Featured in Kickstarter's Projects We Love
"Took the top of our heads off." — Quintin Smith, Shut Up & Sit Down preview:
"We played until 3am. There was a ton of laughter. The effort y'all put into this really showed." — David G, playtester
"Could be the next Cards Against Humanity." — Jeremy Fisher, Wander
"The physical design of the cards is a delight." — Brian Bankler, Tao of Gaming
Hello! We made a thing you might like. It’s a game. It’s funny. You can play it with a small group of friends or a huge crowd of people.
It’s called Monikers, and it’s our attempt to update a classic party game. The concept is pretty simple: get your friends to guess a bunch of names printed on a set of cards. Each round has different rules about how you can give clues. In the first round, you can say anything you want. In the second, you can only use one word. And in the third, you can only do charades. It works really well, because the same cards are used in each round, so by the end of the game, you’ve made up a bunch of hilarious jokes together.
Each turn is only 60 seconds, so you also get to see your friends crack under pressure. Which is always great. Actually, the game is pretty much just 45 minutes of laughing at people while they frantically try to get you to guess a name that seems obvious to them but is actually really confusing to everyone else.
We like games that respect your intelligence even when they’re making fart jokes, so that’s what we set out to do. As a friend of ours said, Monikers is either a really smart dumb game or a really dumb smart game. Either way, it's our love letter to one of the greatest folk games of all time.
Here are some things we think you'll like about it:
- Monikers is based on the public domain game Celebrity, which is one of the most fun and simple party games of all time.
- We've spent years creating hundreds of funny and inappropriate names for the set, so you won't have to struggle to come up with clever names before playing. And you'll never have to deal with downtime or your friends writing down a bunch of boring, duplicate names like Barack Obama or Miley Cyrus. Ugh.
- Since we've met a couple of our stretch goals, the set now comes with the complete set of 500 cards. Our dream though is to get another 50 blank cards so you can add your own dumb names.
- We sweet talked some people that are smarter than us to add some names to the set. The contributors are a mix of our favorite web writers (Jason Kottke, Andy Baio, Patrick Klepek, Emma Koenig) and game designers we really admire (Max Temkin, Asher Vollmer, Loren Brichter, Matt Rix).
- Every card has a clue printed on it, so even if someone doesn’t know the name on the card, they can use the text. Skipping is also highly encouraged, so no one will ever get completely stuck.
- Each card has a point total based on how difficult it is to guess (1-4). So when your team guesses someone easy like Roger Ebert, you get 1 point. But when your team guesses something hard like A Narwhal, you get 4 points.
- We have some amazing illustrators signed up to do visual clues for some of the cards, like Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal), Jana Kinsman, Ariel Aberg-Riger, Gemma Correll, Rachel Levit, Grace Danico, and more.
And one more thing: we're making Monikers available for free through a Creative Commons license, so you can download and try out a playtest copy right now:
We can’t really describe why Monikers is so much fun. You really just have to play it. There’s something amazing about how the jokes build up, so that by the end of the game, everyone is sharing the same depraved hive mind, and all someone has to do is make some obscene thrusting gesture and everyone immediately knows they mean Ruth Bader Ginsburg (or whoever).
It’s kind of silly to assign depth to a party game, but what we love most about Monikers is getting to peer into the minds of our friends and realizing that they have the same inappropriate thoughts as us.
In short: it’s a fun and strangely personal way to joke around with friends.
Monikers is a really weird game and a labor of love for us. Our goal starting out was to take the basic formula of the game Celebrity and perfect it: create an interesting set of names, experiment with some new rules, and make a fun set of cards to bring to parties. It was just a thing we did for ourselves and our friends at first.
People have created boxed versions of Celebrity before, but the design and curation (Spiro Agnew? Wayne Brady?) don't seem to capture what we love most about the games we've played with friends over the years. Designing Monikers forced us to think about what transforms a game of Celebrity from good to great. And that's typically one thing: a hilarious set of names that strikes a great balance between obscurity, obscenity, and randomness.
For Monikers, we've added an entire category of cards to the game that doesn't involve famous people at all. They're more like archetypes or tropes. So in a round you may have to switch from a card designed for cheap laughs like Anthony Weiner to something more abstract like Homo Erectus or A Nigerian Prince. We also expanded the concept of what constitutes a "famous person," so there are cards like Goatse, Doge, and obscure internet memes that lead to hilarious misunderstandings for people who don't know about them. But the cards we love the most are ones that lead to completely surreal interactions that stretch the rules of the game and sort of human speech itself, like The Lady Who Spilled Coffee on Herself at McDonald’s or The Person on Your Right.
Both of us—Alex and Justin—have really button down day jobs in the nonprofit world. Working on the game has been an enormously fun and rewarding experience over the past year. We want that to shine through in the final product and get something into your hands that you’ll be excited to bring along to parties or just play at home on a night in with friends.
Maybe this goes without saying since we’re on Kickstarter, but Monikers isn’t going to get made without your help. We don’t have external funding or a publisher waiting in the wings. And unless Mark Zuckerberg has a stroke, no one is buying us for a billion dollars.
We’re just two socially awkward guys that are obsessed with games. And since this is our first project, we want to keep things as simple as possible. We'd rather focus on getting you a single great product than adding shirts, posters, and a bunch of other crap that would honestly be really fun to create, but would make it difficult to ship on time.
PLEDGE $25 — You get one copy of Monikers, delivered.
US backers: Free
Canada backers: +$10
UK, Australia, and NZ backers: +$19
Elsewhere: message us and we'll figure something out
If you want more than one copy, just choose this pledge level and add $22 for each additional copy you'd like. Backers outside the US, message us and we'll figure out shipping for multiple copies.
PLEDGE $300 — One copy of Monikers, delivered. Plus you get to pick a name to include in the set. Seriously. Anyone. Well, don't do something stupid like name your Pilates instructor. We'll work with you.
You'll also be credited on the card like the guest contributors listed above (or have the option to remain anonymous if you'd rather not be associated with submitting something truly heinous like Terri Schiavo).
Monikers is nearly done. But it turns out that printing a box of 400+ high quality cards is pretty expensive if you don't order that many of them. Luckily, prices get a lot cheaper the more copies we order, so if we're able to raise significantly more than our minimum goal, we'll be able to add some great stuff to the game.
$20,000 — FUNDED — DONE!
Once we're at this level, the game will definitely ship.
$30,000 — BETTER QUALITY CARDS — DONE!
Your drunk friends are probably going to spill beer all over these cards at some point. The stock materials we're using are already pretty good, but our first priority once we're clear of the minimum goal is to make sure each copy of Monikers can take a beating.
$40,000 — 100 MORE CARDS — DONE!
This is where things get really good. If we can print 1500+ copies of Monikers, the price of each card drops dramatically. So if we make it here, we'll be able to add 100 more cards for everyone.
$50,000 — 50 BLANK CARDS — CLOSE!
You probably have some good ideas for cards that aren't in the set. If we reach this goal, we'll be able to add 50 blank cards to each set.
$60,000 — MORE ILLUSTRATIONS
We're working with some incredible illustrators and webcomic folks to do artwork for a handful of cards. If we hit this goal, we'll be able to commission even more work. We'd love suggestions for who you'd like to see illustrations for. Shirtless Vladimir Putin has our vote.
$70,000 — MOBILE APP
Besides Spaceteam, there aren't many decent party games on iOS and Android. We'd like to make one. A friend of ours, who would otherwise be way too overqualified to work on this, is lined up to join the project if we reach this level.
Once we get up to this level, we can really get serious about the quality of materials. We'll be able to make the cards even more durable, the colors more vivid, and text more legible. This is the version we would make for you in a perfect world, i.e. a world where we have $80,000.
Alex and Justin are friends who started playing games together in college and sort of never stopped. In real life, Justin’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago who works on sustainable energy policy. Alex lives in Brooklyn and cofounded one of the world's first MOOC-based universities in Rwanda last year.
Huge thanks to everyone who played crappier versions of Monikers over the past year and were so generous with their time and feedback: Alan Gerding, James Nathan Spencer, the rest of our friends, and everyone on boardgamegeek who were nice enough to playtest for us.
Risks and challenges
We really, really care about getting a game to you that you're going to love. That's why we set our goal a little higher than usual—once we meet that, we're sure that no matter what the setback, we'll be able to get you exactly what we're offering as quickly as possible.
Alex has led a few high volume nonprofit campaigns before that involved printing and mass mailing material to thousands of donors. Shipping Monikers may or may not be more complex than that, but we have some experience in this area.
If we mess up, we'll give you our home addresses and you can gather outside with pitchforks until we ship.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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