Before You Kickstart Your Offensive Card Game…

So, you’ve played Cards Against Humanity. You had a lot of fun, playing that one card about dicks. And it’s occured to you that you could probably write your own cards — and maybe even sell them!

Now you’re looking at Kickstarter and thinking: if Cards Against Humanity did it, why can’t I?

You’re about to crowdfund a card game with fill-in-the-blank statements and rude words, and it looks suspiciously like Cards Against Humanity. Great! Creating things is fun and everyone should do it. There are a couple things you should consider first, though:

  1. Kickstarters are a lot of work, and many of them fail. There are a range of issues to consider, from game design and aesthetics to marketing and legal questions, and all of them will have to be researched and addressed to optimize your chances of crowdfunding success.
  2. Go fuck yourself.

I admire your ambition, but you’re not the first person to have this idea. Copycat projects are a tale almost as old as Kickstarter itself, and CAH has had five years to accumulate them. A simple Google search turns up hauntingly similar “offensive card games” going back to at least 2013. As I type this — in December 2016, five and a half years after CAH first squirted into the scene — there are still three active knockoff projects. Most of these projects fail, because they’re shithouse.

It’s Cards Against Humanity, But…

Here’s your main problem: it’s been done.

“CAH, but you insult your friends”? Done. “CAH but with improv acting”? That idea flopped on KS twice this month. “CAH but more R-rated”? Do you really think you’re the first dickhead to look at CAH and think “what this game with cards about diarrhea and fisting needs is more rude words”?

Cards Against Humanity, but every time you say “bee” the game gets faster.

Sure, Cards Against Humanity is just Apples to Apples for edgelords. But the reason CAH worked is because it was just weird and unique enough to stand out. It found its own niche. You are just doing their thing reworded. You’re that guy who tweets people’s jokes back at them.

And sure, it’s worked for some people. (My local gaming store still stocks Crabs Adjust Humidity, a game that I assume describes itself as a “parody” because “parasite” didn’t test well.) But every game that rips off CAH and finds success is another niche you can’t fill. You’re not just some cargo-cult cockshit who can’t come up with an original idea, you’re competing with the tiny fraction of the thousand losers who came before you that found a way to make it work. This well is drying up.

Look At Me, I’m Offensive

by the amount pledged, it looks like everyone did. HEYOOO

And if you’re doing “it’s CAH but even more politically incorrect”, you can fuck right off.

CAH’s main audience isn’t people who get off on jokes about sending women back to the kitchen. It’s people who play a few hands with close friends after they take out the cards they know won’t play well. It’s boring-ass dudes who want all the thrill of going “oh, we’re being so offensive” without actually being shocking or interesting. It’s milquetoast liberals who want at least a veneer of irony on their black jokes.

Do you think CAH started removing some of the cards themselves because they love losing business? They do it because even if they’re not good at it, CAH at least recognises that there’s a difference between punching up and punching down. Being offensive is not the same as being funny, and funny is the thing people play these games for. Most dudes who say they’d buy an offensive game actually want anime to whack off to, so your group party game is probably out of luck.

You know what people who play Cards Against Humanity do when they want to play a politically incorrect version? They play fucking Cards Against Humanity. The thing about “offensive” games is that nearly every party game, from Pictionary to Quiplash, is already as offensive as their players want to be; what CAH did differently was revel in that. So what if your game does too? Guess what, dip shit: you’re a few years late.

Now You’re Just Embarrassing Yourself

Oh, you made a tongue-in-cheek admission you’re ripping it off? Didn’t see that coming!

Still interested? Jesus Christ. Fine, though. Maybe you have a good idea after all. Maybe you have a fanbase who will eat this shit up. Who knows!

Can you at least not make it look like CAH?

It’s not that hard. All you need to do is not make your cards two-coloured, not put some bullshit logo+name in the corner, not write your prompts in faux-Helvetica at the top. With all your options it seems like it’d be harder to copy CAH’s trade dress, really. But no, every single time you reprobates have to cobble together something that looks like CAH’s disappointing nephew in the hope that the card layout is somehow the key to Kickstarter success.

Luckily, while I was writing this post someone pointed me to this Kotaku article which says CAH’s legal dinosaurs are starting to chomp down on that bullshit — at least for successful Kickstarters. So you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

In Conclusion, Get Fucked

Look, in the end you’re going to do what you want. So you saw CAH (and the amount of money they make, you’re not fooling anybody) and decided you want in on that? Fine. But you’re going to have to put your back into it.

Do actual research into what makes Kickstarters successful. Accept that you are probably not going to make as much money. Realise that making your game look like another, successful one is not a substitute for effective marketing, and you should probably talk to someone who knows how to do that. Look at other good games that use prompts, like Superfight, Bucket of Doom, Snake Oil, The Big Idea, Joking Hazard (the game you fucking wish you were), or Funemployed, and consider finding your own unique take instead.

Oh? You’re not doing it after all, now? That’s… Wait, what do you mean you got a better idea? It’s like Exploding what? Mother FU —