NoCamels By Maya Yarowsky, February 24, 2015
Exploding kittens, bear-o-dactyls and pig-a-corns; no, these aren’t the names of rare species you’ve never heard of and animal rights activists aren’t freaking out. These are some of the characters in the “Exploding Kittens” card game that raised a whopping $8.8 million in its recent Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, making it the third most successful mass-funding campaign ever. The creative card game, which asking players to avoid exploding kittens in a game that’s similar to Russian Roulette, is the brainchild of former gaming exec Shane Small, Elan Lee, the former Chief Design Officer for Xbox, and “Oatmeal” founder Matthew Inman.
“Exploding Kittens” raised its initial $10,000 funding goal in its first day on Kickstarter and, according to the international crowdfunding platform, has the most backers in the history of the site, 219,392 backers to be precise, beating out the children’s literacy campaign “Reading Rainbow” that held the record with 105,857 backers. According to an update on the site, the founders were completely surprised by the huge showing of funders for the quirky game, stating: “On the very first day of this campaign, we hit our funding goal. That was a big deal, But after that, the campaign stopped being about money, and started being about a community.”
The game itself is similar in its structure to Russian Roulette – the players take turns drawing cards until a player draws an exploding kitten and is eliminated from the game. In order to avoid the imminent and violent death of an innocent kitten, the game has “defuse” cards that allow you to distract the kitten from exploding with things like laser pointers, kitten therapy and catnip sandwiches. In addition, there are a number of strategic cards that allow players to attack others, peek at the deck and secretly relocate or skip a turn (similar to the ‘wild cards’ in “Uno”). In order to attack another player, you can play a bear-o-dactyl card or “deploy thousand-year back hair,” to see the deck you can feast on a unicorn enchilada or rub a belly of a unicorn pig (a pig-a-corn), and you can re-shuffle the deck by releasing a massive plague of bat farts.
There is no shortage of imagination in the minds of the creators of this card game, from the names of the characters themselves to the fun cartoons that will remind you of childhood, and the structure of the game seems perfect for all ages. The creators are also selling a NSFW (which stands for ‘not safe for work’) version that contains images too violent to be considered kid-friendly. The regular game sells for $20 apiece, with free shipping in the US, and, together with the NSFW version, $35. The collectors’ additions sold out quickly, but the standard and NSFW games are available for sale on the company’s website. This may be one of the few crowdfunding campaigns that sees a big peak in interest after the crowdfunding buzz dies down, because of the accessible price and the one-of-a-kind design that could change the way we think about the archaic institution of card games.
Though the majority of the current generation will never play a game of “War” or “Go Fish” due to the overabundance of digital games, “Exploding Kittens” is a great reminder that sometimes the best social interactions don’t involve a computer screen.