way we hope to address this is by offering scholarships to anyone who is experiencing identity-based oppression. We define this as oppression that targets people of color, non-cis, non-male, indigenous identities, and/or people who have disabilities. If you would like to apply for a full or partial scholarship or any other kind of accommodation please email and we will do what we can to help out.


One of the play spaces we will be using is up a flight of stairs, if you need accommodation let us know and we will make sure your games are all scheduled on the ground floor. Our bathroom is on the ground floor but kind of small and dosen’t have bars.