Bear’s Picnic Table – In Defense of Cards Against Humanity

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Earlier today, I read this: http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/blog/post/review-cards-against-humanity/ (also where this image is from)

Three disclaimers: One, this article will probably contain reference to potentially offensive material referring to cards in the game Cards Against Humanity. Two, I am biased in that it is well-known BVM lore that both myself and Nick love Cards Against Humanity. Three, I am biased in that I pretty much take the Shut Up and Sit Down’s crews reviews as fact.

Except for this one.

Shut Up and Sit Down gave a lengthy, three opinion’d review of Cards Against Humanity (CAH), which in it’s basic summation said that they think CAH is shit. The linked review is much more  in depth, and I highly recommend you give it a read.

For those of you who are unaware of Cards Against Humanity; with the tagline “A party game for horrible people”, you and a collection of your friends each have a hand of “answers” (white cards) to a question, or a fill in the blank (black cards). For example: “When I was a kid, we used to play Cowboys and _____.” to which a variety of white cards can be played. For instance: “3.7 billion years of evolution”, or, “A whole lotta woman”, or, “Ejaculating inside another man’s wife.” I could go on.

Several times in the article, it is acknowledged that their problem with the game isn’t with jokes that are set up, which could include things about rape, or The Jews, Amputees, etc. In Paul’s section, he talks about the structure of making good jokes, talking on a surface level of the combination of black cards and white cards. Saying that they “aren’t very good.” This is where I completely disagree.

Earlier, when I went to this small stack of Black Cards I have on my desk because I have yet to add them into the box, I picked a random card. Going through some of the Science Expansion Pack first, I saw “3.7 Billion years of Evolution”, and I laughed, hard, by myself at a desk with no one here to hear me but a small sausage dog. The mere idea that as child, one could play a game called “Cowboys and 3.7 billion years of evolution” makes me laugh.

You, for a moment, as the Card Czar, are taken on a short imagination trip where you create that game in your mind. You say to yourself, “Well clearly, this would have been a time traveling game where you and small band of cowboys from the old west end up so many billions of years in the future, and there are clearly robots and you are dropped in the middle of an all out cyber war.” This is non-nonsensical, I assure you, because this card is clearly referring to the 3.7 billion years of evolution that has already occurred. But hey, that’s your call. You decide how these cards fit together. Every pairing tells a story that you take those few moments during judging to create for yourself.

To me, it seems this review is coming from an overhead perspective. One that is judging whether A + B is funny. And they’re right on that. Most of the time, just looking at the combination of words themselves is usually not funny. Cards Against Humanity is a game about reading in-between the lines. Looking for the humor in a story that is crafted in your head, which is sometimes shared out loud in defense of your card combination.

In my group of friends who play this game, this is often the point of the game, and is discussed during judging. Some people using this to argue their point. Taking my example, telling the Card Czar that story, “Listen to what I think this is really about.” and sometimes that nets you the win. It’s this weird moment about sharing improvised stories with a group of friends that usually gets everyone laughing and having fun.

I like Shut Up and Sit Down, and I feel that we share a lot of the same opinions on table top games. But I think they missed the mark on this one. Opinions are opinions, sure. And this response to their review won’t mean much at the end of the day. For me though, I feel they truly missed the point of Cards Against Humanity. It’s much less of a card game about jokes, and much more of a story telling game with cards.

Hell, maybe I’m just playing it wrong.

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One thought on “Bear’s Picnic Table – In Defense of Cards Against Humanity

  1. Just realized that the image we used, created for their review is misguided and incorrect because the white cards are all adjectives, which is never the case with the game; all the white cards in Cards Against Humanity are nouns and sometimes verbs. Which asks the following question: did the reviewers never really play the game or did they just not give a shit?

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