Fun and games

Locals toss their pope hats into the ring

Human interaction is so in right now. 

In 2011, Cards Against Humanity, sold as “a party game for horrible people,” became a huge success and sparked a widespread interest in conversation starters. But some want to play by their own rules.

Will O’Donnell and Bart Rucinski, who operate collectively under Yak and Shadow, have been working together for more than 10 years on film, comic books and TV shows. 

Surplus of Popes (SOP) is their first collaborative contribution to the gaming world. 

“The plot of the game is that every single player is a pope,” O’Donnell says. “And what you’re trying to do is come up with the coolest life story.”

The idea came to them as they were involved in a tedious stage of another creative project.

“We were working on a kid’s book literally waiting for the paint to dry,” O’Donnell says. “I started thinking of ideas and I’d never even thought of making a game before. It was more of a challenge. Bart has a better idea of how the mechanics work and had a lot more yes or no answers. From there, the process was throw it at the wall and see what sticks.”

But the pair hadn’t originally thought of mass producing the project. 

“It was more of a thought experiment,” Rucinski says. “It started out as ridiculous ideas that made us laugh – stuff you could never feasibly turn into a game.”

They thought of creating something with the sole purpose of confusing their friends, but as they began to work on it, SOP began to take shape. “We had people asking if they could buy it from the very first draft,” Rucinski says. 

Novice gamers need not feel intimidated by SOP as it is designed with every level of player in mind. 

“It’s meant to have a really light playability,” O’Donnell says. “It’s a party game. It’s hard to mess up.”

O’Donnell and Rucinski are ready to sell their product with a little help from an Indiegogo campaign for printing costs. 

Other locals have had success going this route with their games including Trevor Lehman, founder of Convergent Games and designer of Crop Cycle.

Lehman wrote the card game as an homage to farming on the prairies but describes it as “fun first and learning second.” 

After a bountiful harvest on Kickstarter in 2015, Lehman has already seen three retail locations sell out of Crop Cycle. 

He was able to share a table with Yak and Shadow at Comic Con where they traded information. 

“They were picking my brain about the least interesting aspects of the process,” Lehman says.

O’Donnell and Rucinski are planning to keep things interesting for their fans, promising a few hijinks on their site as the campaign progresses.

Published in Volume 70, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 10, 2016)

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