It seems like one of the more unexpected casualties in the rise of digital gaming is the slow death of analog gaming. Sure, poker and other casino fare are here to stay as are classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble. However, as video games become more and more dominant how often do we see new and interesting physical games besides something like, say, the 17-year-old Settlers of Catan? Well, last year we got one: Cards Against Humanity.
In January 2011, this interactive exploration of human awfulness was brought to life through a successful Kickstarter campaign and the world has been better off ever since. Cards Against Humanity is actually a very simple game to describe. Take the word association card game Apples to Apples, another recent card game hit, and make all the phrases the most awful and offensive things in the world. For example, if the "card czar" pulls out a card reading "What do old people smell like?" the other players may respond with cards reading "the American dream" "leprosy" or even "two midgets pooping in a bucket." The game boasts that it is "as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," and it's not kidding, especially at a place like Northwestern.
Yeah, it's kind of a hipster game and unless players buy the expansions or download the template to make their own cards, it probably won't take too long to burn through most of the better jokes. However, in addition to just being hilarious fun, Cards Against Humanity has been smartly maintaining its appeal through its still relatively underground status. Decks are made by a small team so naturally supplies are limited. In fact, it's regularly sold out on Amazon and interested buyers are encouraged to sign up for email alerts letting them know when the game is back in stock. Therefore anyone who manages to get their hands on a copy not only becomes a hero to themself but to their awful friends as well.
Like with any independent game, video-based, card-based or otherwise, it's always encouraging to see fresh, fun ideas get noticed and embraced by the larger gaming community. Cards Against Humanity may be one of the newer niche oddities to break through but let's hope it isn't the last. After all, any game where "the class field trip was completely ruined by children on leashes" is a viable answer deserves all the attention it can get.