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The Metagame is a card game about culture. And making ridiculous arguments with your friends. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on December 4, 2013.

The Metagame is a card game about culture. And making ridiculous arguments with your friends.

About this project


To order your copy, visit our website: You can also find information there about the latest Metagame products and editions.

Thanks to our amazing Kickstarter supporters, we reached our goal. And then doubled it! Thanks to our supporters for your passion and support.

We also reached two of our stretch goals, which means we are printing two expansion sets. Based on votes from our supporters, the SCIENCE FICTION and FILM 101 expansion sets will soon be made real. 

The Metagame is a card game about everything: comics and literature, fine art and tv, architecture and videogames. It’s a way to show off your cultural smarts and get into ridiculous arguments with your friends. Arguments like:

  • Which feels like first love: Pride and Prejudice or Hungry Hungry Hippos? 
  • Which is responsible for the fraying of our moral fabric: Tupperware or Das Kapital? 
  • Which should be required in schools: Dungeons and Dragons or the Bible?
Sample Metagame cards.
Sample Metagame cards.

We’re asking for your support to print our game. Each Metagame box includes a whopping 250 cards - covering your favorite cultural artifacts - from the Mona Lisa to the Mullet and everything in-between. 

Now that the basic set is funded (yeah!) we would like to hit stretch goals that will let us print awesome expansion sets as a free reward. Each expansion set will include 40 illustrated culture cards and 10 discussion cards, in a snazzy thumb-tuck box.

First expansion - FREE - at $40,000. Our first expansion set will go out as a FREE reward to everyone who supported the Metagame at levels of $20 or more.

Second expansion at $50,000. At $10,000 more, we'll print a SECOND expansion set! Anyone who supported the Metagame at the $40 level or higher will get BOTH expansion sets for free. (For each $15,000 beyond that, we'll print another expansion set - up to 5.)

Help us choose! All Kickstarter supporters of $20 or more get to vote on their favorite expansion set. The expansion set with the most votes will be the one we print first! (We'll print up to five of them.) Take a look at your options...

The voting has just begun! Here are the results so far:

242 VOTES - Classic Games: a nostalgic deck of old-school videogames and tabletop games 

246 VOTES - Film 101: for the cinema buffs out there - a 100-year survey of the very best movies 

308 VOTES - Science Fiction: a far-out mix of books, television, comics and films from the future 

124 VOTES - Snob Essentials: a heady selection of literature, art, and other pretentious fare 

70 VOTES - Talk About (Pop) Music: all of your guilty pleasure bubble-gum music singles

A couple years ago, we successfully kickstarted the Videogame Edition  - a version of the game that focused just on videogames. But our players wanted more. So we're expanding the Metagame to include all kinds of culture! We have spent the last few years playing the Metagame with people of all ages. And our players love the game! Here is what a few of them have said:

  • I love The Metagame, it's a great tool for talking about games and art. -- Max Temkin, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity
  • Finally, I can use my rhetorical wiles to dazzle and confound all my friends! -- Naomi Clark, Game Designer & Culture Guru
  • The Metagame was a huge hit with our readers, and one of the best contributions we've ever included in the magazine. -- Tod Lippy, Editor, Esopus

Since we started the campaign, we've already gotten some good press. The cool kids at Attract Mode wrote a super-nice review of the Metagame. And Sean Duncan, Professor of Education and Metagame fan, wrote this smart piece about the history of the Metagame and its potential for good in the world.

Why are we Kickstarting? We're currently in the middle of developing the new edition. The design of the gameplay and rules is finished. Illustrations and card captions are complete for about a third of the deck. Funds we raise will be used to pay our illustrator, print the cards and rule booklet, design and manufacture the game box, and ship all of the games from our printer. 

The Metagame includes 250 high-quality, smooth-finish, poker-sized cards in a beautifully packaged box. There are two kinds of cards: culture cards and discussion cards.

Each culture card has a different work of art, pop culture, or entertainment: MAUS to the Big Mac; Pong to Playboy; the Sistine Chapel to Sexting. Discussion cards ask questions like Which is responsible for the fraying of our Moral Fabric? or Which best represents America? Want to see more sample cards? Take a look at this PDF. 

UPDATE: We have now made a 50-card prototype deck available as a "print and play" PDF! It only has a fraction of the final game's 250 cards - but you can now try out the Metagame RIGHT NOW at home! Click here for the cards, rules, and cutting instructions.

So how do you play? Below, Colleen explains how to play the basic game. WARNING: We were trying to keep the video brief and focused on the rules, so we made really short and stupid arguments! In a typical game, we're much smarter. Honest. 

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Here's one more below. Eric leads us through a full game of Head to Head. (And it doesn't end well for him.)

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But the Metagame isn't just one game. It is a deck of cards that can be played in a variety of ways. The box comes with rules for four of our favorite games - listed below. But we know our players will invent more. 

  • Debate Club. (4 or more players) A chatty game of elimination: a "critic" player draws a discussion card each round and you play the best matching culture card from your hand. One by one, players reveal their cards, explaining and defending their choices. The top player gets bonus cards - but the bottom is knocked out and joins the critics. The last player left standing wins.
  • Critics Circle. (3 or more players) The twist in this version is that you’re not allowed to debate or discuss: the critic has to pick the best card for each comparison without knowing who played which one. The role of the critic rotates each turn and the first player to win four rounds wins the game.
  • Head to Head. (3 players) In this strategic game, five discussion cards are placed on the table face-up. You and your opponent have to carefully deploy content cards from your hand, putting one on each comparison. The critic decides the winner of each head-to-head matchup, without knowing who played what. Check out our second update for a video of a full Head-to-Head match! 
  • Massively Multiplayer Metagame. (10-1000 players) Great for big parties and events. Everyone gets a small hand of cards, and you challenge other players to a quick match - any nearby bystanders act as judges! The winner takes a card from the loser and the goal is to have the most cards at the end of the game. 

Winning the Metagame requires a crazy mix of geeky cultural smarts, strategic thinking, and the ability to sweet-talk your friends. Journalist Heather Chaplin wrote about one of our playtest sessions for Filmmaker Magazine. You can read the whole piece on the Filmmaker website, but here's a quick excerpt about what it's like to play:

"Things get interesting right away.... When Zimmerman puts out “What would Freud want?” my 22-year-old cousin from Nashville cries, “Who’s Freud?” and then avoids elimination by playing The Bikini and saying nothing. The art historian takes her full two minutes every time, delivering dissertation-worthy, deadly serious monologues about why Levittown is “a better tool for dictators” and why Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge Wood Chair is “more pedestrian.” The poet wins by playing “The Macarena” to “Which is more dangerous?” and saying just a few words."

Thanks for chipping in! You get early Kickstarter supporter-only access to a full PDF of the entire game - suitable for printing and playing at your leisure!

For your early bird support, you get a copy of the game at a discounted rate of $20. Plus early access to the digital deck print-and-play PDF. Because we reached our first stretch goal, this tier also gets a free expansion set. Limited to 100 supporters only.

The basic game, all boxed up and ready to play. The Metagame includes 250 cards and game rules with several variations to play. And advance access to the digital deck PDF too! Update: because we reached our $40,000 stretch goal, this tier gets a free expansion set!

The Metagame plus something special. Supporters at this level get the five Kickstarter-only cards illustrated above. And your game will be signed by the Metagame designers! You also get early access to the digital print-and-play PDF. This tier also gets a free expansion set because we reached our first stretch goal!

This is your chance to snatch up the hard-to-find Videogame Edition, plus other goodies. This level of support includes signed versions of the Videogame Edition and the Videogame Expansion Set, plus a stunning poster featuring the art from all of the Videogame Edition cards.

And you get all of the BONUS PACK rewards too - including of course the new version of the Metagame. Limited to 10 supporters only.

For the hardcore Metagame fan. Select any card in the deck and we will create for you a beautifully framed, high-quality Giclée print of a super-sized version of the card (5" x 7"). Suitable for hanging in your home, office, or private game lair. 

You also get all of the BONUS PACK rewards: a Metagame deck signed by the designers, five Kickstarter-only cards, and advance access to the digital print-and-play deck. Limited to 25 supporters only.

Make your mark on the Metagame! We will work with you to come up with the content for an original Metagame card - to be included in the standard Metagame deck that everyone else gets! What kind of high culture icon or trashy-but-awesome creation should be immortalized in the game? You tell us! Plus all of the COLLECTORS EDITION rewards as well! (Card subject to approval.) Limited to 5 supporters only.

You rule the rules! The Metagame team designs a special Metagame ruleset just for you - based on your specifications. Perhaps you want a version that involves everyone flipping bottlecaps? Or role-playing a gang of double-crossing international spies? Or getting extremely drunk? 

We will work with you to create a completely new way to play with the Metagame deck. Your unique Metagame game will be shared with the world on the Metagame website and in future editions of the rules. Also includes all of the CREATE A CARD rewards! Limited to 3 supporters only.

The Metagame began as a massively multiplayer real-world game at the Game Developers Conference - where it was enjoyed by thousands of players! Now you too can enjoy the Metagame at your event. This level of support includes enough decks and Kickstarter-exclusive rule summary cards for up to 1000 players, plus consulting from Local No. 12 to make your Metagame a huge success.

Colleen Macklin is a game designer, programmer, and spastic advocate for play. You can find her teaching game design at Parsons The New School for Design when she's not traveling to remote regions of Africa creating games with local residents for the Red Cross. (No joke!)

John Sharp has trained up his skill levels in graphic design, DJing, and game design. He teaches game classes at Parsons and sports the most ridiculously elaborate tattoos in the group. More than 12 mammals live in his Brooklyn apartment and only one of them is a human.

Eric Zimmerman is a game designer and a professor at the NYU Game Center. He gets a little too excited about game design and sometimes has to take some quiet time in the corner. He likes playing and making games on and off the computer.

Special thanks to Ida C. Benedetto, Max Temkin and Esopus Foundation, Ltd.

Risks and challenges

The primary risk with the Metagame is time—more specifically, the time to get the printing just right. We are working with a well-respected printer who does lots of big card games, so the quality will be awesome, but it will take time to make sure that we are going to have the quality we want.

The most time-consuming part of the process right now is creating the unique illustrations for each page. They typically go through several rounds of revisions. Getting the card text to be the right combination of informative and humorous also takes multiple rounds of brainstorming and editing. So one risk is that the remaining cards take longer than we had thought to complete.

We have created a very conservative schedule by promising decks to our backers by March. But due to the time it will take for the printed cards to be shipped internationally and get through customs, it is possible that the schedule could slip.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • Depends. The Metagame often gets compared to the extremely fun game Cards Against Humanity. Just to set the record straight, the Metagame first appeared in 2011, and according to the Cards Against Humanity folks, our own game was one of their big inspirations. We love Cards Against Humanity, and we love getting the comparison.

    Of course, if you look back just a little deeper into tabletop game history, The Metagame and Cards Against Humanity are both inspired by make-a-judgement games like Apples to Apples and Dixit. And all of these commercial games are based on folk games like Balderdash / Fictionary. Round and round goes the wheel of history...

    In any case, we like to think that the many different games you can play with the Metagame - and its surprising cultural depth - are some of the ways that it stands out from the crowd. But we're admittedly very biased.

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  • The expansion sets are our stretch goals. Now that we have reached our first stretch goal, everyone who supported us at $20 or more will get one free expansion set.

    If we reach our second stretch goal of $50,000 we will print another expansion set. Everyone who supported us at $40 or more will get both expansion sets.

    Everyone who supported us with $20 or more is also able to vote on which expansion sets we print first. We send you a link to a Google survey and record everyone's votes. We update the tally on this page a few times a day.

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  • We're glad to hear that there is still interest in the previous version of the Metagame! We are sold out of the Videogame Edition, but if you need to get your Metagame fix, you can still find some decks in the MoMA Design Store (use this link - and expansion sets at Hopefully we'll make some of our stretch goals and you can vote for the Classic Games expansion set!

    Last updated:
  • Shipping is free for addresses in the US.

    Last updated:
  • We will be releasing a PDF of our entire game to the public - a file that you can use to "print and play" all of the Metagame cards. But our Kickstarter supporters will have access to the print and play file before anyone else.

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    Early access to a full print-and-play PDF of the entire game. Plus our eternal gratitude for making the Metagame happen!

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    A Metagame deck, at a lower price to thank our first 100 supporters. You also get advance access to the print-and-play PDF too!

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    The complete Metagame deck, including 250 cards and rules for a variety of games. Plus early access to the print-and-play PDF.

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    A Metagame deck... signed by the designers! Plus five cards available only to our Kickstarter friends. You also get early access to the digital print-and-play deck.

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    JOYSTICK JOCKEY - The Videogame Edition of the Metagame and the Videogame Expansion Set, signed by the designers - plus a poster featuring all of the Videogame Edition art. And you get the Collectors Edition awards too.

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    11 backers Limited (14 left of 25)

    A 5" by 7" beautifully framed, high-quality Giclée print of the Metagame card of your choice. Plus all of the Bonus Pack rewards too.

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    You work with us to design a unique card that will appear in all Metagame decks! Plus all of the Collectors Edition stuff too.

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    We create a special Metagame variant to your specifications. Everyone will play by your rules! Also includes all of the Create a Card rewards!

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    MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER METAGAME - A Metagame at your conference or event - enough cards to support 1000 players, plus consulting from Local No.12 on making your game a success!

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Funding period

- (36 days)