If you’ve raised kids in the last twenty or so years, or were grandparents to said kids, then you’ve probably played Apples to Apples. If not, here’s how it works. There are two sets of cards, green ones with an adjective on them, and red ones with nouns. Each player draws a set of red cards for their hand. A green card is picked at random and then each player puts down a matching red card. The player controlling that hand chooses the best match. A random sample from the “junior” version of the game that I have on my bookcase looks like this:
Green card: cozy
Red cards: water guns, the library, cheese sandwich, getting a haircut
If I was playing with a child, and it was my turn to judge, I’d go with the library. If I was playing with a bunch of tipsy, fun-seeking adults, and we were aiming for deliberate irony, I’d probably choose water guns.
Cards Against Humanity is the X-rated version of Apples to Apples. The play is the same, only instead of adjectives the black cards have a fill-in-the-blank phrase or sentence and the white cards sport a mix of nouns, adjectives, complete sentences, and other bits of grammar I can’t name. The only way to play Cards Against Humanity is ironically. Anyone expecting otherwise will be quickly disappointed, and possibly enraged. A sample from the creators’ website:
Black card: I never truly understood _____________ until I encountered _____________.
White cards (2 required for above sample): The Big Bang Theory, Bill Nye the Science Guy
The mere concept of Applebees, the morbidly obese
An M16 rifle, actually getting shot
A bitch slap, the four arms of Vishnu
Depression, drinking alone
Quivering jowls, Dick Cheney
That was kind of fun, right? You can picture playing that with your folks can’t you? Well, not so fast. Here are samples of other white cards you might have in your hand: fisting, fiery poops, double penetration, anal beads, coat-hanger abortions. Many of the cards are more-than-politically-incorrect, lots of them are gross, a ton of them are sex-themed and some I don’t even understand (mostly from that last category). Still want to play with Mom? My daughter did, and we had, if not a good, at least an okay, time.
The fact is, I thought Cards Against Humanity was pretty funny and I’d be happy to play again—with like-minded peers. As outspoken and filter-free as I am, I still can’t quite picture playing this with my in-laws. But then, I’m pretty sure my in-laws and I were not the intended audience for this game. I picture the creators as young, hip, social-media-savvy kids in their twenties, dressed in black, who created the game for their peers. I was vaguely familiar with the name when I was invited to play, but had no idea what it was about. My daughter, on the other hand, had played the game before. I don’t think she was the intended audience either, but she’s a lot closer to the target than I am.
The Cards Against Humanity website bills it as, “A party game for horrible people.” Judging by how well it has sold, there are a lot of us out there.