Cards Against Humanity: the story of CAH, the worldwide phenomenon


Cards Against Humanity is a party game created
with the intention to ease interaction and entertainment during social activities in
a casual way. Popularized by its politically incorrect approach, Cards Against Humanity
has become a reference for pop culture and new games in the recent years. Today, let’s talk about the game itself,
how creators achieved the product’s success, their weird merchandising techniques, the
influence of the game in the society, and a quick tutorial on how the game is played. The game itself is about completing blank
spaces of non-offensive statements, also standard questions, by using words considered to be
impolite or politically incorrect, all of which are printed on playing cards. The resulting
combinations can sound crazy as hell, to say the least. For example, there is a statement that says
“Instead of coal, Santa now gives the bad children…” and a blank space. Then, a
card saying “Used Panties” can complete the sentence. So you have a sentence saying
this. Or you can combine this card randomly with this one, so you can create a statement
saying: “Alternative medicine is now embracing the curative powers of… Sniffing Glue”. (I wish this last one stays a joke forever) So now you get the idea of the game’s basic
premise. In this video, I decided to use soft combinations to avoid unnecessary hateful
comments or a possible YouTube ban, but the incorrectness can go too far. There is a statement
that says, “And the Academy Award for” blank space, “goes to,” and another blank
space. Then there are cards saying “Ronald Reagan” and others saying “not wearing
pants.” A group of eight twenty-something college
students in Illinois were the people behind this game, under the name of Cardenfreude,
a play on words of the word “Schadenfreude”, a German word that means the joy at the misfortune
of others. Then the creators renamed the game as a pun on the phrase, “crimes against
humanity”, aptly reflecting the approach of the game. They got the inspiration from a party game
developed by Hasbro in the 90s called Apples vs. Apples, which is rated for general audiences
and suitable for children. After the creation of the game came production
and commercialization, but how is it possible to put a game like this on store shelves?
How can they fund the production? It could be risky for big companies to place this game
next to family-friendly party games, parents could get confused. How can the final user
get the product? Well, it’s a matter of simple math: Crowdfunding
for the money + Internet for the commercialization=Kickstarter. In 2010, the creators released
a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $4,000 in two weeks; they got $15,000 in two
months. The pledges included digital and physical copies of the game and 16 customized cards
for the most significant donations. In May 2011, the game was released on amazon.com,
earning a $12 million profit in the first two years. At the same time, the free PDF
version has been downloaded 1.5 million times from their website. In 2019, you can purchase
the game from its official website for $27.91 for the main deck, and every game expansion
pack are around $22 to $24. The creators also have developed unique expansions
centered around jokes of specific geographical areas. So, the British edition has British-related
jokes, same with the Australian and Canadian version. There are some theme-based expansion versions
of the game, one with jokes related to Netflix’s show House of Cards, another with the 90s
pop culture and its nostalgia, and there is even one related to the Mass Effect video
game. It’s fair to say that the creators have
taken their merchandising strategies of the product in a loose, fun way that follows the
game’s sense of humor sense. Where their promotions really shine is during Black Friday. For example,
during Black Friday in 2013, they raised to cost of the game by $5; instead of making
a discount like most other companies did, they maintained the increased price during
that day. And people still purchased it despite the increased price! During Black Friday the following year, they
replaced all of their products on their online store for one called “Bullshit”; a new
product consisted of sterilized bull poo. Each item sold for $6, and 30,000 of them
were sold that day, earning the company a profit of $180,000… from bull feces. That next year, they developed a campaign
called “ ” where any person can give $5 to the company in exchange for… wait for
it… nothing! They published a FAQ about the campaign, justifying the campaign saying
that they want to offer their customers a superior Black Friday experience. From that campaign, the company earned $71,145,
and one single fan gave them $100. Weeks later, they announced that the earnings were donated
to charity, also saying that from the last three years, they’ve fundraised more than
$4 million to different charity organizations. In 2016, the creators live-streamed themselves
while they were digging a hole in Oregon, saying that they won’t stop digging if they
continue getting donations. $100,573 was collected for charity; weeks later, they filled the
hole back up and reseeded it. In 2017, they simulated a brand called Original
Prongles, an obvious parody to the chips brand Pringles, under the slogan “Once you poop,
THAT’S GREAT!” With a pig as the mascot, clearly inspired by Donald Trump, they later
confirmed that fact, promising to Make America CRUNCH Again! The product was effectively
sold during that day and featured two flavors. During that day, the company’s website redirected
visitors to a new one called originalprongles.com, where they announced they’ve retired from
the party games industry to conquer the snack food industry. The site was full of subtle
references to Trump’s campaign for the US Presidency. Last year, they sold random items like used
cars, diamonds, TVs, and cash money with %99 off. The creators proclaimed that the promotion
was real and probably a very bad idea. The creators also use their dark humor sense
for political issues, most of them about the Trump Administration and the 2016 US presidential
elections. They’ve also developed some activism campaigns with their followers. All of this started back in 2016, when they
released two 15-card expansions packs, called “Vote for Hillary Pack” and “Vote for
Donald Trump Pack,” all the cards have politically related jokes, and all the earnings were donated
to Clinton’s campaign. They eventually created a Political Action
Committee called, “The Nuisance Committee,” and they begin to post billboards around Chicago
and Orlando, all of them attacking the Trump Administration and other Republican party
members. Two years ago they developed a campaign called
“Cards Against Humanity Saves America,” intending to finance the purchasing vacant
land along the US border with Mexico, in a specific area where Trump was planning to
build the wall, with the idea that Trump cannot complete his wall. They ended up purchasing the piece of land
and hiring a law firm specialized in eminent domains to make it almost impossible for the
government to get that piece of land they purchased. Then, the company decided, believe it or not,
to redistribute the money earned during the campaign, giving $1,000 checks to 100 people
in need, justifying the decision on the fact that the eight wealthiest people in the world
have the same money put together as the poorest half of the world’s population. Moreover, the amount of political activism
doesn’t stop there. In 2018, they released a bag called “Trump Survival Kit,” which
was a kind of United States apocalypse survival kit that included seeds and currencies of
Latin American countries. On that same token, they’ve developed more
special expansion editions related to political issues, like the Weed Pack, where the earnings
go to the Marijuana Policy Project organization, the profits of other expansions versions go
to the WorldBuilders charity movement, the Wikimedia Foundation, and so on. The company’s marketing campaigns, same
as their political activism, are creative and irreverent. They don’t invest money
in mainstream advertising and they try to make giveaways to their fans in the holidays.
In the course of three years, they developed a campaign called “Ten Days or Whatever
in Kwanzaa” for Hanukkah. The activity made it so that for each day
of Hanukkah, they mailed a gift to every participant, like a pair of socks or a WBEZ subscription.
But for the last day, they announced the purchase of a Picasso artwork and made a poll about
what they should do with the print. The options: Donate the piece of art to the Art Institute
of Chicago, or chop the artistic work into 250,000 pieces and mail it to every activity
participant. After a week voting, the voters decided to donate the piece of art to the
museum. Thank God! In 2014, they gave away one square foot of
a private island in Maine to the people who participated in the campaign that year. As
you can see, irreverent. The game is available under a Creative Commons
license; which means that any person can use, share, and remix the game, but if someone
sells it or gets revenue for any activity related to the game, the creators can sue
them. During the past few years, some party and
board game developers have used this product as a reference for new games, like What do
you Meme, which is similar to Cards Against Humanity. But instead of cards with a statement
and a blank space, you have a meme without text, then you use the cards with sentences
to describe what the meme is about. The funniest combination wins. Another one is called Deadpool vs. The World,
a party game based on the political incorrectness of the Marvel character. There are some cards
of illustrations of him with his poses and stuff which are very useful in this game.
Turn On Phrase is a merge between Pictionary and Cards Against Humanity. The Potterhead crafting community developed
a game called Cards Against Muggles, an edition of the original version, but here you can
build phrases like, “Acceptable pets at Hogwarts include cats, owls, and the basilisk
in my pants.” In 2014, two guys in Chicago opened a theater
company about a sketch and improvisational comedy, one of their shows was called “Comedy
Against Humanity,” which violates the Creative Commons license of “Cards Against Humanity.”
The theater company ended up cancelling the show after legal concerns with the party game
creators. Now let me explain to you how to play this
game. There is you, with, let’s say, three more friends. Then you open the box and you
will find a deck of white cards and another of black ones. Each black card has a question or a sentence
with a blank space at the end, and each white card has a gerund or a noun written on it
with the idea to complete the empty space on any black card. So every player draws ten white cards, the
ones with the gerund or a noun, and one of the players takes a black card and reads what
that card says aloud; that player is called The Card Czar. The game manual says that the
first Card Czar of the game is the last person who pooped before starting the game. Then the rest of the players choose the noun
or gerund that can best fit the black card phrase in the funniest way possible from their
hand. They put their card facedown and give it to The Card Czar. Then, The Card Czar shuffles the answers and
reads all the combinations with the group. The Card Czar chooses the funniest play, and
the player who submitted the chosen card gets the point. Then another player becomes The
Card Czar, the rest of the players draw the used cards from the white card deck, and the
game continues. Of course, the player with the most points wins the game and it stops
when the players are ready to do it. There is also a distinctive black card, the “Make
a Haiku” card, which has to be shown as a symbolic protocol to end the game. There are some black cards with two black
spaces; in that case, the players have to use two cards from their hands. The game manual
suggests some ways to modify the rules of the game, from creating an imaginary player
or combining the game with the “Never Have I Ever” game. Anyway, there is not any International Cards
Against Humanity Federation that can sanction you from creating your own way to enjoy the
game, so feel free to use your imagination and try not to take ideas from the cards,
the results can be disgusting. Do you know what’s a non-disgusting, yet
great idea? Subscribing to this channel! It’s free and rated for general audiences! So please
do it! We will strongly appreciate your support, your likes, and your comments! That’s all for today. Stay fresh!

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