Amelia Friedman and Param Jaggi celebrated MLK weekend a little bit differently then we probably did. Instead of getting drank and spending a disproportionate amount of time at brunch, they decided to create a startup. From start to finish, they were going to take the three days and do everything they could to come out of the weekend with a finished product. And they did. The result was the unambiguously named 2016 Election Game, a play on the wildly popular game Cards Against Humanity. Election Game takes the straightforward design and snarky tone of Cards Against Humanity and adds a timely political twist. Can you even begin to imagine something more D.C.?
Let’s start from the beginning. What lead you guys to create the game?
Amelia: It was really two things. One, so Param and I work together on a company called Hatch, and it’s a SaaS company. It’s tech product and we’ve been working on it for several months, and we love our work, it’s the most amazing thing to work on, but we kind of wanted to do something new for a few days and kind of reapply and reinvigorate our entrepreneurial energy. So that was kind of what in part prompted the idea of doing a startup weekend, if you will.
Param: Yeah, so it was Friday, 1pm, and we came up with this idea that we would do a little startup weekend over MLK weekend. You know, do everything from finding a manufacturer and figuring out the logistics, to putting up a website. So then we just needed an idea. We put together our love for card games and being snarky about political candidates and created the 2016 Election Game.
Why’d you guys decide to draw inspiration from Cards Against Humanity?
Amelia: I think it really captures the attitude that millennials seem to have during this election cycle. People are not feeling as excited about candidates. If you google debate drinking game right now there are bajillions of drinking games that come up. It’s representative of the whole attitude a lot of people have toward this election. Tt’s frustrating and it’s not okay. We were inspired by that and the general sarcasm and snarkiness towards the election and thought we might be able to run with something that could really shed light on that and kind of make fun of the whole thing.
Param: It’s pretty crazy how you can scroll through your Facebook feed and you can see an article title and these days and you don’t know if it’s an Onion article or a CNN article, just based on some of the things candidates are saying. Living in DC, I guess we’re more in tune with whats going on politically and we’re millennials so we love card games. So that’s kind of where it came from.
Do you think this would be a good drinking game?
Param: We’re not officially associated with a drinking game. What our users do with the game is up to them, but we’re not promoting it as a drinking game. We think there’s are a lot of potential for it to become a drinking game. What our users do with the game is up to them.
Did anyone in particular inspire the copy on the cards? Or did all the jokes come from you guys hanging out and talking to each other?
Param: On Friday night we were sitting at Amelia’s table rewatching the Republican / Democratic debates, streaming from CNN, so we were watching the debates, drinking a beer, and we had a spreadsheet and we were writing down all the jokes that were coming from the debates. On top of that we were pulling a lot from what’s been trending on Twitter, what are people talking about? What’s the new joke of the week? And then applying those toward the cards.
Amelia: And then Sarah Palin decided to get involved and now we’re in really good shape.
Param: (laughs) Every time a headline comes out we’re getting more and more content.
Amelia: We also watched Jimmy Fallon, that’s a favorite because I love his Donald Trump impressions. I just think it’s absolutely hilarious. We’re still coming up with cards. We’re not sending them to be printed for a little while longer So we still have some more time to get good ideas. So Param’s been manning the Twitter handle and has been soliciting ideas from the Twitterverse and has gotten some real gems there too.
Would you be up to releasing any expansion packs once the first batch are sent to the printer? Do you think it could even continue past the election?
Yeah, we’ve gotten requests for specific decks, a Democratic deck, a Republican deck. We’ve gotten a great response so far, and a lot of demand, for the product so it really just depends where our users want to take this. So we’re thinking of extension packs… but then, you know, we just want to make sure we stay active with what’s going on. When the candidates get narrowed down to one from each party…
Amelia: That’s called the general election, Param.
Param: Thank you. (laughs) We’ll probably have more ideas, so we can keep this going.
Amelia: Yeah, I mean it depends.
Are you guys at all worried that the Cards Against Humanity people will come after you?
Amelia: I mean, we haven’t broken any laws. No I mean very seriously. The original name was Elections Against Humanity… and then I looked into trademark law and I was like, “Param, we can’t do this, we’re gonna get sued.” And he was like, “No Amelia, we’re just gonna get a cease and desist order and then we can just change the name and it will be totally fine.” And I was like, “Absolutely not, Param. We’re changing the name.” So now we’re okay. If you think about it Cards Against Humanity is essentially Apples to Apples but different.
Param: For horrible people.
Amelia: And we’re the same thing.
Yeah, I was going to ask about the name. You know… there are so many jokes going on with the cards… and I mean this with all the love in my heart, but the names a little boring guys.
Param: Yeah, we had a lot of different names that we were going around and we wanted to spice things up a little bit, but then we were able to get the URL for 2016 Election Game, which actually surprised us a lot. Originally we were going to call it the Unofficial, in parenthensis, 2016 Election Game, but then we just dropped the Unofficial and ran with it.
Amelia: I think people get it pretty quickly. The subtitle on everything is “Make Card Games Great Again.” So it seems like people are catching up with us pretty quick.
How’s the response been so far?
Amelia: Our friends and family are like, “Are you guys running a card company now?”
Param: Yeah. It’s a famous story that we just did this as a weekend project and it’s selling, but it’s just a side project for us. Friends and family have been supportive. I think everyone finds it funny and there’s this sort of stigma in society that people don’t talk about things that are politically incorrect and things like Cards Against Humanity, and our game, break down those barriers.
What are your favorite cards?
Param: I’ll let Amelia go first.
Amelia: Of course you will. I think my favorite red card, because it leads to so many great combinations is, “The solution to our economic troubles?” and then anything there is just funny. My favorite blue card… I don’t know. You know what I do like? Hmm… who was it? Of course, now that I’m on this call I don’t remember who said it… but the “Employment Prevention Agency” – the EPA. It’s classic.
Param: I’m a fan of the Donald Trump quotes. So my favorite Red car is “___, it’s gonna be YUGE” when he was trying to say huge. Blue card…. anything to do with the Fox business, like “Ben Carson taking a nap” I don’t know. There’s just too much good content coming from the republican debates.
Amelia: I guess we both chose cards from the republican side. I don’t know what that says.
That is interesting. So this is maybe a question a terrible person asks. Obviously both of you have played Cards Against Humanity before, and you know, if you play the Helen Keller card you basically immediately win the round. Helen Keller wins every round. What do you think is your equivalent of the Helen Keller card?
Param: So Amelia and I disagree on this. One of my favorite blue cards, which I think might be one of those killer cards is “Chris Christie joining weight watchers.” There are a few other ones that are Donald Trump related that everyone knows.
Amelia: I don’t know if I have one.
Param: There’s “Inviting El Chapo to be a US citizen.”
Amelia: Yeah, I was looking at that one thinking the shit that people say is hilarious. You can’t make this shit up.
Were there any cards you disagreed on? Something that crossed a line or seemed like too much.
Amelia: There are a bunch that one of us knows that the other doesn’t get. Actually, one of the things that’s super interesting about this game is that it’s low brow, but it’s also kind of high brow because you can’t understand the game if you don’t watch the news. So there’s a lot that I think are hilarious and then Param’s like, “What are you talking about?”
Param: Yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Amelia: So that happends all the time.
Param: There were a few that I was a little worried about, like the Putin card or the El Chapo card.
Amelia: He’s worried that El Chapo’s henchmen are going to come after him.
Param: Everything’s fun and games right? But the Cartel doesn’t mess around. But it’s still on our front page. We hope everyone sees it as a joke.
Amelia: I think it’s flattering. I think if El Chapo sees it he’d be like, “Oh these nice people want to make me a US citizen.” But, the card that I’m still not loving is, and Param brought it up earlier, is that I don’t like the “Chris Christie joining weight watchers” card.
Param: Amelia seems to draw arbitrary lines when making fun of people.
That’s so funny because you said that was your round killer. It’s your Helen Keller.
Amelia: That’s the one that makes me feel like a bad person.
So if you were judging that card would not win.
Amelia: It might win. I just gave Param a really hard time when he wanted to tweet it out. I was like dude, don’t put that one on Twitter!
Param: We both draw very arbitrary lines when it comes to our jokes. We think some things are too messed up and some things aren’t.
Amelia: El Chapo is not going to come after you.
What are your arbitrary lines?
Param: I’m personally fine with making fun of individual candidates. Not just what they say, but anything to do with them. Which, I don’t think Amelia is okay with.
Amelia: I think what I’m not super keen on is making fun of certain physical attributes of candidates. Looks, weight, etc. It depends. I’m fine with using other people’s quotes that are really fucked up, because I didn’t say it, but I don’t know. I think that’s my line.
Param: Oh yeah. That’s not a problem for me because it’s been shown that people vote on physical traits. Most people vote on things that are not pertinent to the candidates political stance. It’s like, how they look, what they’re wearing. Most people vote on those sort of superficial things. Which I think is hilarious, but Amelia doesn’t. For me the line is making fun of people that could kill us.
Amelia: I just feel bad. I think that every card is flat out hilarious and I laugh at all of them. “Christ Christie on weight watchers” is funny and it may or may not have been my idea… but then I feel bad afterwards.