“Man, as we say, is a tame or civilized animal; nevertheless, he requires proper instruction and a fortunate nature, and then of all animals he becomes the most divine and most civilized; but if he be insufficiently or ill educated he is the most savage of earthly creatures.”
-Plato, from Laws
Civilized Animal Productions was born from a private gaming group in June of 2014. Made possible by the wonderful support of the Kansas gaming community, the mission of CivAn is to restore games and stories to their historic role as important tools for a society to train the young and impart life skills from the old to the next generation. With the rise of industry and the subsequent digital age, games and stories were first industrialized and then crammed into the category of entertainment: While the internet and mass production has allowed people all across the world to enjoy leisure games together for sport, face-to-face time in these activities has not lost its importance for the creation of friendships and community, learning important social graces, and having fun in an organized and civil environment.
The motto of the company is a mandate: “Be Civilized. Be an Animal.” These two tenants are drawn from secular and religious philosophers, ancient and modern, and are summarized well in the taijitu, also called the Yin-yang. CivAn members recognize that while each person is a whole, singular being, we have both a “human” nature, which can make choices, concern itself with the metaphysical, and take pleasure beyond the moment yet also a “bestial” nature which operates off stimuli, has base urges, and no morality. The “human” side, with its nigh-infinite narcissism, must be taught to bow to greater things than the self and become civilized, and the bestial nature must be recognized, accepted, and harnessed rather than rejected, imprisoned, or warred upon for to kill it or suppress it is to damage who you are and limit your ability to understand the world around you. Each completes the other, making the whole full and ready.
With this all in mind, CivAn is working to produce and support games and literature which further these ends. Just as education doesn’t stop when you can read effectively, that being merely the end of childhood, games and play for joy’s sake are not reserved to childhood but are valuable and useful for adults to continue growing and for the health of the community as encouragement for old and young to interact civilly and continually remind themselves of the appreciable and wonderful differences between them.