It's SO Transgressive!
May 7, 2015 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Cards Against Humanity gives you two or sometimes three pieces to snap together, and it tells you you’re done. That’s it. And you know what? Often, many of these combinations aren’t very good. They aren’t very good whether you find their subjects funny or not, offensive or not. They aren’t very good because they’re sometimes nonsensical or just weird. They aren’t very good because, in an attempt to be as shocking, controversial and offensive as possible, the designers have forgotten to… make things work. There’s very little creativity in combining cards into a joke, because the work and the structuring is done for you. It’s almost like copying someone else’s homework. There’s no life in there [...] Cards Against Humanity opens and closes the joke for you. It’s limp, passive, inert.
Review: Cards Against Humanity
posted by griphus (270 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have ranted about this stupid game so many times on metafilter that last time it came up someone made this comment to me:
phunniemee, did CAH kill your parents in an alley when you were a child or something?
Feelin pretty vindicated right now tbh.
posted by phunniemee at 8:19 AM on May 7, 2015 [73 favorites]


oooh, burn.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:21 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


thanks for this, it's been a few hours since I was told something I like is bad and I should feel bad and tbh the suspense was starting to get to me
posted by trunk muffins at 8:21 AM on May 7, 2015 [156 favorites]


Thing designed to show how horrible people are shows how horrible people are -- film at 11.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:22 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here's how we fixed it in our house, by the way. The black cards in CAH tend to be generally not so ungodly try-hard, and the red cards in A2A are just vague enough to actually manufacture some real humor in a way the A2A green cards do not let you.
posted by griphus at 8:22 AM on May 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


Thing designed to show how horrible people are shows how horrible people are -- film at 11.

Lazy and horrible. Boring and horrible. Uncreative and horrible. There's so much more nuance to being horrible!
posted by phunniemee at 8:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [25 favorites]


The appeal relies on raucous tittering about people saying things that they 'aren’t supposed to', but in reality you can say whatever the fuck you want.

This is so fucking right on.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


I think this game is pretty fun! It can definitely be played as in-your-face-offensive as possible, or it can be played cleverly, like Apples to Apples.

A recent favorite:

Q: "What gives me uncontrollable gas?"
A: "The Big Bang"

I mean, I thought that was a pretty funny joke about our ever-expanding universe! Maybe my astrophysical frame of reference is out of date.

Obviously people can make a lot of Holocaust and racist and gay jokes, but I've mostly played it with a very mixed group of people (white, Native American, gay, straight, Jewish, etc.) and those jokes aren't inevitable. It's possible to make much more oblique jokes that make fun of racism/sexism/misogyny themselves, in a Stephen Colbert/Amy Schumer kind of way. I guess that's not hermetic enough, but it really does depend on who you play it with!
posted by easter queen at 8:26 AM on May 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


thanks for this, it's been a few hours since I was told something I like is bad and I should feel bad and tbh the suspense was starting to get to me

This definitely seems like a particular kind of sacred ground for folks. MetaFilter has had no problem, for instance, passing judgement of Piers Anthony & all of his fiction because, despite being entertaining, it contains some super retrograde attitudes that aren't there to be subversive. Cards Against Humanity, by contrast - well, we can't say a bad thing about the thing that's deliberately retrograde but winks a little bit.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:27 AM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


yeah! and television just lets you sit there and ABSORB something funny... that somebody ELSE wrote!

:shakesfist:
posted by entropone at 8:27 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


A review of CAH in 2015? Did...did these people just discover its existence?
posted by ktoad at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


About time somebody called this "game" out. I remember my first and only time with Cards Against Humanity. It was at the end of a long night playing fun board games, the white guy of the group chimed in, let's have a gaming night cap, and play Cards Against Humanity! I had never heard of it before so I had no idea what it was. Sure enough about two minutes in I had to be the asshole asking how it was a game, what the object was, how the game ends, and why exactly the suggested punchlines were funny. I mean, I remember learning "dead baby" jokes in 2nd grade that were funnier than anything on those cards. But then again, where else can we say things like.. "President Obama's favorite food is STARVING AFRICAN BABIES! WHOA!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! OMG that is SO WRONG! Hey Gideon! Grab me another Tecate from the fridge!"
posted by ReeMonster at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


"This offends you as a Jewish person?"
"No, it offends me as a comedian!"
posted by Sys Rq at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [61 favorites]


I've played it, and laughed, and the game would be just as funny if you took out the gross stuff and left the simply absurd cards, which are the funniest ones anyway. That said, as mentioned in the review there are plenty of better games that fill the same niche, so rather than messing around to modify CAH, you may as well just get a better game that works straight out of the box.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:30 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's possible to make much more oblique jokes that make fun of racism/sexism/misogyny themselves, in a Stephen Colbert/Amy Schumer kind of way.

This is true, and is why the first couple hands of the game can often be pretty entertaining with the right group of people. But then at some point, all you have in your hand is "shitting dick nipples" and "pacman gobbling cum" and there's nothing interesting you can do with that.
posted by phunniemee at 8:30 AM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


"President Obama's favorite food is STARVING AFRICAN BABIES! WHOA!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! OMG that is SO WRONG! Hey Gideon! Grab me another Tecate from the fridge!"

I know this is the article's peeve here, but if people are really laughing at THAT... they are not very funny people.
posted by easter queen at 8:30 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


CAH isn't Puerto Rico. It's a mechanically uncomplicated game. I love Puerto Rico but lots of people aren't looking to select a strategy from among eighteen separate win conditions. That's OK (well, it makes me sad that my german games are gathering dust but that's life).
posted by Octaviuz at 8:30 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


or it can be played cleverly, like Apples to Apples.

In my experience, CAH punishes you mechanically for not finding it funny. As in, if you're playing with people who wouldn't be cool with a rule like "discard a particularly objectionable card and redraw" because OH IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE OFFENSIVE YOU WUSS (and, christ, why anyone sensitive to such things would play it with people like that without a gun to their head is beyond me but I know for a fact they do) and you draw something genuinely shitty -- i.e. the 'date rape' card from the first edition which I can only assume many people haven't pruned out -- you're stuck with it, and you have one card less a chance to make a good joke. And the game is that much less fun.

There's a really good point in the article in re: having to treat the game like an model kit, with house rules and pulling cards and so on, which is generally not and shouldn't be a requirement for a Good Game.
posted by griphus at 8:31 AM on May 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Playing CAH is like being on a double-date at which one of your dining companions is Seth McFarlane, the waiter at your restaurant is David Brent, and both of them are openly trying to go home with your date.
posted by gauche at 8:31 AM on May 7, 2015 [43 favorites]


Yeah, after having read various extremely cogent CAH takedowns, I have been persuaded, and I pretty much don't need to play it ever again.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:31 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did...did these people just discover its existence?

SUSD makes sure to aim its reviews at a broad audience of new-to-boardgames readers as well as veteran gamers. They often review games a while after they've been released, because if you're relatively new to games, then you're going to be browsing the entire selection of available games rather than only looking at the newest ones.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Instead of CAH, I recommend everyone pick up Superfight. Never before have I had the opportunity to argue in a game why I, a kaiju with chainsaws for arms, should defeat the US navy with lasers in a battle.... over legal custody of a Stegosaurus.

Kaiju still believes the Stegosaurus should live with it! Reptilian solidarity against the human oppressors!
posted by sciatrix at 8:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


The appeal relies on raucous tittering about people saying things that they 'aren’t supposed to', but in reality you can say whatever the fuck you want.

Has anyone considered that the appeal of this game casts doubt on this assertion?
posted by corcovado at 8:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


To be fair I know people who have issues with the game Puerto Rico as the workers are brown cubes and it's essentially replaying the colonization of a people and an island.
posted by Carillon at 8:38 AM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've played it only once, in fact with a bunch of Mefites. It was kind of fun but once I was done playing it I decided that was enough. It sort of made me feel like when I was in third grade and discovered I could say "Fuck" when nobody was around and I wouldn't get in trouble. "Hey, I'm sitting at my dining room table with a mixed group of mostly strangers and I can say 'gobs and gobs of cum' and nobody is giving me a dirty look."

Thing is, there is almost no reason for me to ever say 'gobs and gobs of cum' at my dining room table save for that one Easter that the family no longer discusses.

I sold the game for a buck at a garage sale some some college kid was thrilled.
posted by bondcliff at 8:39 AM on May 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


The review is wrong-headed in its insistence that the goal of the game is to giggle at puerile jokes. No, the point of the game is to WIN. This is done by figuring out what the judge might find funny, and how far he/she would go in admitting that it was funny. (As well as knowing when to throw away your less-funny cards)

The irony is that a game that's criticized for being insensitive requires you to empathize with your fellow players to win.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:39 AM on May 7, 2015 [63 favorites]


I never played it or bought it because it just seemed mean.
I prefer less mean in my life, thank you very much.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:41 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am lazy, boring, and uncreative, which I guess I've long known, but it's useful to have it validated by The Internet.

=== The More You Know ===*.*.*.*..
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:42 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's funnier if you mix in your own cards and don't play with jerks. But most games are a lot more fun if you don't play with jerks, so.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:43 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's how we fixed it in our house, by the way.

That's fabulous! I want to play Apples Against Humanity!
posted by zennie at 8:44 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


This is done by figuring out what the judge might find funny

I don't play a lot of board games, but when I do, it's usually A2A (and, rarely, CAH). This is known, among my friends, as "know your audience (clap-clap-clapclapclap)," usually chanted when a nominally-good play is wasted because the judge has, say, a llama phobia.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:45 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


once i was drunk and i played it with a cousin, two of her friends, and my parents. the parents part was a particularly bad idea. but in my defense i was pretty drunk and going through some shit and wasn't making the best decisions.

it was reminiscent of the time that i was playing boggle with a group of people that included my grandmother, and I saw "dildo," and was obviously torn between my desire to win and my desire to not say "dildo" in front of my grandmother.

desire to win won out as it is wont to do, and so of course we were all treated to the chafing silence that followed her query "what's a dildo?"
posted by entropone at 8:46 AM on May 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


I think when I stopped wanting to play CAH at all was when it became obvious that all people would vote for would be the most offensive combinations, and it all just felt so paint by numbers at that point. And on top of that, it's so very luck based. Yes, you can make up some clever combinations using "mathletes" and whatnot, but no one ever votes for them if someone pulls out something really offensive. It's incredibly frustrating, and with obscuring who played what card it's hard to really lobby, at least for me.

I bought Superfight (take some random cards, create a "fighter" and argue who would win against another player) recently, and it really fixes a lot of the problems. The fact that lobbying is a huge part of the gameplay really helps if you have shitty cards because it really rewards having a creative mind to work out how your combination would beat someone else's. Plus, since each battle is just 1v1 and everyone else votes on the winner focuses things quite a bit. Having different packs with different themes (including an "adult" theme which you add in, rather than being built in) is nice too. It just doesn't seem to be able to get as stale as CAH has become.

For a while I've felt kind of like an outsider that I've been so anti-CAH, but glad to see I'm not alone.
posted by tittergrrl at 8:46 AM on May 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


In my experience, CAH punishes you mechanically for not finding it funny.

This makes sense to me, but I guess I just literally never play with people who wouldn't be cool with putting an offensive card back if they truly thought it was in bad taste. I've played with people who have played an offensive card as a throwaway card when they don't have anything funny, which I guess you could say is punishing you, mechanically, but it's more of just a "I have a bad hand" moment. But the game is so loose in structure that to me, the "model deck" thing seems to be no problem at all. I mean, I'd never argue that it's a GREAT ACHIEVEMENT of card game design or anything, so the arguments about offensive cards make sense to me, but re: mechanics, yeah it's a simple, crowd-pleasing game.

And I hate Seth McFarlane, literally so much, and I still think this game can be played in a non-jerk fashion, and clever "tricks" can happen. I guess the fun of the game is playing with people who have the same frame of reference as you. So if your friend group LOVES racist jokes, it's going to be a painful evening. I think maybe the thing that is making me favor the game is that I've only played it with my close family and friends and my boyfriend's family. And not strangers.

The irony is that a game that's criticized for being insensitive requires you to empathize with your fellow players to win.

Yes, it's true. If you play a BLACK PEOPLE EAT DEAD BABIES joke, it will only win if people around you find that... funny. So it can easily be a very fun game or a terrible game depending on your company.
posted by easter queen at 8:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


'provides permission to tell jokes you don’t dare by removing all sense of responsibility.'

Well, that's the game in a nutshell.
posted by Windigo at 8:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's funnier if you mix in your own cards and don't play with jerks.

So... Don't play at all, yeah?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:52 AM on May 7, 2015


'provides permission to tell jokes you don’t dare by removing all sense of responsibility.'

Well, that's the game in a nutshell.


I, for one, am actually totally okay with this.

MeFi has done this thread before, and I commented something along the lines of, "When you cross boundaries with a shared understanding that you're crossing boundaries, you're reifying them and sometimes it's important and helpful."

The other thing about CAH is that it's very context dependant. As some people have pointed out, you don't play the cards, you play the people you're playing with.

And, go figure! Some people don't like playing this game. I'm surprised, though, that some people just think that NOBODY should like playing this game.
posted by entropone at 8:56 AM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


desire to win won out as it is wont to do, and so of course we were all treated to the chafing silence that followed her query "what's a dildo?"

Tell me you said "$20 …"
posted by Kabanos at 8:57 AM on May 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Please forgive the Bill Cosby joke, but reading about this game made me think of this line: "I said to a guy, 'Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful,' and he said, 'Because it intensifies your personality.' I said, 'Yes, but what if you're an asshole?'"
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


you don't play the cards, you play the people you're playing with.

Yes, that's the obvious strategy, but (at least in my case often) a lot of times you may be playing with a group of people you don't know super well, or just played with a few times, which then often devolves to the base cards and becomes frustrating and annoying, which is why I feel the luck issue is one of the largest problems.
posted by tittergrrl at 9:03 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a bookseller, this game has been a bit of a thorn in my side. Customers come in and wind us up about not having it. A lot of them just seem to know vaguely that it's naughty and like to poke us about it, in the same way that people liked coming in and asking for Fifty Shades of Grey when it first was published. Others are the type who like to accuse us of political bias, particularly the dreaded "political correctness." We carry enough outright vile and odious material that I can pretty much laugh off that accusation. I'm glad we don't carry the cards, though. I'd be spending all day processing returns of opened packages and dealing with outrage from people who got them home and were offended.
posted by BibiRose at 9:09 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


To fix this you could try and prune all the offensive cards out beforehand, but it’s no less depressing to imagine someone hunched over a coffee table trying to make their purchase function as a normal game.
Fuck this guy. Constructing the deck is one of my favorite parts of the game.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:10 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Instead of CAH, I recommend everyone pick up Superfight. Never before have I had the opportunity to argue in a game why I, a kaiju with chainsaws for arms, should defeat the US navy with lasers in a battle.... over legal custody of a Stegosaurus.

This sounds amazing and reminds me of my favorite homegrown game invention, free-form Rock Paper Scissors. Each player thinks of a contending object (or person, or concept...) and its corresponding hand gesture. Then you shoot, explain your object, and argue over who wins.

Yeah, I also think CAH is too specific to be much fun. Even if you are racist.
posted by the_blizz at 9:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Knew about the game for a long time, didn't play it until this past Christmas, haven't seen the previous versions of this thread. My takeaway was that it's "fine," but the group reaction to certain "baby on fire"-type plays started my questioning of certain life choices that continues to this day.

I think when I stopped wanting to play CAH at all was when it became obvious that all people would vote for would be the most offensive combinations

Yeah, this goes to the "play your crowd" angle, but I think I experienced a secondary articulation of this, where the it-person also didn't choose the funniest ones (no, not just mine) because of what it would say about them.
posted by rhizome at 9:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't played it but it sounds like MadLibs turned into a board game that's sold at Spencer's.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:13 AM on May 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


This again?

Surely we've Previouslyed this one eight ways from Tuesday.

I think the reason this discussion raises such hackles is that the criticism isn't merely "this is a poorly designed, uninteresting game" but rather "anyone who enjoys it is a horrible, boring, unfunny person." Believe it or not, people tend to react strongly when you insult them.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:13 AM on May 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


I think when I stopped wanting to play CAH at all was when it became obvious that all people would vote for would be the most offensive combinations

This has never been my experience. The groups I've played with have prized interesting combinations. In some groups, that has also generally been spectacularly evil/offensive combinations—but, seriously, "A big black dick" is a losing card. It's a really hard card to make interesting, because the joke is so thin. A lot of the cards are like that. (A lot of A2A's cards are like that too, especially the tedious celebrity cards.) And I've played with people who made it clear that they weren't particularly impressed by offensive answers, and the game takes on a very different tone—but it's still playable.

It's definitely a game that should come with trigger warnings, though, when introducing it to new players.
posted by Casuistry at 9:14 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'll make it very simple for everyone:

If you enjoyed Two And A Half Men, then play Apples To Apples.

If you enjoyed The Aristrocrats, then play Cards Against Humanity.

If you are the author of an aggrieved get-off-my-lawn rant about a mass-market party game, then play 1000 Blank White Cards.
posted by belarius at 9:16 AM on May 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


WOW! This whole article, and large amounts of this discussion are really eye-opening to me, because I didn't realize that so many people play CAH with shitty people in a boring way. I've owned CAH and various add-ons for years, and I've never had the experience that people describe. We've removed some cards from our decks, and we usually play where you can swap out cards from the draw pile every once in a while, so there's none of the:

"But then at some point, all you have in your hand is "shitting dick nipples" and "pacman gobbling cum" and there's nothing interesting you can do with that."

problem. But also, if you keep the ratio of smart/empathetic/interesting people high enough, almost none of the rounds end up with stupid offensive-for-offense's-own-sake answers winning. Which means people stop trying to play cards that have nothing to recommend them besides offense. In every game I can remember playing over the last few years, everyone understood that just being offensive wasn't funny, and so people worked at making funny combinations. I completely understand that this game would be really unfun and likely hurtful if you are playing it with strangers, or bro's who just want to be offensive but don't want to actually think. That would be a shitty game. But that's a problem with your game group, not with the game!


P.S. Also +1 for Superfight.
posted by DGStieber at 9:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [30 favorites]


I miss Lunch Money.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


How fun Cards against Humanity is depends entirely on who you play it with. This is different from a game like Settlers of Catan, which I happily play with complete strangers online, often without even talking.

I have found that is true of Apples to Apples as well, but with a wider margin of who it is fun to play with. I actually prefer the Junior version of Apples - the box is smaller, and the cards are more universal (my room, a fridge) and less topical (and thus quickly dated).
posted by jb at 9:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


"pacman gobbling cum"

That is "pacman uncontrollably gobbling cum" - and for some reason, the adverb makes all the difference. I love that card so much, and I have no idea why.

But I'll also never play CAH with my mother - or any other blood relative.
posted by jb at 9:19 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've only played CAH with a bunch of 20 and 30 something Presbyterians. There were a lot of homemade cards featuring inside jokes from Emory's Candler School of Theology. Along with a whole lot of bourbon. We were a diverse, enlightened bunch. And I still wished we were playing Apples to Apples.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


CAH isn't Puerto Rico. It's a mechanically uncomplicated game. I love Puerto Rico but lots of people aren't looking to select a strategy from among eighteen separate win conditions.

Ironically enough, I can't play Puerto Rico, or any of the non-abstract colonization simultion games. I can't stop thinking about real colonial history and slavery.

But I don't care if my friends play. I'll be off trying to figure out that jewels game (so hard!).
posted by jb at 9:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you enjoyed Two And A Half Men, then play Apples To Apples.

This is a bad comparison because...
a) Talfmen is terribly, terribly dumb
b) Talfmen is supremely blue. Like, supremely blue. If you watch Talfmen and you get offended by CAH, then it's because the particular sex act references are too current, not because it's too disgusting.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:24 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a brief aside it never fails to amuse me that if Paul F. Thompkins makes a joke there is polite applause and general approval all around. If Seth or Colbert make the exact same joke in the exact same way there is head shaking and denunciation. Oh MeFi. Why you gots to be so MeFi?

You get a game meant to be offensive and get home and discover that it's offensive. And somehow -then- you are offended. What you have actually discovered is that you're not very bright.
posted by umberto at 9:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I know I'm a bad person because I cringe at the notion of a "party game".

So, I'm already primed to hate this game.

But I went through the trivial pursuit years, and I'm glad those days are over.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:29 AM on May 7, 2015


ugh the last time I played CAH (well after I should have known better) was at a house party we were throwing and someone we had met earlier that day and invited in the spirit of celebration that is New Years' Day (who turned out to be republican, natch) persisted in requesting it until we dragged it out and it basically ruined what was otherwise an interesting and delightful time. The game is now buried in the closet where it belongs.

also this has been said before but basically that game makes me dislike people I otherwise like b/c it turns out a lot of really wonderful people are just not very funny/clever in a way that is compatible with that game, myself included most of the time
posted by likeatoaster at 9:29 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a brief aside it never fails to amuse me that if Paul F. Thompkins makes a joke there is polite applause and general approval all around. If Seth or Colbert make the exact same joke in the exact same way there is head shaking and denunciation.

This is a thing that happened?
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on May 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Yeah yeah yeah. I love and respect the SU&SD guys, but every time I've played CAH (like maybe 10 times over the course of three years) I have laughed to the point of nearly peeing myself. I guess that means I'm a bad person and I should feel bad. (I love David Foster Wallace's work. Does that help even things out in the eyes of MeFi?) But there's obviously a place for this game and, well, too bad so many people here don't enjoy it. I find Settlers to be exhaustingly boring, myself. *shrug*

And Superfight! looks great, but wtf with the $35 price tag for the base game of 500 cards in a box? (CAH is only $25 and has 550 cards.)
posted by papercake at 9:31 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree with the review that, mechanically, it's not a remotely interesting game. It has the "getting inside the judge's head" aspect, which I like, but there are plenty of other games which do that better.

However, almost all of the other criticisms I see levelled at it boil down to (a) taboo-breaking and absurdity are always unimaginative humour, and (b) it enables bigoted assholes. To which I can only ask "why are you playing games with unimaginative, bigoted assholes?". Seriously, I've played CAH a handful of times -- generally with decks supplied by queer and trans friends, if that's relevant to anyone's position on this -- and it has never gone down the path that every review like this assumes that it must. If your friends are using it to make shitty, bigoted jokes that upset you, that's a choice that your friends are making, not something that a deck of cards is forcing them to do.
posted by metaBugs at 9:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


I don't think people are awful people for enjoying CAH, I just think they're people who think cruelty and crudeness are funny.

(I mean, isn't this what really gets people defensive here? The implication that people who find CAH hilarious are people who have juvenile, stupid senses of humor? It seems like there's a sort of class/matter of taste element in here where we feel grossly offended or hurt when people tell us something we think is funny is stupid).
posted by MoonOrb at 9:35 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think everyone has a half dozen games of CAH in them and, for $25, that's fine. I've played it with friends and family and every time its been a smash.

That being said, Game of Things is one hundred times better.

Luckily, you can play Game of Things with CAH cards if you find yourself saddled with a bunch of CAH cards before you come to this realization.
posted by Reyturner at 9:36 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have ranted about this stupid game so many times on metafilter that last time it came up someone made this comment to me:

phunniemee, did CAH kill your parents in an alley when you were a child or something?

Feelin pretty vindicated right now tbh.


Haha, that was a fun time. I hope you know I was only teasing you. <3 @phunniemee (is that how you tag people? I don't know)

My apathy for CAH has been unchanged. One more time I was roped into playing it and it was... boring. Apples to Apples is just as bad and the tame version.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:37 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a brief aside it never fails to amuse me that if Paul F. Thompkins makes a joke there is polite applause and general approval all around. If Seth or Colbert make the exact same joke in the exact same way there is head shaking and denunciation. Oh MeFi. Why you gots to be so MeFi?

Fucking show me when this has happened.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:37 AM on May 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


It was kind of fun but once I was done playing it I decided that was enough.

That might explain why I've had an unopened CAH starter set for some months now. Anyone I know who has a set of their own always has another game that they'd rather play whenever I ask.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:38 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've enjoyed playing CAH, but it's not my favorite, and I would never SUGGEST it. The funny that happens playing the game is honestly more about knowing the people you play with, and trying to gauge (or elicit) their personal connective tissue than it is about "pacman uncontrollably gobbling cum" or whatever. The intentionally funny or edgy cards are the least funny, least worthwhile cards.

I would appreciate a middle ground between Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. Maybe a mixed deck, like is recommended above.

The thing that is really good about CAH is that it is a talky game - you CAN play it as a party game, with a bunch of people, and still all talk during play.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:39 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is something unusual down the street from me: A board game cafe called Spielbound, where, for a $5 day pass, you can play from any of their collection of tens of thousands of board games for as long as you like. I wouldn't call myself a regular, but I go in every couple of weeks and play with my girlfriend or some friends for several hours, usually playing a few games we know we like and then trying out a few new games to see if we like them.

I have literally never seen anybody there play CAH, even though they have it. I wonder if it is because nobody wants to look like a dick in public, but I suspect it is because, when people are offered abundance, they go for the interesting and challenging options, rather than the lazy and somewhat questionable options.

As an aside, Spielbound specializes in Settler of Catan-style games, and the like, which a smaller selection of social party games and very few traditional pub games, so I have been trying to rectify that in my own apartment, which I have been decorating like a British pub anyway (we call the apartment The Hare and the Heigh Ho). I was researching a game called Devil Among the Tailors -- if you've seen A Hard Day's Night, you've seen the game. It's the table skittles type thing that Ringo puts his beer on before it is smashed.

Turns out it is named after a theater riot. In 1805 there was a play called The Tailors: A Tragedy for Warm Weather that opened in London, and London tailors got so incensed that thousands of them rioted, overwhelming the police. The Senior Regiment of the British Army came in (called the Life Guards) and plowed through the crowd like a ball through skittles, and so that's reportedly how the game got its name.

Screw Cards Against Humanity. What theater riot is it named after?
posted by maxsparber at 9:40 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't hate Cards Against Humanity . . . but I'm not a huge fan of it. However, I'm also not a huge fan of Apples to Apples. I think party games are pretty nice when you're, well, holding a party (busting out Arkham Horror doesn't work as well), but things like charades are more fun because they work on team dynamics. Apples to Apples just gets really old for me, but I know plenty of people who feel differently.

I don't mind the transgressive humor in CAH, and I certain don't think that enjoying the game makes you a bad person, a boring person, a cruel person, or a childish person. I hate the idea that we should infer personal ethics and personality from consumption choices like this.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:42 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


(busting out Arkham Horror doesn't work as well)

That's why you set it up BEFOREHAND and then lock all the doors, seal the windows and threaten your guests with incriminating photos if they don't play the game all the way through.

The exact technique is outlined on page 250 of Volume 2 of the addendum to the instruction manual.
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on May 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


Any time someone suggests CAH, you should see if they have You Don't Know Jack on a console instead.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:45 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Eleven!
posted by maxsparber at 9:46 AM on May 7, 2015


I don't think people are awful people for enjoying CAH, I just think they're people who think cruelty and crudeness are funny.

Anything can be funny. I may have several college degrees and can talk with some erudition about a number of topics, but there is no universe in which a Pick-2 answer of "Dick Cheney jerking off into a pool of children's tears" is not going to be funny to me.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Pac-Man Against Humanity does not gobble. He guzzles.
posted by oulipian at 9:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Often, many of these combinations...aren’t very good because they’re sometimes nonsensical or just weird....

Screw this guy, sometimes I find "nonsensical or just weird" stuff funny.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


The implication that people who find CAH hilarious are people who have juvenile, stupid senses of humor?

I think that's a factor, yes. I don't think it's an issue in the linked SUASD review, but I've seen plenty of assertions -- about CAH and prompted by other discussions -- that no humour involving crudity / shock value / taboo breaking is ever more sophisticated than yelling "butts lol", and so anyone who likes it is at best immature and at worst a bad person. I've also seen, rarely, people who don't seem to believe that others are able to separate humour from reality: fairly recently on metafilter I saw a comment about dead baby jokes along the lines "I've never understood why people find them funny, and to be honest I worry what it says about those people". It's fine to never find (subsets of) crude humour funny, but a lot of the criticisms of crude humour that come from those places inevitably carry the "you're stupid / immoral for finding this funny" overtones. Hence, as you say, the arguments.

The thing that is really good about CAH is that it is a talky game - you CAN play it as a party game, with a bunch of people, and still all talk during play.

I'd be amazed if it were played in any other way. There's nowhere near enough thought involved in the game to keep a group in quiet concentration, surely?
posted by metaBugs at 9:49 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ok, I HATE Cards Against Humanity, but I LOVE playing it, and I'll teach you how:

HOW TO PLAY CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY IF YOU HATE IT
---------

The first thing you need to realize is that when the person is reading all the cards that other people submitted nobody knows who you are. Everyone wants to be the "funny" one, and like this article points out, that often means going for the cheapest or most offensive joke. So, what do you do?

You need to try to LOSE the game, and not let anybody know.

And by lose, I mean really, really lose. Your goal has to be to have the absolute worst card in each round. You can not win any points. The card you turn in should be so bad that the person reading it just kinda quickly mumbles through it, or reads it in a confused way before moving to the really funny one. Other people will have that half-anticipatory smile as they wait for funny ones, but when your card is read they should look kind of sad or disappointed. For example, you want to try and actually answer the question when possible.

Example:
"When I am a billionaire, I shall erect a 50-foot statue to commemorate...." No, the answer is not "Queefing" or "My Vagina" or "A Bleached Asshole." The answer is "God" or "World Peace" or "Hope".

Just terrible. And NOBODY can know you are doing this.

This can ONLY be funny to you.

You will suddenly find yourself in tears of joy as your terrible cards are read, but you can not overtly laugh or you will give yourself away. At some point, inevitably, one person will notice what you are doing and they will also find it hilarious. Keep up your stealth, but shoot them knowing glances from time to time.

At some point, you will be stuck. You will find yourself stuck with a hand with only funny responses. Losing can be hard. I suggest cheating. Either pass or step out to the bathroom or try and quickly draw a card while nobody is looking. Nobody cares, because you are so bad at this game anyway that they kinda feel bad for you since you have been losing the whole time.

But you're not. You're winning.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:49 AM on May 7, 2015 [83 favorites]


To everyone who is like WHY ARE YOU PLAYING WITH JERKS: This game is supremely popular with affluent tech dudes (like the creators!) and socially awkward nerds. These are two groups that are often very sweet and well-intentioned, but are so clueless about what it's actually like going through life as anyone except them that you could drive a semi-truck through their blind spots. These people aren't so bad that I want to cut them out of my life, but I also don't want to play a boring unfunny card game with them. Can't we just drink?
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:50 AM on May 7, 2015 [49 favorites]


Feelin pretty vindicated right now tbh.

I've also complained about this game on MF before (dead prostitute jokes? seriously?) and was shouted down.
posted by Nevin at 9:51 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dirtdirt, you were asking if there's a middle-ground between Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. There are two: Snake Oil, and Love2Hate, but since the latter isn't actually out yet you should go and find the former. It's very good.
posted by Hogshead at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


In my experience, CAH is about as funny as the people playing it, but gets old after a while. The Jackbox games are much, much better for these purposes, though, especially Fibbage and Drawful. They don't get old because you and your friends are supplying the funny yourselves.

I highly recommend them.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Feelin pretty vindicated right now tbh.

I've also complained about this game on MF before (dead prostitute jokes? seriously?) and was shouted down.


You can feel vindicated too, if you'd like.
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems like there's a sort of class/matter of taste element in here where we feel grossly offended or hurt when people tell us something we think is funny is stupid

I can only see this being a class thing in that people think CAH has a trashy/unclassy sense of humor... ?

I do think The Aristocrats comparison is apt. When trashy humor is presented like The Aristocrats, as in, this is boundary-crossing with a long, storied, history, done knowingly and by professionals and studied as a kind of comedy anthropology... MeFites are more amenable.

When just anyone can do it, as wittily or not as they choose, like CAH, there is understandably a more conflicted reaction. So, the review points to the context-dependence of the game as a flaw (and poor apologia for its existence), but just as The Aristocrats gains significance in the company of other comedians, CAH is played best with people who are actually a kind of in-group and who are open to boundary crossing, not for the sake of cruelty, but for comedy. (And again, by comparison, Amy Schumer's comedy is pretty cruel, but it's also obviously anti-misogynist. It's not an either/or. It's possible to reveal the cruelty of our assumptions and send it up. If you watch Amy Schumer with an asshole, he's just as likely to laugh at the ugly woman with no makeup as to laugh at the joke about our dumb assumptions about makeup. See also Dave Chapelle. So, context-dependence.)
posted by easter queen at 9:55 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, a lot of the bitching about the people who play this game reminds me of my neighbor who ranted about the "losers" who he saw walking to/from NY ComiCon last year dressed in Cosplay and how stupid they looked. He said this while standing in front of me with his kid, both of whom were decked out from head to toe in sports gear emblazoned with team logos on it. Really really sorry we don't like the same things, but you'll forgive me if I don't give two shits what you think about me and what I like/appreciate just because it's different than what you like.
posted by papercake at 9:55 AM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


A board game cafe called Spielbound, where, for a $5 day pass, you can play from any of their collection of tens of thousands of board games for as long as you like.

This sounds so awesome, I can't even tell you.
Here is their website.

I wish they were a franchise and I wish St. Petersburg had one. Or more.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about CAH.

On one hand, I have played games with small groups of very close friends and found it a great time. But in those games, I don't really remember that humor was the target, it was more like a bunch of smart people all trying to achieve maximum wit within the tight borders dictated by the luck of the draw. The really gross and 'offensive' cards were more hinderance than asset in those games, and were often discarded right off the bat.

On the other hand, just thinking about playing CAH with a larger group, or with people I don't know as well or who I know to have more of a natural jerk streak to them gives me anxiety.
posted by still bill at 9:58 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I mean, I remember learning "dead baby" jokes in 2nd grade that were funnier than anything on those cards

Dead baby jokes are exactly the right object of comparison, and the perfect rejoinder to "When you cross boundaries with a shared understanding that you're crossing boundaries, you're reifying them and sometimes it's important and helpful." Maybe sometimes, but I doubt ever when playing CAH, you know? It's more like "look how sophiiiiiisticated I can be by being crude! Just kidding, hopefully not on the square! It's ok because I'm winking/reifying!".

It's actually better to play straight up Apples to Apples, but the following modification: you don't play anonymously, and you explain why you're playing your card. The explanations can get pretty bizarre.
posted by kenko at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's clear that people complain about Cards Against Humanity for the same reason they complain about morning radio hosts: ostensibly, it's that the comedy is 'offensive' to various groups, but in reality its a way to distinguish oneself from the allegedly low-class people who find such humor enjoyable.
posted by corcovado at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you enjoyed Two And A Half Men, then play Apples To Apples.

If you enjoyed The Aristrocrats, then play Cards Against Humanity.
Ahahaha wow that's dumb.
posted by kenko at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Example:
"When I am a billionaire, I shall erect a 50-foot statue to commemorate...." No, the answer is not "Queefing" or "My Vagina" or "A Bleached Asshole." The answer is "God" or "World Peace" or "Hope".

Just terrible. And NOBODY can know you are doing this.


I'm sure this says something about the people I've played CAH with, but the biggest laugh I've ever seen an answer get was to the question "When I am president, I will create the department of ___"

The runners-up were all things like "Scientology," "prancing," and "civilian casualties," but the winner by a HUGE margin was "Agriculture."
posted by zeptoweasel at 10:02 AM on May 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


Intellectually, I do appreciate this case made against the game. It has the potential to be played in a mean, lazy, mechanical way.

And yet every time I've played, with various assortments of friends, we laugh until we're crying. If you play with people who can leverage absurd humor instead of just "two offensive things put together", it can be a great time.
posted by the jam at 10:02 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


That being said, Game of Things is one hundred times better.

Love this game. The best answer is always "Two chicks at the same time."
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:02 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's clear that people complain about Cards Against Humanity for the same reason they complain about morning radio hosts: ostensibly, it's that the comedy is 'offensive' to various groups, but in reality its a way to distinguish oneself from the allegedly low-class people who find such humor enjoyable.

How is that clear? I actually think people enjoy CAH for something like the reason you think people complain about it, because it's the ironist's dream. Playing CAH lets you play at being the sort of person who would find the jokes you make in the game funny outside of the game, but you distinguish yourself from that person because you only do this in the game. You're superior, but you get to participate in the inferior; eat your cake and have it.
posted by kenko at 10:03 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe sometimes, but I doubt ever when playing CAH, you know? It's more like "look how sophiiiiiisticated I can be by being crude! Just kidding, hopefully not on the square! It's ok because I'm winking/reifying!".

This is just generalizing, though. It's possible for someone to enjoy something you don't and also be an intelligent person.
posted by easter queen at 10:04 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Were any of you in Odyssey of the Mind as a kid? OM has two components. For one of them, your team spends the entire school year creating an eight-minute play, complete with props, sets, and everything.

The other part involved no preparation at all: it's just you and your team sitting around the table with a judge. The challenge is something like "Name as many kind of packs as you can." or "What would you say if you were a goldfish?" And then you just zoom around the table, trying to make the judge laugh.

I was in OM every year from 1st grade through senior year. Each year, my OM team was the main core of my social circle. And OM Spontaneous infected our entire way of thinking and talking to each other.

I got really excited the first time I watched the TV show @Midnight. Because it's basically OM Spontaneous as a gameshow - albeit with a slightly more "mature" bent.

I keep thinking that an OM Spontaneous-style game could be hugely popular. You could do expansion decks, decks for different age groups, movie tie-ins. CAH wants to be that game, but it's so very much not. When people have suggested playing it, I've even tried saying, "How about we try with just the question cards?" and gotten no buy-in.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:05 AM on May 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


The runners-up were all things like "Scientology," "prancing," and "civilian casualties," but the winner by a HUGE margin was "Agriculture."

The so-obvious-it's-funny answer is one of my favorite moves in CAH/A2A. I can't always gauge if it will work, but when it does it works so well.
posted by griphus at 10:06 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Against Humanity
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:07 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


In a lot of ways, the cards available with which to be against humanity remind me of playing mad libs with the person who insists that penis is the funniest noun. Like, there are ways to be funny with subtlety.

That being said, I tangentially know one of the CAH team and he seems like a pretty nice, reasonable, thoughtful guy.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:07 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is just generalizing, though. It's possible for someone to enjoy something you don't and also be an intelligent person.

Indeed. Lots of intelligent people easily fall into the faux/ironic sophistication trap. It's kind of a complex attitude to occupy! I don't think the people who find the deliberate "offensiveness"* of CAH funny are unintelligent.

* almost never actually offensive to anyone playing the game; weird huh?
posted by kenko at 10:08 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've even tried saying, "How about we try with just the question cards?" and gotten no buy-in.

That sounds like it could be a good game!
posted by kenko at 10:09 AM on May 7, 2015


I've only played in queer feminist circles, and with fairly close friends, so that probably colors things. We always play that you can throw away a card for any reason (usually this gets applied mostly to cards people don't understand, since I have mostly played with non-americans). I have no problem with the fact that many people don't like the game, but it does feel like some kind of attack on my sense of humor and intelligence when people say things like "It's more like 'look how sophiiiiiisticated I can be by being crude!...'" All I can tell you is that is not my experience. And thanks, but I do not think I am falling into any kind of trap.
posted by Nothing at 10:10 AM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


"When I am a billionaire, I shall erect a 50-foot statue to commemorate...." No, the answer is not "Queefing" or "My Vagina" or "A Bleached Asshole." The answer is "God" or "World Peace" or "Hope".

You basically picked a winning strategy in my group. You'll win for being unexpected before you'll win for being offensive.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:10 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have disliked this game for years, and I don't really care if others like it or not- it's just not my bag. The issue that I've come across is that at least in my circles there is an expectation that everyone is cool with it and that everyone likes this game and that you just haven't played it right or not with THEM.

But I don't entirely blame CAH, I more blame this weird hegemony where everyone who is nerdy and college educated must like the same things. I also get it when people realize I'm not into Achewood or Arrested Development.

Which I thinks leads to people not liking things becoming a thing because it feels really controversial speaking out against what seems like this total monolith and then it become more of a thing when those who like it feel the need to defend it.

The short version of which is, welcome to the Internet I guess.
posted by KernalM at 10:11 AM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


The way This_Will_Be_Good proposed to "lose" the game certainly works if you're playing with a bunch of blockheads that you hate. But as zeptoweasel pointed out, you could as easily play the game that way and win. The game is really just about tickling the judge's funny bone. It's weird to me that so many people seem to think everyone they play with is soooo much dumber than them-- like, where do you find these buddies? Deadpan humor is just as funny as outrageous humor, and outrageous humor doesn't have to be random nonsense.

Indeed. Lots of intelligent people easily fall into the faux/ironic sophistication trap. It's kind of a complex attitude to occupy!

That's exactly what I'm saying, though. Plenty of people enjoy this game and are just as complex and subtle and sociologically-minded as you, I'm sure.
posted by easter queen at 10:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I should say that my most triumphant moment ever in CAH was answering "______: Good to the Last Drop" with "White Privilege."
posted by Navelgazer at 10:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have no problem with the fact that many people don't like the game, but it does feel like some kind of attack on my sense of humor and intelligence when people say things like "It's more like 'look how sophiiiiiisticated I can be by being crude!...'" All I can tell you is that is not my experience. And thanks, but I do not think I am falling into any kind of trap.

Yeah, exactly. Like when I, as a woman, laugh at ironic sexism performed by a feminist comedian with the purpose of parodying misogynist attitudes... am I falling into a "trap"? Is all socially-minded humor a trap?

I know people who don't like the game (and don't like Apples to Apples either, or who are just offended by the content of CAH) and that is totally fine by me. Tastes vary. I also know people who don't think MST3k is funny, and as much as I'm like "WHAAATTT SO FUNNY" it's not a personal attack. But when people say, "well, you only like MST3k because you're too LAZY to come up with your own riffs... " No! I'm not! I come up with my own riffs all the time, and I appreciate hearing those of others. Not complex. Same with CAH. I think the set-ups are good and provide a lot of opportunities for deadpan, unexpected, absurd humor, as well as outrageous combos, and it's not because I'm too lazy to make my own jokes. Trust me, I make a lot of my own jokes.
posted by easter queen at 10:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


It occurs to me that for a lot of people CAH isn't actually a card game; it's a role-playing game, where people who think of themselves as progressive and fair get to pretend for an hour that they're sexist racist assholes.

Definitely check out the Boing Boing discussion of this article, which is hilarious in how defensive and hyperbolic the comments are in defending the game against perceived puritans trying to take it away from them. It's especially funny because this reaction was already predicted in the article itself, which I'm guessing few of them read:

"Fittingly for a game so in love with stereotypes, Cards Against Humanity is every horrible stereotype of a nerd snickering in the corner. It is every person ready to lecture you on how humour must sometimes offend, boldly dragging their Auschwitz joke up to the moral high ground. It is the manifestation of an internet asshole."
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


In conclusion, Cards Against Humanity is a game of contrasts.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:18 AM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


That's exactly what I'm saying, though. Plenty of people enjoy this game and are just as complex and subtle and sociologically-minded as you, I'm sure.

Ok, let me be more explicit: that attitude is a complex one to occupy, and one that intelligent people can easily occupy, and a bad one to occupy. I'm sure it's possible to play the game and work around its own design and not occupy it, but the game itself really does point you in that direction, and it's a bad direction, and a bad game. It does not matter one whit to me that intelligent people enjoy it. I'm perfectly fine with thinking that intelligent people also do bad things. It also doesn't matter a whole lot to me that some players work around the design of the game and play it in a way that's not so bad. I still think the game is a bad one.
posted by kenko at 10:19 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


'I've even tried saying, "How about we try with just the question cards?" 


I think that s called ''Balderdash.''
posted by eustatic at 10:21 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meh.

Try getting people who don't play board games to play Dixit...I have, and good luck with that. CAH is an easy, lazy way to get people to participate, even if the mechanics of the game are simple and the content is awful. In fact, because the mechanics of the game are simple and the content is awful, it's a successful warm up to other games...I understand that uber board game geeks will take a purist approach, but the vast majority of people who aren't in that community don't really care that much about any of what these folks are saying.

It's an accessible game, it's entertaining for a while (mostly when played with people who don't know what a Cleveland Steamer is) and it's not complicated.
posted by Chuffy at 10:22 AM on May 7, 2015


Like when I, as a woman, laugh at ironic sexism performed by a feminist comedian with the purpose of parodying misogynist attitudes... am I falling into a "trap"?

Well, in this context, I think it's hard not to be reminded of why Chris Rock stopped performing his most famous routine, y'know? Or Dave Chappelle's two minds about his own shows and performances. I mean, I actually kind of think the answer here is at least partly "yes".

All I can say further is, sure, some groups of players may be A-OK, but I think they're basically fighting the material, or it's more like what Ian A.T. describes than would be comfortable admitting.
posted by kenko at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2015


Griphus: This is a thing that happened?

Scary part was, I was nowhere near the Internet at the time. I woke up at three am lightly clapping my hands together. Thought nothing of it until my head began to shake side-to-side uncontrollably.

At least warn me before you people do this hive mind shit.
posted by dr_dank at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The psychology of it trying to figure out what'll be funny to a particular judge is kind of interesting from a game-structure perspective, but I tend to agree with Arthur Chu's piece that suggests that unless you really know everyone in the room well, it can be a little hard to tell which people in the room are laughing at the joke about because they see the joke as a parody of a racist perspective, and which of them are laughing because it reaffirms their racist perspective. Honestly, a lot of the jokes are structured towards a sense of humor that it's a lot easier to laugh at them the more privilege you have, and that's typical enough to be boring at best, and kind of shitty at worst.
posted by slutze at 10:26 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it's possible to play the game and work around its own design and not occupy it, but the game itself really does point you in that direction, and it's a bad direction, and a bad game.

Does the game point people in that direction, or do people point themselves in that direction? The game rules just say "Play a card, if yours gets chosen, you win that round". Also, what is the percentage of "lazy, stereotype punchline" cards in a box of CAH cards? Some people are talking like it's close to 100%, but there seem to be lots of non-offensive cards in there.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:26 AM on May 7, 2015


I still think the game is a bad one.

This is a reasonable opinion that no one can fault you for having.

I'm perfectly fine with thinking that intelligent people also do bad things.

And this is where you lose people. The warrant here is "Liking CAH makes you a bad person," which is ridiculous. You can like a lot of things and it doesn't mean that it makes you into a bad human being. Liking a "bad" board game in no way calls into question your ethics or impinges your moral character. It's perfectly fine for something to be not your cup of tea or for you to find that it's too problematic or full of design flaws to enjoy without implying that the people who are playing it are arrogant or jerks or privileged or what have you.

In the immortal words of the Internet: It's okay to not like things.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


They aren’t very good because they’re sometimes nonsensical or just weird.

Those are the only ones that are funny.
posted by pinothefrog at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


BRB, brainstorming how to gamify starting a backlash against things your peer group loves, preferably with cards that can be sold at a 500% markup. Kickstarter here I come!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


And this is where you lose people. The warrant here is "Liking CAH makes you a bad person," which is ridiculous.

Pretty sure I said "do bad things".
posted by kenko at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2015


Does the game point people in that direction, or do people point themselves in that direction? The game rules just say "Play a card, if yours gets chosen, you win that round". Also, what is the percentage of "lazy, stereotype punchline" cards in a box of CAH cards? Some people are talking like it's close to 100%, but there seem to be lots of non-offensive cards in there.

This reminds me of the arguments we have here about how reddit isn't all bad.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


It occurs to me that for a lot of people CAH isn't actually a card game; it's a role-playing game, where people who think of themselves as progressive and fair get to pretend for an hour that they're sexist racist assholes.

But see, this is exactly the problem with this discussion. Those of you who don't like the game think that you KNOW something about those of us who do. And you don't.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Cheap "edgy" "humor" (ipso facto CaH) gives me hives, but end up playing this stupid game all the time with clueless tech bros. The only way to win is to be the change you want to see. And as much as I hate it, I win this stupid game ALL THE TIME.

Announce right off the bat that you'll never give the point to lazy offensive shit, but reward subversive, absurd, cute or over the top literal answers (my personal favorite play, "department of Agriculture" lol). Don't cave when they all go for the dead baby Hitlers, keep playing your way. You might go through a couple rounds being the obvious stand-out in the pile, but you're also forcing everyone to play differently when your turn comes around, and eventually that vibe infects the whole party.

The game is not about being the biggest asshole, it's about interpreting social cues, reading the room/judge and meeting its norms. In the end, offensive-for-offense-sake will only win over actually-funny if everyone engages in the offensiveness arms race, which is the default in this game (whereas AtA tends to go way more surreal/absurd) only because of the naughty words printed on the cards. Overtly breaking the "most offensive answer wins always" norm forces everyone to come up with different winning conditions.
posted by Freyja at 10:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Another thing that dawned on me reading this is that CAH is NOT a game that you would play with complete strangers. I can't think of too many games where that is the case. Maybe that's the limitation?

I think the game resonates with people who know each other. It's like an icebreaker for those awkward family gatherings where you want to dole out a little bit of "lighten the f*ck up, " on your relatives...but I couldn't imagine busting out a deck with a group of people I don't know.
posted by Chuffy at 10:35 AM on May 7, 2015


In fact, because the mechanics of the game are simple and the content is awful, it's a successful warm up to other games...

The latter part never happens. I've had half a dozen ostensible game nights turn into CAH nights, where a dozen people sit around playing one big game of CAH for 3-4 hours (or more). And despite my effort to try to breakaway, nobody is interested and everybody continues to play CAH while a pile of other games are left unplayed.

I don't like CAH, and I think it is because it gets thrusted as a party game so EVERYONE should like it and if you don't like it, you're just too uptight and a prude! Unlike a game like Scrabble or Settlers, where people can just say they don't enjoy the game and point to the mechanics or length of it, disliking CAH supposedly says something about what kind of person you are. And, this is kind of going on in this topic too.

It becomes a weird litmus test sort of game, where you're either in the in-crowd or not.
posted by FJT at 10:41 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is a reasonable opinion that no one can fault you for having.

This is intensely annoying, incidentally. I'm attempting to deliver a conclusion that I have arrived at for various reasons; I consider my opinion of CAH different in kind from my opinion that chocolate ice cream is pleasing. There is, I assume, a point to this thread other than everyone informing each other of their private, individual opinions, which never interact with each other or have anything to do with each other, because they're all just opinions which, hey, no one can fault you for having them, because it's just, like, your opinion, man. (I don't see why no one can fault someone for having an opinion. I think it's quite proper to fault someone for having an opinion, sometimes!)

Perhaps you misunderstood the sense in which I meant that CAH is a bad game. I don't mean it's not fun, or that it's not well, I don't know, balanced or something; I mean that it is, let's say, pernicious. It's bad in that it is, well, morally bad and inculcates/encourages morally bad attitudes. (Maybe you think someone can fault me for having that opinion.) And that's why I think that liking the game (as it's normally, in my experience, played, and how it very much seems to be designed to be played) makes you someone who likes doing something bad.

Those of you who don't like the game think that you KNOW something about those of us who do. And you don't.

Sure I do; I know plenty of people who like the game and have played it several times. I admit I don't know a lot about everyone who likes the game.
posted by kenko at 10:42 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the gateway theory of bad games is like the gateway theory of bad art. To the best of my ability to tell, the number of people who moved on from Thomas Kinkade to Gedi Sibony is so vanishing small as to be statistically insignificant.
posted by maxsparber at 10:44 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right now I want to play Charades or Taboo using CAH cards.

With everybody in this thread.
posted by entropone at 10:45 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the gateway theory of bad games is like the gateway theory of bad art. To the best of my ability to tell, the number of people who moved on from Thomas Kinkade to Gedi Sibony is so vanishing small as to be statistically insignificant.

I'm sitting here diagramming sentences and plotting logic diagrams trying to figure out your opinion of Gedi Sibony.
posted by griphus at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2015


Those of you who don't like the game think that you KNOW something about those of us who do. And you don't.

Sure I do; I know plenty of people who like the game and have played it several times. I admit I don't know a lot about everyone who likes the game.


You may know things about individual people who like the game. But you can't extrapolate from that to say something like "People who like CAH only do so because XYZ." I think it's clear from this thread that people play CAH for a wide variety of reasons and with a wide variety of intentions.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:51 AM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm sitting here diagramming sentences and plotting logic diagrams trying to figure out your opinion of Gedi Sibony.

Beats me what maxsparber thinks of Sibony but I just did an image search and now I'm down with him, so, thanks!
posted by kenko at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2015


Any time someone suggests CAH, you should see if they have You Don't Know Jack on a console instead.

I really like YDKJ and agree that it is probably a better game on balance, but the reason that people end up playing CAH is that it's very flexible. People can drift in or out of the group, pay as much or as little attention as they'd like to, and skip a round or two for whatever reason. You can play with 14 people or 4 and for as long or as short as you'd like. It's also fairly easy to get started and has pretty limited absolute requirements in terms of things you need to own and/or understand just to play (although I admit that the less you're tuned into US Millennial pop culture, the less you'll probably enjoy the experience). Basically none of those things are true about YDKJ (or most other games, for that matter).

If you're at a party, asking for a semi-random group of people to commit to a more complicated game is tough at best, but CAH is always there and easy and never really demands too much of the players, which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing depending on the group and what you're in the mood for.
posted by Copronymus at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sitting here diagramming sentences and plotting logic diagrams trying to figure out your opinion of Gedi Sibony.

He once stole a set of metal blinds and put them on the floor and declared it art. I saw people almost step on it at the Walker Art Center, giving the staff ther visible panic attacks.

I love his work.
posted by maxsparber at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I suppose it's one of those situations like someone mentioned above...I have a bunch of games collecting dust, too, but many times, that is because the games are limited (2-player only, 4 player only, no fun if you don't have 4+ players, etc.). Even if the game I'm playing with others sucks-for-all-the-reasons, at least we're playing. I don't have any anecdotal evidence that introducing it to my friends and family who aren't already gamers will be successful, but it's similar to Fluxx - little/no learning curve and it gets folks to sit around the table.
posted by Chuffy at 10:55 AM on May 7, 2015


But you can't extrapolate from that to say something like "People who like CAH only do so because XYZ."

Yeah, which is why I said "for a lot of people," not "every single person who has ever played the game.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2015


disliking CAH supposedly says something about what kind of person you are.

I don't have this happen to me often though I'm starting to get to the point I don't really enjoy playing CAH with most crowds. However, it's an annoying quirk: to connect your like or dislike of a game to what type of person you are. You liking or disliking CAH is not a moral action that should be weighed as an ethical expression. An expression of taste or appetite? Yes. But playing or not playing CAH should not indicate you good or bad, sophisticated or crude, dull or interesting.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The thrill, if any, will wear off and nobody can be shouting “...it’s amputees!” with the same enthusiasm the tenth time over.
Oh, if only that were true (I decline to play the game but hear the shouts in the background at various gatherings)..
posted by Candleman at 11:00 AM on May 7, 2015


Pac-Man Against Humanity does not gobble. He guzzles.
posted by oulipian


rereading my own quote, it jumped out at me that I had gotten that wrong. so sorry!
posted by jb at 11:03 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the arguments we have here about how reddit isn't all bad.

Cards Against Humanity is basically Reddit: The Game. I use it as an indicator for when it's time to leave a party.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:05 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I mean that it is, let's say, pernicious. It's bad in that it is, well, morally bad and inculcates/encourages morally bad attitudes.

We can agree to disagree, but I do think it shuts down a lot of legitimately transgressive comedy and territory. Much as Tig Notaro's routine about her cancer was not an invitation to say, "ha ha, cancer! Let's not take it seriously, and also start making offensive OMG cancer jokes." I thought her routine was great, but I'm also dealing with cancer in my family right now, and at the moment I would not be able to handle it. But I can't condemn her, either.

Well, in this context, I think it's hard not to be reminded of why Chris Rock stopped performing his most famous routine, y'know? Or Dave Chappelle's two minds about his own shows and performances. I mean, I actually kind of think the answer here is at least partly "yes".

I said the same thing, above, about Dave Chapelle and Amy Schumer (and to a lesser extent Stephen Colbert). I don't think either of them are doing something pernicious by creating comedy which is funny and biting to an in-group but potentially misunderstood by an outgroup. When you yourself are making the jokes, it can become uncomfortable to perform them in front of the wrong audience. That's why context is highly important in comedy. But it is a net negative to the world to have made the jokes? I don't think so. I would not be comfortable playing CAH with certain groups, either, and that's kind of my point-- it's 100% about the people you are playing with. Me and another woman making a sarcastic joke about our chubby, aging bodies is a lot different than a random man making a joke at the expense of our chubby, aging bodies. Our bodies are chubby and aging either way, but to say, "Amy Schumer, don't make a joke about our culture's hatred of chubby bodies, because people might take it as license to make fat jokes"-- it feels a little restrictive.

To say that Amy Schumer and Dave Chapelle (and people of the like) are intelligent people caught in a trap of ironic sophistication feels wrong to me. I think to call that a "trap," you have to kind of ignore the fact that Dave Chapelle didn't stop doing his routines because they were inherently pernicious, he stopped because white audiences glommed onto them and actively laughed at the wrong jokes and in the wrong spirit. I don't think it was because white audiences saw the social critique and appropriated it, necessarily (though there is room for discomfort there too); it was that he felt like it was becoming a minstrel show, for white people to laugh at instead of with, because they totally ignored the critique and just wanted to see a one-dimensional racist caricature. That doesn't mean that Chapelle's original routine wasn't fantastic, or that it was a fundamentally poor choice to perform his routines in front of large audiences; it does mean that humor can be co-opted and distorted and popularity and/or fame make things problematic that originally were not so much, because new audiences take new meanings from them. His original routines were very cathartic to a lot of people, just like Schumer's are now.

I would make a lot of jokes to my sisters that I wouldn't make to a random male friend, because the opportunity for him to laugh at women is too high. So if you play CAH with people who like transgressive humor and making kind of meta-comedy it's obviously a best case scenario, one that I've been lucky to pretty much always enjoy. And in that context, it has been super fun and fucking hilarious.
posted by easter queen at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


To say that Amy Schumer and Dave Chapelle (and people of the like) are intelligent people caught in a trap of ironic sophistication feels wrong to me.

FWIW I don't think that they are. But I do think many of their fans are!
posted by kenko at 11:08 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pac-Man Against Humanity does not gobble. He guzzles.

My favorite Drawful moment ever involved captioning an utterly nonsensical picture as "Pac-Man Stress-Eating Texas," so I can confirm that he does, indeed, do both.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:08 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


People who don't enjoy party games are simply redatt (see also Donald Trefusis).

I've never played CAH myself. Syrio Forel vs CAH is quite funny though.
posted by pw201 at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


FWIW I don't think that they are. But I do think many of their fans are!

Yes, of course. But then the argument that everyone playing CAH is just a sheep doing a bad thing kind of relies on the idea that everyone who likes the game must be somewhat dumb, ignorant, or have a bad sense of humor.
posted by easter queen at 11:12 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


So it's Your Favorite Game Sucks, basically.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:13 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, in this context, I think it's hard not to be reminded of why Chris Rock stopped performing his most famous routine, y'know? Or Dave Chappelle's two minds about his own shows and performances. I mean, I actually kind of think the answer here is at least partly "yes".


I don't think those examples say the answer to when I, as a woman, laugh at ironic sexism performed by a feminist comedian with the purpose of parodying misogynist attitudes... am I falling into a "trap"?. They are cautionary tales about assuming a shared context among members of an audience you don't know, especially as that audience grows. It's more a trap for the performer than the audience. So, uh, actually the opposite of what you just said I guess:

To say that Amy Schumer and Dave Chapelle (and people of the like) are intelligent people caught in a trap of ironic sophistication feels wrong to me.

(well you could say it's a trap for the audience member who assumes Chris Rock is on the same page with their racist attitudes but I think that's different than what easter queen meant)

Which is to say I don't think they say anything at all about what's happening among the members of a particular close-knit group playing the game. But you could argue that people who make the game are walking right into the problem, and unlike those comedians are not interested in owning up to it. And people who treat it like "oh let's play that game, everybody loves that game, come on join us" - and there are plenty - are kind of the worst.
posted by atoxyl at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2015


I mean I don't think it's a "trap" to understand the irony and social commentary as intended and find it funny, until you retell the joke in which case you do have to watch out for the performance "trap."
posted by atoxyl at 11:22 AM on May 7, 2015


Sure, those people could be super fucking annoying. But the assumption that everyone who enjoys the game is one of those people, and is also incidentally white, male, straight, and whatever, is just wrong.

I think it's totally possible to be critical of the game creators and say "how did you THINK this was gonna go" but since I enjoy the game so far I am not really on that tack I guess. So far I've mostly experience people of varying levels of privilege enjoying the game on multiple levels.

The idea is that if you're laughing at ironic sexism, you're a jerk who thinks he is sophisticated, and you're also implicitly wrong (and also implicitly male). But "ironic sexism" is something that sexist asshole men do and Amy Schumer also does so it's not just one big category to lump everything in and eject it into space.

If there is a performance trap, that is a pretty complex problem-- one that I definitely admit to but also think is only tangential to the critique of CAH being made in the OP (and the thread).

The thing I don't agree with is saying that Schumer and Chapelle are obviously enlightened professionals who can handle the material, while the rest of us just hopelessly misunderstand them when we use our amateur irony skills. Obviously this isn't true on multiple levels.
posted by easter queen at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thing is, there is almost no reason for me to ever say 'gobs and gobs of cum' at my dining room table save for that one Easter that the family no longer discusses.

See, "That one Easter that the family no longer discusses" is actually funny. If CAH -- which, full disclosure, I downloaded but never wanted to play -- had more cards like that and less self-consciously "transgressive" cards, it might be worth playing.
posted by Gelatin at 11:32 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


this game pretty much reveals privilege every time you play it and it's really marred my social interactions with some people who were otherwise super nice until they made a bunch of racist-in-subtext jokes focused on my race and allowed other people to laugh about it

of course, it's not the only way for these kinds of conversations to happen but it sucks that I have to be roped into situations where it pretty much always will happen
posted by runt at 11:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"That one Easter that the family no longer discusses" is actually funny

That could very, very easily be a CAH card.
posted by easter queen at 11:39 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Probably the single funniest moment I have ever seen in CaH was when I was playing with a room full of white people and one black couple, and you could see the gears in the white people's heads turning REALLY hard as they tried to suss out how exactly to do this and it was like someone had built a little shoebox diorama of america's cultural discourse
posted by Greg Nog at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2015 [43 favorites]


Not to derail, but do people really refer to Two and a Half Men as "Talfmen"?

Because, if so, that is a billion times worse than the cum guzzling card in CAH.
posted by bondcliff at 11:55 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


lol somebody's not down with the talfling community
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've never played CAH. I get the impression that if I was younger (college-age) I would find it pretty interesting. But from what I've heard about it, I'm not that interested in trying it now.
posted by ovvl at 12:03 PM on May 7, 2015


The main argument against CAH at this point is, 4 years after it blew up, the novelty has long since worn off. And when a game's main selling point is comedy and party interaction, the last thing you want is for people to have seen it all before. ("I'm not offended; I'm bored".) It's not like anyone's playing it in a heavily strategic or advanced way - it's for fun, and when the fun has worn off, it's time to put the damn thing into storage. I hope the company is working on its next big hit (and hopefully learning from the criticism it's gotten over the years.)
posted by naju at 12:11 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


The main argument against CAH at this point is, 4 years after it blew up, the novelty has long since worn off.

One of the cards in the latest expansion is "No longer finding any of the cards in Cards Against Humanity funny."
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


The thing I don't agree with is saying that Schumer and Chapelle are obviously enlightened professionals who can handle the material, while the rest of us just hopelessly misunderstand them when we use our amateur irony skills. Obviously this isn't true on multiple levels.

If anything what I'm saying is it's a problem even for professionals - probably more so because they can't know who is in the audience. I don't personally think it means you can't do more good than harm with that sort of comedy, I just think it means you have to be purposeful in doing so. And the whole reason we're using Chappelle as an example is that he decided he wasn't comfortable continuing to do what he was doing - though as far as I know it wasn't solely because the material was double-edged but because his concerns about that capped off his growing dissatisfaction with the TV industry and his place in it.

And on that note I don't think that Chris Rock routine was ever ironic per se. But it was a relatively narrow message not meant to give outgroup members carte blanche to say anything and couch it in "oh but not you."
posted by atoxyl at 12:29 PM on May 7, 2015


I miss Lunch Money.

The best part about Lunch Money is the fake Irish accents used when playing the cards.

The best part of Cards Against Humanity is the alcohol. Which to my mind, is why it sucks- it interferes with the drinking.
posted by happyroach at 12:35 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seeing as how someone's already made the "but Reddit is okay if you remove all the default subs" parallel argument for CAH, it's a more apt comparison than I first thought.

Anyway, the important thing to note is that there's a gadget-based version of You Don't Know Jack for everyone with their smartphones and their ipads. And the first chapter is free! You install the party app on the ipad/apple tv, and everyone gathers around using an app on their smartphone (ios or android) as the controller.

I mean, everyone's on their smartphone anyway, so you might as well be playing a game with your cohorts instead of playing Facebook.

I was a huge fan of YDKJ, so all I need now is an iPad and some friends.

Back on topic, the closing sentence of the article is:

But even worse is the thought that someone might sit down to play Cards Against Humanity, and assume the entire hobby is this boring.

When the hobby can be described as sitting still for hours (like, many many hours! my record is an 8 hr long game of Seafaring Knights of Catan), at a table (or worse, the carpet!), on a Friday night, it's safe to say that assumption has already been, well, assumed.

CAH is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Agricola in terms of difficulty to learn. For that, I appreciate it (and recommendations for similar - thanks Mefi!) because listening to the rules get explained for more than a few minute is apparently too onerous for some of my friends, so it's nice to have games to play with them.
posted by fragmede at 12:37 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


EatTheWeak: "Cards Against Humanity is basically Reddit: The Game. I use it as an indicator for when it's time to leave a party."

Yeah, that's pretty close to how I feel about it. It's just not my thing and I'd either leave or wander off to the kitchen for a few hours if people started playing.
posted by octothorpe at 12:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh god I haven't played Lunch Money in years, and most of my (super gamer-y) friends have never even heard of it.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have never played CAH, but I have played some EPIC games of Lunch Money. In fact, I have the t-shirt. (Which I almost never wear, because as a beloved member of my local community and apple-cheeked mother of two, my options for safely wearing a shirt that says PIMP SLAP superimposed above a shot of a little girl with murder in her eyes are … limited.)
posted by KathrynT at 1:02 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


listening to the rules get explained for more than a few minute is apparently too onerous for some of my friends

This has actually reminded me of a question about insanely intricate games that I've had for a little while; game geeks, please feel free to answer it over here!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:05 PM on May 7, 2015


The warrant here is "Liking CAH makes you a bad person," which is ridiculous. You can like a lot of things and it doesn't mean that it makes you into a bad human being.

I don't think anyone is saying that, it's not on the level of cold-blooded murder or anything, but I'd probably place it on par with, like, littering.
posted by invitapriore at 1:29 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd probably place it on par with, like, littering

But... why.
posted by easter queen at 1:31 PM on May 7, 2015


I'll be real - I tend to just head home once the party becomes all about littering.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


CAH has always seemed like a pretty lame game to me. I just don't find it that funny. Transgression alone does not make me laugh...it still has to be rendered well.

But people who get really upset about CAH will NEVER be funny.
posted by Edgewise at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I played a few times with some colleagues at work I was close to. I think that was what made it work; we all knew each other quite well, so the transgressive nature of the game became funny because we were doing things that were out of character.

The first time was very funny, each subsequent iteration less so, until we just stopped about about 3 or 4 games. And by the end we were searching for the clever joke rather than the offensive one. So it seemed to me like something to do with people you know well, once or twice, and then move on to other things.
posted by nubs at 1:44 PM on May 7, 2015


One of the advantages of CAH is that you can learn the rules in a couple of minutes and then spend the rest of your party time socializing, drinking beer, trying to pick the combinations that appeal the most to the person judging. (Which can be, but is not always, the most offensive combination.)

At its best, it's a co-created experience. It could be a race to the bottom, or a collaboration to be clever. You have the choice to play the most offensive card, or the most benign. It's a game of psychology, not merely giving the greatest offense to your friends.
posted by theorique at 1:48 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


octothorpe - For real. Flee the premises or at least establish a buffer. Same protocol for when someone thinks the room wants to hear about the fucking Darwin Awards. Sometimes I can find my fellow uptight sjw politically correct prudes hiding out in some other quadrant of the party and we can sit around not getting satire or understanding that humor absolutely needs to be upsetting and offensive every single time no matter what, gawd, together.

If people have fun with it, greatwhatever, but CaH is a shitty open mic in a box to me. Except at the open mic, at least the guys doing lame, cruel, privilege reinforcing bits are doing so from their own (boring, hack) invention and in a name they're willing to attach to their face. Their material sucks, but it's theirs. Some of them might even realize how much cruelty limits their comedy, grow beyond the locker room / shock jock spectrum, and start writing jokes.

I don't see CaH leveling up in a similar fashion, but maybe they're working on a Comedy Is Also a Tool with Which We Transform and Transcend Pain Because We're All in This Frightening World and Confusing Life Together expansion pack.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't see CaH leveling up in a similar fashion, but maybe they're working on a Comedy Is Also a Tool with Which We Transform and Transcend Pain Because We're All in This Frightening World and Confusing Life Together expansion pack.

...yeah you see the thing about PARTIES is that they aren't usually about DESPAIR.

Or so I'm told; I don't really go to parties these days.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:11 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


the thing about PARTIES is that they aren't usually about DESPAIR.

Not even from 3 to 5 am?
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I run in a circle of a lot of board game geeks, but board games -- especially the complicated strategy ones that people seem to like -- just aren't that fun for me. I do like party games though - games that give us something to do while we're chatting and drinking, that don't take a lot of focus and that people can drift in and out of and doesn't suck the air out of the room. (CAH has very occasionally been that for me, but not really anymore.)

My favorite party games are things like Left Center Right (a betting dice game) or Pass the Pig (basically also a betting dice game but you're playing odds with points and rolling pigs instead of dice).
posted by misskaz at 2:16 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not even from 3 to 5 am?

No, then they are about figuring out which taco stand is still open, dear god, let it be the one two blocks away. Then they are about HOPE, my friend.

Actually your comment struck me most because the thought I kept having throughout this absolutely ridiculous thread was, "this is like those people who say 'stand-up comedy is a Bad Thing' because a lot of stand-up comics are terrible." As a female-presenting person who goes to a lot of open mics, I can completely understand the visceral response that some people must absolutely feel playing CAH in a room of bros, bro-ing down over their bro-decks. But I also just feel like it's focusing the blame in the wrong place. Yeah, dickbags are going to use CAH as a handy tool to express their dickbag selves. But they're going to be their dickbag selves at a party anyway.

Meanwhile, a group of people who are pretty much made of good intentions and deft, absurdist senses of humor are going to use it to make everyone laugh so hard that someone accidentally farts, and that is the greatest thing there is, and mostly I'm just sad that it looks like so much of MeFi only ever hangs out with the dickbags.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


I love Shut Up Sit Down and this article makes me love them even more. Weird though that they didn't comment on the fact that it's a direct rip-off/subversion of Apples to Apples.
posted by edbles at 2:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


There’s no life in there [...] Cards Against Humanity opens and closes the joke for you. It’s limp, passive, inert.

Doesn't that mean they... [drumroll] ...live up to their name?
posted by clawsoon at 2:29 PM on May 7, 2015


But people who get really upset about CAH will NEVER be funny.

I don't think that's their goal, really.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:33 PM on May 7, 2015


I don't own CAH, because if I did I'd have to remove a lot of cards. I have played multiple times with some groups of people who weren't always aware of the gross racism/sexism of some of the cards. Some combination of giving the people's eyebrow and not choosing their card when a bigoted white card is played to my black card has had the desired effect: those cards are no longer played when I'm the black-card holder, and less frequently played more generally in the group. You wanna play the lol pedophile card? No points for you, sir, and I'm not even going to explain why because you damn well know why.

I like to think that by selectively giving or withholding CAH Social Approval Points, I am shaping what is filtered as acceptable behavior. But it is more likely that I flatter myself.

(And because Social Approval Points are basically like internet points, I guess CAH is indeed like Reddit. Withering eyebrow-raising skill highly recommended.)
posted by nicodine at 2:34 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


For those of us offended by the "Black People" + "Assless Chaps" combination, there's always Nuclear War and all its expansions...
posted by Chuffy at 2:52 PM on May 7, 2015


The CAH haters in here are friends with and socialize with a bunch of jerks.
posted by Wood at 3:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The CAH haters in here are friends with and socialize with a bunch of jerks.

Or...people who like CAH don't notice that they are friends with and socializing with a bunch of jerks.

Like I said, this game has a weird way of suddenly making people feel that they know more about a person just by whether they like or dislike CAH.
posted by FJT at 3:21 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The CAH haters in here are friends with and socialize with a bunch of jerks.

Awkwarrrrd.
The only people I've ever played CAH with are mefites and their friends.
posted by phunniemee at 3:21 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


QED.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:23 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The CAH haters in here are friends with and socialize with a bunch of jerks.

Orrrr...maybe they just didn't like the game. Because all it's good for is making annoying interruptions in the drinking.
posted by happyroach at 3:30 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


this game has a weird way of suddenly making people feel that they know more about a person just by whether they like or dislike CAH

The CAH-haters are explicitly describing the jerks and racists they encounter in their social situations.
posted by Wood at 3:46 PM on May 7, 2015


Even if the people you're socializing with aren't inherently jerky, CAH can still make for some awfully uncomfortable combos.

I was playing a few weeks ago with a whole bunch of twenty and thirty something creative types in Portland. Lots of queer people, myself included, pretty progressive bunch, no one obviously in the affluent tech guys with huge blind spots demographic. But we were all white.

The black card was "what's there a lot of in heaven?" One of the answers was "a black man in his early 20s last seen wearing a hoodie."

No laughter. There was this collective "oh" that spread over the room, and you could see the wheels turning in people's heads as they did the moral calculus of "is this combination okay in any way shape or form?" More silence. Still no laughter, at least not for that combo. It sure seemed like the room was silently, collectively agreeing that someone had crossed a line.

That damn card still won the round. Even in a roomful of people who'd be aghast at the notion that Freddy Gray or Trayvon Martin "deserved" their deaths in any way, the card that makes fun of their fates still won out.

If not wanting to be put in a position where well-meaning people stop, realize a "joke" is beyond the pale, and still deem it winning anyway makes me a humorless SJW, I'll gladly wear that crown. Thanks to that incident, I'll be trying to back out of all further games of CAH, or at least play more like this_will_be_good if I have to.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:05 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


"The black card was "what's there a lot of in heaven?" One of the answers was "a black man in his early 20s last seen wearing a hoodie.""

Wait, that is an example of an uncomfortable combo?

" Even in a roomful of people who'd be aghast at the notion that Freddy Gray or Trayvon Martin "deserved" their deaths in any way, the card that makes fun of their fates still won out."

That doesn't make fun of their fates. That card combo's saying that a lot of innocent black people are shot by police. Not seeing the offensiveness.
posted by I-baLL at 4:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I miss Lunch Money.

Lunch Money would be a better game if what each card does was printed on it rather than having to memorize each card's effects from the easily lost rulebook.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:15 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Said it before and I'll say it again: 90% of CAH's problems are solved by throwing the white cards in the trash and giving everyone a pencil.
posted by rifflesby at 4:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That doesn't make fun of their fates. That card combo's saying that a lot of innocent black people are shot by police. Not seeing the offensiveness.

I agree, but it still sounds like it sure made that room uncomfortable in a way that wasn't intended.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:30 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That card combo's saying that a lot of innocent black people are shot by police. Not seeing the offensiveness.

Not really seeing the fun party game aspect of it either.
posted by phunniemee at 4:31 PM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'd say that particular combination isn't so much offensive as it is a horrible downer, especially since any given day might well be "it's been 17 0 days since our last shooting of an unarmed young black man."

I've never played straight CAH, but I have played a CAH/Apples to Apples hybrid with fill-in-your-own-cards populated with injokes, and that led to some hilarious fun times.
posted by yasaman at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Phunniemee has it. Who needs a party game to remind you that lots of innocent black men get accused of crimes when it's all over our communities every day?
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2015


There's more to life than fun, you know.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


yes, which is why people go to parties
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:52 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Phunniemee has it. Who needs a party game to remind you that lots of innocent black men get accused of crimes when it's all over our communities every day?"

Wait, but you yourself said, and I quote:

"the card that makes fun of their fates still won out."

When it didn't make fun of their fates.

But, either way,

"Thanks to that incident, I'll be trying to back out of all further games of CAH, or at least play more like this_will_be_good if I have to."

That card was played exactly how will_be_good described, so.....
posted by I-baLL at 4:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


CAH isn't Puerto Rico. It's a mechanically uncomplicated game.

It's not like Puerto Rico is terribly forward thinking either, with brown colored 'colonists' who work in your sugar fields, while players take turns choosing roles that literally have the word 'privilege' on them. Super awkward when your black friend and his wife from Philly is over for game night and someone trots it out...

Fortunately, Puerto Rico has a series of games that slowly strip that away. San Juan is a card game version of Puerto Rico, where cards are used to represent things you can build, agricultural goods ready for harvest, or money to build things with.

And then Puerto Rico was stripped of colonist history entirely as a sci-fi game Race for the Galaxy, which introduces simultaneous role selection. And seriously complicated hieroglyphics, a military buildup mechanic that lets you conquer planets, and brings back shipping goods for points.

Then last year, Roll for the Galaxy was published, which brings back currency, and resource cubes, but now the cubes are also dice you pay to roll. Money engines are a crucial feature of Roll. If you don't have money to hire workers, it's a huge speed bump to explore your way back to a functional econ engine.
posted by pwnguin at 5:28 PM on May 7, 2015


My god metafilter is full of sourpusses anymore.

Cards Against Humanity is good family fun (literally, the last game I played included my mother, four sisters, a brother, and four cousins) and ain't nothing any of you can say going to make me feel bad about enjoying it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:12 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I play Cards Against Humanity and I'm not ashamed of it. It's just me, my girlfriend, and my girlfriend's friend and her husband. I got the full set (Australian core and five standard expansions) still in shrink for a steal on Gumtree. I dunno how many hundred cards that is, but it's a lot. We crack it out and play for an hour or so while chatting and maybe having a drink, and we get a couple of good laughs out of it and it's fine, just fine. We all understand one another. Once we've worked through all the cards (I've got a special box I keep it all them, and I divide the cards into used and unused) I'll either get a couple of Crabs Adjust Humidity boxes or y'know, I'll just throw the fucking thing in the bin, or give it away, or sell it, or burn it in a field, and none of it will ever matter and it doesn't bother anybody in the slightest and 50 years from now we'll all be dead and forgotten by the universe.

(I do much, much, much prefer Snake Oil, however, and am keen for the new Elixir expansion as well as a fresh printing of the similar game Funemployed! These are all much better options than CaH.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:33 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tried playing the online ripoff version of CaH, So You Think You're Xyzzy, the other night, however, and everybody on that is completely terrible.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:39 PM on May 7, 2015


Not really seeing the fun party game aspect of it either.

I've only played it twice, but it wasn't much fun either time. There were some decent jokes, but a lot of cards were just so overtly dumb that there wasn't a way to make anything funny or interesting out of it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread makes the game sound like Tosh.0 standup.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:57 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Tosh Your Own .0
posted by griphus at 7:03 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cards Against Humanity is good family fun (literally, the last game I played included my mother, four sisters, a brother, and four cousins)

I'm glad y'all had a great time! But I do think that this is pretty family dependent; you couldn't pay me enough to play with my folks.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:13 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My family's not hip enough to appreciate ironic racism.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'd never bust this out with about 90% of my family members, and I sure as shit wouldn't introduce it into a gaming group or a bunch of casual acquaintances. Definitely not with people I'd only met a few minutes or hours ago. Lots of you seem to be playing it or getting dragged into playing it in super-weird or just plain dud situations.

CaH is kind of like a multi-pronged dildo that you can ride as a group for a while and have a great time but once it's hit the spot you shouldn't keep riding it. If the rest of the group is done and is cleaning up and you're still there thrusting away and trying to look them in the eye, then you need to go home.

It certainly shouldn't be the first thing you pull out at your next gathering. And if somebody has barely sat down before asking for "the dildo thing we did last time" then, y'know, that's kind of squicky and maybe they should just relax for a while and try the awful olive dip you made. But if you've put together a big Facebook event about it and people have RSVP'd, sure, have it lubed up and ready to go.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:31 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Goddam, my heart sinks every time CAGH... you tally inter-favor for sharing lame memes pre-manufactured by not you. It's like it leaked out into the analog world, where it's just as mindless and mechanical as in that other place, but even sadder because it's a copy of that. If there were a way of working some kind of manual clicking thing into gameplay... And to know any combination of cards is to know all possible games. The sadness of it. And, oh god, the forced laughter
posted by batfish at 7:44 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am an unabashed CAH fan, with the right people. It's effing hysterical with my wife, her girlfriend, and the girlfriend's husband. It turns out that CAH is pretty funny when most of the people at the table have slept together.
posted by joycehealy at 7:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Played it once. Laughed harder than I had in ages. Played again and had another great time.

Then we took it away on holidays over christmas and everyone wanted to play it and it got old really, really quickly. Now when anyone suggests it I pretend i didn't hear and bring out Hanabi or Qwirkle.

Sure its badly offensive, I get why people enjoy it and I won't stop them from doing so but I'm with Quinns on this one - its just a shit game.
posted by HarveyDenture at 8:01 PM on May 7, 2015


This reminds me of the arguments we have here about how reddit isn't all bad.

Reddit is all bad? I'll admit it's not unusual for me to be dismayed by posts there, it's still a net positive in my life. Much in the same way that Metafilter is still a still a net positive in my life even when the snark is cranked up to world-class olympian levels.
posted by the jam at 8:15 PM on May 7, 2015


Metafilter is still a still a net positive in my life even when the snark is cranked up to world-class olympian levels.

Wait about a year and we'll be back to tell you how bad the Olympics are, too.
posted by phunniemee at 8:29 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The black card was "what's there a lot of in heaven?" One of the answers was "a black man in his early 20s last seen wearing a hoodie."

Yeah, and that's hilarious, precisely because it's awful.

Let me repeat that, because it seems like this is what the scowlers doesn't get: I laugh at this combination of cards precisely because I think that racial profiling and police brutality are real and tragic and awful. Not because I'm an inhuman monster who doesn't care about dead black kids. The humor works (for me) because I find the reality so horrific.

Yeah, I'm "making fun" in the sense that I'm taking something terrible, and finding a way to laugh at it. But I'm not "making fun" in the sense of trivializing the underlying reality, or expressing contempt for victims of police brutality. If anything, my laughter is an expression of contempt for racist, abusive cops and the system that produces them. Is is really so hard to understand that laughter is one way of processing horror?

Context is everything. If I were laughing at an actual dead person, you'd be quite right to condemn me as a monster. But that's not what I'm doing.

Now, maybe your sense of humor isn't wired that way: not everyone's is. That's totally fine. I won't ask you to play CAH. But please do me the same courtesy: don't make the facile and insulting assumption that my appreciation of dark humor means that I genuinely think that, say, the Holocaust was funny.

(I mean, the idea of the Holocaust—in the right context, and in the right company—is fucking hysterical. Could there be anything more absurd than industrialized genocide? But just because I laugh at a joke about the Holocaust doesn't mean I think the actual Holocaust was funny.)

I agree with others: if you're playing CAH with people who are truly bigoted and mean-spirited and oblivious to their own privilege, then the problem isn't with the game. It's just a bunch of pieces of cardboard; it depends on people's reactions to those pieces of cardboard to create meaning. The problem is that you're playing with assholes.

(CAH does wear thin after about a dozen games. My box has been gathering dust.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:31 PM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is amazing to me- this is literally the first time I have ever found anyone who agrees with me that CAH isn't a great game. I always feel like the prude when I say I don't want to plan- no, no, it's just that after I've played it 3 or 4 times, there's nothing new, the shock value has worn off and all that's left is thinking about what the cards really mean. So inevitably I'll be the one on the camping trip or at the party who sits in a corner and reads a book or does something else unsocial, and just listens to the game anyway.
posted by Secretariat at 8:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, my major use-cases for CAH are:

(1) Mixed groups of people where there are large disparities in how tactically smart, story-smart, or verbally smart folks are, such that other, more rewarding games (Carcassonne, Balderdash, Pandemic, Penny For Your Thoughts, etc.) aren't going to be fun for everyone.

(2). When folks are too goddamn drunk to play anything else.

And in those two cases, it really can be pretty wonderful.

A couple of years ago, I spent a week and a half in Colorado Springs dealing with completely miserable family stuff. On the plane, I felt like my bones, skin, and soul had been scraped all over with a cheese grater. When I finally made it home to Seattle, it was late Saturday night, and my spouse and all of my friends were soused out if their minds, and rolling around the floor cracking up about clown cum and bigger, blacker dicks, and let me tell you, no massage or meditation retreat has ever worked such healing magic.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:04 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you're looking for a break from Apples to Apples and don't want to play CAH, play Dixit. Dixit is like A2A except the cards look like this and the player whose turn it is is playing one and trying to get most of the players (but not all!) to choose the card they're playing from their hand while the other players try to choose a card to play that other players will choose. It's super-fun and... gentle? I guess? Very fun and strong recommend. And if that's not all, it won Spiel des Jahres 2010! There's no higher award!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remove a lot of cards from CAH and always play with a "you can get rid of any card you want to for any reason and you don't have to explain it" rule. People who think this is a "stupid rule" are automatically not fun to play with, and they are also assholes. People who say "but the point is to be as offensive as possible" are boring, and bad at comedy. I have had a lot of fun with it! I tend to be kind of a wild card as far as what I pick and often pick depressing truth pairs.

I have also played it with people I felt vaguely uncomfortable with, because my ex was super unsupportive of both me being an introvert and me not really wanting to hang out with his friends, since they both would do problematic stuff enough that I was always on edge for someone to say something misogynistic and they were SUPER HIGH ENERGY people and were draining as hell, so the combination of being tensed against microaggression + being easily drained made me feel fucking awful. They were so comedically boring and easy to pander to that I beat the shit out of them and while it was satisfying to have proven that I was funnier than any of them it was the least fun I ever had with that game. Augh.
posted by NoraReed at 9:36 PM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


First off, I'm really glad Easter Queen was in here saying most of the things that I wanted to without being nearly as angry about it. The notion that CAH is "pernicious" is absurd. It's pretty similar to declaring "fuck" a bad word and that people who swear a lot are bad people. I can understand how it would be annoying to have it compared to ice cream preferences, but ice cream isn't for everyone and plenty of people feel superior for not eating it (most of the vegans).

"Not really seeing the fun party game aspect of it either."

Depends on the party.
posted by klangklangston at 9:40 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


What *I* learned from CAH this weekend is that it's perfectly possible for someone to be super chill and up for freedom of expression about playing "brown people" as an answer, but if they are told, even quite amiably, that that's sort of a racist card to play, they may turn out to be quite think-skinned and sensitive and not up for people freely expressing themselves all of the time?

SURPRISE
posted by ominous_paws at 9:44 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


play Dixit

And if you like Dixit, you'll probably love Mysterium!
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:44 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"and often pick depressing truth pairs."

That's where the game shines for me, honestly. I've also seen more than one weird epiphany from bro-dawgs where they suddenly grasped that something was a depressing truth pair. It's been a way for people from less traditionally privileged backgrounds to land really effective punches in blind spots without getting blowback they might from openly and earnestly stating the same opinions.
posted by klangklangston at 9:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's just a bunch of pieces of cardboard; it depends on people's reactions to those pieces of cardboard to create meaning. The problem is that you're playing with assholes.

They're pieces of cardboard that are written and tested by a small group of game creators. I go kind of back and forth on whether as creators how much control they have for the game. On one hand, once something is released into the wild it's harder to control. On the other hand, there are definitely things they've tried to do to fix it (like remove the cards about sexual assault). They also frequently interact with the fandom, doing annual holiday promotions and also release new expansion packs. So, though all these years shouldn't they be a little aware of how the game can result in shitty play and try to maybe direct it more away from that?
posted by FJT at 9:58 PM on May 7, 2015


Okay, we all seem to be weighing in about this game, so here goes mine:

Too many cards are designed to encourage you to punch down, and not enough to punch up. I support efforts to re-tune the deck to emphasise the latter and de-emphasise the former.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:35 AM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Too many cards are designed to encourage you to punch down, and not enough to punch up. I support efforts to re-tune the deck to emphasise the latter and de-emphasise the former.

I would totally splash out for Cards Against Patriarchy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:43 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


The black card was "what's there a lot of in heaven?" One of the answers was "a black man in his early 20s last seen wearing a hoodie."

The risk with CAH and its consciously "ooh, so edgy" angle is that you do risk veering off into a direction that exposes something awkward about society, culture, or life in general. I admit, I don't see the downside of a white-majority group getting a ten second pause (even at an otherwise light-hearted party) to think about how police violence lands disproportionately on young black males.

If the card won because of a sentiment of "haw haw, our boys in blue need to kill more goddam thugs", that's not what I'm talking about. (Such a sentiment is obviously very unlikely in the group described by ActionPopulated)

Ultimately, if CAH guides people, in groups, to an occasionally awkward insight that helps them understand unpleasant aspects of the world, then it's doing a service. (If not, it's just a naughty party game.)
posted by theorique at 4:12 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: a multi-pronged dildo that you can ride as a group for a while and have a great time.
posted by theorique at 4:14 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


pwnguin

OT Hate to whip this out here but as a POC whose gaming group contained several others, stop saving us! Seriously!
posted by Octaviuz at 4:21 AM on May 8, 2015


I played CAH the first time with close friends while quite drunk and had a wonderful time, but didn't need to play it ever again. And yet, I've been forced to play it several times since. I laugh for the first few rounds, and then just want it to end already. And it never does. It goes on for hours.

Saying I don't like the game is an occasion for someone to go to the mat with me, call me a prude who hates fun and thinks everyone else is stupid, that I only like games that I can win, that I have no sense of humor, or whatever else. People get crazy over this fucking game, and I came here for a game night, not debate club, you know? You can say my friends are assholes or whatever, but these people are so often strangers and acquaintances. So I give in, my eyes eventually glazing over, my time and my soul evaporating away. I'm stiffled by boredom – and yes, also uncertainly over what these new people in my life really mean when they play particular cards. I do have a sense of humor, and my card was fucking funny, but it got completely passed over because, you know, "A Big Black Dick always wins!"

Meanwhile, lonely in the corner sit Dixit and Avalon and Ladies & Gentlemen and Carcassonne and literally every other casual game I own, that I took the trouble to package up and lug all the way here. These good, fun games that I came here to play, they've all been displaced by the Big Black Box, this boring turd of a game from which all its stinking fun has already been wrung. And that's why I hate Cards Against Humanity.
posted by WCWedin at 7:44 AM on May 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Also, SUSD is amazing. Their review of Ladies & Gentlemen is one that I periodically watch for fun even though we now own the game. I don't recommend trying the recipe, but "approximately some" has become a standard unit of measure in ourhousehold.
posted by WCWedin at 7:55 AM on May 8, 2015


When I have played, it's been with a closed group of very good friends who don't award the point to the grossest card just because it's the grossest card. Cleverness is rewarded. (And yes, you can be clever in CaH.)

I would never play CaH with strangers.
posted by Lucinda at 8:53 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Quinns has sort of blown up in my consciousness in the past few weeks, largely through Netrunner-related stuff, but it's still interesting to see him everywhere suddenly.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2015


OT Hate to whip this out here but as a POC whose gaming group contained several others, stop saving us! Seriously!

Just for the record, we played the game. It was just a bit awkward, and I don't think he's come back to that particular play group since. Obviously there's a myriad of factors around that, but he and I still play Netrunner from time to time.

Anyways I kinda like Roll better than PR just because simultaneous role selection means less time waiting for other people to decide things. Mostly I just want to buy Roll, but I already own too many games nobody plays =(
posted by pwnguin at 9:02 AM on May 8, 2015


Saying I don't like the game is an occasion for someone to go to the mat with me, call me a prude who hates fun and thinks everyone else is stupid, that I only like games that I can win, that I have no sense of humor, or whatever else

So far the best criticism of the game that I've heard is that if you say you don't like it, people yell at you, and if you say you do like it, people yell at you.
posted by easter queen at 9:11 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


So far the best criticism of the game that I've heard is that if you say you don't like it, people yell at you, and if you say you do like it, people yell at you.

Which is a valid criticism. Who plays games (or doesn't) to get yelled at? At this point, CAH has probably ruined as many evenings as Monopoly.
posted by FJT at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I soured on CAH after playing with a bunch of cousins at a family reunion. My cousin's husband is black and he played with us, and after a couple of hours, he finally said "man, don't you guys think this game is kinda racist? I mean, this is a card about lynching (or whatever it was, can't remember the specific card) and that's just supposed to be a big punchline?" and everyone kind of looked at their shoes and tried to explain how it was just as hard on white folks.

But all the humor aimed at white people is stuff that reminds them of how powerful they are or have been, and all the humor aimed at women & people of color is stuff that reminds them of how powerless they are. The punches do not land even close to evenly. I felt especially awful that he'd been put in the position of playing along the whole time, trying to decide whether it was worth saying something or not, trying to anticipate how much blowback he'd get for it, all that shit, and just feeling horribly uncomfortable throughout what was supposed to have been a fun bonding thing with the family. It felt awful and I've never wanted to play the game since.
posted by dialetheia at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I feel like i've posted this before, but the first time i played CAH was like a perfect demonstration of why it sucks.

A friend of mine invited me to come out and play it with her and her sister and their friends at a coffee shop. I showed up, they set the game up, and the most stereotypical perfect cartoon nerdy guy asks if he can play. He, no shit, had a fedora AND a neckbeard. He looked like one of those legitimately offensive images that shows up if you google images search "neckbeard". Seriously.

He actively targeted the most blatantly offensive combinations of cards and it completely sucked the fun out of it. At the time i thought oh, maybe if you just don't play it with shitty people it'll be fun... but the game constantly sets up those jokes, and leaves them there as the path of least resistance.

There's a really good point in the article in re: having to treat the game like an model kit, with house rules and pulling cards and so on, which is generally not and shouldn't be a requirement for a Good Game.

And herein lies my main complaint with it. So many people i know seem to play it because they think there's something transgressive and cool about it, even otherwise feministy progressive people... but they play it like this. I can't think of more than a couple other games that anyone plays like that. No oddjob in goldeneye 64? maybe various rules about monopoly? And it just feels really elephant in the room. Like woah, don't do that one thing or this instantly becomes uncomfortably offensive! No biggie though, just don't push that button.

It's like if there was a game everyone liked to play where if you didn't avoid this one combo of cards and air raid siren screaming the N word would go off. Why would anyone play that?

And really, the main problem is that it only takes one asshole to ruin the game. Or one nominally not an asshole person who doesn't entirely understand why something is offensive, or is trying hard to be funny, or whatever.

I've never played it without feeling awkward. And that's not some kind of "liberal guilt" thing.

Yeah, a lot of the bitching about the people who play this game reminds me of my neighbor who ranted about the "losers" who he saw walking to/from NY ComiCon last year dressed in Cosplay and how stupid they looked. He said this while standing in front of me with his kid, both of whom were decked out from head to toe in sports gear emblazoned with team logos on it. Really really sorry we don't like the same things, but you'll forgive me if I don't give two shits what you think about me and what I like/appreciate just because it's different than what you like.

I actually am that kind of nerd. I've cosplayed, gone to anime conventions, play video games, i work in IT, bla bla bla. I am the target market for this game demographically and i think this game is a demonstration of everything that's wrong with white nerds as a community. It's basically "I, white male, or nonwhite/nonmale person who wants to be "one of the guys", can say these offensive things because they don't effect me or i choose to ignore them to fit in".

But as reddit demonstrates, there's an awful lot of people who really do believe that whatever *ism being mocked isn't real, or whatever.

If you have a group of 5 people laughing at something that's actually fucked up enough times in a row, you not only minimize that it's fucked up, but you'll eventually run in to someone who thinks the fuckeduppedness of it is overblown and those whiny people need to just stfu already.

That "you should be able to laugh at everything!" attitude in nerdy communities is the opposite of inclusive. And it's really hard to find arguments in support of this game, and that attitude, that doesn't reek of the typical modern nerdy dude "and if you're not a filthy SJW you'll admit it's actually funny".
posted by emptythought at 11:51 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is my impression generally correct, do you think, that people who SUPER LIKE board games are more prone to being furiously angry about CAH for failing where other games succeed? Whereas people who don't have a ready list of "good" games in their heads or homes may like or dislike it, but possibly less furiously in either direction?

For me, when someone busts out a board game at a party I feel a deep sense of dread and overwhelming boredom. So honestly CAH is a life saver for me, because I can play 2 rounds and be a good sport and then return to not playing games, which is my preferred state of existence. Secondarily to that, it is occasionally really, really funny, which "Pandemic" is never, ever. Ever.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:59 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"But all the humor aimed at white people is stuff that reminds them of how powerful they are or have been, and all the humor aimed at women & people of color is stuff that reminds them of how powerless they are."

I'm not sure that you can't make that same complaint about all political comedy, including stuff that's explicitly aimed at being empowering. The question isn't whether white men have historically been the dominant group in America, it's whether that's a just ordering of society. Jokes can either reaffirm that as a natural state or call attention to the deep injustice of it, but both start with reminding people of power structures as they exist.

"I can't think of more than a couple other games that anyone plays like that. No oddjob in goldeneye 64? maybe various rules about monopoly?"

A substantial plurality, maybe even a majority, of card games do this. Poker, euchre, myriad trump games (tonk, spades, etc.) all have house rules, and there are some games that consist of essentially nothing but (Mao, Nomic). I play Apples to Apples with the same approach, and everyone here seems to regard that as an entirely benign game.

"If you have a group of 5 people laughing at something that's actually fucked up enough times in a row, you not only minimize that it's fucked up, but you'll eventually run in to someone who thinks the fuckeduppedness of it is overblown and those whiny people need to just stfu already. "

So call 'em on their bullshit. That's not an easy prescription for members of historically disadvantaged groups, but since you're a privileged white nerd, fucking call 'em out, man.
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


So call 'em on their bullshit. That's not an easy prescription for members of historically disadvantaged groups, but since you're a privileged white nerd, fucking call 'em out, man.

If you knowingly agree to play a game designed to make it easy to play debatably racist jokes and then call out the other players, I think that they could quite reasonably get cheesed off at you. Which is perhaps a small price, but it seems better to just avoid the game that's going to cause you to burn bridges.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jokes can either reaffirm that as a natural state or call attention to the deep injustice of it, but both start with reminding people of power structures as they exist.

Yeah. I'm super sympathetic to people not wanting to play CAH because they don't need reminders about the entrenched power structure, but I don't think that's a reason it needs to not exist, or that people who play it are assholes. I actually brought up Amy Schumer because while I get that she's doing something cool that is cathartic for women and a lot of people like her, I am kind of just totally tired of even the most perceptive ironic sexism. It actually feels a lot more empowering to play a game like CAH and make the jokes myself than to receive them from on high, no matter how well done or necessary to fighting the good fight. It's the difference between expressing my own 'grrr' and being passively reminded of all the 'grrr' in the world.

I would never be like "fuck you for liking Amy Schumer, I don't need to hear about that shit," but that's just where I'm at right now. There are a lot of complicated issues at hand in discussing this stuff. But on the whole, CAH has been positive for me, ironic sexism, dead prositute jokes and all.

Also, I am prone to think that arguments about how making too many ironic/political jokes makes people get used to them and become more entrenched in their prejudice is a brand of concern trolling. Like telling women that getting mad isn't changing any rational male minds. It's just irrelevant in some ways.

privileged white nerd

My new username...
posted by easter queen at 2:45 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"If you knowingly agree to play a game designed to make it easy to play debatably racist jokes and then call out the other players, I think that they could quite reasonably get cheesed off at you. Which is perhaps a small price, but it seems better to just avoid the game that's going to cause you to burn bridges."

They could reasonably get cheesed off if they weren't being oblivious dicks. Having a game make it easy to be a lazy, oblivious dick doesn't mean that calling it out is a worse offense than being a lazy, oblivious dick, and I prefer to run the risk of those bridges catching fire in the hopes of epiphany than to let my friends off the hook for the sake of a board game. Again, this is a benefit of only playing with people you know, but frankly anyone who complains about getting called out while playing CAH doesn't deserve to play it. You can't go into a game that asks you to throw punches then whine when your nose gets clipped.
posted by klangklangston at 2:53 PM on May 8, 2015


this is a benefit of only playing with people you know, but frankly anyone who complains about getting called out while playing CAH doesn't deserve to play it.

This is, i suppose, where we see things oppositely. To me, calling someone out after inviting them to play CAH makes you someone not worth playing with - it smacks of entrapment.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2015


Saying I don't like the game is an occasion for someone to go to the mat with me, call me a prude who hates fun and thinks everyone else is stupid, that I only like games that I can win, that I have no sense of humor, or whatever else.

yeah I'd say the CAH hater-haters need to lighten up a little, you know? learn to laugh at the world.
" Humor is the transcnendent form of tragedy" -- HL Menken
posted by invitapriore at 3:33 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I'm super sympathetic to people not wanting to play CAH because they don't need reminders about the entrenched power structure, but I don't think that's a reason it needs to not exist, or that people who play it are assholes.

This is a great way of putting it. In the times that I've played CAH, there seems to have been a common consensus and knowledge that we were playing with terrible things. And a common understanding that obviously the Holocaust or pedophilia or dead babies were really not good things at all. I imagine if someone in the group were really not OK with one of the cards, we would have heard about it, or they would have left the room or something.
posted by theorique at 7:32 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The appeal relies on raucous tittering about people saying things that they 'aren’t supposed to', but in reality you can say whatever the fuck you want.

Well clearly you can't.
posted by effugas at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2015


Sure you can. Say a racial slur out loud if you want. Scream misogynist abuse to the heavens. You can do it! You most likely won't suffer any real consequences for doing so! Doing it around other people might incur consequences, but that's not preventing you from saying what you want. When people say "I can't say [x]", what they mean is "I can't say [x] without being thought of in a way that I don't like". But nobody stops you from saying it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:16 PM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Pope Guilty, throw a Triple Lutz in there and you might just get the gold.
posted by effugas at 9:53 PM on May 8, 2015


That feels like hostile snark but I can't actually parse it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:02 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


if you know figure skating its like the same as the noise kids make when somebody gets sent to the principal's office
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pope, I'll translate. It's some elegant gymnastics, to separate the physical act of passing air through flapping meat, from the social constraints that might prevent someone from doing so. You're right. Nobody is literally stuffing someone's mouth with cloth, preventing the airflow required for speech.

But nobody's talking about that. We're talking about social consequences, and the fact that Cards Against Humanity is explicitly creating some sort of "safe space" where everything's just humor. You're breaking out incredible weasel words like "most likely" and "real consequences" (as if social consequences are somehow 'not real'). Yourh'e doing this because it's gauche to be on the side of censorship. Everybody should be able to say what they think; the game then is to make sure people don't think the wrong things.

It's a fine line to skate, but there you are, thus the Triple Lutz reference.
posted by effugas at 3:09 AM on May 9, 2015


this is a benefit of only playing with people you know, but frankly anyone who complains about getting called out while playing CAH doesn't deserve to play it.

I think this is more of an indictment of the game itself than the hypothetical people playing it though.

It's creating a no one situation. Either you let someone be an asshole in silence, or you say something and you're a rude party-pooper.

And i don't mean this in the "Oh, the mean feminazi is ruining the fun again" sort of way at all. I mean that it's just not fun. The game fails at being a fun thing to do at a party when it enters a crossroads in which the only two ways forward are awkward and uncomfortable for one set of people, or awkward and uncomfortable for the other set.

It breaks the fun-immersion. It's a social wrench throw on an even higher level than your friends bratty younger brother ripping the cartridge out of the nintendo because he didn't get to be player 1 and that's why he lost at mario kart.

There aren't very many other games where:

1. it's actively, structurally encouraging you to do offensive things that make people uncomfortable stock, out of the box
2. it's up to the players to route around this
3. assuming the routing around was not handled deftly enough, you're now at this crossroads where both options suck.

And a critical thing is that you can end up in this situation just because someone doesn't know better, or misjudged the norms of the group. Not because they're some out and out asshole no one should be friends with. There's also the somewhat vouched for but unknown friend-of-a-friend wildcard.

A freaking card game you play over some beverages should not be something that requires a BDSM scene level of discussion and outline of boundaries and limits beforehand, completely with a "you can discard a card at any time and say no to anything".

This game is not jackie chan, but with being offensive. And it's the coyness of it being "up to the players" that gets to me. Being a dickhead is how this game was designed to be played. Way too many card combos are just lazy setups for dead baby type jokes or racist redditor humor. And yea, i definitely see the parallel between defenses of reddit as a whole and defenses of this game.

I have an awesome customized enormous set of apples to apples in a big metal tin that i bring along on cabin camping trips and to barbecues and whatever. I've played it with completely random, heavily inebriated people and never created one situation like that. And the only cards i really removed were redundant ones or "some 90s celebrity no one remembers" type cards. There was no careful evaluation of what could be used to make some tired offensive joke because... there's a lot of other more clever things you can easily do, and those combinations will almost never even be in play in the real world anyways simply because of the number of cards. Still works out fine.
posted by emptythought at 3:17 AM on May 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


But nobody's talking about that. We're talking about social consequences, and the fact that Cards Against Humanity is explicitly creating some sort of "safe space" where everything's just humor. You're breaking out incredible weasel words like "most likely" and "real consequences" (as if social consequences are somehow 'not real'). Yourh'e doing this because it's gauche to be on the side of censorship. Everybody should be able to say what they think; the game then is to make sure people don't think the wrong things.

Honestly, unless you pick the wrong person to say such things to, or the wrong time, or are prominent enough that people will care, the most you are likely to experience is a stranger thinking you're a dick or somebody giving you a dirty look or calling you an asshole. But if you're wanting to spout racist, sexist, homophobic nonsense, that's something you're either fishing for or feeling good about getting anyway, so who cares? Possibly you say it at the wrong time (in front of your boss, perhaps) and you do suffer consequences, but so what?

People not liking you because of what you say isn't censorship. People calling you an asshole because of what you say isn't censorship. People refusing to associate with you because of what you say isn't censorship. People asking you to leave their space because of what you say isn't censorship.

Speech is an act, and we act with intention, to create consequences. Every action has consequences, small or large, and everything said has consequences, small or large. Speech is subject to the same rule that every other action is: You are free to do whatever you are able to do, but you choose what you do in part based on your confidence in your ability to predict the consequence.

So yeah, you can say whatever you like. Whining that your speech carries consequences, for good or ill, is some kiddie bullshit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:27 AM on May 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yeah, you know what? Sometimes it's fun, funny, and friendly to say really offensive things that would be awful in a serious context. And that's the fundamental issue we're discussing here, whether it's OK to have a context to laugh at messed up things.

Is it?
posted by effugas at 4:43 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you should knock yourself out with that and not be surprised that some people aren't cool with it. You and I both came to this thread kind of late and rehashing/relitigating the issue isn't much use.

Again: you can do what you want. If the consequence of being thought less of by people who will think less of your for playing CAH is sufficient that you don't think it's worth it to play CAH, then don't play CAH. Comparing choosing not to do/say something because people will think you're a jerk to censorship is pretty silly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:53 AM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you know what? Sometimes it's fun, funny, and friendly to say really offensive things that would be awful in a serious context. And that's the fundamental issue we're discussing here, whether it's OK to have a context to laugh at messed up things.

Good comedians in fact do exactly that. It's beneficial, though not necessary, for the laughs you get to illuminate a deeper truth about reality. Cheap, shocked laughs are still fun, though.

The CAH situation is that this is not being done by professionals or serious amateurs who have thought for hours about whether to deploy a given piece of material when they are the center of attention of a room (and thus personally at risk if anyone gets seriously offended). Instead, it's being done by slightly drunk amateurs in a group context where responsibility for offense is shared and diffused.

I can't say whether anyone has ever been offended at any of the CAH games I participated in, or any card combos I played. I certainly never have, and no one called anyone else out for "going too far", though that would certainly be an interesting thing to see. (In a way, the game kind of empowers a context for "going too far" in a way that places the responsibility on the players as a group.)

But yeah, if a person knows know he won't have a good time, then he should edit the deck, not play, or whatever works for him...

posted by theorique at 5:56 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I won't begrudge anyone else their fun, but yeah, the main reason I don't enjoy CAH is the tired laziness of snapping together the pieces of pre-loaded jokes.

The core idea behind the game is actually brilliant, and there's a reason it's so damn popular (beyond its so-called "transgressive" nature). This is why, whenever I have the opportunity, I introduce people to my favorite game, other foot, instead. It's basically CAH but with a homemade deck of cards that's created anew for each game. Like Calvinball, it's never quite the same game twice.

The game is as strange and as transgressive as you make it, and the format allows for much more creative expression than CAH or Apples to Apples.
posted by duffell at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pope, I'll translate.

This kind of thing always reads like it's supposed to come off as condescending but it always instead indicates that someone is being sort of incoherent.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Shakes, yeah, that was a little too subtle snark. I didn't mean to imply that Pope Guilty should have understood.
posted by effugas at 3:50 PM on May 9, 2015


"It's creating a no one situation. Either you let someone be an asshole in silence, or you say something and you're a rude party-pooper."

Or you skewer them for being a dick in a way that's both funny and cutting. It's almost never aimed at the person who played the card (because it's loosely anonymous) but rather the person who chose it as a best answer, which means it's better at setting social norms, especially since there's almost always an equally offensive or transgressive answer that they could have chosen instead. (It'd be a very different game if everyone had to play their cards face up).

"And i don't mean this in the "Oh, the mean feminazi is ruining the fun again" sort of way at all. I mean that it's just not fun. The game fails at being a fun thing to do at a party when it enters a crossroads in which the only two ways forward are awkward and uncomfortable for one set of people, or awkward and uncomfortable for the other set."

Well, no, that's an aesthetic assumption you're making, not a universal law. And something can be awkward, uncomfortable and fun all at the same time (anything from Scruples to Eraserhead). A lot of CAH is awkward, uncomfortable and fun all at the same time, and trying to avoid that means that yeah you're not going to find the game very fun.

"And a critical thing is that you can end up in this situation just because someone doesn't know better, or misjudged the norms of the group. Not because they're some out and out asshole no one should be friends with. There's also the somewhat vouched for but unknown friend-of-a-friend wildcard. "

Yeah, and (again) since the call-out is almost always of the person awarding the point, that's an effecting example of third-party social norm setting. It's more risky playing with strangers, but the choices outlined here seem to basically devolve into whether you feel more comfortable denying that problems exist or confronting those problems. If you prefer denial, CAH is the wrong thing for you. If you think that you can find humor in confronting a blithe and vicious world, you'll probably enjoy CAH more.

"A freaking card game you play over some beverages should not be something that requires a BDSM scene level of discussion and outline of boundaries and limits beforehand, completely with a "you can discard a card at any time and say no to anything"."

Again, the discarding a card thing is no big deal at all and I don't understand why people think it's an indictment. Like I said, I think discarding cards improves Apples to Apples (no doubt informed by playing it with my brother's Korean in-laws), especially stuff like "Charlie Sheen." There are also definitely people who benefit from a worksheet before a BDSM scene, but there are also people who can effectively communicate boundaries informally.

"This game is not jackie chan, but with being offensive. And it's the coyness of it being "up to the players" that gets to me. Being a dickhead is how this game was designed to be played. Way too many card combos are just lazy setups for dead baby type jokes or racist redditor humor. And yea, i definitely see the parallel between defenses of reddit as a whole and defenses of this game. "

It's not coyness; that's a bad faith framing that's the inverse of me just saying that you don't like it because your friends are assholes or lazy or not funny. "Being offensive" is not the same as "being a dickhead," and conflating them is a mistake — you're seeing the whole Venn diagram as overlap instead of a shared area. The game was designed to be offensive (to humanity, natch). That doesn't mean you're a dickhead for doing it any more than you are for playing Grand Theft Auto or being a rapacious landlord in Monopoly.

The parallels to Reddit are fine: There are people who see Reddit as irredeemably compromised because of how the management has responded to ongoing (legitimate) complaints from people on the (broadly defined) social justice side. They should boycott it if they think that will help it change or even if they just don't want to be associated with it. But making the leap, as some in this thread would imply, that having a Reddit account makes you both responsible for the management decisions and a bad person, is moving into a theory of responsibility that's too diffuse and tertiary to be of real value.

"I have an awesome customized enormous set of apples to apples in a big metal tin that i bring along on cabin camping trips and to barbecues and whatever. I've played it with completely random, heavily inebriated people and never created one situation like that. And the only cards i really removed were redundant ones or "some 90s celebrity no one remembers" type cards. There was no careful evaluation of what could be used to make some tired offensive joke because... there's a lot of other more clever things you can easily do, and those combinations will almost never even be in play in the real world anyways simply because of the number of cards. Still works out fine."

That's fine if that's the speed you want to run at. I prefer a deck that's got a lot of the boring cards already removed, and have played a lot more tedious Apples to Apples games than I have CAH games. Where the Achilles heel of CAH is offensiveness for offensiveness' sake, the heel of A2A is people who think that "random" is synonymous with funny. A good group can be fun in either, but that again grounds it in the participants not the game. I hope that's forthright enough to avoid the claim of "coyness."
posted by klangklangston at 4:17 PM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


And something can be awkward, uncomfortable and fun all at the same time

The intersection of "awkward and uncomfortable" and "fun" is always going to be a null set for me. I can't even come close to understanding the attraction but I guess if it works for you.
posted by octothorpe at 5:52 PM on May 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


And that's the fundamental issue we're discussing here, whether it's OK to have a context to laugh at messed up things.

Actually, the real issue is, who decides whether the joke is offensive or not-the teller or the listener? If I say "Dude, it's a JOKE!", do I get a free pass for anything I say?

Also, is there any humour that just needs to die in a fire, or is it OK when enough people in the audience like it? I mean, oddly enough, I don't see a lot of Polish or Italian jokes around now...
posted by happyroach at 7:00 PM on May 9, 2015


"The intersection of "awkward and uncomfortable" and "fun" is always going to be a null set for me. I can't even come close to understanding the attraction but I guess if it works for you."

Really? That reads to me like saying that you can't possibly understand why someone would enjoy a horror movie — how can fear be fun? It also reads like you've never been called out for something you did by someone utilizing humor to make their point.

"Actually, the real issue is, who decides whether the joke is offensive or not-the teller or the listener? If I say "Dude, it's a JOKE!", do I get a free pass for anything I say?"

No, of course saying it's a joke doesn't get you a free pass.

"Also, is there any humour that just needs to die in a fire, or is it OK when enough people in the audience like it?"

I've seen people on here complaining about the violent imagery and potential triggers of the phrase "die in a fire."
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry to all the pac-people I've offended by laughing (repeatedly) at "Pac-Man uncontrollably guzzling cum".
posted by jb at 9:31 PM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Really? That reads to me like saying that you can't possibly understand why someone would enjoy a horror movie — how can fear be fun? It also reads like you've never been called out for something you did by someone utilizing humor to make their point.

There's a lot of people who don't like horror and don't understand why people do. Dismissing their experience isn't helpful.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:35 PM on May 9, 2015


"There's a lot of people who don't like horror and don't understand why people do. Dismissing their experience isn't helpful."

I honestly can't tell whether that's sarcastic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


"There's a lot of people who don't like horror and don't understand why people do. Dismissing their experience isn't helpful."

And them dismissing the experience of people who do like horror also isn't helpful.
posted by I-baLL at 11:14 PM on May 9, 2015


In conclusion, horror movies are a land of contrasts.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:20 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I say "Dude, it's a JOKE!", do I get a free pass for anything I say?

No.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:24 PM on May 9, 2015


Here's the thing. Cards Against Humanity does a ton of stuff to separate the offender from the offense:

1) The offensive phrases come from the game, not the player
2) The selector of the offensive phrase is anonymous
3) The judge of the most offensive phrase is specifically someone who can respond to the group laughing
4) The group is allowed to laugh at things they're Not Supposed To Laugh At

You might not find CAH funny. I too grew out of Mad Libs. Doesn't mean they weren't fun and funny for a spell.

There's actually really interesting dynamics in CAH too, like how boring combinations don't win and remain anonymous in their failure, while consistently funny behavior is rewarded with attribution. The game operates well outside of standard offense management rules, and really thrives on that, and people who need detailed BDSM conversational experiences to play CAH might be better off just playing, I don't know...BDSM? Plenty of people offended by that too, ya know.
posted by effugas at 12:37 AM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread has been awesome for arming me with a list of games that are straight up fucking better than CAH. Duffell, I'm buying a couple decks of blank cards and carrying then with me until the moment presents itself. Thank you.
posted by WCWedin at 6:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"When I am a billionaire, I shall erect a 50-foot statue to commemorate...." No, the answer is not "Queefing" or "My Vagina" or "A Bleached Asshole." The answer is "God" or "World Peace" or "Hope"

FWIW, the only point I laughed in this entire thread was when I got to 'World Peace'.
posted by Elysum at 3:39 AM on May 14, 2015


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