Minding your ‘Manors’ online: Former futon store owner manages Regency-era decorating game

  • Jeffrey Ainsworth, of Greenfield, is the developer behind Jane Austen Manors, a decorating and puzzle game set in the Regency era of England. SCREENSHOT OF JANE AUSTEN MANORS

  • Jeffrey Ainsworth, of Greenfield, is the developer behind Jane Austen Manors, a decorating and puzzle game set in the Regency era of England. This is a screenshot from the hidden-object mini-game feature. SCREENSHOT OF JANE AUSTEN MANORS

  • Jeffrey Ainsworth, developer of the decorating game Jane Austen Manors, holds an image of an avatar from the game in his apartment office in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/9/2020 1:04:05 PM
Modified: 4/9/2020 1:03:53 PM

GREENFIELD — Social distancing requirements brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic have recently spiked the usage of apps and streaming services.

But while Snapchat and Netflix started becoming household names years ago, there’s a locally developed game increasing in popularity.

Jane Austen Manors, a decorating and puzzle game set in the Regency era of England, complete with characters and places from Jane Austen’s novels, has seen an uptick in traffic since the novel coronavirus has forced upon society temporary workplace and social gathering restrictions.

“I think more people are looking for things to do while at home,” said developer Jeffrey Ainsworth, 57, who has been nurturing the game for four years. “It’s a decorating game that’s popular mainly among older women. Not exclusively, but that’s our main audience. … New content is being created every day.”

Ainsworth, who owned J&M Futon in Greenfield for 26 years before closing a year ago, said the game’s following is relatively small but incredibly loyal.

Players created an avatar (an icon or figure used to represent someone in a video game) and can use gold coins or Janeys, the novelty currency of the game, to purchase items such as jewelry and wall decor to make the experience more authentic to the early 1800s. Participants can buy gold coins with real money. They can also win currency on a free daily spin.

Jane Austen Manors, or JAM, as it is referred to among fans, also includes mini-games. Needlework is essentially a paint-by-number game; and there is also a daily word search and a hidden-objects game called The Circus, in which players click on the various rooms of different grand houses to find specific items.

Gold coins also pay the “tuition” at J.A.M. University, a series of tutorials Ainsworth has set up to help newcomers understand the game.

“I can’t say I didn’t have an interest in Jane Austen — I absolutely did,” Ainsworth explained. “But it’s not a game I would normally play, but that does give me a development advantage because I can be objective. I can leave my opinion out of it and let my community decide what works.

“Anybody can play the game. You don’t have to spend money on this game,” he added. “It’s a game that you can play for free and really get a lot of enjoyment out of.”

Ainsworth said he started Jane Austen Manors from scratch in his capacity as a subcontractor for HitPoint Studios, which he called “one of Greenfield’s great up-and-coming businesses.” Ainsworth said the game is his full-time job and he gets volunteer help from some of his players.

The game’s website is janeaustenmanors.com and its email address is janeaustenmanors@gmail.com. The game also has an active Facebook page with over 1,700 likes.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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