Journeys of Jesus: Capernaum to Jerusalem

In my last post we looked quite a bit at Capernaum and its significance in the Gospels. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), Capernaum was the center of Jesus’ ministry, with Matthew even referring to the place as Jesus’ “own city.”

Today, we are continuing on with the story from the gospel of John, and John doesn’t give nearly as much attention to Capernaum. For John, it seems that Jerusalem was always the focus.

12 After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (John 2:12-13)

In the synoptic gospels, there’s no mention of Jesus visiting Jerusalem during His ministry until the very end, but John has Jesus going there several times, and especially for festival times: Passover (John 2:13-23; 11:55), the Festival of Booths (John 7:2, 10), the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22), and an unnamed festival (John 5:1-3).

John seems focused on Jerusalem as the center of Jewish worship, and I think that’s somewhat reflected in John 2:13 when he says that “Jesus went up to Jerusalem”. Whenever I’m giving directions, I use the terms “up” and “down” to refer to the compass points on a map – up means going north, down means going south. But, that “north is up” orientation really only dates to European map making starting around the 16th century.  The Jews often spoke of going “up” to Jerusalem, even when heading south (as in this case). 

Jerusalem was literally the city on a hill. From whichever direction you approach the city, you will climb an ascent as you approach the city. This sense of physically and spiritually going up to Jerusalem to worship is perhaps best reflected in the Songs of Ascent in the Psalms (120-134). Pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem would sing these psalms as they climbed towards the city where God had chosen to make His earthly abode (Ps 132:13). 

Out of the depths I have cried to you, Yahweh.
Lord, hear my voice.
    Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my petitions.
If you, Yah, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    therefore you are feared.
I wait for Yahweh.
    My soul waits.
    I hope in his word.
My soul longs for the Lord more than watchmen long for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.
Israel, hope in Yahweh,
    for there is loving kindness with Yahweh.
    Abundant redemption is with him.
He will redeem Israel from all their sins.
(Psalm 130)

When John spoke with the woman at the well, their discussion quickly turned to the topic of worship.

The woman rightly observed: Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” (John 4:20)

Jesus responded: Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. 22 You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)

In John’s gospel, Jesus went to Jerusalem several times to worship God, but when His work on the cross was finished, Jerusalem was no longer mentioned.

Let us too worship God in spirit and in truth, crying to Him for forgiveness, setting our hope on His loving kindness and the redemption we can find in Christ.

NOTE:  Journeys with Jesus is now on sale at

The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the gameboard for Journeys with Jesus

If you’ve found this interesting and would like to continue to read these stories of the journeys and places in Journeys with Jesus, sign up in the sidebar to receive updates.

Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. 

SDG Games’ Competitors

How can Journeys with Jesus stand apart in buyers’ consideration?

Evaluating the competitive environment for your startup will depend very much on the nature of the industry and the product. In general, you want to understand who your competitors are, how you are differentiated from them, and how those differences will translate into buyers’ decisions. 

Depending on the buyer and the situation, your product won’t always be the best choice. You want to understand what it is that makes your product the best choice for some people some of the time (and potential investors want to understand how many people that is and how often).

For most of the startups I’ve worked with, customers make a preemptive decision. Their choice of one product means that they are very unlikely to buy a competing product anytime soon. Sometimes that is because the purchase price is high and the product is expected to last for many years. In other cases, the initial monetary price is low (often with ongoing revenues), but the switching costs are high, and so they expect to make the decision and stick with it for as long as possible.

Board games are different. Customers are making a long term decision — they want to buy a game that they will enjoy playing for years — but the purchase price is relatively low and choosing one game doesn’t preclude them from purchasing a competing game in the relatively near future (sometimes even at the same time). However, the purchase price is high enough, that customers will be quite selective about the games they purchase, and, as with any product category, different buyers will be attracted to different games in specific situations.

The other thing that makes the tabletop games market different from most competitive markets is how many different choices consumers have. Board Game Geek lists over 120,000 games in their database. Not all of those games are currently in print, but even out of print games can be found in resale markets.

Source: Some rights reserved

So, while some startups may only have a few primary competitors to consider, at SDG Games we literally have thousands. To be meaningful, we need to narrow down that competitive set to those most likely to also be in the consideration set of those thinking about buying our games (and especially our first game, Journeys with Jesus).

Game buyers are likely to consider at least four factors when looking for a new board game:

  • Theme: What is the story surrounding the game?
  • Gameplay: What are the mechanics involved in the game?
  • Time and Complexity: How long does it take to learn and play the game?
  • Number of Players and Engagement: How many players can play at once and what is the nature of the interplay between players?

Game buyers are looking for a game with a theme they like, that will fit well with the group (family, friends, party, etc.) they hope to enjoy it with, and that will be fun for everyone involved.

Given that our target market is Christian homeschooling families, SDG Games’ real competitors are games with a theme that would appeal to Christian families and is preferably educational, that has gameplay and complexity that would be easy to learn by children and adults, that can be played in the time spent on a school subject (or less), that has friendly interplay between players, and that can be played by a family-sized group.

Even by limiting the consideration set in that way, there still are many games that fit the criteria. To get a sense for the competitive distinctives of Journeys with Jesus, we will evaluate it relative to two highly rated games on the market as representatives for the full competitive set.

The first game is the top rated “Christian-Themed” board game at Board Game Geek: Settlers of Canaan. Like many Christian-themed games, this game is an almost direct reworking of a popular secular game: Settlers of Catan. Some such reworkings are almost indistinguishable from the original — just with some Christian content or imagery. Some reworkings fall far short of the original. From the reviews I’ve read, it appears that Settlers of Canaan lives up to the quality of the original.

The second game is the very popular Ticket to Ride, which shares much with our game. The gameplay is similar and both games help players learn geography.

One of my favorite tools for competitive analysis is the Strategy Canvas introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in Blue Ocean Strategy¹.

This tool compares the relative performance of each competitor against the same evaluation criteria the potential buyer is likely considering in making their decision. For our homeschooling mom buyer, we will use five criteria:

  1. Theme: High (good) is a theme that directly supports the family’s Christian educational goals. Low (bad) would be a theme that is inconsistent with Christian values or teaches things inconsistent with the Bible. For this evaluation, I’ve used a three point scale: Biblical theme (high), Not Biblical (medium), Anti-Biblical (low).
  2. Complexity: High (bad) is a game that has lots of rules and is hard for kids to learn. Low (good) is a game that is straight-forward and easy to learn. For this evaluation, I’ve used the “Weight” score from Board Game Geek for the two comparison games. For Journeys with Jesus, I used the “Weight” score for 10 Days in Africa which seems to have a similar level of complexity.
  3. Conflict: High (bad) is a game that relies heavily on inter-player rivalry and likely leads to a “cut throat” style of play. Low (good) is a game where players actively love and support each other (e.g. in a cooperative game). For this evaluation, I’ve applied a rivalry score in the range of 1–5 based on my own understanding of each game.
  4. Game Length: High (bad) is a game that takes a long time to play. Low (good) is a game that can be played quickly and replayed again if time allows. For this evaluation I used the maximum game length listed by each game publisher.
  5. Cost: High (bad) is an expensive game. Low (good) is an affordable game. For Journeys with Jesus, I used the list price. For Ticket to Ride, I used the price from WalMart. For Settlers of Canaan (which is out of print), I used the average price from eBay.

Using those criteria results in the Strategy Canvas shown below:

Key takeaways:

  • There’s not tremendous difference between the three games.
  • Journeys with Jesus scores best or tied for best on all criteria except cost ($45.99 vs. $43.75 and $39.99).
  • Our game especially stands apart on the level of complexity and the amount of conflict.
  • For future games, there’s likely an opportunity to further differentiate on cost (if we could get prices below $35), game length (45 minutes or less would be better), and level of conflict (a cooperative game could be very interesting).

Hopefully this gives you a sense for how to perform competitive analysis. Let me know if I can help you with analyzing your competitive market.


¹Kim, W. Chan., and Renée Mauborgne. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Boston, Massachuetts: Harvard Bus Review Press, 2016.

The Journeys with Jesus Crowdsale Has Begun!

Our first game, Journeys with Jesus, is now available and on sale through a crowdsale.

In a crowdsale, the more people who buy the game, the lower price everyone pays. The price you’ll see when you place your order is the MOST you’ll play for the game. As more people place their orders, the price will come down for everyone, including those who have already placed their order. Your credit card won’t be charged until the end of the sale (May 5) so that you get charged the lowest price that was achieved.

Everyone’s games will be made and shipped after the sale is completed. You’ll probably get yours sometime around the end of May or beginning of June.

The starting price is discounted $3 (7%). If 20 people buy the game, they will all save 10%. If 100 people buy the game, everyone saves 25%.

Remember to tell everyone you know who might enjoy Journeys with Jesus about the game and the sale so that we can get the best discount for everyone!

Place your order here!

Journeys of Jesus: Cana to Capernaum

In my last post, Jesus traveled from the River Jordan to Cana where He, His mother, and His disciples went to a wedding, and Jesus performed His first miracle. Staying in the gospel of John, we aren’t told much about His next journey:

After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. (John 2:12)

Cana and Capernaum are both in Galilee, so the journey was not extraordinary – about 20 miles. Probably a full day’s journey, but nothing like going to Judea.

On this trip, they only stayed a few days, but before long Capernaum would become the main base for Jesus’ ministry, so it’s worth taking a closer look at this fishing village.

Capernaum is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The location of Capernaum is significant for two main reasons. First, it gave Jesus easy access to all of the villages around this large lake. Second, Capernaum is on the Via Maris (or the Way of the Sea), the main highway connecting Africa to Asia and Europe (and thus connecting the Gentile world).

In fact, Matthew emphasizes that Jesus’ move to Capernaum specifically fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that “the way of the sea” would play an important role in the spread of the gospel:

And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Matthew 4:13-17)

In Matthew 9:1, Capernaum is referenced as Jesus’ “own city”, but in Matthew 11, he curses the place:

“You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, you will go down to Hades.  For if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in you, it would have remained until today. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24)

Jesus would perform many miracles in Capernaum (e.g. Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8:14-15; Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 2:1-12), and many of Jesus’ disciples were from Capernaum. John, James, Peter, and Andrew were all fishermen in Capernaum (Matthew 4:18-22), while Matthew was a tax collector at a tax booth in Capernaum (probably along the Via Maris) (Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27) .

So, it sounds like Capernaum was a very significant city in the region. It was strategically located, but there was a more important city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Moving down the western side of the lake you would come first to Magdala and then to Tiberias. Both were Roman cities. Tiberias specifically had been built by Herod Antipas in A.D 18 or 19 and made the capital of Galilee. According to The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands, Jews considered Tiberias to be an unclean city, so it was purely populated by Gentiles. Tiberias is only mentioned in passing in the New Testament.

But what is great in the world’s eyes is often not what God will use greatly in bringing about His will.

Capernaum will feature prominently in many of the journeys we will discuss in future posts, but at this point in His ministry, Jesus spends only a few days in the village. 

The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the current prototype gameboard for Journeys with Jesus.

If you’ve found this interesting and would like to continue to read these stories of the journeys and places in Journeys with Jesus, sign up in the sidebar to receive updates.

Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. 

SDG Games’ Product Plan

As we continue moving through the strategic startup journey for SDG Games, we have come to the point where we really need to formally define our initial product and to set a draft product strategy and roadmap. I will deal with these topics as three separate elements: initial product definition, product strategy, and product roadmap.

Initial Product Definition

The first product to be released by SDG Games is Journeys with Jesus, a route-building board game. As with most board games (and other consumer products), the product is fairly well self-encapsulated. Customer interaction is minimal and add-on services are difficult to envision or deliver. 

That being said, one somewhat unique aspect of the product definition is the development of additional external content. The game involves completing 23 journeys taken by Jesus in the gospel accounts. We have already begun writing blog posts describing those journeys as an additional way for players to engage with the game and to further learn about the geography of the Bible. We anticipate potentially publishing these articles in book form as a supplementary product once they are complete.

Dennis Furia, a corporate brand strategist turned game designer, has recently introduced the Board Game Equity Pyramid as a tool for game designers to define the essence of their game, both to ensure they hit the target during development and to effectively communicate the value of the product in marketing efforts. 

In many ways, the tool is similar to the Messaging Pyramid and Purpose Pyramid I use in my strategy work. I like Dennis’ linkage of Simon Sinek’s “golden circle” (why-how-what) to the three levels of the pyramid. That is consistent with how I use the Messaging and Purpose Pyramids and will help me in describing those tools to clients in the future. However, the Equity Pyramid doesn’t follow the same structure (e.g. 1 purpose — 3 pillars — 9 plans) as the tools I use. Instead, Dennis breaks the second layer into two parts: Theme and Gameplay and then the third level provides greater detail on these two key elements. I think this works well for board games.

So, here’s the Board Game Equity Pyramid for Journeys with Jesus (using Dennis’ template):

Product Strategy

Up to now, our entire focus has been on Journeys with Jesus. Now it’s time to think beyond this initial product and consider what comes next — when, why, and how. Before we can begin planning a product roadmap, we need to define a strategy that will help make product and timing decisions easier. Here is the Product Strategy for SDG Games:

Note that this cascades off of the SDG Games business strategy. The middle pillar of that strategy was “develop family games that honor God.” The three plans under that pillar in the business strategy (be creative, encourage fruit of the Spirit, reflect Biblical morality) hint at the pillars in this product strategy, but the pillars of our product strategy need to be more directive and expansive.

The first pillar (fun, diverse, and affordable) captures the requirements for building a successful game business. People won’t play (or buy) games that aren’t fun. Given our target market, we know that not everyone in this market will like the same kinds of games, so diversity will be key. We also know that, especially in the Christian homeschool market, budgets are limited, so we need to focus on affordability. 

The second pillar (encouraging the fruit of the Spirit) is an essential element of developing games that will honor God. In Galatians chapter 5, Paul contrasts “the works of the flesh” with the “fruit of the Spirit”. He lists examples of the kinds of immoral behavior that are the works of the flesh and then he lists nine attributes that are the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. While competitive games naturally involve some level of rivalry, we need to avoid the kinds of “cut throat” game play that are in conflict with love, joy and peace and instead seek game play that rewards patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It likely will be one of our greatest challenges to develop games that engage players’ competitive spirit and yet reward love and kindness.

Finally, teaching scriptural truths is a key to our purpose of developing games that honor God, especially for our target market of Christian families seeking to teach their kids Biblical truths. Scripture needs to be a core element of every game we develop, we would like to cover the whole Bible over time, and we need to find ways to integrate scripture that are engaging to players of all ages.

I believe that if we are successful with these three pillars, we should have the best opportunity to accomplish the purpose of our product strategy.

Product Roadmap

With that strategy in mind, we can start to lay out a hypothetical timeline of game releases. We will need to test and refine this roadmap over time, but this establishes an initial baseline roadmap.

In the book Product Roadmaps Relaunched¹, C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors identify 5 primary components of a product roadmap:

  • Product Vision: The benefit from the product when fully realized.
  • Business Objectives: What goals will the product accomplish.
  • Timeframes: Broad ranges to explain prioritization and to manage expectations.
  • Themes: What needs to be true for the product to realize its vision and obtain the business objectives.
  • Disclaimer: Clarifies that everything in the roadmap is subject to change.

Product roadmaps can take many forms to fit the culture, style, and needs of the organization, as long as they present the key elements required for an effective product strategy.

Here is the current product roadmap for SDG Games:

As with any startup, I expect much will change as we move forward, but this gives us a sense of what to work on, when, and with what goals in mind.


¹Lombardo, C. Todd, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors,. Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, 2018.

Journeys with Jesus Crowdsale!

Journeys with Jesus is now in the Game Crafter store. But if you can wait a little longer to buy your copy, you can save some money. Starting Wednesday April 21 and running for 2 weeks, we are holding a Crowdsale!

What is a Crowdsale you ask?

A Crowdsale is a better version of crowdfunding (you know, like on Kickstarter).

During a Crowdsale, the more people that buy, the lower the price that everyone pays.

If only one person buys during the Crowdsale (I’ll be really sad), that one person still gets a 7% discount off the normal price of the game.

If 20 people buy a copy of the game, then all 20 get a 10% discount.

If 70 people buy, then everyone gets a 20% discount.

If 100 people buy, everyone gets a 25% discount.

And, if 1000 or more people buy the game, then everyone will get a 29% discount off the normal list price.

The only downside of a Crowdsale is that none of the games will ship until after the sale is over, but even that is much faster than your typical Kickstarter campaign.

You can check out the sale page where you can also sign up to get a message reminding you to come back when the sale starts. And since everyone saves the more people who participate, make sure to share this link with all your friends, family, church family, homeschool coop members, etc.

I hope you enjoy the game!

Journeys of Jesus: Bethany Beyond the Jordan to Cana

The gospel of John often provides details that we don’t find in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). What Jesus did and where He went after being tempted in the Wilderness is a good example of that.

All three of the synoptic gospels say that, immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1) and then, after His temptation, they say “Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee.” (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14, Luke 4:14).

In contrast, John doesn’t say anything about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, but instead tells about Jesus attracting disciples where John had been baptizing (Bethany beyond the Jordan). Andrew (John 1:40), Simon Peter (John 1:41-42), Philip (John 1:43), and Nethanel (John 1:49) all started following Jesus at this time.

Chapter 2 of John’s gospel begins with Jesus and His disciples traveling to Cana for a wedding. This journey would be about 80 miles, which would take about 27 hours to walk.

The third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the wedding.” (John 2:1-2)

It’s not clear whether these things happened before or after Jesus’ temptation. My guess is that they happened after, but it doesn’t really matter. Jesus began His ministry, began attracting followers, and went to Cana.

We don’t know much about Cana. It apparently was near Nazareth and there are different theories as to where exactly it was. It likely wasn’t a major town and yet it plays a relatively significant role in the Gospels. 

This is the first recording of a public miracle performed by Jesus. He turned water into wine at the wedding.

“This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus returned to this area not long after and performed a second miracle.

“Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.  …  Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way. Your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. … This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.” (John 4:46,50,54)

A third interesting link between the gospel story and Cana is that Jesus’ disciple Nathanael was from Cana (John 21:2). This is the same Nathanael who was critical of Nazareth, a town so close to Cana. 

“Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'” (John 1:46)

So, perhaps there was some regional rivalry between Cana and Nazareth. Suffice it to say that even those in Cana would agree that Jesus (the definition of good) coming out of Nazareth was a good thing!

The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the current prototype gameboard for Journeys with Jesus.

If you’ve found this interesting and would like to continue to read these stories of the journeys and places in Journeys with Jesus, sign up in the sidebar to receive updates.

Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. 

How Big is the SDG Games Market?

In an earlier article, I explored the target market for SDG Games, and in the process I came up with a rough market sizing. That was important to make sure that I was identifying an initial market that was big enough to matter, but specific enough to ensure that we could focus on real specific needs of real people. Today, I want to start building the market sizing for potential investors. Investors care about the initial market, but they also want to understand “how big is big” — what could happen if the product and company really take off.

A common way that startups explain market sizing to potential investors is by talking about it at three levels:

  • Total Addressable Market (TAM): The total market for your type of product.
  • Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM): The portion of the TAM that your business can realistically serve. This might be constrained for example by geography or specialization.
  • Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM): The portion of the SAM that you might actually be able to obtain. This is a reasonable revenue goal for your business given your capabilities, other competitors, and the needs of the market.

When talking about exciting new opportunities, many of us like to grab hold of big market numbers mentioned by market research firms. Often these numbers come from research reports that the firms are hoping to sell for thousands of dollars. Each company has its own methodology for sizing the market and may even have its own definition for the market. Without buying the report, you probably can’t know whether the market they are describing is the one that you’re going after.

Even so, the most common market sizing mistake that entrepreneurs make is to say something like “the mobile app market is $200B and rapidly growing; if we just got 1% of that, we could grow our startup to a multi-billion dollar business”. A statement like that will likely ruin your chances to raise money from any experienced investor. It shows a lack of understanding of the complex mobile app market and a lack of appreciation for the detailed challenges involved in building a multi-billion dollar business.

In my opinion, the best approach is to build the market sizing bottom-up. For TAM and SAM, how many potential buyers are there and how much are they likely to pay? Multiply those two numbers together and you have the market size. For the SOM — what steps are you going to take to reach the addressable market? Given that plan and competitive realities, what share of the SAM could you reasonable achieve?

So, how does that apply to SDG Games?

Even though I don’t see value in using top-down market numbers from research firms in planning and fund raising, I still like to seek them out as a sanity check. If our bottoms-up numbers are bigger than the market sizing from industry experts, then we know that something is wrong with how we are thinking about the market.

A quick Google search uncovers four very different market forecasts:

  • Grand View Research estimates that the global playing card and board game market will reach $22B by 2025.
  • Arizton estimates that the global board game market will reach $30B by 2026.
  • Statista estimates that the global board game market will reach $10B in 2021.
  • Pipecandy estimates that the global board game market was $13B in 2019, with $4.4B of that in North America (primarily the U.S.).

This tells me that if any of our estimates exceed $10B for 2021 (the most conservative estimate), we should challenge our own calculations. 

Pipecandy’s North American estimate can also give us a sense for spending per household. If the U.S. market is $3B, and (according to Statista) there were 83M families in the U.S., then each family spent, on average $36 on board games (some spent more and some less).

Since SDG Games’ mission is “to help Christian families connect more deeply with the Word through entertaining games”, then we will define the Total Addressable Market as the spending on board games by Christian families in the U.S. Specifically, we will limit the TAM to be households with children in the home. We previously calculated this to be 16 million households. At an average annual spend on board games of $36, this would size the TAM at $576M.

We also previously narrowed our target market to be Christian families who use games in their homeschooling (playschooling). We estimated this to be around 85,000 families. However, from our research, we also identified that these families spend much more on games than the typical family. (We estimated 12 game purchases per year at an average price of $35.) That gives us a SAM of $36M.

If we aggressively pursue this market, we will carefully select marketing and sales channels to reach the Christian homeschool market. This likely would include homeschool conventions, homeschool websites and magazines, and homeschool bloggers. Playschooling families will likely spend most of their gaming budget on titles better aligned with core school subjects (math, language arts, history, other social sciences). Given these distribution and competitive challenges, we’d be doing really well to sell one game a year to 10,000 families. That would set our Serviceable Obtainable Market at $350,000.

Therefore, the market size for SDG Games can be represented by this simple diagram:

This market sizing information will help us to plan appropriately. We shouldn’t burden the business with more expenses than that market opportunity can support. It also gives us a sense for how much funding we could raise and the types of potential investors. We will speak more to that in coming articles.

Journeys of Jesus: Bethany Beyond the Jordan to the Wilderness

In scripture, God often reveals to us specific places where historical events took place. I’ve set out to write these articles so that I can learn more about these places and specifically the geography that plays a role in the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ.

At times, however, it pleases God to not reveal to us the specific places. Today, I’m writing about one of those times.

The three synoptic gospels all tell us that, immediately following His baptism, Christ was tempted in the wilderness.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1, also see Mark 1:12 and Luke 4:1-2)

The term “the wilderness” is not at all specific. In Israel, there are several areas that are called the wilderness. The area closest to Bethany Beyond the Jordan is the Judean Wilderness, but we don’t know if this is where Jesus was led and was tempted by the devil.

The Judean wilderness or desert lies between the hills of Judea and the Dead Sea. As clouds carrying moisture from the Mediterranean travel from west to east across the country, the high peaks seemingly scrape the water out of the clouds as rain that falls on the western slopes. East of the highlands, the land is very dry. While western Jerusalem gets about 2 feet of rain a year, the Judean wilderness averages around 4 inches of rain a year.

This land is also marked by deep ravines and rugged landscape. This is a harsh environment that has been largely uninhabited for most of history. David fled from King Saul to this area (1 Samuel 23:14; 24:1; 25:4; 26:3).

And yet, it can also be a place of beauty. In the springtime, when the normally dry wadis fill with rain, the desert bursts into life.

The wilderness and the dry land will be glad.
    The desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. (Isaiah 35:1)

But just as quickly, the dry wind blows, the grass withers and the flower fades.

The voice of one saying, “Cry!”
    One said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is like grass,
    and all its glory is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers,
    the flower fades,
    because Yahweh’s breath blows on it.
    Surely the people are like grass.
The grass withers,
    the flower fades;
    but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)

It was to this desolate place that Jesus was driven to withstand the temptations of Satan. When we find ourselves in a dry and desolate place in our lives, let us remember and draw near to Him!

For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. 16 Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

The photo at the top of this post is titled Wilderness of Judea from Neby Mousa [i.e., Nebi Musa], close contours of hills and is from the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress

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Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. 


SDG Games’ Revenue Model

One of the most common questions asked of a startup is “what is your business model?” In most cases, I think what people really want to know is, what is your revenue model — how do you make money?

A common definition of a business model is “how a business creates value for its customers and captures value from its customers.” It is helpful to break this definition into its two parts. A company’s operating model describes how a business creates value for its customers. The company’s revenue model describes how the company captures value from its customers. The value proposition is what links the two together, so another way to think about the business model is “how a business delivers its value proposition (operating model) and gets paid for that value (revenue model).” Today, we are focused on SDG Games’ revenue model. In a future article we will look at the company’s operating model.

A company’s revenue model can be represented by a simple diagram showing the most significant decisions involved in capturing the created value:

In the center of this diagram are the three key elements of the revenue model:

  • How will you acquire new customers?
  • What customer transactions will create value for the company and in what form will that value be realized?
  • How will you retain customers and gain ongoing or future revenue from them?

There are many different forms of revenue models that different companies have successfully implemented in different industries and markets. It is a fun and interesting exercise to think about how some of these models might work for SDG Games:

  • Markup: This is the traditional model for tabletop games. The customer pays to purchase the game at a price above the fully loaded cost to make and distribute it.
  • Advertising: Theoretically, we could give games away (or price them at less than cost) and instead make money by selling advertising. This would involve creating an additional value proposition for advertisers.
  • Loss Leader Product: We could sell games at an unprofitable price with the expectation that we would sell other products (e.g. books) to game buyers and the profit from those sales would more than make up for the loss on the games.
  • Rental: We could rent games to families at a fraction of the normal purchase price with the expectation that we could rent each copy of the game enough times to make it a profitable business.
  • Subscription: Families could subscribe to SDG Games and would receive games and extensions as they became available.
  • Licensing: We could license our game designs to a game publisher who would then manufacture and sell the games to their customers.

Evaluating these different options involves deeply understanding what would be required for success in each model and what is true about SDG Games’ capabilities, resources, and our guiding principles. It also requires developing a perspective on the potential financial rewards from each model and our confidence in achieving those results. That is a lengthy process, but let me jump to the conclusion of the process with the summary page from a Strategy Sieve for these options:

Strategy Sieve to Evaluate Possible Revenue Models for SDG Games (bigger scores are better)

The top two options are for SDG Games to be a game publisher, manufacturing games and selling them to Christian families for a price with a markup above cost, and for SDG Games to license games to a game publisher who would then make and sell them to Christian families. 

These two revenue models are represented below:

Markup Revenue Model for SDG Games
Licensing Revenue Model for SDG Games

The Strategy Sieve not only helps us identify the best option, but also helps us see the strengths and where we might face challenges for each approach. 

The Markup revenue model is attractive because we have control over the entire process. We will make decisions about how the product is made, marketed, and delivered to customers, so we have the highest possible confidence that all will be done in a way that loves our neighbors and honors God. However, we don’t really (yet) have the resources and capabilities to make and market games. We don’t have relationships with manufacturers or retailers.

The Licensing model is attractive because existing game publishers have proven that they can succeed at making and marketing games. They have the relationships that we lack. But we have to trust that they will do all in a manner that doesn’t violate our principles.

Honestly, although Markup (barely) outscored Licensing, my comfort level is much higher with partnering with an established publisher rather than trying to do it all ourselves. However, I think we will need to pursue the Markup model first to prove that there is market interest in our games before any publisher will consider licensing them.

Thankfully, there are some resources available to help us overcome some of our resource and capabilities challenges, but we’ll talk about that when we get to the article on the operating model. For now, we will move forward with the near-term Markup model while maintaining the future option of switching to the Licensing model.