All it took to make “Exploding Kittens” was paper, cardboard and an idea.
“Games are back,” said Lee, whose card game has sold 2.5 million copies since its release last July. “I’ve been into games my whole life, and it’s so exciting to see that there’s a return.”
While video games hog the limelight, board and card games – known as tabletop games – are enjoying a quiet resurgence. Many are turning to these retro pleasures as a respite from the computers, gaming consoles and mobile devices thought to have rendered board games obsolete.
Despite the fact that Lee and Small are long-time game designers and Inman has a cult following of fans who adore the Oatmeal comics, the trio seem taken aback by the success of their humble card game. In fact, the three have never been in a room together and are only now contemplating their first in-person meeting.
Lee and Small live in Los Angeles and have known each other for more than a decade. Their first project together was an interactive clothing line called edoc laundry, launched in 2005, which embedded clues to a murder mystery in each article of clothing. CSI: New York based an episode on the premise. The two designers had subsequent stints at Microsoft, developing interactive movies and shows for the X-Box game console. After the company shut down the division where they worked, Small approached Lee about an idea he had for a game, originally called Bombsquad.
Exploding Kittens turns the whole general card game rules on its head by forcing players to draw at the end of their turn instead of the beginning. So your first move at the start of the game is usually playing cards to mess with your opponents by forcing them to take two turns, or even steal from their hand. You can also ruin the tempo of the game by putting down cards that directly affect the deck such as forcing to shuffle or looking into the top three cards. You can also affect the game flow by placing down action cards that reverse turn order or even skipping your turn and allowing you to not draw at the end of the game. Basically it’s like UNO but with far higher stakes on the line every turn.