Local No. 12
Based in New York, NY

Release date:
Summer, 2019


Press / Business contact:

@LocalNo12 (#Losswords)


Losswords is an indie iOS word game for book lovers. Play dozens of unique puzzles, build your library, and increase your literary smarts while enjoying your favorite books, from Pride and Prejudice to Alice in Wonderland.

  • Losswords gives you an intimate book experience, as you play with the language from great works of literature.
  • In the game, you put text back together through a series of more than 20 procedurally generated puzzles: from filling blanks to swapping words, to moving lines and letters, and even unscrambling anagrams.
  • Losswords includes dozens of literary classics from public domain book collections like the Project Gutenberg library. As far as we know, this is the first game where you can dive in and play with the actual written words from so many classic books.
  • Designed by Local No. 12, the team that brought you The Metagame - the card game about cultural debate.


Origin Story

Losswords began life as a failed experiment. On Twitter.

We had experimented with Twitter games before. A previous game called Backchatter let you bet on words you think people would tweet most during a live event. The original idea of Losswords was that the game would tweet a passage from a famous book. You and a friend would compete to find the most “words within the words” of the quote.

We evolved this initial idea for Losswords through a very long process of playtesting and iteration. We prototyped the game first on paper, then by “faking” computer output (one of us typed text, pretending to be the program), and finally through a series of extremely ugly-looking prototypes. We enlisted friends, students, and fellow designers to play the game and begged them to give us their harshest feedback. What did we learn from all of this playtesting? Designing a game for Twitter was a terrible idea.

But maybe it could work on smartphones. So we evolved the game to have a graphical interface. Along the way, we added a story about players being members of a secret literary underground, amassing hidden libraries of contraband books. The gameplay evolved to include both taking apart and putting together passages from famous works of literature. And to compliment the book-centric theme, we developed a visual language that was an homage to mid 20th century book design.

After all of this creative fermentation, we are finally ready to bring Losswords to the world! We will be launching Losswords in Summer, 2019.

What's so special about it?

Gaming literature.
Losswords uses actual passages from classic literature as the raw material for the game. As you play, you collect books like Pride and Prejudice and Alice in Wonderland and play with the actual text from the book.

Algorithms for Austen.
The core of Losswords is procedurally generated puzzles that use existing literary texts as their raw material. It has taken us years to figure out exactly how generate these puzzles in a way that consistently results in great gameplay while also remaining true to the original works.

Literary Curation.
To help us curate the hundreds of books in the game, we have enlisted the help of “literary curators” Mehak Khan and Carlos Hernandez, as well as guest curation from cultural figures writer Douglas Rushkoff, Chris Suellentrop of the New York Times, and Julia Kaganskiy from the New Museum.

The fact that game players will be paging through sections of Virginia Woolf or Shakespeare as they play thrills us on the level of cultural innovation. Our design goal was to enable a pleasurable reading experience while also providing challenge that would increase as the player levels up through the game.

New gameplay.
The ways that we select and present text are a combination of designer curation and machine algorithm. The 24 unique kinds of word puzzles are the result of constant iteration and playtesting. While the puzzles vary considerably, in general we have tried to steer the game design towards gameplay that requires the player to become a reader - to understand not just the grammar, but the meaning of the text.

Leveling up through Literature.
The structure of the language plays a strong role in the moment-to-moment gameplay. Playing through Alice in Wonderland is considerably easier than Beowulf! The text becomes a kind of terrain that you move through - and the texture of each work is considerably different. Combined with the 24 types of puzzles, the dozens of books provides a tremendous amount of variety.

Amazing visuals.
Inspired by Swiss Modernism and mid-century book designs like Penguin Classics from the 1960s, the clean visual style of Losswords is a treat for the eyes.

The team.
We're a team comprised of university professors, coders, artists, and literature PhD students who also are indie game makers. Members have worked on 1979 Revolution: A Cinematic Adventure Game, CMYK, Diner Dash, Heads Up! Hot Dogs, Magnate: Robot Idle Tycoon, Peter Panic, SiSSYFiGHT 2000, Stride and Prejudice, Sunburn!, Swap Sword, and Tap Forward, to name a few.


The Losswords sneak-peek trailer: Vimeo



There are far more images available for Local No. 12, but these are the ones we felt would be most useful to you. If you have specific requests, please do contact us!


Awards & Recognition

  • "Official Finalist, IndieCade 2018." - Los Angeles, CA
  • "Official Selection, Indie Megabooth GDC Showcase 2019." - San Francisco, CA

Selected Press

  • "As novel as the game is, it plays with the same confidence as a hundred-year-old classic."
    - Michelle Ehrhardt, killscreen.com

Team & Repeating Collaborator

Peter Berry

Diego Garcia

Mehak Khan
literary curation

Alexander King

Colleen Macklin
experience design/promotion

Tony Pizza
game design

John Sharp
art direction

Eric Zimmerman

presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks