The other night I was playing the iOS game Evil Apples. It’s a fairly well-done and clever take on Cards Against Humanity that seems to be doing quite well in the App Store. But it’s not Cards Against Humanity. And it will never be Cards Against Humanity. It’s missing one key ingredient: humanity.
On the surface, that game has all the two elements it needs to emulate Cards Against Humanity: seemingly innocuous sentences missing a word or phrase and absolutely filthy words/phrases. But it’s only when playing Evil Apples that you realize how vital the face-to-face component of the game is.
Cards Against Humanity is not great because of its novelty — it’s really just a spin on Apples to Apples. It’s great because of what it does to people playing it together in the same room. It’s one of the most unique bonding experiences I’ve ever witnessed.
Because the words/phrases that players have to say out loud are so preposterous and/or lewd, there’s often moments of awkwardness that climax in the form of uncontrollable laughter. It’s positively unavoidable. Every. Single. Game.
As a result, families are brought closer. Strangers become family. And memories are seared into brains.
But again, the key is the in-person experience. While it may not seem like that would be vital to such a game, it absolutely is. Playing Evil Apples against strangers just isn’t the same experience. But neither is playing Evil Apples against people you know. You simply have to be in the same room. 1
The creators of Cards Against Humanity had no idea what their game would become. By adhering to simplicity, they stumbled upon one of the greatest forms of bonding in the history of humanity. And in our digital age, it’s an experience that can’t exactly be copied or translated into digital form. The result$ have $poken for them$elves$.
I have no doubt that Evil Apples is also doing extremely well 2, and I do not doubt that it will continue to do well. But to me, it’s as different of an experience from Cards Against Humanity as Cards Against Humanity is from Apples to Apples.
In this case, tangible wins.
Something which Evil Apples allows for as well, but I suspect it would be decidedly more difficult to get a family sitting around a table at the holidays all with iPhones, all with the same app installed, all paying attention, versus dishing out a deck of physical cards. ↩
It has been in the top 100 of the App Store for quite some time now. ↩