I’m sure you’re thinking gloryholes or sharing needles? Or maybe you think poor Hannah struggles with coat hanger abortions – a classic issue for Disney stars. It’s dirty; it’s raunchy; it’s politically incorrect; it’s Cards Against Humanity – “the party game for horrible people.”
Syracuse junior, Anthony Romeo said, “It’s a fucked up, funnier version of Apples-to-Apples.”
The R-rated Apples-to-Apples and Amazon-bestseller began with a group of eight nerdy high-school friends from the Chicagoland area with nothing better to do on New Year’s Eve.
“We would never get invited to any parties, so we always sort of did our own thing,” said co-creator Max Temkin. “We always liked making our own games and activities, so after a couple of years of making pretty terrible games, eventually one of them turned into this version of Cards Against Humanity.”
Josh Dillon, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, David Pinsof, Eliot Weinstein, and Temkin released the game freely to the public as a PDF in 2010. Temkin said they received so much positive feedback from users that they decided to release a professional version of the game.
“People were saying, ‘If you ever print this thing professionally, let me know,’” said Temkin.
The game eventually received funding through a Kickstarter project to make a basic printing of the game. The creators asked for 4,000 dollars to do so. To their amazement, the game broke even in only two days. By the end of the Kickstarter project, the game more than tripled the initial investment, making 15,000 dollars. Temkin said most of the profits were used to make the current professional version of the game.
To us college students, it seems obvious that a game like Cards, as the game is often called, would become popular – it’s sets up perfectly for a fun drinking game, and it’s delightfully inappropriate for our childish minds. Sounds like an instant success to me. Temkin, however, is still surprised with the game’s success.
“It’s amazing to me that anyone plays this game. It’s so weird, and it’s so inappropriate, and it’s just a weird, bad idea. It’s so bizarre. But it’s very flattering that people like it,” said Temkin.
Although originally designed for filthy-minded college kids, Cards has found its way to multiple crowds.
“A lot of different people like it. A lot people play with their parents. A lot of professional people play it. Start-ups have office parties and play it,” said Temkin.
The popularity may stem from the liberal rules of gameplay. House rules exist, but who wants to play by someone else’s rules? Anyone can customize it to his/her group’s sense of humor. The players decide the rules, not the game.
Temkin said, “I like games where you have the least number of rules that you can have to make [the game] work. I like things that are very abstract, small, and simple. That’s what I like about the Cards’ rules.”
Still interested? Cards is available for purchase on the group’s website (http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/), but Temkin and his squad offer a free version of the game as well.
“Along the way, everyone’s told us ‘you can’t keep giving it away for free, no one’s going to buy it’. But it doesn’t seem to be how it’s working,” said Temkin. “We support open source, free things like that. If someone downloads it and makes their own copy and that’s what gets them to play it, we’re fine with that. If they play it with their friends, maybe their friends will go on Amazon and buy it. Clearly, it’s been successful for us because it keeps selling out.”
Free or not, it’s obvious that Temkin and his buddies know what they’re doing. Each individual of the group has a college degree – everything from graphic design to an MIT Ph.D in astrophysics – and a unique career. Not to mention each is a co-creator of one of the hottest games on the market. However, the group diversity and overwhelming success does not stop the friends from talking every day and meeting annually on New Year’s to play and improve the game. It also won’t keep Temkin and his friends from looking at the future:
“One thing that I’ve definitely learned from this whole thing is if you just make something that you like to see yourself, it’s very easy to get people excited about it online. If it’s good, people will do all the work for you. I would love, when all this settles down on cards, I would love to go make another game. That would be a ton of fun,” said Temkin.