All Bad Cards is a judging game modeled after Cards Against Humanity and adapted to an online platform. The gameplay is essentially the same: players are given a prompt where they must complete the expression. They then choose one card from their deck to submit to the judge. The judge reads through all of the cards and uses their subjective opinion to determine which response was the best, and this person gains a point. The person with the most points at the end wins.
The fun from this game arises due to the ability to play with friends while hundreds of miles apart. Distance gameplay is essential for community building during a pandemic. On top of that, the game is completely free to play, but this comes at a cost of annoying ads. To add to this, the game has a variety of packs that are suitable for different audiences (family-friendly vs all bad slang). This means that the same game can be played in different contexts, extending the lifetime and utility of the game as a whole.
Although I do love the original Cards Against Humanity, I think this online adaptation of the game was poorly executed. When players are given a prompt, the game cannot continue until all users have submitted a response. This is essentially the same as the original Cards Against Humanity. However, the formal element of time is essential for online situations with multiple players. When players are remotely positioned, the idea of the magic circle is expanded. Players may be using Zoom to video chat during the game. Although it may seem insignificant, this causes users to split their attention between the actual game and the video chat. More importantly, the boundaries of the magic circle cannot be easily enforced as players can easily get distracted by other tabs and browsers on their computers. This dramatically slows down gameplay. If players are waiting for someone who is simultaneously shopping on Amazon or scrolling through Reddit, they will quickly become disengaged, frustrated, and potentially choose to leave. To improve the gameplay, a time limit should be introduced to pressure players to pay attention to the state of the game and add pressure as they are choosing their answers.
As I was writing this report, I learned that the owner can kick you out of the game for being idle (I accidentally left the browser open…oops). This is a small resolution to the issue stated above. However, the power to kick people out should not only be granted to the owner of the group. Additionally, this is only a bandaid to the inefficient gameplay. A time limit would be the best way to keep the game moving.
One advantage this game has over the actual card game is the fact that all players can easily see the cards that have been played in a single round. This keeps players who are not the judges more involved during the judging process. However, just because you can see the cards doesn’t mean one can take any actions. I would have liked to see the ability for players who are not the judge to vote on their favorite cards. This could introduce different types of points, such as “Judge’s Choice” and “People’s Choice.” I believe this would mitigate the problem of becoming distracted by other browsers and truly encourage users to stay engaged throughout the entirety of the gameplay.
I think that the fun from this game is derived from the fact that there is only one action taken at a time. The prompt is shown. The players choose a prompt at the same time. The judge then flips through the responses. The judge chooses the winner. There isn’t much multitasking with this game, allowing users to focus on each individual response and stay in the moment. In terms of the type of fun, All Bad Cards is best described as an expression game. Although users are given a limited number of cards to complete the prompts, the responses that they choose reveal their sense of humor. Friends can easily find out who has a more sinister mind, who had an angelic mind, and who has their mind in the gutter. With the anonymity of the game, each card reveal comes as a surprise and brings groups of people closer together as they discover that their friends aren’t as innocent as they seem.
One interesting feature that is present in All Bad Cards but not in Cards Against Humanity is the ability to not choose a card from your deck. In this case, a random card is produced and submitted to the judge, still allowing the players to have a shot at winning the game. This feature takes pressure away from the player, as they no longer have to choose a card to sacrifice. However, I still think sacrificing a card is a superior method than randomly producing one because it allows the player to think about which card is the most dispensable. It is almost like a mini-game that an individual player encounters.
The final thing I would want to see is a smaller cap on the room size for the game. With the online format, up to 50 players can play simultaneously. There is simply too much information being thrown around with 50 players. It is already hard enough to remember the funniest response out of 10 cards, let alone 49. Furthermore, the large room sizes increase wait times, which boils my blood.