Cards For Humanity

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.

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Speaking of simulations, here’s Christopher Chabris and David Goodman on the role that computers have settled into in chess:

Before the Deep Blue match, top players were using databases of games to prepare for tournaments. Computers could display games at high speed while the players searched for the patterns and weaknesses of their opponents. The programs could spot blunders, but they didn’t understand chess well enough to offer much more than that.

Once laptops could routinely dispatch grandmasters, however, it became possible to integrate their analysis fully into other aspects of the game. Commentators at major tournaments now consult computers to check their judgment. Online, fans get excited when their own “engines” discover moves the players miss. And elite grandmasters use computers to test their opening plans and generate new ideas.

This wouldn’t be very interesting if computers, with their ability to calculate millions of moves per second, were just correcting human blunders. But they are doing much more than that. When engines suggest surprising moves, or arrangements of pieces that look “ugly” to human sensibilities, they are often seeing more deeply into the game than their users. They are not perfect; sometimes long-term strategy still eludes them. But players have learned from computers that some kinds of chess positions are playable, or even advantageous, even though they might violate general principles. Having seen how machines go about attacking and especially defending, humans have become emboldened to try the same ideas.

Since the computers have already mastered chess, we’re now the ones learning from them. And becoming more like them…

Meg Graham on the rise of Cards Against Humanity, and the eight Chicago-based friends behind it:

While would-be entrepreneurs chase venture capital funding and dot-com riches at incubators and startup boot camps around the city, the Cards team rejects investors, refuses to sell the game to retailers or license it to other manufacturers, and hasn’t bothered to appoint a CEO, let alone create a management structure. Their business plan has the sophistication of a lemonade stand.

And just as refreshing, actually.

Russell Adams explores a group of friends who have spent the past 23 years playing tag. Yes, the game of tag. Yes, 23 years. The best anecdote:

What they didn’t know was Sean Raftis, who was “It,” had flown in from Seattle and was folded in the trunk of the Honda Accord. When the trunk was opened he leapt out and tagged Mr. Tombari, whose wife was so startled she fell backward off the curb and tore a ligament in her knee.

No pain, no gain.

Naturally, this is being made into a movie. Naturally, that movie will be starring Will Ferrell and Jack Black.



Even Candy Land Isn’t Safe From Sexy

When our kids play with toys that we played with, we assume that they are the same as they were when we were younger. But they aren’t. Not at all. Our girls (and our boys) are now bombarded from the get-go with images of women whose bodies range from unattainable to implausible (Disney Princesses, anyone?).

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Oh my god, they’ve defiled Candy Land! Lord Licorice looks like Captain Morgan! Ahhhhhh!