In Defense of Cards Against Humanity

Once upon a time, a group of white college cishet boys came up with a card game. It was absurd. It was kind of horrible. It was hilarious. It was bigoted. It was an incredible new form of gameplay. It’s indefensible in it’s original form, but here’s the thing, despite the inherent problems with the game, most notably that it’s written with the idea of what it’s CREATORS and not the full breadth of the consumer base feel are funny, it’s become something far bigger than it’s origins. It’s become a MEDIUM, not simply a product.

The original deck, as published, has some SERIOUS problems that need not be ignored, but the merits of “sanitizing” your deck of Cards Against Humanity are numerous, and can bring back joy to the game if you find yours lacking. For starters, you can download the set rather than pay for it, since there ARE going to be some cards you just don’t want, and because patronizing your local print shop will make it easier to customize your deck later down the road.

Here are some simple ways to help make your deck safe for your friends group.

Step 1: Cards with cool people. The deck is a medium, not a message. Just because a given card combination is available to you at the moment, doesn’t mean you have to play it. MOST cards in the deck can be used in hilarious, off the wall, potentially inappropriate but not BIGOTED ways. If something hits the table that’s racist, sexist, transphobic, etc… the #1 cause of that is that the PLAYER is a bigot. Sorry folks.

Step 2: Cards on Probation. Some cards are impossible, or near impossible to use in a non-bigoted way. If you have cool friends, the result of this is that someone winds up sitting on those cards all game, unable to use them, and uncomfortably staring at something they’d really like to set on fire. Sometimes this is because of inherent bias on behalf of the card holder, (can’t find an appropriate way to play the “black people” card; they exist,) and sometimes that’s because the card itself is shit. (i.e. “A Robust Mongliod.”) A good house rule is that anyone stuck with one of these crap-cards can, upon drawing them, or any time later reveal the card to the group, and submit it to go in the “on probation” pile of cards, kept out of the game for that gathering.

Step 3: Cards in the Trash. You’re the owner of your deck. Anyone, at any time in your game can ask for a card to be put on probation, but since it’s your property, only you can put a final end to that card. Maybe you want to put the “Shittier Jewish Version of Christmas” card your brother put on probation back into the deck when he’s not there, because you’re Jewish, and you personally find it funny. Maybe you want to take the “Incest” card and run it through the garbage disposal because that shit will never be funny. It’s yours to destroy, go ahead. It’s your deck.

Step 4: Cards of Your Own. Now, if you’re destroying cards and wind up with too few… or if you’ve been playing with the same people a lot, you’re going to find that your game starts to get stale. There’s a solution for that too. Google “Cards Against Parody” and you will be assailed by hundreds of different fan-made rehashes of the game format. Cards Against Librarianship, Cards Against Gallefry, Ladies Against Humanity, and many others all use the black card/white card format to make the same sort of jokes that the original made, but with different viewpoints in mind. For every group you might be a part of, Women, Treckies, IT Professionals, Parents, what have you, there’s someone out there curating cards that you and your circle of friend will find funny. There are templates across the internet for making your own cards, to add things into the game that may be very specific to your friends or your locality, (ex. “Northway Exit 3” is in my deck.)

Step 5: Cards with Cool People. I’m sorry… am I repeating myself? Now you thought you started with some cool people. And then you sanitized your deck. Now there are still some combinations in the deck that will be bigoted, but the cards remain because there are more ways to use them that are cool, than those that are not. Yet this one jerk still manages to find the bigoted ways to play the cards, and does… and laughs. Stop playing with him.You don’t want to play CaH with this person. Honestly, you probably don’t want to share a meal with this person. They’re gross. Ew. But maybe they’re your brother and you have to. That doesn’t mean he has to be invited for CaH. STOP INVITING THIS PERSON. 

And lo… your game of Cards Against Humanity is fun again. There may be very little left of  your original deck (all the more reason to download) but there’s definitively merit in lambasting “Sean Penn” for “Not Giving a Shit About the Third World” so some of the cards will remain. Go forth and laugh once more!!!


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