Teaming up with our friends and game aficionados, John Teasdale and Justin Robert Young, we worked closely together to develop a card game inspired by the vim and vigor of presidential debate. Over the course of six months, we grew from an abstract concept into a full-fledged business. We launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $140K, 950% of our original goal, that coincided with the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election season. The game is currently the second highest rated game on Amazon and has received both national and international coverage.
Perfecting the game mechanic was a crucial first step. After a lot of playtesting (and a few bottles of beer) we honed the flow of the game, ditching the suits and numbers originally conceived by Justin and John in lieu of a more free-form debate structure, making it fun for everyone to play. In our interview with Steven Heller, we discuss more about our efforts to keep the game as non-partisan as possible.
The deck is comprised of hundreds of one-liners based on real quotes from presidential candidates throughout American history. We researched these quotes by combing through endless debate transcripts, articles, letters, and debate videos. Check out our list of sources.
In crafting The Contender’s visual language, we drew inspiration from the vast archives of mid-20th century political campaigns, creating a system that relies strongly on proportional relationships, a restrained color palette, humor, and a bit of intentional awkwardness. The goal was to create a language that felt old but new.