By Michael C Lohr
Cards Against Humanity has created a great schism between a side of gaming we should all be getting behind- face to face tabletop interaction. People will argue for comments and comments about Cards Against Humanity (CAH) and it’s predecessor, a comparably light weight noun/adjective grouping party game- Apples to Apples (AA). Whether or not they are offensive, whether CAH ripped off AA, even whether these two activities are considered games! What has caused this great divide in our gaming world, and what will be its consequences on the long road ahead?
For those of you who may have just come out from behind the MMO curtain, CAH is a story telling party game that has some controversial prompt topics- racism and creed slander being some of the lighter ones. It is a direct remake and mechanical expansion of a much more family-friendly party game, Apples to Apples. While neither of which is my personal cup of gaming tea, I am going to try and remain objective in this article, pointing to the various plus and minus points that these games hold for gaming and its future.
While most gamers can take CAH’s tongue in cheek humor with a grain of salt, posts on various internet forums keep coming up as to its overly offensive nature; questioning its place in the tabletop game genre. Both games, CAH and AA, are fantastic gateway games. People can sit down with a limited amount of time and gamer interest; learn and enjoy gameplay. Like any tabletop gaming experience, both games draw us together to laugh and spend some fun time with other people.
We live in a media suffocated world of polarized peoples. Either you’re my friend or my enemy. We base this on how the other votes, which church they attended, whether they spread their bread butter side up or butter side down. While it is human nature to compete, It is this needless and ridiculous animosity we have developed that causes our future downfall. Away from one another, we argue and fight through computer screens tossing corrosive MEMEs at one another, trying to use bigger, better vocabulary than our new found foe has used in their previous onslaught of comments. We often forget that we are communicating with another human being who has their own perspective, opinions and yes- feelings too.
Tabletop gaming takes us away from the media smeared views we have of one another, allowing us a short but fun time to be nothing more than meeples looking to out race one another’s stone age village or barons in a financial battle to build a railway empire. Gaming is our salvation escapism and this CAH aggression taken away from the game table and back to our internet screens is not seen in any other fan-boy argument. Eclipse or Twilight Imperium? Civilization or Suburbia? No one cares which you like better. Only in this divide between CAH fans and foes do we take an extra fight away from the game in order to polarize ourselves again once safely back behind our computer screens.
I come from a time close to one thousand years from today. Spoiler: humanity has been enslaved by a computer. It’s kind of like the Matrix, but we don’t get to wear cool clothes. In my research and subsequent defection, I came to the conclusion that we had basically sold our humanity to the big mean computer of the far future as we had forgotten how to play with one another. Play is light and safe, in my opinion there is no need to make it heavy and serious. If you find yourself offended by a particular game, don’t play it. Don’t start a crusade against other gamers who don’t take games as seriously as you do. Likewise no one should feel obligated to defend an offensive game, CAH has made a great deal of money and its successes in profit and proliferation speak for themselves. Let each other do what the other likes. Tabletop gaming can hold us together as the misinformation age begins to bleed into the new dark ages. Unless we want to be plugged in and then flash fried at the push of a button, we need to remember that all we ever have in times of crisis is one another.
Michael C Lohr is a Timewalker from a dystopian future. He has gone rogue against the big mean computer of this far future; returning to the present as a catalyst for what history will dub The Great Global Tabletop Renaissance. His quest is chronicled in the webcomic ‘Somewhere Across Reverof” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Somewhere-Across-Reverof/170983739679133