After Jan Willem Nijman and Kitty Calis launched their saw blade dodging game Disc Room last year, the conversation (as it does) turned to what project they would move onto next. Both Disc Room and their previous project, Minit, had been well-received, affording the independent duo a bit of freedom to pursue something a bit less structured…or in this case, explicitly dedicated to making money.
Which is why they turned their 2018 top-down timed adventure Minit into a racing game for charity.
Today, the pair have launched Minit Fun Racer (Get it? Minit Fun(d) Racer? Like fundraiser?) in collaboration with their former Minit development colleagues Jukio Kallio and Dominik Johann. The game is out today on Steam and itch.io, published by Devolver Digital, and all proceeds from the game are going to charity.
“For a long time I wanted to make a game for charity,” Calis says, speaking in an interview with IGN. “I think it was just a matter of getting the band back together and the right situation. And it was really fun to do.”
Nijman and Calis aren’t able to specify exactly which charity the money would be going to just yet, but they did confirm that multiple charities would be supported. Calis says that their plan is to publish a monthly update to let people know how much money was donated to where during each period of the game’s sales, and the intention is to keep the game up on sale indefinitely and continue donating for as long as it keeps making money.
Minit Fun Racer is a small, timed racing game in the same visual style and world as Minit, where the player must dodge traffic and obstacles, collect coins to add more time to the clock, and try to get as far as they can through a busy street and desert in order to watch a sunset in a scenic spot.
“Especially nowadays, one of the things I’m really enjoying is the sunset,” Calis says of the game’s small but simple end goal. “It sounds super silly, but it’s there every day. Before COVID, I didn’t always take the time to enjoy the little things in life.”
Minit Fun Racer’s collected coins can be spent on buffs in a small in-game shop, and there are plenty of goofy little easter eggs and achievements scattered throughout to keep the game interesting for several hours of play.
“A lot of the game is actually about, like Minit, these little details,” Nijman says. “You can complete goals to get your driver’s license, and we really wanted that stuff to reflect something interesting in the world, so it’s not just ‘Play ten games,’ it’s more like, ‘Hit two cop cars,’ and you don’t just get an achievement, but a helicopter starts chasing you.”
Calis adds that players who open the game at a certain time of night might even find their races haunted by ghosts.
Minit Fun Racer is short and sweet, and Nijman says it only took the group a few months to make. The timing was perfect, he said, as he and Calis had just come off of working on Disc Room, Kallio had wrapped up Fall Guys, and Johann was done with Stanley Parable. The cards simply aligned for the group, and their collective experience with making Minit had been so positive they all were happy to take some time to work on the charity racer.
The idea for the game stemmed from an illustration Calis made for The New York Times last year, but Nijman and Calis say they always wanted to return to the world of Minit one way or another. The two have been vocal in the past about their belief in healthy work habits, crediting individuals for their work, and making games without crunch. Nijman quips that the two “crunched so little [on Disc Room] we had two months spare to make a game for charity.”
And their previous publishing partner Devolver is on board too, and has also agreed not to take any profit on the game so that its proceeds can be donated.
“We love this entire team and have a long history with each of them across a myriad of different projects,” says Devolver marketing manager Robbie Paterson. “It’s a great game and a great way to do some good, so we were honored to come on board as part of this project.”
Nijman emphasizes that he wants Minit Fun Racer to be a game that people buy because they think it will be fun to play — not just because they want to donate to a cause.
“We want to encourage people to do good, but this game should also stand by itself,” he says. “If you just buy it because you want to have a good time and accidentally help out a charity, that’s also good for us. It needed to be able to stand on its own.”
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.