A local award-winning artist and naturalist has created a new memory game featuring 36 original water-colour paintings of Canadian wildlife. Aleta Karstad got the idea for her new game, called NatureMatch, from a woman named Natasha Prosser, who she met by chance in the Edmonton airport in May 2019. “We both had four hours between flights, and we ended up talking nonstop,” she says. It wasn’t long before they had forged a strong bond over their love of nature and Aleta’s art.
After they both arrived home, Natasha invited Aleta and her husband, Fred Schueler, for dinner at her home in Belleville. After dinner, she brought out a German version of the memory game, Concentration, which she said is very popular in Europe. “I want to see your watercolours on these,” she told Aleta.
Aleta sat with the idea for a few months, until last Winter, when she started going through all the watercolours that she already had scanned on her computer. She wanted to keep the production of the game as local as possible and found the only company that produced card games in Canada in Mississauga, The Playing Card Factory. All the paper used to make the cards is also sustainably sourced, which was important to Aleta as a naturalist. The packaging and layout of the game was designed locally by COBA Studios in Merrickville.
NatureMatch is unique in that it combines Aleta’s gorgeous artwork and love of nature in a memory game for all ages. Each card also has a number on it, which correlates to a booklet where it explains a little bit about each of the animals pictured. “It makes it even more of a conversation piece while people are playing it,” Aleta says.
To introduce NatureMatch, Aleta and Natasha created a campaign on Indigogo, with the goal of raising $5,000. In just over a week they had surpassed their goal, with many people purchasing multiple sets.
Although the games will not be ready to ship until November, Aleta decided to create 25 limited edition autographed sets to thank her most enthusiastic backers. Five will be shipped to reviewers, while the other twenty can be purchased on Indigogo and will be shipped by the end of August. “It’s a way of getting them out there for people who are really eager to see them,” she says.
A special deck of cards featuring Aleta’s paintings will also be given to the game’s first 100 backers and she is offering the opportunity for people to purchase one of her limited edition prints along with the game.
Aleta hopes NatureMatch will be a way to stimulate people’s interest in nature and connect with each other, especially during COVID-19 times. “We know that people are spending a lot of time indoors and on screens,” she says. “It’s a nice way for a family to interact with a tangible game.”
To support Aleta and get a copy of the game for yourself, go to Indigogo and search NatureMatch. Aleta also has a website (www.naturematch.ca) where you can learn more about the game, the wildlife on the cards, and her award-winning work.